Comprehensive SEO site analysis
What is a comprehensive site analysis for? First, it is necessary to understand what can prevent your site from climbing in search results. Gone are the days when it was possible to raise a site in the TOP-10 of Google search simply by spamming with key phrases in the texts and receiving many incoming links. It doesn’t work today.
Do you want to grow faster than your competitors? You cannot do without a detailed SEO audit of the site.
So let’s get started.
Currently, Google’s search algorithms are based on artificial intelligence, namely “deep learning” (deep learning).
In my opinion, the main Google search algorithm since 2015 is “RankBrain”. It is a self-learning algorithm designed to analyze new content on the site for more relevant search results. It is very closely related to two algorithms, as I call them “controllers” – “Panda” and “Penguin”.
Algorithm “Panda” designed to analyze site content for spam and check its quality. In order to avoid its filter, it is necessary to write quality content (with pictures, tables, contacts, links) that will be useful to the reader. “Panda” starts working and checks the site with a high percentage of refusals on the pages.
Algorithm “Penguin” – has been working since 2012 and is designed to fight sites that use the “spam” technique when building a link mass. Do you have a lot of anchor links, a lot of links from low-quality resources? You are a Penguin customer. Don’t risk it – 10% of anchor links, 90% of non-anchor and branded links to your resource will be the most correct strategy.к содержанию ↑
Site Quality Score
The primary ranking factor is the Quality Scores that Google assigns to your site. The higher the “Quality Scores” of the site, the easier it will be to promote the web resource.
«Quality Scores» consist of :
- the quality of the content that is presented on each indexed page of the site – in comparison with other ranking sites;
- CTR (click-throw-rate) – the ratio of clicks to impressions in comparison with other sites;
- the percentage of refusals on the site – in simple words, when a visitor entered the site, did not take any action and left, in this case the percentage of refusals is growing, this is a bad sign;
- returning and new site visitors;
- the average amount of time spent on the site by a visitor;
- traffic metrics – how much traffic comes from your inbound links, including traffic from social networks;
- the quantity and quality of the link – the relevance of links, natural links, the rate of growth of the number of incoming links.
Website technical audit
Site elements to look at at the beginning of a technical audit:
- Site/domain age – older sites have more search engine trust only if internal and external factors are correctly configured and the site was not under filters. If a site falls under Google filters, then regardless of its age, it will no longer regain trust from the search engine. Spammed and filtered sites are useless in the eyes of search engines.
Regarding drop domains (domains that were previously used by someone) – when you register a domain after it has not been renewed, it loses its age trust, but you still have the trust for incoming links (if they are of high quality). Thematic and trust drop domains are good to use when building a PBN (private blog network). You can check the age of domains on the website webarchive.
- SSL certificate – today is a prerequisite for increasing trust from search engines! Sites with https have more trust and rating than just http. SSL certificate is required for e-commerce sites. Without it, Chrome users will see “Not Protected” when they visit the site, which will reduce the number of site visits and increase the number of site bounces.
- Robots.txt – how well structured the robots.txt file is. Are important pages closed from indexing? Or, on the contrary, are the service pages of the site open to indexing? You can include or exclude site pages from the index using this file or using meta tags within the pages themselves. As of today, the “noindex” directive has stopped working in robots.txt. If you need to be sure that the page does not appear in the index of search engines, the best option would be to close it through the meta tag <meta name=”robots” content=”noidex”>. ДThis meta tag is inserted into page <head>. Check if the robots.txt file is filled in correctly
- Friendly URLs – all urls on the site must be readable, they need to embed the page’s key request. Avoid urls like -?Postid= 23345. The correct permalink structure is very important to Google, it helps it understand what content will be on a website page.
- Sitemap.xml – a sitemap file that tells the Google bot which pages to view, how often, when the page appeared or when the site page was updated. You have the option to request indexing of site pages from Google Search Console. WordPress plugin Yoast generates sitemaps automatically. You can read about the best plugins in our article «Best CMS WordPress plugins»
- Check the site in the index – the operator site: enter into the Google search box, example site: oktenweb.com (if your pages appeared in the search, then everything is ok)
Checking a site in the index is very important to understand which pages are indexed and which are not. You must be sure that all the pages of the site you need are indexed and you do not have 404 error pages.
- Basic site filter check – Google has a team to combat web spam and a sophisticated automatic spam-check algorithm that sends notifications to Google Search Console, alerting webmasters about problems found on the site. Messages can be of the type “Action Against Site” or “Action Against Links”.
If you receive a message like “Action Against Site” in this case, your site is completely excluded from search results, it is de-indexed. In this case, you need to correct the errors pointed out by Google and send a bug fix message and ask to return the site to the index.
If you receive a message like “Action Against Links” in this case, you will need to clean up low-quality incoming links to the site and wait until Google robots crawl the entire site again. This can take a long time.
SEO content audit
In order to rise in the search results, it is necessary to write high-quality text content on the site that is interesting to visitors. And to which natural links lead, as well as social signals such as share.
Things to avoid:
- Low information content of pages (text up to 300 words, no images);
- Duplicated internal content on the site (if necessary, use the “canonical” tag);
- Duplicated external content – we do not copy texts from other sites.
A small checklist of the number of elements that should be in good quality content:
- Original text (unique only).
- Original pictures (only unique).
- Minimum words 700+ (from 1250 to 3000 words recommended, depending on the purpose of the page).
- Images from 4 to 6 pcs. to the page.
- Video – 1 to the page
- Up to 70 characters together with spaces in the “title” tag.
- Tag “h1” – 1 pc. to the page.
- Tags “h2” – “h3” from 3 to 8 pcs. per page depending on the amount of text.
- Correct grammar.
- Accompanying content (sidebar).
- Visible menu navigation on the site.
- “Title” tag with keys – The title must contain the key phrase. You also need to make the title memorable so that the user wants to click on it. You do not need to spam with keys – this is fraught with a filter.
- The “title” tag should not be repeated on the pages of your site. Make it stand out from the competition.
- The “description” tag – must be unique, registered for all pages in the index. No need to spam in “description”, Google will downgrade. The length of “description” is up to 160 characters, including spaces, but currently Google results are cutting “description” to 140-145 characters!
- Each page should contain one tag “h1” with a key request and tags “h2” – “h4”, where it is also desirable to register additional keys.
- Be sure to put unique, high-quality images on the site – you can check the uniqueness at official Google resource. The name of the picture file is a keyword (low or micro-frequency). The “alt” tag – must be filled in, the key phrase fits into it. For 1000 words – 4-6 pictures at least.
- Put a link on the view of your youtube channel, this will increase the overall site ranking.
- The desired number of words in the content is 1250. However, you can see how many words your competitors are using in the niche. Sometimes you need a quality 5,000 word article. Be prepared to position yourself as experts in your niche. Content with less than 800 characters is not good for getting a page to the top of Google.
- Keyword Density is the percentage of keywords appearing in relation to the total number of words on the page. 2-3% on 1200 words will be well received by the search engine. LSI words are also required to validate keys.
- Internal links that are embedded in the texts on the site. Very good for transferring page weight to important pages on your site. They also show the search engine exactly which pages are important on the site. Internal links can be in the form of images.
It is very important to link all pages of the site with links, be sure to put links from high-traffic pages to pages that are important to you. In all internal links, we write the keywords for which you want the target page for the link to rank. Do not be afraid of over-optimization in connection with anchors in links, inside the site Google allows you to do this.
- Freshness of content – update the content on the site, add new paragraphs. Google rewards newly updated content with a quick boost to the top of the list.
- Secondary content is content that is hidden from the user or google bot. Content such as accordion or slider, i.e. to see the content, you need to click on it. Until recently, it was thought that Google would not see text that was secondary content. However, on mobile devices, Google considers secondary content to be primary, and therefore reads it and indexes it. Well, given that the mobile index is now in the first place for Google, then, accordingly, secondary content with large text can be hidden in accordions or sliders, which will allow normal interaction with users. No need to hide content under images, Google will find it and problems may arise.
- There should be no advertisements above the “fold” of the first screen of the site. Google does not penalize displaying ads on your site, but if you violate the UX of your site with ads, it’s a red flag.
- If the site is regional – write the region in the “title” tag of the page – this is very important.
- Key site pages or pages that contain voluminous content should have outbound links to trust sites (such as wiki) that are thematically relevant to the content. Not to the sites of competitors in the niche!
- The site must be responsive. Google made it clear that without the adaptive version of the site, “nowhere” by making Mobile First Index.
Site usability audit and its structure
Website usability is a qualitative indicator of a website, which consists of the presence and correct arrangement of elements that affect the user experience with the website.
- The site should have good navigation – the main menu, “bread crumbs”, internal links in content texts, outgoing links relevant to the page content, wide navigation by product / service categories, a sitemap for the user
- A blog on the site is needed to add relevant content and increase trust in search. However, there are exceptions. For example, sites like Amazon don’t need a blog page for the simple reason that thousands of bloggers and affiliate sites link to Amazon. The hundreds of thousands of product reviews on the site also add a huge amount of trust. However, if you are not so well promoted, a blog page is a must. The content on the blog should be interesting to the user. If blog articles are written for quantity at the expense of quality, this is a very bad strategy.
- Add micro-markup (schema.org) to the site pages (rating, addresses, authorship)
- For online stores and directory sites, it is mandatory to break down the pages of goods or services into categories, subcategories. This is not only done for a good sitemap, but it also helps Google identify relevant content correctly
- Add a block with reviews on the site pages, this will add confidence from the side of visitors
- We look at the site loading speed – this is a very important ranking indicator to improve the speed, install a caching plugin and take a CDN, good hosting is a must for the site (of the free options, cloudflare is the best hosting with CDN today). Website loading speed should be less than 4 seconds
- The “Contacts” page must contain the following elements:
- Integrated Google map of the company’s office location;
- Telephones for communication, Skype, Viber, WhatsApp (foreign clients like WhatsUp)
External site audit
An external site audit is a check of external factors that affect the promotion of a site in search engines.
- We conduct an audit of the link, a large number of low-quality links will not add credibility to the site on the part of search engines, but rather, on the contrary, will drag it down. It is very important to get links from high-trust resources in your niche. Remember about anchor and natural links, try to minimize the number of anchor links, otherwise you can fall under the “Penguin” filter.
- An important indicator is the presence of links to your profiles on social networks, this adds credibility to the site both from Google and from visitors. Your social accounts networks must be active and constantly updated.
- Business registration in Google My Business (link) is required to display your offices and branches on Google maps. You will also need this registration if you are running an advertising campaign in Google ADS (in the account’s ad settings in the list of extensions there is such an extension as “Address”, so it is pulled directly from Google My Business, you cannot register it manually).
Google Search Console and Google Analytics data provide a wealth of information regarding visits to your site and problems that may arise on the site. We will soon have a separate article about Google Analytics that will describe how to work with Analytics and what to look for. Now let’s briefly consider some points. What you need to pay attention to first of all:
- Bounce Rate and Time on Site:
- bounce rate below 55%
- 2+ page views per visitor
- 2+ minutes time spent on the site
- Constantly monitor messages from Google in Google Search Console, they are very important for the site, view the site visit schedule to monitor traffic after updates made on the site (for example, switching from http to https).
- In Google Search Console, we look at 404 errors (missing pages), fix them using redirects.
Thank you very much for reading the article to the end, I hope it will be useful to you in your work. We will be grateful for your comments on the article.