Google Search Console Dashboard Screenshot

Gavin Hirst - Wednesday 26th June 2019


Why Technical SEO Audits are important and how to do them

Whilst recently carrying out a technical audit for a new prospective client, I took a
minute to realise how far we have come with the way technical SEO audits are
carried out. I’ve been working in SEO for 10 years now and one of the first
things I learnt when I started in my very first SEO role was the importance of
a website that is well built technically.

The first part of that is understanding and identifying technical problems and which can
lead to issues with how your content is:

  1. Indexed
  2. Ranked
  3. Presented

Once you have an understanding of the technical issues that can impact on these three
areas, you can set about putting a plan in place to prioritise how these will
be tackled depending on the problem and your objectives as part of your overall
SEO strategy.

The early days of technical SEO audits

Ten years ago, there simply weren’t the tools available that we find today. That meant that
technical audits were much more labour intensive. Identifying and understanding
the issues would take much longer and the process was not as exhaustive as it is
today with a variety of site crawlers and auditing tools available.

Still, those early days of technical auditing taught me a lot and whilst the tasks may
have been labour intensive, many of the elements that needed to be identified are
still included in the technical SEO audits we carry out today – it’s just that
we’ve had to add to that list along the way.

Getting started with a Technical SEO Audit

PageSpeed Insights DH
Google PageSpeed Insights

Whilst we have been doing technical audits for a long time, they have certainly evolved
over time. Additions I can think off just over the past 2-3 years include:

  • Mobile friendliness
  • Mobile site speed
  • https
  • AMP pages
  • Schema markup implementation
  • Canonical tag deployment

These elements are now included in our audits alongside a long list of other elements
that help us to answer those three questions asked at the start of this post –
at the end of the day, that’s what a technical audit boils down to – making sure
that the content we are creating can be indexed, ranked and understood by
Google and the end user.

Starting a
technical audit can be daunting, even for experienced SEOs but it doesn’t have to be. The best place to start with a technical SEO audit is with a checklist.
Thankfully, there are heaps out there to choose from – we had our own set up
for while but more recently, we have been using an excellent Audit checklist from Distilled.

Distilled Technical SEO Audit Checklist
Distilled SEO Technical Audit Checklist

We found that this is the most comprehensive checklist that enables us to quickly
identify areas of a website that are causing issues from an indexing, ranking
and usability perspective  and allows us
to focus on either making those fixes, or making recommendations to our
clients.

Distilled
have very kindly provided the template as a FREE Google Sheet – simply click
the link below, save a copy to your own Google Drive and away you go – simple as
that!

Download your free SEO Checklist template

One of the great things about the spreadsheet is that even if you’re new to SEO, or even
if it’s not part of your main role but you wanted to check in on the technical
health of your site, they have included heaps of helpful links within the
checklist which will show you exactly how to check each of the points within
the list and make sure you are discovering the correct information and
recording this accurately.

The tools needed for a technical SEO Audit

Once you have downloaded the checklist, you will see that there are a few tools you will
need in order to be able to address all the sections of the checklist – these tools
include:

Deepcrawl Dashboard Screenshot
Deepcrawl Dashboard
  • Screaming Frog
  • Deepcrawl
  • Google Search Console
  • Chrome Inspector
  • Structured Data Testing Tool
  • Google PageSpeed Insights (added by us)

We appreciate that not all of you will have all of these tools. There are free versions available of Screaming Frog (for limited crawls) and of course Google Search
Console and other Google tools but Deepcrawl is our absolute ‘go-to’ tool when
it comes to technical audits.

Deepcrawl lets you compare crawls so you can monitor the impact of your actions and we
find it to be the most in-depth when it comes to technical SEO audits. We also
have an SEMrush account which has some good auditing features but we don’t find
it as accurate as Deepcrawl.

Linking

Ahrefs Dashboard Screenshot
Ahrefs Dashboard

Another tool which we include in our technical audits which is not part of the Distilled
checklist is Ahrefs. We look at the link profile as part of a technical audit
to look at both internal and external links and establish whether there are any
potential issues which are restricting a site’s ability to rank. Spammy links,
sitewide links and poor anchor linking text can all be factors that contribute
to a page not ranking as well as it could so we like to include this in our
audit and highlight any potential issues.

Round Up

Hopefully this gives you a nudge up the ladder if you are thinking of embarking on a
technical SEO audit of your website. The best thing to do is talk to an SEO specialist
first and get their professional input – you can then look to manage and
maintain any on-going audits based on the initial recommendations and make sure
you check in with your SEO agency once every 6-12 months for a full website
MOT.

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