Ask any SEO expert, and they will tell you that SEO audit is the least favourite part of the job! But, I think we take it for granted. Recently, while conducting an audit for a client’s website, I was struck with just how straightforward this step is, owing to the various excellent tools available!
Without automation tools, the task is quite arduous. Let’s face it; no one would like to spend hours auditing each and every website only to face similar problems and errors at this fundamental step of SEO.
I am grateful for the day that I decided to automate the process or at least find a way to reduce manual work and make this audit as quickly as possible. And I wish to impart my insights with hopes that this laborious process becomes easier for all the SEO experts out there!
Let’s Prioritize: How to choose the perfect tools for SEO Audit
According to BrightEdge, 68 percent of all online experiences begin on a search engine. And 53.3 percent of traffic comes from organic sources. With such promising insights, it is clear that every website needs a solid SEO strategy.
A side audit forms the basis of this strategy as it sheds light on the weaknesses of the website – weaknesses that SEO helps to overcome. When it comes to tools, there is quite a range of solutions out there. To choose the best one, it is imperative that you look for the right features.
Here are some of the features or, better put, SEO audit checklist, you might want to prioritize:
- Technical elements: A website should be open for crawling and indexing by search engine robots. Similarly, SEO tools should ideally be able to identify the presence of sitemap and robots.txt file.
- Mobile-friendliness: Google has now adopted a “mobile-first” approach in ranking websites. Therefore, select a tool that allows you to gauge the mobile-friendliness of your website, like the touchscreen readiness, compatibility, website speed on phones etc.
- Keyword tracking: Keyword performance and optimization is hands down the most important parts of modern SEO. A keyword tracking tool is, therefore, a necessity. A desirable tool should provide you with monthly search volume, rank position, word suggestion, competitor analysis etc.
- Site Crawl: When doing an audit, you must keep an eye out for duplicate content – which is quite prevalent online. Your tool should be able to detect duplicate content, broken links and unindexable pages.
- Google Analytics Syncing: Considering that as per StatCounter, Google accounts for 91.75 percent of market share, your audit tool must sync with Google Analytics for cohesive reporting.
- Usability: If you are a novice in the world of SEO, the complexity of some of the tools will spook you. Always use tools that you feel comfortable operating. You wouldn’t want to be stuck at this step, more than necessary.
My Top Picks
Once you know how to do an SEO audit as well as your preferences in the choice of tools, you can easily filter out the different available options to select the ones that best work for you.
Here are my top picks. They may be aligned with your requirements or may not be. Regardless, they are excellent tools to incorporate into your SEO audit process!
I am sure most of you are well-aware of this popular tool. When it comes to the site audit checklist, this tool surely allows you to cross off a lot of audit steps in one go! I find it phenomenal for speeding up my initial audit.
The solution comes with a wide array of services, including backlink tracking, keyword research, PPC research, competitor analysis and rank tracking. However, it is important to note that it doesn’t provide one holistic tool for all these features.
Instead, each isolated features works to provide much-needed information for honing your SEO campaign. For instance, the keyword research tools help in highlighting poor-performing words to eliminate while competitor research helps in detecting flaws of other relevant websites.
Ahrefs is yet another tool that is touted as an inclusive solution for various aspects of SEO. Just like SPYFU, you can avail features like Content Explorer, Site Explorer, Link Intersect, and a dedicated audit tool. This last feature is what distinguishes it from all other tools on this list!
Some of the helpful features of Ahrefs includes:
- The ability of the tool to crawl desktop as well as the mobile version of the website.
- Automation site crawls with the option of choosing between daily, weekly, and monthly frequency.
- Creation of custom filters based on client needs.
- Delivering actionable recommendations on fixing the detected SEO issues.
XML Sitemap Validator
For those of you looking for solutions specifically for robots.txt and XML sitemaps, XML sitemap Validator is a worthy tool to use. While Robots.txt is easy and one can check it manually, XML sitemap can be tricky, even for experts.
Additionally, merely having an XML sitemap is not enough. Instead, your sitemap should not contain any 4xx or 5xx response code. It is important to create a sitemap that either passes the 200 header response or 301/302 in case of redirections.
This is where the tool comes in. It helps you automate your process so that you don’t have to check every single URL, just copy and paste where your sitemap is located, and it will pass you accurate results accordingly.
Screaming Frog is yet another popular tool that is widely used within the SEO community. It is one of the amazing tools for initial audit that offers tons of information, which help one determine the amount of work that must be done pertaining to the technical side of SEO.
If your website is below 500 pages, Screaming Frog can be used for free. Even for websites with above 500 pages, the cost of the solution is quite affordable, keeping in mind the benefits delivered – especially the quick technical overview of your website.
All you have to do is to submit your URL in it and click run; screaming Frog will scan your website and will give you all the technical information that includes title, Metadata, Heading tags, header statuses, and links.
Features worthy of being mentioned include:
- Evaluation of URL structure and internal linking.
- Integration with Google Analytics, PageSpeed Insights and Google Search Console.
- Identification of URLs blocked by meta robots and robots.txt.
- Identification of broken links and duplicated content.
Research conducted by Raven’s revealed that over 29 percent of websites online feature duplicated content! Considering how much Google discourages plagiarism, this is quite an alarming statistic. You must ensure that your website is not among these penalized sites.
Right from the initial audit, you must identify all duplicated content and then work towards eliminating them. In case your website content is copied within the website, a tool called SEOmoz pro can help.
If it is copied from other sites on the internet, Copyscape will be your saviour. This tool gives a quick analysis of copied content from 3rd party websites. This information helps me understand how much workforce will be required to make the project successful.
Honorable Mention: Built With
This is an obscure but quick tool I used a lot during the start of my journey. It provides a lot of different information about websites. I usually used it for checking the technical language that a website is using.
It helps most when people use different content management systems on their website, i.e. WordPress, Express Engine or any other CMS services. Many different CMS systems are not SEO friendly, and this tool helps you in guessing and estimating your efforts required.
I have found each of these five SEO audit tools to be of immense help during the technical site audit process. This doesn’t mean that some of the other tools out there aren’t worthy of being tried out.
In fact, it all comes down to what you feel are the pain points of the audit process and which ones can best be automated by the available solutions. For my level of expertise and comfort with technical SEO, I find these five to be ideal.
You can choose to try them out or select other popular tools. Whatever you end up doing, just ensure that your site audit process is as flawless as possible. After all, it forms the basis of your entire SEO strategy. A misstep here can render your efforts useless.
With this admonitory warning, I bid you farewell! Do let us know if you try (and love) the tools mentioned. And mention any other solutions that have made your life easier. I am sure our readers would love to know.