What is a Technical SEO Audit and Why is it Important?
A technical SEO audit is an analysis of the technical elements of a website. The primary goal is to ensure that both search bots and site visitors can navigate the site.
The audit will check:
- if search engines can fully crawl and index your site
- If there are impediments to a good user experience
- If the site follows SEO best practices to improve search results on Google (and sometimes Bing)
Technical SEO is a top priority for a comprehensive SEO program, alongside content development, keyword optimization, and link building. If a website cannot be efficiently crawled, accessed, and indexed, it won’t matter how valuable or well-optimized the content is, nor how popular the site is.
A problematic technical implementation can negatively impact your search engine rankings as a whole. This can make technical SEO and performing a technical SEO audit THE top priority for a website.
Types of Technical Issues Discovered in a Technical SEO Audit
Technical SEO review may include:
- analytics tracking
- meta tags
- webpage status codes
- URL formatting
- mobile friendliness
- coverage and indexing issues
- page speed insights
- robots.txt and XML sitemap
- security concerns
- duplicate page issues
- international compatibility
- structured data (or schema markup)
- website extensions
- checks for broken links
- … and more.
Technical SEO issues can occur on your homepage, category pages, product or service pages, or any informational page. In most cases, issues that negatively affect a human visitor’s user experience, should be highly weighted. Optimizing the website for a human visitor, will get you most of the way to optimizing it for search engine’s algorithms.
Fixes are usually prioritized by likely impact on SEO performance and ease of implementation. If the issues are widespread, it’s important to tackle your most important content first.
For SEO purposes, highly important content is:
- Pages that get leads/sales
- content you most want people to see, based on your business goals, and
- pages that are most frequently visited
Fix any issues on these two categories of content first. Often, especially on large template-driven ecommerce sites, fixing an issue in one place can fix it across many other pages all at once.
Some technical SEO issues may overlap with other concerns for a website, such as privacy and security, as well as Accessibility guidelines. In recent years, websites that are not designed with disabled users in mind may be subjected to a lawsuit. While there are automated plugins and tools available to support Accessibility compliance, working with a subject matter expert is preferred.
How a Technical SEO Audit is Performed
A comprehensive technical SEO audit will include both software-based and manual analyses by an experienced SEO professional. It is important that you choose a professional who is knowledgeable and experienced in technical SEO and in performing audits. One that has specific experiences in the type of website you have, such as large-scale e-commerce for example, is recommended.
There is no perfect SEO software that captures every technical issue on a website. Often, multiple software applications and a focused manual review will be necessary to identify all major and minor issues. A few of the top SEO platforms are: SEMRush, DeepCrawl, Screaming Frog, Moz, and Ahrefs. And there are several others.
An SEO professional will often use a combination of these while both optimizing and maintaining your website. The software used may provide a score, representing its estimate of your website’s overall health.
What You Should Expect With a Technical SEO Audit
Depending on who is performing the technical SEO audit, the actual deliverable may differ in such as how it is presented. A comprehensive technical SEO audit could consist of several or all of the following:
- A detailed write-up: This will usually be in the form of a PDF or PowerPoint presentation, listing all of the current technical issues (or “factors”), often prioritized by difficulty and impact. Expanded descriptions of the issue or factor, why it is important, specific examples from the site, or references to other sites, may also be included.
- Simplified, line-itemed checklist: Some SEO professionals like to include a simplified checklist of all technical SEO factors that were checked during the auditing phase. This serves as both a helpful task tracking document, while also being able to show SEO factors that were reviewed but didn’t have issues to speak to.
- SEO issue reports: Many of the technical SEO factors may contain several, dozens, or potentially hundreds of detailed “weedy” issues within them. If this is the case, line-itemed reports should be provided.
- If these reports are exported directly from the SEO auditing software they may contain issues that are not applicable to your site. Therefore again, a quality SEO professional will review, confirm, and clean-up any necessary reports before sending them out.
Final Thoughts on Technical SEO Audits
A comprehensive SEO audit should not be rushed. It could take a couple of days or a couple of weeks to complete, depending on the size of the site, the types of issues and the number of issues within each type.
Most important, regardless of what documents are provided in the SEO audit, or how it is presented, the recommendations should be actionable!
We recommend auditing your website for technical SEO issues on a regular basis. Recurring checkups are necessary, especially for a website where content is added and/or removed
throughout the year. SEO technical audits are often scheduled monthly, quarterly, or at minimum, once per year.
Major changes to the structure of your website could have a negative SEO impact. So it is recommended to keep track of the changes made and have backup copies of your website.
OpenMoves is a boutique performance marketing agency, based in New York, with 20 years of experience providing online performance marketing, including comprehensive Technical SEO Audits built to help you succeed.