SEO Audit Checklist For Startups: You're Failing Because You Didn't Read This!
Originally posted on ranky.co.
The SEO Audit Checklist Every Startup Should Own
Ineffective SEO for startups can be a real nightmare, and sometimes we refuse to recognize the warning signs as they unfold, that's why we decided to give you the ultimate SEO audit checklist/analysis report, for free ;)
Some people don't appreciate SEO Campaigns since they don't understand the process that goes into it. In comparison to other channels, the ROI is more complicated, but the advantages can be huge when executed correctly.
When you run an SEO campaign, it's easy to get lost in the conflicting numbers and heavy data. If the results are disappointing, you may feel agitated and begin to doubt your strategy. You may start pondering: "what am I missing","why isn't it working?", and "how come I don't see results?!".
What Is An SEO Audit & Why We Are Doing It Exactly
This SEO audit is going to help you determine precisely how to boost & optimize the search visibility of your startup and keep you up-to-date with the latest SEO developments.
SEO audit is a process for evaluating major factors influencing organic search engine rankings while identifying problematic areas and improving them to get better rankings.
Product hunt is going to give your startup a significant spike in traffic for a short while, that's really great but Google can multiply your traffic and continue to expand your organic sessions on a regular basis month by month.
We'll go over The best ways to perform a technical SEO audit on a website while keeping it simple at the same time.
15 Quick Tips & Proven Techniques to Take Your SEO Audit To The Next Level
1. Your Content Is Irrelevant Or Too Thin
Google’s Panda 4.2 is still in play, it may benefit smaller websites with better content, leverage this chance to take your startup to the top results.
Before publishing any piece of content, you should do your homework. Make sure your content is nothing less than gold for your target audience.
Before publishing your content, you should ask yourself with certainty: are people 100% going to share/like/bookmark my content? If the answer is no, take a few steps back and make that statement true.
You should also establish if you are providing the right type of content to rank high in the search engines. Since different queries present different types of results & media, some posts are going to require video to appear high in the search results, though most of the time you'll see a combination of text and pictures.
Make sure you also fine tune your results to the specific topic you are writing about.
Additionally, before wondering why you are not getting enough traffic, make sure your content is not too thin. Google adores high quality pages with 1500 words or more, writing less than 750 words might hurt your SEO Campaign results.
Finally, analyze the first page of the search results on Google, compare your content with the competition... how does your content match?
2. People Are Not Searching For Your Content (Yet)
Startup's SEO results are driven directly from your content’s success. When dealing with an innovative startup, a unique strategy is needed. You first need to create the ideal content for your target audience.
When you encounter a situation in which you are offering something so unique that people are not even searching for it, the solution is simple: take a few steps back and start the engagement funnel from where your users are right now.
Understand their current situation, questions & needs and deliver the best direct answer, one step before you introduce your startup's product as the ultimate solution to their problem.
3. Ignoring The Search Volume On Google/Bing
So you think you have the best content in the world. While you may have covered the best on-page/off-page practices, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to bring relevant organic traffic, especially if the search volume on the search engines is too low.
After all, you can't rationally expect to get infinite numbers of organic visitors per day if the numbers don't back it up.
As you know, the keyword planner is imprecise, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it entirely. In the startup industry, we often don’t have search volumes to explain what our site or product does.
As a result, we focus on long tail keywords aimed at the right potential clients, while we build the rest of puzzle using inbound marketing and growth hacking techniques.
4. Not Setting The Right Goals In Google Analytics
Setting up the relevant KPIs to track is going to be different in each phase depending on the client. The rule of thumb is simple, any KPIs you track should provide an insight leading to an immediate task, if that's not the case, dump it.
5.Too Much Faith In Google's Good Will & You Don't a Defined SEO Strategy
So you've just created your best piece of content, optimized it for SEO, published it and..? If a lack of response is your problem, you need to actively place your content in front of your target audience on all relevant platforms. If that’s still not enough, outreach is a necessary step to ensure your content will receive the exposure it deserves.
Want to skip this step? Do you have another way to build quality backlinks? If you don't, ranking in the top positions might be impossible in your case.
6. You Forgot The SEO Basics!
When you perform an SEO audit, check everything: title, headings, URL, images, and most importantly take your time to create a killer title & meta description.
Though meta descriptions are often ignored, it separates the SEO leaders from the rest of the crowd. In essence, higher CTR is going to drive considerably more traffic to your site. Optimize everything for SEO, losing rankings over on-page optimization is negligence.
7. Your Website Is Not Mobile-Friendly
Mobilegeddon didn’t change the world, but the fact remains that mobile drives considerable amount of traffic especially to a new startup.
Therefore, optimizing your content for mobile results is always a good idea. Depending on the site that you have, most of your traffic might come from mobile devices. So make sure your website is completely optimized both in terms of speed & UX/UI in order to attract mobile users.
Here is The Short Mobile SEO Checklist
* Pagespeed- Make sure your website is fast!
* Use Structured data
* Use Responsive web design
* Optimize your content for the mobile user
8. You Have Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is going to kill your Startup's SEO very fast. Make sure you are using the canonical tag and don’t forget to be original and authentic. It's more work, but it is what ultimately drives results.
When comparing yourself to the competition, make sure your content is original so it stands out from the crowd.
9. Your Backlink Profile Is Shady
Any serious SEO audit should include comprehensive backlinks analysis report.
Have you checked your link profile lately? Though a few bad links are not going to hurt you, Google will begin adding it up on a scale.
After a certain tipping point, the scale is not going to be in your favor resulting in punishments, which is possibly the worst thing that can happen to you online. So avoid bad links at all cost by cleaning your link profile.
Simply put, if the visitor thinks the link on the page is good, so does Google.
So make sure your link profile is diverse and not spammy! Russia is great for brides not links ;)
10. You Lack Authority
Build an authority site, authority is built over time by performing the best SEO practices including user’s signals as well as on-page and off-page optimization & content. It can be difficult especially for a new startup, but building authority over time always pays off in the end.
11. Your Competitors Are Better
So, SEO is not your only problem. Make sure you excel at something and emphasize it with your content. Then deliver your content/product to a micro niche before giving up on it completely.
12. Your Website Is Slow
Speed is a big deal when it comes to rankings, especially on mobile. Nobody has the patience for a slow loading website which is a key reason why your bounce rate is relatively high.
To ensure your site is up to speed, optimize your images, use cache, and consider using a CDN or upgrading your server.
13. Internal/External Linking
Internal linking is an important piece of any SEO Campaign. To do it right, just make sure the way you are linking internally is very intuitive and useful for your users and watch your bounce rate drop, the foundation for every SEO improvement out there should go side by side by giving your users the best value & experience they can get online.
Don't be afraid to link to great sources. Your users will thank you and it will encourage them to come back for more, since they know you offer real value.
14. You Are Not Optimizing Old Content
SEO should always be on your mind, the SEO Campaign never ends. Google loves fresh content despite the fact that old pages tend to be more valuable for various reasons.
By combining the two, you can always keep your old content fresh and finally, watch your rankings soar.
15. You Are Not Active On Social Media
Wait.. what?? Social is affecting SEO in many ways it's also a ranking signal for Google and it's also a great channel to make your Startup well known in the industry. Social media is also very efficient to reach different audience and even influencers, which can turn into invaluable backlinks, it's something every startup should take into account, not convincing enough? post the Goolge-Twitter deal, the indexation of tweets rose by more than 400%.
Let's Get More Technical With The SEO Audit
On Page Optimization Techniques - How To Boost Your Startup's Rankings
1. Make sure your landing URL is short, descriptive containing the keywords you are trying to rank for, if you changed the path, ensure a proper 301 redirect is in place. A good example for this is Brian Dean's high ranking page about "SEO Tools" - the URL is simply http://backlinko.com/seo-tools
2. Make sure your text, images, and title are closely "related" to the relevant keywords you are trying to concentrate on.
3. Make sure any content you write is going to be "viral" this is the best way to get more share & backlinks, choose interesting topics, you can write about. Your readers are eager to know the answer to the "universal" why & how questions, give them concrete answers and spice it up in the end with a "list" they'll appreciate such as "The 22 Best SEO Audit Tools & Resources".
SEO Website Audit Checklist -The Technical SEO Questions You Need To Check
1. Do you have any specific crawl issues?
2. Do you have an XML sitemap?
3. Did you optimize the title & the Meta description to maximize your CTR?
4. Did you optimize all the H1,H2 tags?
5. Does your startup appear "mobile friendly" in the search results?
6. Are you using a fast reliable host for your startup?
7. Did you Check Google's cache for key pages?
8. Have you submitted the sitemap to the search engines?
9. What is not optimized on robots.txt?
10. Did you plan correctly the architecture of your website?
11. Do you have a clean footer?
12. Do you have a clean URL structure without excessive parameters?
13. What are the necessary crawlings adjustments you need to perform?
14. Do you have any 404 pages?
15. Do you have pages in your site pointing to 404 pages?
16. Do you have 302 redirects? :(
17. Did you setup 301 redirects correctly?
18. Do you have organized categories?
19. Are you using breadcrumbs?
20. Did you check for spelling mistakes?
21. Did you check for hidden content or links?
22. Are you using related Words/phrases (LSI)?
23. Did you make sure analytics tracking code is on every page?
24. Are you using pagination correctly?
25. Do you have duplicated titles or descriptions?
26. Are you using structured data markup properly?
27. Are you using Google tag manager correctly?
28. In terms of language & location, have you made the necessary changes to optimize your site?
29. Are you integrating all the traffic channels wisely?
30. How does your "about us" page looks like?
31. Is your startup brand recognized with relevant associations from the industry?
32. Do you have testimonials?
33. Did you check the effectiveness of your CTA?
34. Do you have quality social media presence?
35. Do you have contact information that's easy to catch?
36. Do you have a blog?
37. Are you using user-generated content (UGC) to your advantage?
38. Are you getting mentions from different quality sources?
39. Are you using Bing & Google Webmaster Tools (Search Console)?
40. Are you leveraging guest blogging correctly?
41.Do you have CSS errors?
42. Did you implement an internal search bar in your website?
43.How many pages are indexed by Google, how many are missing & what should be removed?
44.Did you optimize your photos for SEO - file name, title, alt description and size?
45. Do you have unnecessary plugins on your startup's website?
46.Are you using Social Metadata?
47.Are you keeping track with the latest updates in Google's search algorithm?
48.Did you make Sure your font size/spacing is easy to read?
49.Do you have site search that is easy to access? do you keep tracking it?
50.Did you optimize .htaccess for your needs?
51.Do you filter irrelevant traffic?
52.Are you tracking goals in Google Analytics?
53.Are you using intelligence alerts?
List Of The 22 Best SEO Audit Tools & Resources To Guarantee Your SEO Audit Report Is Complete
1. Ahrefs- One of the best best SEO audit tools, analyze websites, track social, backlinks report & more
2. Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool -The best "SEO audit checklist software", essential l for any SEO audit.
3. Bing Webmaster Tools- Bing can offer some great insights on how to improve search visibility.
4. BuiltWith- Find out what a website is built with, great for analyzing the competition.
5. Copyscape- The software lets you detect duplicate content and check if your articles are original.
6. Google Keyword Planner- Always going to play a big role on your marketing strategy.
7. Google Analytics- Always going to provide invaluable data.
8. Google PageSpeed Insights -Analyze your Web Performance& PageSpeed.
9. Mobile-Friendly Test- This test will analyze a URL and report if the page has a mobile-friendly design & compatibility.
10. Google Structured Data Testing Tool- The Structured Data Testing Tool lets you test a single page's markup for correctness.
11. Google Search Console - Tools and diagnostics for a healthy, Google-friendly site.
12. Pingdom- Pingdom is a service that tracks the uptime, downtime, and performance of websites.
13. Robots.txt Checker- Help you analyze errors on Robots.txt?
14. Schema Creator - An easy way to get started creating HTML with schema.org microdata.
15. Scraper for Chrome - Scraper gets data out of web pages and into spreadsheets.
16. SEO Tools for Excel- Excel plugin for online marketing professionals , great growth hacking tool.
17. SEOQuake - Easy to use SEO extension for analyzing websites & search results.
18. Wayback Machine- The Internet Archive is a complete snapshot of all web pages on every website since 1996, great for analyzing the past.
19. Xenu's Link Sleuth - This comprehensive tool checks websites for broken links.
20. XML-Sitemaps.com- Offers a sitemap generator that creates XML and HTML variants.
21. SEMrush - Digital marketing tool that is especially great at finding profitable keywords.
22. Yoast - Great overall SEO plugin for WordPress
How To Perform An SEO Audit In 5 Not So Easy Steps:
Performing a successful SEO audit: The actual analysis is broken down into five categories:
1) Start with On-Page Ranking Factors we've discussed, run Screaming Frog and analyze your Startup's website page by page, keep documentation for all the necessary changes.
2) Move on to the Off-Page Ranking Factors -You should start with a comprehensive backlink audit measuring each link and domain from head to toe, now check the popularity & trustworthiness of your website by analyzing your social engagement & authority.
3) The technical part - Clean & validate the code,use a CDN, move to a better web hosting service, optimize speed for better user experience.
Don't forget to analyze crawling data from your website, making sure the relevant pages are indexed & error free.
4) Congratulations! you've just finished the audit (not really) - now do the same for all your competitors.
5) Content strategy for SEO - Create the best unique content out there. If you have to rehash content, make sure your's is way better.
So Now What Should I Do?
At the end of your SEO audit, go over each section including the technical checklist and make sure you’ve got it all covered, plan a document that says what needs to be done & start doing it step by step.
SEO for startups is demanding, you need to pay close attention to the little details while always keeping in the back of your mind the big picture.
By analyzing your KPIs and improving them on daily basis you will begin to form the foundation for your success.
May the growth be with you!