Those that know me, know that I am not hugely precious about hoarding information, and I have recently been cleaning up my website audit process and thought I would share all of the points that are investigated when I’m auditing a website.
If you’re an SEO or think you can use this, please do feel free to us and share. Some elements of this are again split further into their own sub-checks, but it should serve as a good guide with 198 primary areas that I cover.
And if anyone wants to know why an SEO audit takes 2-3 weeks (or sometimes longer), this is why!
Why was this document created?
SEO Auditing is one of those areas that needs to be all or nothing, and by publishing the checkpoints that I cover, it means that everyone has access to a hugely comprehensive list that will miss nothing out.
I have spent many years creating an audit that I can deliver to clients knowing that the results will find issues, no matter how small, that can all have an impact on search positions.
If you do have any questions about this process, please do leave a comment below.
Why would you need an SEO Audit?
There are literally a thousand and one reasons why you would want to audit your website but the best reason is not knowing what is holding you back in the SERPs. By following these points, you can work through a methodical process designed to make sure that no stone is left unturned.
Yes, there are areas of the audit checklist that will require you to dig even deeper (Pagination, for example), but you will at least have this to refer back to and know when to mark it as completed.
SEO Audit Checklist Overview
I start by breaking up the checks that I do, as follows:
- Step 1: Google Checks. Everything Google related.
- Step 2: Benchmarks. For setting a baseline.
- Step 3: Competition Analysis. Understand who you are up against.
- Step 4: Site Architecture. Ensuring visitors and Googlebot have all they need to navigate and crawl.
- Step 5: Technical Inspection. To identify hidden issues.
- Step 6: Images Analysis. Make sure your images are working for you, not against you.
- Step 7: Mobile Checks. With mobile as popular as it is, make sure there are no problems.
- Step 8: Page Level & Element Checks. Best practice for your site and visitors.
- Step 9: Keyword Analysis. Are you using the right keywords in the right places?
- Step 10: Content Analysis. Is your unique & amazing? You could be setting yourself up for issues.
- Step 11: Usability Experience (UX). A known ranking signal. Good UX will keep your visitors happy.
- Step 12: Backlink Audit. A top known ranking signal. Are you being held back by bad back links?
- Step 13: International SEO. Do you cater for an international audience? Are all elements in place?
- Step 14: Local SEO. Most websites rely on some local traffic. Are you missing out on this?
- Step 15: Negative Practices. It is still very easy to find yourself with negative practices on your site.
Please remember that these are checks – results from these checks will form part of an ongoing strategy.
Tools used while Auditing
There is no point trying to audit a website with just one tool – you are almost guaranteed to miss something, so I use many different tools to inspect various elements.
However, I am not saying that you need to use every one of those below. You might find that you can get away with only using some of them.
Each of the tools I use has been added to both the table below and the main Audit spreadsheet.
|Ahrefs||Browser Spy||AMP Validator|
|Cognitive SEO||BuiltWith||Webpage Test.org|
|Deep Crawl||Dejan HREFLang Tool||Mobile Moxie|
|Netpeak Spider||Wayback Machine||Lighthouse|
|Rank Active||LRT Link Redirect Trace||GTMetrix|
|Screaming Frog||Structured Data Testing Tool||Google & Bing Mobile Test|
|SERPED.net||Redirect Checker.org||SERP TRACKING|
|SiteBulb||Google Search Console||SEMRush|
|Website Auditor||GA Checker||Ahrefs|
|SEMRush||Reverse IP Lookup||Ahrefs|
|Keywordtool.io||uClassify||Link Research Tools|
|Spyfu||Browseo||Marie Haynes Blacklist|
|Page Optimizer Pro||SEMRush|
|Keyword Shitter||Yandex Metrica|
Accessing The Audit Checklist Spreadsheet
I have decided to go a little further and have made public this part of the SEO Audit checks in Google Sheets.
It is open to the public for anyone who has the link, so please do feel free to share it.
|Is Google Analytics Installed?||gachecker.com|
|GA duplication check||GA Debug Plugin|
|Is Search Console setup?||SC|
|Are there any Search Console errors?||SC|
|Google cache analysis||'cache:' in Chrome|
|Is there a sitemap.xml file?||Sitemap Check|
|Is there a discrepancy between indexed pages in Google and Sitemap?||Check Sitemap in GSC and site: in Google|
|Are any invalid pages in the sitemap?||Screaming Frog|
|Are there any negative search results for the brand?||Google / Visual|
|Are there any negative Google Autosuggest?||Google / Visual|
|Is there a Google News sitemap.xml file?||SC|
|Any manual actions?||SC|
|Are there any crawl errors?||SC|
|Total Pages Indexed in Google|
|Total Number of Backlinks||Ahrefs|
|Total Number of Linking Root Domains||Ahrefs|
|Total Number of Organic Keywords||SC / Ahrefs / SEMRush|
|20-50 top keyword positions||SC / SERP Tracking App|
|Top 3-5 competitors identified?||Client / SEMRush / Ahrefs|
|Has the competition been benchmarked?||Visual / Export|
|Competitor top 10 keywords||Visual / Export|
|Competitor average search positions||Visual / Export|
|Top ranking keywords||Visual / Export|
|Site protocol checks||Most Crawling Tools|
|Pagination checks||Screaming Frog|
|Canonical checks||Screaming Frog|
|Print version noindexed?||Visual|
|Internal Linking checks||Screaming Frog / SEMRush|
|Site Visualisation Checks||Screaming Frog / Sitebulb|
|Internal redirects||Screaming Frog|
|Redirect chains & Redirect loops||Screaming Frog|
|Robots.txt review||Visual / SC|
|Are pages being correctly blocked by Robots.txt?||Visual|
|Are pages being correctly blocked by Meta Robots?||Screaming Frog|
|Site Structure & Silo Use||Screaming Frog / Sitebulb|
|Category Use (ecomm)||Visual|
|URL naming convention - is this well optimised?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Error Pages||Screaming Frog|
|Is an HTML Sitemap in use?||Visual / Screaming Frog|
|Are Tag Pages being used?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Is the site using a crumb trail?||Visual|
|Is primary navigation easy to use?||Visual / UX|
|Footer navigation checks?||Visual|
|Is all good content under 4 clicks from home?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Menu setup and use||Visual|
|Primary Protocol Use (HTTP / HTTPS)?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Does the site have a valid SSL certificate?||Chrome / sslchecker.com|
|Do all pages redirect from HTTP to HTTPS correctly?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Is an HSTS policy in place?||securityheaders.com|
|Does the site use Subdomains?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Does the site carry a Favicon?||Visual|
|Broken / Redirected Internal Links||Most Crawling Tools|
|Broken / Redirected External Links||Most Crawling Tools|
|Is the .htaccess file configured correctly?||Visual|
|Are Dynamic Pages being served correctly?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Does the site have open dynamic pages that can be blocked?||From Crawl Data|
|Malware & Security Checks||sitecheck.sucuri.net|
|Blacklist check||mxtoolbox.com & ultratools.com/tools/spamDBLookup|
|Site Speed Checks||webpagetest.org / GTMetrix|
|Are any pages being duplicated due to poor architecture?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Structured Data & Schema Use||Google Testing Tool / SC|
|Are there any Chrome Console Errors?||Chrome Inspect|
|Is CSS being minified?||seositecheckup.com/tools/css-minification-test|
|Is Inline CSS being used?||Visual|
|Is every site page secure and without errors?||Screaming Frog|
|Are there any canonical errors?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Are all ads and affiliate links nofollowed?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Server location by IP||iplocation.net|
|Check all sites on webserver||viewdns.info/reverseip/|
|Do any pages have more than 100 external links?||Most Crawling Tools|
|What platform is the site built on?||builtwith.com|
|Does the platform come with known restrictions?||Research|
|Is a CDN in use?||builtwith.com|
|Check domain history||SEMRush / Wayback Machine|
|How many images are used sitewide?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Are images being optimised?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Are ALT tags being regularly used?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Are images named sympathetically?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Are there any dead images?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Are too many stock images used?||Visual|
|Are there any images in excess of 100Kb?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Responsive check||Google / responsinator.com|
|Mobile Page Size||webpagetest.org|
|Image use||Visual / webpagetest.org|
|Search console errors||SC|
|AMP Check||Screaming Frog / SC / validator.ampproject.org|
|Mobile UX issues (see UX)||Visual / Hotjar / Yandex Metrica|
|Use of video on mobile||Visual|
|Are buttons and links easy to click?||Visual / SC|
|Is the Favicon being displayed in mobile SERPs?||Visual|
|Parity checks - Content, Meta & Directives the same as desktop?||SF - 2 Crawls + Export|
|Mobile Testing||Mobile Moxie|
|Are Deprecated HTML tags being used?||seositecheckup.com/tools/deprecated-html-tags-test|
|CSS Checks||From Data|
|-- Are all page titles under 65 characters? (appx. 570 pixels)||Most Crawling Tools|
|-- Are any Page Titles under 30 characters?||Most Crawling Tools|
|-- Duplication without canonical/pagination?||Most Crawling Tools|
|-- Any signs of keyword cannibalisation?||Most Crawling Tools|
|-- Is the primary keyword/phrase close to the start?|
|-- Are all page titles descriptive of page content?||Crawling Tool / Visual|
|-- Are any page titles missing?||Most Crawling Tools|
|-- Are all Meta Descriptions unique and descriptive?||Most Crawling Tools|
|-- Are any Meta Descriptions missing?||Most Crawling Tools|
|-- Any duplication without canonical/pagination?||Most Crawling Tools|
|-- Are any below 70 characters?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Are Meta Keywords in use?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Are there any redirects other than 301?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Are there any 5xx errors?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Are images ALT tags in use?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Are there too many ads on any pages?||Visual|
|Does the site bombard you with popups?||Visual|
|Does the site carry clear Call to Actions?||Visual|
|Does each page have a clear H1 tag?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Are H2's being used across the site?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Is the site W3C Compliant?||validator.w3.org|
|Does site:brand show expected sitelinks?||Google / Visual|
|Is the site using a Cookie acceptance notice?||Visual|
|Site keyword research for Benchmarks||Most Keyword Tools|
|Brand search - Does homepage come up #1 when searched?||Google /Visual|
|Primary homepage term||Site|
|Is a keyword strategy in place?||Client / Research|
|Is there evidence of keyword duplication or overuse?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Are keywords in Page Titles?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Are keywords in H1?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Are keywords in H2?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Are keywords in Meta Description?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Are keywords in the main page document?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Are all fonts large enough to read clearly?||Visual|
|Are hyperlinks clear?||Visual|
|Could font colour be considered too light?||Visual|
|Are there clear primary and supplementary content types?||Visual|
|Is content Evergreen or Fresh?||Visual|
|Are there any thin pages? <200 words of content?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Does the site carry up to date TOS's?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Is there any duplicate content internally?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Is there any duplicate content externally?||Siteliner|
|Is any content scraped from external sources?||Siteliner|
|Is the contact page easy to find and use?||Visual|
|Content Gap Analysis||Ahrefs|
|Copy and classification checks||uclassify.com/browse|
|Has page grammar been checked?||Grammarly|
|Has page spellings been checked?||Checkdog / Grammarly|
|Site video use||Visual|
|Internal page checks||Visual|
|Contact page check||Visual|
|404 page check||Visual|
|Category Pages (ecomm)||Visual|
|Mobile UX Priorities||Visual|
|Review live site usage||Hotjar / Yandex Metrica|
|Backlink health & score||Ahrefs|
|Has disavow file been created?||GSC|
|Has disavow file been checked?||Ahrefs / Visual|
|Anchor Text Use||Ahrefs|
|Does the site have an international audience?||Client / Research|
|Is the site using rel="alternate" hreflang="x" ?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Is the site being translated without errors?||Visual|
|Is the site using an international URL structure?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Are the correct localised web pages being used?||flang.dejanseo.com.au / Research / Client|
|Does the site have backlinks from target countries?||Ahrefs|
|Is the site Multilingual, Multiregional or both?||Client / Research|
|Does the site location need to be setup in Search Console?||SC|
|Checks from international locations||Browseo & International IP's|
|Does the site need and gain traffic from local audiences?||Client / Research|
|Are local titles tags being used?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Is there a consistent NAP across the site and external sites||Visual / Ahrefs|
|Is local structured data being used?||Visual|
|Is there a Google MyBusiness listing?||Google My Business|
|Is the site listed in reputable business directories?||Research / Ahrefs|
|Does the site have local citations?||Ahrefs / Research|
|Does the site carry good local content?||Visual|
|Does the site have too many thin content local pages?||Most Crawling Tools|
|Hidden text||Crawling Tools & Research|
|Doorway pages||Most Crawling Tools|
|Meta Refresh||Screaming Frog|
|Link Exchanges||Ahrefs / Research|
|Is Flash being used?||Screaming Frog|
|Are iFrames in use?||Screaming Frog|
The resources below all provide additional information when auditing your website and provide even more practical assistance.
- James Hubbard SEO Audit Tools
- Search Engine Journal SEO Audit Checklist
- Ahrefs 16 step Audit
- Brian Dean’s SEO Audit Guide