8 Simple Steps to Complete a Technical SEO Audit

A technical SEO audit helps teams understand behind-the-scenes issues that affect search engine rankings like site speed, indexing, and backlinks. It’s important that SEO specialists have a full view of all of the elements that affect page rankings so that teams can take the best course of action to improve their positions.

Conducting daily technical SEO audits is crucial for building a great SEO strategy. But if you’re still starting out, beginning work with a new firm, or want to learn how to complete a technical SEO audit, it can be overwhelming.

In this article, we’ll go over eight steps to help you complete a technical SEO audit, increase web traffic to your web pages, and build your confidence as an SEO specialist.

What Is a Technical SEO Audit?

What most people think of as SEO is what specialists refer to as on-page SEO. This is where a professional optimizes the content that appears on a website so that it appears to the right audiences organically.

Technical SEO is not about the content that appears on a website but how users and search bots navigate through each page. A technical SEO audit is when specialists use a checklist of behind-the-scenes technical elements to review and improve to increase page rankings in search engines.

What’s involved in a technical SEO audit

When SEO specialists perform a technical SEO audit, they check a series of factors that impact a website’s speed, performance, and usability, and they take action towards optimizing web pages. Regular, sometimes daily technical SEO audits can help specialists learn about technical issues they might not know about.

A technical SEO Venn diagram showing technical, on-page and off-page factors and where they intersect

Image source: WordStream

SEO specialists and marketing teams use tools such as Google Search Console, Google PageSpeed Insights, web crawlers, mobile crawlers, and indexing tools, to optimize their web pages and improve search engine rankings through technical SEO audits.

When you should complete a technical SEO audit

It’s important to complete technical SEO audits regularly. Some businesses use technical SEO to help improve cash flow via web traffic and conversions, so daily audits are a must. But for blogs and personal websites, weekly or monthly SEO audits should suffice.

Besides regular maintenance, you should always complete a technical SEO audit when moving to a new site, start freelancing for a new client, or when you first get hired at a firm. And of course, technical SEO audits also come in handy during periods where your rankings are stagnant or in decline.

What you need to do before conducting a technical SEO audit

Before you conduct a technical SEO audit, there are a few things you need to do:

  1. Find out what your client’s goals are. Do they want to improve SEO, make web pages easier for users to navigate, or optimize their site’s performance?
  2. Get access to their tools and analytics. To perform a technical SEO audit, you’ll need to be able to access things like the site’s Google console, performance monitoring analytics, and anything else you need to meet your client’s expectations.
  3. Sign a written agreement. Whether you’re contracted for one job or ongoing work, it’s important to have a written agreement explaining what you’re going to do and how you’ll do it. You’ll also need liability disclaimers and a list of responsibilities so that you aren’t held accountable for things outside your control.

Having all of this information beforehand is important so you can prepare for the work. For example, if you were working for a SaaS company, you might be hired to perform a technical SEO audit on certain specialized landing pages based on their industry and business type so that they appear in front of the right people according to their previous searches and user behavior.

A diagram showing all the factors involved in an SEO audit

Image source: Search Engine Land

But if you were working for a retail company, your job might be to ensure that pages load fast, that there are no image issues, and that all of your 4xx links redirect to the correct locations.

A Step-by-step Guide to Completing a Technical SEO Audit

Let’s go through each of the eight steps that will help you complete a technical SEO audit successfully.

1. Crawl your website

Use a tool that scans your website to check how many URLs there are, how many are indexable, and how many have issues, including any problems hindering your site’s performance.

Computer screen showing a performance audit

Image source: Deepcrawl

For Wix users, Deepcrawl is the top tool that professionals trust, but most people start out using Google Search Console:

  1. Decide which sitemap format you want to use: XML, RSS, mRSS, Atom 1.0, or Text.
  2. Create the sitemap either manually or automatically with a sitemap generator.
  3. Add your sitemap to your robots.txt file, or submit it to Google through the Search Console.

2. Spot indexing issues

If the website has pages that Google can’t crawl, it may not be indexed properly. Here are some common indexing issues to look for:

  • indexation errors
  • robots.txt errors
  • sitemap issues

The easiest way to check your site indexation is to use the Coverage Report in Google Search Console. It will tell you which pages are indexed and why others are excluded so you can fix them. You may need to optimize your crawl budget to ensure that your pages are indexed regularly.

3. Check technical on-page elements

Although on-page elements are often left out of a technical SEO audit, attending to them is considered basic housekeeping that needs to be addressed. Here’s a list of on-page elements to review during a technical SEO audit:

  • page titles and title tags
  • meta descriptions
  • canonical tags
  • hreflang tags
  • schema markup

4. Identify image problems

Image optimization is another often-overlooked aspect that’s crucial to technical SEO audits. Ensuring images have no errors can help a site’s ranking in many ways, including improved loading speeds, increasing traffic from Google Images, and improved accessibility.

Be sure to identify technical image problems such as:

  • broken images
  • image file size too large
  • HTTPS page links to HTTP image
  • missing alt text

Next, it’s important to analyze internal links. Identify 4xx status codes that need to be redirected. If there are any orphan pages with no internal links leading to them, identify and address them.

Next, move on to the external links. External links are important because they make a website more credible to users and search engines. Ensure all backlinks are active and don’t lead to broken pages, and check to see that all pages have outgoing links.

7. Measure site speed and performance

Google Search gives better ranking positions to websites with good performance and fast loading times.

A screenshot op Google's PageSpeed tool

Image source: PageSpeed

Here’s how to use Google PageSpeed Insights to check on a site’s performance:

  • Go to the Google PageSpeed Insights page.
  • Input your web page URL into the box.
  • Click analyze and view your results.

This tool will provide you with an overall score, field data, suggestions, and other diagnostic information that can help improve your page speed.

8. Ensure your site is mobile-friendly

Finally, ensure that the site you’re auditing is mobile-friendly, responsive, and compatible with different browsers. Google favors responsive web pages that load easily and are easy to view regardless of the user’s device.

Here’s an example of how CryptoWallet.com uses mobile and web-friendly design:

CryptoWallet web view

Web view

CryptoWallet mobile view

Mobile scrolling view

It’s easy to check the responsiveness of a website with a tool like Responsive Web Design Checker or with these steps in Google Chrome:

  • Open the web page in Google Chrome.
  • Right-click to open the menu and select Inspect.
  • Click on the Toggle device toolbar to see how the website looks on screen and mobile.

Wrapping Up

Technical SEO audits help optimize websites so that they’re easier for users and for indexing bots to understand. Conducting a technical SEO audit involves a lot of elements, but this eight-step process can help streamline your workflow so that you don’t miss a thing.