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The 30-Minute Technical SEO Audit Anyone Can Do

two women looking at a computer

In the last article, we talked to about technical SEO and what it entails. 

In this article, we’ll talk about how to conduct a technical SEO audit. What to look for? What tools to use? And what to focus on? 

Selecting Your SEO Tools

Unless your website has less than 50 pages or so, you’re going to need an SEO auditing tool to crawl the website. The most popular SEO auditing software tools are SEMrush, ahrefs, and ScreamingFrog. 

Personally, SEMrush is my favorite because they grade your overall site health and provide a comprehensive user-interface for reporting, keyword tracking, and a lot of other features. 

Ahrefs is great for backlink auditing, building backlinks, and anything that has to do with the back links. But it is not ideal for auditing websites.

ScreamingFrog is a great tool and I will sometimes run it in parallel alongside SEMRush. It’s also significantly cheaper than both SEMrush and ahrefs, probably because there is no user interface in the cloud. It’s great to crawl the website and export that data to Google Sheets or Excel but there isn’t a user interface that allows you to run reports and present to clients.

Google Search Console and Google Analytics are also tools that you will want to have set up and connected so that you can accurately track your organic traffic.

For the purpose of this article, I will be using SEMrush and a few other tools for specific things such as site speed.

What to Focus on First

SEM Rush errors.

Another reason why I like SEMrush is that it prioritizes the most important errors, warnings, and notices.

  • Errors are issues of the highest severity and should be fixed first. 
  • Warnings aren’t as important but you should attempt to fix as many as possible. 
  • Notices are not so important and most likely will not be fixed on larger sites. 

These errors may look alarming but it’s important to understand that you’re not going to be fixing every single one. The audit takes into account SEO best practices and this would be the ideal if you are 100% focused on SEO and we’re willing to potentially compromise other aspects of the website to fix all SEO notices. So let’s drill down into the errors and see what to fix first. 

Errors list in SEM Rush.

The above screenshot shows the eight most critical errors that we must fix. You can click on each one and drill down to see exactly which pages the errors occur on. They also do a great job of explaining what the error is and how to fix it.

Since we have to fix them all we have to decide which one to start with. The easy thing to do is look at which one has the most errors and start there – hreflang conflicts. Another reason why this is a good error to start with is that it can be fixed programmatically. With a few lines of code, we can fix all 1400+ hreflang errors in the span of a few hours.

This is just a personal preference, but it’s always great to come back to your client and say “hey look, we fixed 1400 errors in our first week of implementing SEO fixes”. It’s a quick win and it goes a long way rather than starting with the 900 duplicate meta descriptions, which may take weeks to completely finish and deliver to the client.

After fixing all of the errors to the best of our ability we would then go on and do the same with the warnings and then the notices. My personal goal is to get the site health to 90%. That tends to be very challenging with large websites.

Page Speed

With page speed being so important, there are a dozen different tools we could use to check our page speed. We’re going to rely on the ones that are provided by Google today, specifically Google pagespeed insights.

Google page speed insights report example.

Focusing on the opportunities, we can see that images are significantly slowing down this particular website. So we would click on the errors and find solutions to the problems and present them to the client. 

Mobile Accessibility & Core Web Vitals

The rest of the technical SEO aspects that we’re going to look at today can all be viewed from Google Search Console.

Google search console screenshot.

Fortunately, this particular website doesn’t have any errors but if it did we would click on open report, find the specific hour, and go in and fix it.

Google search console screenshot.

This usually requires working closely with the developer as you can see most of the errors revolve around coding. This is also the same for the core web vitals, which mainly focuses on the speed of the website on desktop and mobile.

Conclusion

This is not an exhaustive list of all technical SEO aspects that you should be focusing on and fixing but it does cover the most critical issues that you should be prioritizing. If you are not experienced with this then I recommend hiring a technical SEO agency to take care of it for you.

The Power of Technical SEO: How Optimizing Your Site Will Increase Organic Performance

Technical SEO is one of the most important elements of your website. It’s also, at times, one of the most confusing. 

You don’t need to be an expert, but a basic technical knowledge will help you optimize your site for search engines and avoid costly mistakes. 

As Tuff’s technical SEO strategist, I work on sites of all sizes. From websites with 5 pages to websites with 5,000 pages, I’ve helped companies make sure their web pages are structured for both crawlers and humans. 

In today’s post, I share my experiences and strategies with you and leverage these learnings to help you get started with technical SEO tactics on your own website. 

Let’s dig in! 

What is technical SEO

Technical SEO covers a variety of different technical optimization techniques and strategies to improve a website’s organic traffic. Some areas are more technical in nature than others. Some borderline on development and some borderline on content SEO, which we’ll touch upon later.

Why is technical SEO important?

Technical SEO is important because it is the foundation of your website, which may also be the foundation of your whole company. If you build a weak foundation, then nothing you do afterwards well give you the results that you’re looking for.

It’s important to start with technical SEO before any other areas of SEO. If you start building high-quality content or high-quality backlinks on a website that is not fundamentally strong then you will not rank well in SERP. 

Most important aspects of technical SEO

Core Web Vitals

Rankings on core website vitals.

Just a few months ago, Google released what is now known as the core web vitals that revolve around loading, interactivity, and visual stability. 

And they describe them as,

“Web Vitals is an initiative by Google to provide unified guidance for quality signals that are essential to delivering a great user experience on the web…Core Web Vitals are the subset of Web Vitals that apply to all web pages, should be measured by all site owners, and will be surfaced across all Google tools. Each of the Core Web Vitals represents a distinct facet of the user experience, is measurable in the field, and reflects the real-world experience of a critical user-centric outcome.”

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): measures loading performance. To provide a good user experience, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.
  • First Input Delay (FID): measures interactivity. To provide a good user experience, pages should have a FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): measures visual stability. To provide a good user experience, pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.

Speed

From tracking how long it takes before the page visually loads, to how soon you can start interacting with the page, and then if the page moves after you start interacting with the page; the core web vitals all revolve around website speed and usability. 

Google wants its users to have the best experience possible so it’s easy to see why they have such a focus on speed and usability, as well as security.

Mobile Usability

In this mobile-first indexing world it’s necessary to make sure that your website performs well on mobile. 

Security – HTTPS

Having a secure site that runs on HTTPS is certainly a ranking factor that Google looks at. As far back as 2014 they started to penalize websites that were not secure with https. This also includes the sites that you linked to. So if you’re linking to websites that are not secure, I recommend that you update your external links with secure HTTPS links.

Duplicate Content

There are many different types of duplicate content. The most common is duplicate content within your own website. 

This usually happens when you duplicate a page and then forget to change the title and/or meta description on that page. Search engines will penalize you for this, especially if the main body of content on the page is not unique. The reason for this is if both pages are the same how does Google know which one to rank. This is common with archived pages that have the same title and meta description on each paginated page. One way to avoid this is with canonical tags.

Crawlability

One of the most important aspects of technical SEO is making sure that Google and other search engines can crawl your website efficiently.

Depending on how large and complex your website is, this will most likely involve editing your robots.txt file, a well-thought-out XML and HTML sitemap, and the use of noindex tags to save your crawl budget. 

Broken Pages & Links

Having broken pages in broken internal and external links on your website will not only hurt your organic traffic but also your user experience. 

Search engines crawl all of the links on your website and check, amongst other things, if that page is broken or not. if you have a lot of broken pages or broken links on your website then it is seen as a poor user experience and search engines will penalize you for it.

SEO Tracking & Reporting

This is something that I don’t see mentioned much when talking about technical SEO and I believe it is an important piece that needs to be addressed. The famous saying “if you can’t measure it then it doesn’t exist” applies to SEO as well. 

Assuming you’ve got Google Analytics and Google Search Console set up, the first thing to do is connect those two together. This way you can view your organic search traffic in Google Analytics. This gives you the ability to run reports and compare organic to other channels as well as other useful capabilities.

The next thing to do is get a keyword tracking tool such as SEMrush or ahrefs so that you can track your organic progress month-over-month

Conclusion

The above is a non-exhaustive list of the most important technical SEO aspects to optimize. 

In my next article, I will describe more in-depth how to conduct a technical SEO audit. With that being said, in order to efficiently conduct a full technical SEO audit of your web properties, you will need an experienced SEO or technical SEO agency.

Implementing technical SEO fixes generally require going into the code and/or advising a developer on what changes to make. 

Though technical SEO is the first aspect of SEO that you should focus on, it is still only one piece of the puzzle.

Google search console results.

How to do SEO Link Building in 2020 [Free Email Template]

Google search console results.

Behind only quality content, content is always king, high quality link building is arguably the most important SEO ranking factor. So it’s no surprise that companies and SEOs put a lot of effort into building backlinks. I stress the term high quality, because the majority of link building that goes on is not high quality in my opinion. So what exactly does link building entail?

Link building can be both technical SEO and content SEO. It usually involves public relations, partnerships, and communication. In simple terms, link building is the process of getting another website to link to your website. This can be done naturally or it can be done strategically. 

Why is link building important?

Link building is important because one of the most important ranking factors that Google uses to determine how and where to rank your page in Google search results. Acquiring backlinks from authoritative domains can be very beneficial for your company. 

For SEO purposes, search engines crawl two different types of backlinks. A dofollow link and a nofollow link. A dofollow link simply tells the search engine crawler to follow that link, whereas a nofollow link does the opposite. So if you’re receiving a backlink from another website, a dofollow link is preferred, since a nofollow may not be crawled at all, though Google has recently announced that using nofollow is now seen as a hint, not a directive.

Beyond just getting a link from a high-quality website, there are a lot of additional factors that Google is looking at to determine how high quality that link is. The links that appear in the body of content with related anchor text are some of the highest quality backlinks you can get. For instance, if a news outlet covers a story on your company and links to your web page with text that is related to your core business, that is seen as a high quality backlink.

Link building research

When crafting a link building strategy, research is one of the most important factors. You’ll want to know exactly what type of link building you’re going to be doing, what websites and blogs you’re going to be focusing on, how you’re going to reach out, and what you’re going to offer.

Link building is certainly not easy. If you’re asking someone to insert a link to your website you better have a good reason why they should do so.

Let’s look at some different types of Link building strategies.

Link Building Strategies

This is not an exhaustive list but rather some of the most common link building strategies.

Mentions – using a tool such as Mention to find all mentions of your brand name and then reaching out to that webmaster and asking if they will link to your website because it will be beneficial to their readers.this has a higher success rate since they are already talking about your brand name and are familiar with your company.

Lost backlinks – this technique involves using a tool such as SEMrush or ahrefs to find backlinks that you have lost, for whatever reason, reaching out to the particular website or blog owner and asking if they can add back the backlink. This has varying degrees of success because maybe they removed the link on their own or maybe the link was broken, which takes us to our next method.

Partnership building – This is the most common form of link building. General outreach to bloggers and webmasters in your industry. Just like any other outreach, its success depends on how targeted the outreach is, how enticing your offer is, how relevant your content is to their audience, and so on. NinjaOutreach and BuzzStream can be great tools for mass outreach, though I’ve always chosen to do it manually.

Since I’ve had pretty good success with this method in the past, I’m going to share with you some things that have worked well for me in the next section. 

Broken links – this method is very tedious and has a lower success rate than the previous methods. For this method, you use a tool such as ScreamingFrog to crawl a website with related content and find broken links. Once you find a broken link that is linking out to a piece of content that is similar to a piece of content on your website, you reach out to the blog owner and ask him/her if they want to replace the broken link with your new link.

HAROHARO stands for Help a Reporter Out and provides writers with daily opportunities to be featured in high quality articles. Each day you receive an email with stories that reporters are working on and if you are an expert on any of the topics, you respond and have a chance to be featured in the article. This doesn’t always guarantee a backlink, but they usually make it clear whether or not they will link to you.

Guest posting – guest posting is one of the most common forms of backlinking and involves writing a guest post to be featured on another website. Within that guest post you will ideally link a few times to specific pages on your website. This is okay as long as you’re not paying to post the guest. Google has recently said selling paid links on blogs is against its webmaster guidelines.

Partnership Building Outreach Template

Here is an email template that has worked well for me in the past. One important thing to note is that you usually need to offer a link swap, or a way to drive traffic back to their website as well. Nobody wants to do anything for you for free. Before I include the template, lets talk about the steps that lead up to it.

  1. Build a spreadsheet of 5 target pages that you want to build link to and save it in Sheet 1
  2. On Sheet 2 (if doing manual outreach) build a list of target blogs and keep track of the URL, website name, DA, contact’s name, and contact’s email.
  3. Once you have that information, you can create a mail merge directly in Google Sheets.

Email template

Hi,

My name is Derek, and I’m reaching out on behalf of [Your Company].

I wanted to see if you’d be interested in exploring ways we can collaborate on content sharing between your blog and [Your Company]. I’ve been reading [WEBSITE/BLOG] for some time and have noticed a lot of content overlap. I think we could benefit from driving our audiences back to relevant content where applicable.

Let me know if you’re interested in discussing further.

Thanks,

Conclusion

These are just a few link building strategies but the best strategy is always to create high-quality content and share it with an interested audience so that they will naturally build backlinks for you.