07 January 2021
Find out what is required to carry out an extensive SEO website health check for your business. A step-by-step guide through a 20-hour small business website audit checklist.
14 min read
YOU WILL LEARN
What a site health check is.
6 essential steps for a SEO audit.
How much a full site audit costs.
Digital Marketing 4 Leads is a SEO agency that offers an extensive 20-hour small business website health check.
This SEO audit is an essential starting point for your business to find out if search engine optimisation is a viable option for your website.
Want to do a digital health check yourself?
Perhaps you want a DIY website audit template so that you can do your site's SEO yourself?
You can use this guide as a free tool to improve your website performance in the search results.
Scroll down to read what is included in the extensive SEO checklist that Ibiza SEO Agency Digital Marketing 4 Leads offers small businesses looking to get more organic search traffic for their website.
Keep reading to the bottom of this article to find out how you can get a free website health check.
The technical audit is based on the 5 step SEO strategy that inbound marketing agency Digital Marketing 4 leads uses to help businesses grow online.
If you are in a rush, email this page to yourself and save it for later.
The first step of a website health check is to get as much website analytics data as possible from your website and from your competitor's websites.
The goal is to find out what is working for you already and what is working for your competitors.
This will help you measure your site performance, improve on your existing successes and steal traffic away from your competitor's websites.
What is the ahrefs domain rating for your website?
The ahrefs domain rating (DR) shows the strength of your website’s backlink profile on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 100, with the latter being the strongest.
This is a useful statistic to have to compare with your competitor's websites when you start looking for keywords to target.
How many referring domains does your website have?
A referring domain is another website that has a link on one of their webpages to your website.
How many dofollow domains does your website have?
When another website links to your website, they have the option of setting the link as “dofollow” or “nofollow”.
A dofollow link allows the link juice from their website to pass onto your website.
A nofollow link does not allow any link juice to pass to your website.
Link juice is the value passed from one webpage or website to another. Search engines see links as votes by other websites that your page is valuable and worth showing in the search results.
Therefore, dofollow links are the most important type of links for increasing the DR of your website.
How many of these referring domains are quality, trusted sites related to your industry?
You will be surprised at how random some of the websites are that have a link to your website.
The most important websites are the ones that are in related industries.
For example, if you are a software company then a link from a software news page on the techradar website would be a very strong referring domain.
How old is your website?
Search engines like websites that have been around for a long time and view them as having a stronger authority.
Google is more likely to show web pages that it trusts, and the age of a website is an important ranking factor.
Bear this in mind if you are launching a new website as you will have to work harder at / invest more money into your link building to compete with older websites that are already established.
How many organic keywords does your website rank for in the top 100 of Google search?
This will give you a list of keywords that could be good starting point for you to consider for your SEO campaign.
How many organic keywords does your website rank for in the top 5-10 of Google search?
This will give you a list of keywords that might be worth focusing on to try and get them into the top 4 of Google search and boost the amount of traffic coming to your website.
How many organic keywords does your website rank for in the top 4 of Google search?
These are the keywords that you are already doing well with in Google search. Find out which of these are generating you traffic that converts into customers and keep building on your existing success.
Which organic keywords are currently generating traffic for your website?
Make a note of the keywords that are currently generating traffic for your website and use them in the keyword research step of the website health check.
Which webpage generates the highest amount of organic search traffic for your website?
Find your top organic landing pages and make a note of the URLs.
In this 20-hour website health check, you will just use your top organic landing page to generate date.
For a more extensive audit, you can apply the following processes to all of your organic landing pages.
Who are your organic search competitors?
Find out who the organic search competitors are for your best performing landing page.
This will allow you to benchmark the metrics (DR, number of referring dofollow domains, etc) that you have to reach in order to rank higher in Google for the same keywords.
You can also reverse-engineer and copy the link building tactics that your competitors are using to help your website improve in the search results.
Before carrying out a website health audit, we send our clients a list of discovery questions and we ask them for their top competitors in the online world.
In almost all cases, we discover new competitors that our clients were unaware of in this part of the website health check.
Perform a Google search of your brand name.
Look at the search engine results page (SERP) for your brand name and analyse the pages that are showing.
When people search for your brand name in Google, your whole digital portfolio should appear in the search listings.
The users might want to visit your website, but they could also be looking for reviews (Google My Business) or other social proof (Facebook) before they decide to become a customer.
Does your website have a sitemap?
A site map tells search engines the pages that exist on your website. It is very important to have an up-to-date sitemap on your website.
How is the architecture of your website structured?
Create a visual site map to help you understand the current site architecture of your website.
How do the pages on your website link to each other?
Internal linking of webpages is really important as it helps Google to understand what your webpages are about.
It also improves the user experience (UX) for your website visitors, and this can decrease the bounce rate and help users get to the right place on your website.
You should also check for broken links (using a SEO tool like screaming frog) and repair or remove any that you find.
Is there any duplicate content?
Identify any webpages that are duplicated and remove these as required.
Find webpages that have lots of similar content and merge them into one webpage.
Are there any dead-end pages?
Dead-end pages are webpages that don’t link to any other page on your website.
A common example of this is an about page.
Often, an about page will just have information about the company, the website owner and the team working at the businesses.
However, when the visitor gets to the end of the about page, there are often no internal links to take the visitor to another page on the website.
Visitors viewing on a mobile device are often too lazy to scroll back to the top and open the menu.
You have to provide the next step for them to take if you don’t want them to leave your website.
Keyword research forms the backbone of a website SEO campaign and the more time and effort you put into this, the better your SEO strategy will be.
What paid keywords are you currently bidding on?
Look through your Google Ads data and find out which keywords are generating you the most leads / customers.
Use this information to help you identify a list of keywords that you know are already generating leads / customers for your business.
Imagine how much money you would save if you could rank organically for these keywords instead of paying Google every month.
Who are your paid search competitors?
Find out which of your competitors are paying for ads in Google and look at the keywords that they are targeting.
Your competitors are paying for these adverts, so you can be sure that they are going to be optimising them for the best keywords.
Use this information to help your keyword strategy.
What keywords are showing in Google search console?
Review the performance section of Google search console and make a note of the keyword queries that are showing for your website.
What keywords do your website visitors use in your search bar?
Some websites have a search bar that visitors can use to try and find what they are looking for on the site.
The search queries from these bars are usually archived and if so, this data can be analysed for keywords.
It can also help you understand the language that your website visitors use to look for your services.
What keywords do your website visitors use in your chat popup?
Some websites have a chat / messenger popup that visitors can use to speak with an automated bot or a member of your customer support team.
Analysing these conversations can help to identify the intent of the visitors on your website and the language can provide useful keyword insights.
What keywords does your website already rank for?
The keywords that your website is currently ranking for in organic search are a great starting point.
You will already have a list of these from the traffic analysis section of the website health check.
What keywords are related to the seed keyword(s) for your business?
Use keyword research software to generate a list of keywords related to the seed keyword(s) for your business.
A seed keyword is usually one of two words long and it is essentially an umbrella keyword for your website.
For example, if you are an online business that sells wool then you might use the seed keyword “wool”.
Depending on your exact product range, you might also consider the seed keyword “yarn”.
What keywords are your competitors ranking for in Google?
Use SEO software to discover the keywords that your competitor's websites are ranking for in Google.
What questions are being asked about your seed keyword(s) on the Quora website?
Search Quora for your seed keywords and manually review to get a list of the keywords that users include in questions and answers.
What related keywords does Google suggest in the search listings?
Use SEO software to scrape Google for similar and related keyword terms and phrases that it suggests to users who search for your seed keyword(s).
What autocomplete keyword phrases does Google suggest for your seed keyword(s)?
Have you ever noticed that Google tries to predict what you are searching for when you start typing?
This is called Google autocomplete and you can use SEO software to scrape all of the autocomplete date for your seed keyword(s).
Review every keyword phrase in the list and separate it out into head terms and modifiers.
Split the modifiers into included, discuss and excluded modifiers.
Review the “discuss” modifiers with the client and change them into “included” or “excluded” modifiers based on the business goals.
Build a new list that only includes the head terms with the included modifiers.
Expand the keyword list with a keyword multiplier tool.
Take the list of head terms and included modifiers and use a keyword multiplier tool to create an expanded new keyword list with every combination of head term and included modifier.
Refine the list and remove keywords that do not generate website traffic.
Use SEO software to identify the keywords that are receiving more than 1 search click a month in Google.
It is important that your SEO campaign should focus on keywords that generate user actions in the search result listings.
Add the type of search intent to each keyword and give it a strength score.
Label each keyword with the type(s) of search intent that Google displays in the search listings.
For example, if the user intent is to buy a product or service then this will be labelled with transactional intent.
Other types of intent include navigational, research, answer, local, visual, video, fresh/news, branded and split intent.
Give it a score to reflect the percentage of the search results that match the main type of intent that you have identified for the keyword.
Create a list of keywords that should be given priority in a SEO strategy for your business.
How to create a priority keyword list in 9 steps?
Use the priority keyword list to create an information architecture map.
Propose the first set of keywords to target for the website.
Suggest future keywords to target for the website.
Design a content map, showing how these keywords should be split across new and existing pages on the website and provide an information architecture map using the free tool Lucidchart (or another collaborative online flowchart).
It is important for your organic landing pages to be mapped out in order to achieve efficient crawling from search engine spiders and for good user experience.
A clear information architecture map will help your ongoing website maintenance, especially if you are working with a third-party website designer.
Create an online competitor list.
Use SEO software to create a list of all competitors currently ranking in positions 1-10 for the keywords in the topic bubbles that you have selected for implementation.
This will help with benchmarking, analytics, reporting and the link building step of the SEO strategy.
It will also help with any future keyword research.
Report on size of organic search market
Provide the size of the overall market for:
Report on the traffic market share for your keyword topic bubbles.
Provide the percentage market share and the monthly traffic volume of the competitors websites with the greatest percentage share of traffic for the keywords in the topic bubble.
The internet is full of websites and search engines are looking for the best webpages to show in the search results.
Your webpages need to be useful, informative, written by experts and coded correctly to give you the best chance of ranking for your chosen keywords.
Use the webpage that generates the highest amount of organic search traffic and perform a detailed on-page technical audit.
Score each element, make a recommendation for improvement(s) and give it a web design priority rating so that you know what to focus your search engine optimisation efforts on first.
The 21 Essential On-Page SEO Elements for a Website Health Check
For any element that falls below required standards, double check this element against 3 other pages from the website to determine whether or not it is an issue running across the whole site or just a one-off issue for the current page.
Is the title optimised for your keyword(s)?
Check that the title is the right length and that the correct keywords are included in the title.
Is the description optimised for your keyword(s)?
Check that the description is the right length and that the correct keywords are included in the description.
The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress is a useful tool for checking the length and keywords in your description.
Is your primary keyword included in the H1 tag?
Check to see if your primary keyword is included in the H1 tag. Ideally, it should be the first word(s) in the H1 tag.
Are your keywords used across your H2, H3, H4 tags?
These tags usually represent the headings in the content on your webpages.
It makes sense to Google that a heading is a summary of what the following content is going to be about...
...and therefore the headings that run throughout a page should be an indication of what the page is about.
Quite a lot of badly written WordPress themes use H2, H3 and H4 tags in a way that is not good for SEO and you might find your copyright notice or links to your about / privacy / terms pages in these tags.
Have open graph (OG) meta tags been correctly set up?
OG meta tags are part of Facebook's open graph protocol and they are designed to control how URLs are shown on Facebook (and other social media - LinkedIn/Twitter/etc).
Have twitter cards been correctly set up?
Twitter cards are designed to control how a website URL is shown on Twitter. Whilst Twitter can read OG meta tags, it is necessary to have a separate Twitter title.
Has Schema markup been added to the webpage?
Review the webpage for Schema Markup opportunities that are available to help the webpage rank better in the search results.
Does the HTML markup have any errors?
Check the HTML markup for any errors and warnings using a HTML markup validator tool.
Flag any critical errors that require immediate attention.
Does the webpage provide high quality information?
Read through the content on the webpage and decide whether or not it is super useful and relevant.
Compare the webpage to your competitors webpages that are ranking for the same keyword.
Make a note of who is providing the most useful information and set this as a minimum benchmark.
Google aims to show the most relevant and most useful webpages in the search results, so you need to make your web pages the best.
Are your keywords used the correct number of times on your webpage?
Use a keyword density checker to determine whether or not you have used your keywords enough times in the content of the webpage.
If you use keywords too frequently then you could be penalised by Google and if you do not use them enough then your website will not rank for the keywords.
When was the content on the webpage last updated?
Google likes webpages that are current and update regularly.
When was the last time you updated your blog post or product page? Is all of the information still relevant? Can you add any new information to the web page?
Does the webpage have photos, infographics, videos, audio, podcasts, pdfs or other multimedia?
Including multimedia on a webpage is important for three reasons.
Does the webpage include the answers to people also ask keywords?
Google regularly includes "people also ask" questions in the search results with the answers provided in the form of excerpts from websites.
This is another way to get featured on the first page of Google.
In order to have your website included for consideration by Google to feature for these answers, you need to have the questions and the answers on your webpage.
Does the webpage include any content created to appear in featured snippets?
Google has 4 main types of featured snippets:
You can use SEO software to identify the keywords and long tailed keywords that show featured snippets in the search results and you should focus on creating snippets for those terms.
You can have multiple featured snippets on the same webpage, and you can test using creative web design to make them look like the snippets that appear in the SERP.
How does the content of the page score for depth?
Use content marketing software to analyse the webpage for depth and compare against competitor websites.
As well as page length and your focus on the primary keyword topic, the analysis should include data on the number of times you should include keywords from relevant and related topics.
Does the webpage have internal links to your sales pages and other organic landing pages in the keyword topic?
Internal linking is important because it helps Google understand what a page is about and how important that page is for a website.
Internal links are also important to the user experience of your webpage and should be considered as a fundamental part of your web design.
If a visitor lands on your website and the page doesn't quite meet their needs, then some well-placed internal links in the first paragraph of text can provide them with quick access to other pages that might be of interest.
This will reduce bounce rate and in turn improve your online presence.
Use SEO software to check your website for any broken links.
Does the webpage intent match the type of search intent for the keyword?
For the keyword "chocolate brownies" Google shows websites with recipies in the search results.
If your webpage is an ecommerce page for chocolate brownies, then it is unlikely to rank for this keyword because the page intent does not match the search intent - Google thinks that the users want to find recipe results.
How many external links does the webpage have and how relevant are they to the keyword topic?
External links can help your website gain more trust from Google, especially if you link to the sources of any quotes or figures that you are referencing.
Linking to pages that are highly relevant to your keyword topic help give your webpage an even stronger authority in the topic.
How fast does the webpage load?
Use site speed software to measure the speed of a webpage and report technical improvements for increasing the load speed.
For WordPress websites, you might want to consider using a plugin to optimise images and cache scripts.
Site speed is vitally important to reduce bounce rates, especially given the intermittent internet connection of mobile users viewing your content on a mobile device.
Is there any plagiarised content on the webpage?
Use content writing software to check the webpage for plagiarised content and recommend which sections need to be rewritten (if any).
Is the webpage mobile friendly?
Use the Google mobile friendly test to find out if the webpage is mobile friendly and to recommend improvements.
It is super important to make sure that your website is mobile friendly as there are now more mobile users than desktop users.
Link building is one of the most overlooked steps of a site's SEO strategy and it is the reason why more than 94% of webpages don't rank for a single keyword in Google.
Link building is an essential part of SEO and it is required ranking factor to get your website found in the search results.
Imagine a completely fictitious situation where you and your competitors had exactly the same webpage, with great content and perfect technical on-page SEO.
In this instance, how would Google choose which page to rank first?
The Google algorithm is a big hidden secret, and nobody knows the exact answer to this question, but in general:
1) More Links = Higher Ranking
Google will look at the number of do-follow links pointing to that website from other websites and rank the pages with more links higher than pages with a lower backlink profile.
2) Links from More Established Websites = Higher Ranking
Google looks at the websites that are linking to you and gives more importance to links from trusted websites.
Links from .gov and .edu sites are considered super trustworthy, links from national newspapers carry a lot of weight, as do links from established brands (Nike / Coke).
Links from older websites are also likely to carry more weight than links from brand new websites (this is to prevent people from setting up 1000 new websites to try and trick Google).
3) Links from Relevant Websites = Higher Ranking
If your portfolio of referring domains is from websites in related sectors to your business then Google will give priority to your website, over another website that has built up links from random websites.
Therefore, as part of your SEO campaign you need a link building strategy in order to rank your web pages above your competitors.
Calculate how many links your webpage needs to rank in the search results.
A digital health check should include a target for the number of high quality, dofollow links that your webpages need in order to rank above your competitors in the search results.
The leading theory amongst SEO experts is that you need more quality links than the other competitors with a similar DR to your website who are already ranking for that keyword.
For example, if your website has a DR of 25 then you would look at the other competitors in the top 10 with a similar DR and see how many referring domains they have to the page that is ranking.
A starting goal for your business would be to achieve more do-follow links than your competitors to the webpage that you have written to rank for this keyword.
If you get more, high quality domains than them AND the content of your webpage is better than theirs then it makes sense that your website should get a higher online presence in the search listings.
As well as the quality of the content and the number of links, it is important that the technical side of the website is running efficiently.
Report on the overall technical SEO findings of your website.
Any overall technical SEO issues that have been identified so far during the audit should be reported here.
9 Essential Site Wide SEO Elements for a Website Health Check
Analyse the website for further site wide technical SEO considerations.
Score each element, make a recommendation for improvement(s) and give it a priority rating so that you know what to focus your efforts on first.
Does the website have a HTTPS connection?
Google has announced that HTTPS is a ranking signal for search engine results.
Sites that are not HTTPS (HTTP) can also get error warnings when users are using the Google Chrome browser, and this means that you will lose traffic.
Do the URLs for the website include keywords?
Check the website URL structures and report on whether or not the URLs include keywords for the webpages.
It is common to see ecommerce websites with a series of numbers and letters in the URL on the product page and this is not good for SEO.
Does your website include functional pages?
The theory is that websites with these pages are more likely to be trustworthy and legitimate than websites that do not provide these details.
Does your homepage and the rest of your webpages match your site topic?
Every website has a purpose and a reason for existing and this is the site topic.
Your homepage should let visitors know what your website is about and in theory it should be the most global topic for all of the pages of your website.
Digital Marketing 4 Leads is an inbound marketing agency, and that core topic is introduced on the homepage.
It would not make sense for this website to have a webpage about where to learn how to play the piano - because it is not related to the topic.
Does your website have any zombie pages?
Check to see if there are any zombie pages on your website and make recommendations on whether to consolidate, improve or delete these pages.
Zombie pages are webpages that generate little or no traffic to your website.
Because they exist on your website, it means that the link juice on your site is shared with them and this is bad for the SEO of your main organic landing pages.
You can either remove the zombie pages (which will send over some more link juice to your better pages) or you can add useful content to these pages to try and get them ranking.
Regular website maintenance is essential to good SEO strategies.
Sometimes it can be possible to combine several zombie pages into one killer blog post (excuse the pun).
Do your webpages tell Google the correct region and language?
Check to see if the website is using the hreflang attribute to define the correct region and language for the webpage.
If there are multiple versions of the same page aimed at different regions and languages, then make sure that the alternate options are listed correctly.
Does your website cloak content?
Cloaking is a black-hat SEO practice that shows one version of the website to the search engines and another version to the website visitors.
Cloaking content is bad practice and websites that do this will be penalised by Google.
Does your website use bad keyword stuffing practices?
Google penalises websites that aggressively stuff too many keywords into every corner of the website content and code.
Does your website include intrusive content?
Google penalises websites that are too intrusive on the visitor.
Intrusive content can include ad heavy content, popups, etc.
The final part of your website health check should be a proposal with a future SEO strategy for your business.
Review the SEO audit and confirm whether or not an opportunity exists.
SEO is not appropriate for every business.
The keywords that relate to your business may be too competitive to rank for and the cost of a SEO strategy for these keywords might just be too expensive.
There might not be any people searching for the product / service that your business sells (this is often true for companies bringing a brand-new product / service to the market).
Recommend a SEO strategy for your business to follow.
Put forward a comprehensive SEO strategy for your business based on the results of the website health check.
The strategy should be made up of content based on keywords, link building and ongoing technical SEO.
Give a detailed breakdown of timings and associated costs for the SEO proposal.
An SEO agency will know how many hours it takes to research, write and create content for a 1200-word blog post.
They will know how much time it takes (on average) to reach out to website owners and get quality links from referring domains.
Your SEO expert will understand how often you need to publish new content on your website.
It is important for your business to have a full estimate of the project costs and the timeframe so that you can calculate the ROI and decide whether or not a long-term SEO strategy is right for your business.
Lots of small businesses do not have staff with the skillset required to carry out a website health check.
The goal of a SEO audit is to find out if there are any SEO opportunities for your business and to recommend a future SEO strategy for you to follow.
For the best results, you may want to outsource your SEO health check to a professional SEO agency.
Your website SEO audit should be carried out be a SEO consultant that you trust and not by a free SEO tool.
The future of your website performance in the online world depends on the findings in the website healthcheck.
If you are interested in a 20-hour website health check from Digital Marketing 4 Leads, then get in touch or book a free online consultation.
The cost of the Digital Marketing 4 Leads 20-hour site health check is £1000.
New clients who sign up for SEO projects totalling more than £18,000 with Digital Marketing 4 Leads get their website health check for free.
The £1000 will be credited back against your client account and used towards your first 20 hours of SEO work.
Find out whether or not a SEO agency can help your business get more leads and customers online.