There are some things you can't avoid forever and one of biggest things that site builders fear is running an SEO audit.
I wanted to put together a straight-forward & dead-simple SEO that you can do in a day. It won't be overly technical and all you have to do is utilize the tools I provide you and make a few judgement calls about what they report back.
If you're at a point where your site is more than 100 pages, I think this should benefit you.
There's definitely an opportunity cost that comes with running a site audit because you could be spending your time building out your site.
However, there's absolutely value in chiseling your artwork. By that I mean reviewing your sites architecture to make it more SEO friendly and setting yourself up for future success.
Alright, let's start with the macro and then continually dive deeper. I promise this won't take long.
1) Audit Your Site on the Macro Level
If you're anything like me, you probably have a bunch of unnecessary plugins on your WordPress site that you either thought you needed or just don't use anymore.
Depending on what installation you've chosen on your site, plugins like Hello Dolly are considered bloat. It's not necessary and just weighs down your site at the end of the day. Maybe not a lot, but if you have no plans for using it - then I suggest purging it. Save that room for your content & necessary plugins!
So look at your WordPress plugins first, then head over to builtwith.com and have a look at everything else.
This little report should help you understand your site more but also tell you what else slipped through the crack.
2) Homepage SEO
The simplest thing I can say about getting this done is to use a tool. Don't make this too hard and just go for best practices. Auditing tools are awesome, but can sometimes provide more data than necessary.
A site I like for especially auditing homepages is SEOsitecheckup.com. It's a simple quick look at your overall site performance, but with heavier interest in how the homepage is doing in particular.
Sitecheckup offers a nice look at the top layer of your site in a sense. There aren't many in depth parts but an overall look at popular metrics.
If you don't know what the metrics mean, the report pretty helpful as well with plenty of links back to Google's own blog.
3) Crawl Deeper Into Your Posts & Pages
Next, let's go one layer deeper. And again all this means is we choose another tool that is geared towards a deeper scrub.
I've chosen RavenTools for this because it's fairly thorough and doesn't overlap as much with Sitecheckup.
I've found RavenTools to be good for a free trial, but Ahrefs also has a new Site Audit tool that's probably worth trying out as well.
In any case, now that we're diving deeper you'll start to get more errors on your content length, alt tags, meta description, and such.
This is a great time to talk about when an error is reported, but it was done on purpose. This helps us go one step deeper though and may encourage you think outside of the box.
Tools are great, but you still have to be creative.
A false positive occurs with an error like "your content is not long enough on this page".
If you did this on purpose, then ignore it with your site audit. This might be a Prime Day deals page you created or a parent page that just has very little words but is used more as a directory that leads to other parts of your site.
4) Improve Your Current Rankings
The macro analysis and site audit tools are only the first layer. Now we want run a more granular inspection your keywords.
There are two quick wins to get keywords to perform better:
1) Improve internal linking
2) Prioritize your inbound link building
Yes, adding backlinks is probably the best way to improve keywords, but that's beyond this audit.
Goto SEMrush.com or Ahrefs and download the organic rankings for your site.
Then your data so that you only view search volume over 100 and the keywords you rank for from the 3rd page to the 1st page.
Then organize them so your seeing your 3rd page rankings at the top.
Find Internal Link Counts
Download screaming frog and start running a crawl. This is a powerful tool we haven't talked about much but it'll give us an idea of how many "inlinks" aka internal links a page has. Plus the anchor text.
Open up the software, enter in your URL and press start.
If you're not familiar with Screaming Frog, Matthew Woodward has an excellent guide on using it.
Improve Internal Links & Optimize Keywords
Head over to Semrush and look at the pages your sitting on the third page for and analyze your internal link diversity and also how many times you mention the keyword.
Let's run through an example:
Notice the phrase I've pointed to?
That's an important keyword for us and the search volume is decent. So when I hop over to screaming frog, it tells me that I've got 299 inlinks pointing to this page.
Unfortunately, when I dive a bit deeper and look at the second tab called "inlinks" - I can see the anchor text is mostly composed of "article packs"
In this case, I want to add an internal link somewhere and why not right here:
It's been amazing to see the positive reviews for the article writing service. Not only have people enjoyed the optimization work, but the premium content is able to put us a notch above the competition.
See what I did there? It's called a smart link and something Alejandro spoke about where you utilize a greater width of anchor text while making sure the keyword you want is 'hidden' inside of the hyperlink.
Next, goto the page and see how many times you've mentioned the keyword. In our case, we mention it once out of a 1,900 words. So I'll go ahead and add it in one more time.
Keep going through Semrush and match everything up with ScreamingFrog and see what else you can optimize.
A Word on Over Optimization
Don't go overboard with this on-page stuff. Keep your most powerful tactics for offpage work. For example, you don't have to use the exact match keyword for your internal linking.
Open up LSI Graph and see what you can grab from there to use.
Another thing you may want to do is analyze your backlinks. If you've got some spammy ones, then head over to Google webmaster's tools and disavow them.
This relates back to one of the biggest mistakes we've seen from fellow site builders and that's grabbing crappy links from low quality vendors like Fiverr. If you want more info on common mistakes from niche site builders, click here.
Why It Took Me Longer Than a Day
When I first went through this process, it took me well over a day. I'd say around 3 days doing it on the side. But now that I've got the tools laid out, it can definitely be done in a day.
Screaming Frog only lets you scrape 500 items so if you're site is below 400 pages, then I'd do this now before you have to pay for the license.
Everything else has a free trial or is just free in general. Move fast, trust yourself and good luck!