How to Carry Out an SEO Audit: A Comprehensive Guide

A strong online presence is a necessity for any modern business and, when it comes to building the strongest online presence, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) serves as a critical tool.

Illustration: pch-vector/Freepik

SEO is the art and science of positioning a website so that it appears higher in organic search engine rankings, attracting more visitors and potential customers as a result. But with frequent algorithm updates and ever-increasing competition, maintaining a top-tier SEO strategy will prove challenging. This is where an SEO audit comes into play.

An SEO audit is like a health check for your website. It provides a clear picture of how your current SEO strategies are working and what areas need improvement. An SEO audit will dissect various components of your website and your online presence, and analyze everything from your site architecture to your on-page keyword targeting and competitor backlinks.

The end result of an SEO audit is a blueprint for action. A roadmap that outlines where you need to focus your SEO efforts to drive maximum impact.

Many find the prospect of conducting an SEO audit daunting, and so choose to hire an SEO audit service company to help instead. However, although the process can seem complicated (particularly for those without a background in SEO, web development and/or digital marketing), with the right approach you can simplify it and carry out an effective one yourself.

This guide aims to demystify the SEO audit process and show you how you can take your SEO results to the next–level. We will walk you through the purpose, tools, and techniques involved in carrying out a thorough SEO audit. By the end, you will have a clear understanding of how to audit your own website, identify areas for improvement, and create a strategic plan to boost your SEO performance.

Whether you're a seasoned marketer seeking to refresh your knowledge, a business owner looking to enhance your online presence, or a beginner in the SEO world, this comprehensive guide will give you valuable insights into carrying out a successful SEO audit. So, let's dive in and explore how to ensure your website is fully optimized and primed for search engine success.

Basics of an SEO Audit

Before jumping into the specific steps you will need to take when conducting an SEO audit, it's important to grasp what exactly an SEO audit is, the areas it covers, and the essential tools and resources required for it. This foundational understanding will provide a solid base to navigate the intricacies of your SEO audit as you move through it.

Defining an SEO Audit

An SEO audit is simply a systematic examination of a website to assess its ability to appear and rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

The SEO audit is akin to a health check-up for a website, identifying the strongest areas, its weaknesses, and the opportunities for improvement. The SEO audit evaluates multiple elements of the website and its associated digital assets to ensure they are set up in a way that maximizes visibility to search engines and aligns with best practice guidelines and known ranking factors. It takes many skills to effectively carry out an SEO audit.

Key Areas Covered in an SEO Audit

SEO audits are comprehensive and multi-faceted, they encompass a range of elements that impact a website's search engine performance. These key areas typically include:
  1. Technical Analysis - This assesses all of the website's technical aspects, including speed, mobile-friendliness, URL structure, crawlability and indexability, SSL certification, and more. These factors will greatly affect how search engine bots crawl and index your website, which is required for your pages to rank at all in the search results.
  2. On-Page SEO Auditing - This area examines the content and source code of your pages. Key elements are reviewed like the keywords that you have (or haven’t) included, meta tags, header tags, alternative text tags, content quality and topical relevance, internal and external links, and more. All of these factors directly influence the page's relevance to a targeted search query.
  3. Off-Page SEO Research - This section looks at external factors which will be impacting your website and its search rankings. Backlink profile metrics, social signals, online reputation assessments, and brand mentions are among some of the things analyzed.
  4. Local SEO - For businesses with any local presence, a local SEO audit will also be beneficial. This will involve analyzing factors such as Google My Business profile optimization, online reviews, and consistency of your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) across different platforms and your own website/social profiles.

SEO Tools & Resources

Effectively running an SEO audit requires various tools and resources to find and extract the necessary data, analyze it, and pull actionable insights from that data. Here are some indispensable tools for carrying out an SEO audit:
  • Crawler tools like Screaming Frog or SEMrush will mimic how search engines crawl your website, and help you identify many technical issue and on-page SEO opportunities.
  • Google Analytics offers valuable insights into your website's traffic, user behavior, and other vital metrics. It is great for measuring the impact of your SEO efforts.
  • Google Search Console will provide data about your website's health, indexability, and visibility in Google SERPs. It is hugely useful when it comes to SEO auditing.
  • Backlink Analysis tools like Ahrefs, Majestic SEO and/or Moz will help evaluate your website's backlink profile, critical in off-page SEO analysis. You will also be able to use them to identify the backlinks which are helping your top competitors outrank you.
  • Local SEO Tools such as BrightLocal will be helpful for businesses focusing on local SEO. BrightLocal in particular helps you spot consistency issues with your citations and local off-site signals.
  • Page Speed tools such as Google's PageSpeed Insights or GTMetrix are crucial to ensure that your site is performing well in terms of speed and performance. Issues here will not only negatively impact your SEO performance but also site usability and conversion rates.
Remember, the tools that you select should align with your specific SEO audit needs, goals, and budget. Each tool serves different purposes and comes with unique features. Understanding their capabilities and limitations will help you maximize their benefits during the audit process.

Now, equipped with a clear understanding of what an SEO audit is, its key areas, and the tools required, we are ready to dive into the step-by-step guide to conducting an SEO audit.

Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting an SEO Audit

Conducting an SEO audit might seem like a daunting task, but breaking it down into smaller, more manageable steps will make the process much more straightforward. Below we outline a step-by-step guide to help you understand and carry out an SEO audit across four key areas: technical, on-page, off-page, and local SEO.

Technical SEO Analysis

Any good SEO audit starts with a deep dive into the technical performance of the website in question. This should look at the code powering the website and all of the information that search engines pick up while crawling your website.
  1. Crawlability and Indexability - Use a tool like Screaming Frog or SEMrush to crawl your website and ensure that search engines will be able to access all of its important pages. Look for broken links, server errors, and crawl errors. Review your website's robots.txt file to check if any important pages are disallowed. Also check out your website's canonical tag setup to ensure that you’re correctly handling any content duplication/keyword cannibalization issues.
  2. URL Structure - Evaluate your URLs to ensure they are user and SEO-friendly, concise, and descriptive. They should preferably include your target keywords and help your users navigate your website. Your breadcrumbs should follow a similar structure as your URLs too.
  3. Site Speed and Mobile-Friendliness - Use tools like Google's PageSpeed Insights or GTMetrix to assess your website speed on both desktop and mobile devices. Also, use Google's Mobile-Friendly Testing tool to see if your site is well-optimized for mobile users. Google Search Console also includes some useful page speed (Core Web Vitals) and usability reports which you should review.
  4. SSL Certificate and HTTPS Usage - Ensure that your website is secure by checking if it uses HTTPS, indicating it has an SSL certificate. Google Chrome flags non-HTTPS sites as insecure, which could deter visitors. Check in Screaming Frog too if you have any mixed content issues, which is when you’re linking to and loading elements and sources which aren’t SSL secure on your pages.
  5. XML Sitemap and Robots.txt File - Check for the existence and proper formatting of these files. They guide search engines on which pages to crawl and index. Incorrect Robots.txt files can prevent search engines like Google from even crawling your key pages, which will mean they have zero chance of ranking in the search results.

On-Page SEO Analysis

Next you should look at the on-site SEO factors which are likely to be influencing your websites standing in the search engine result pages (SERPs).
  1. Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, and Header Tags - Check that each of your pages has a unique and relevant title tag and meta description (these should incorporate your target keywords also). Header tags should be used appropriately to structure your content, and your meta description should also encourage searchers to click through to your result over your competitors should they come across it whilst making a search.
  2. Keyword Optimization and Consistency - Ensure that your highest priority keywords are used appropriately within your content, URLs, and meta tags. Avoid keyword stuffing and ensure consistency. These days people tend to worry too much about things like keyword density which plays a much smaller part in the ranking systems behind the organic search results.
  3. Content Quality and Relevance - Check if your content is original, valuable, and relevant to your audience. It should answer user queries effectively. Try taking a random sentence from your page and search it in Google with quotation marks around it (“like this but with your own sentence”). If this search returns anyone ranking above you, you will need to investigate if you have any content duplication issues. Make sure that you are targeting keywords which are actually relevant to you/your business, your content should match the searcher intent behind the keyword.
  4. Image Optimization - Image SEO ensures that images are properly formatted and compressed for web use. Each image on your website should have an alt tag assigned which is describing the image content in a way that someone using a screen reader would find useful. Alt tags are primarily impacting the ranking of your website in the image search results, and influencing accessibility and usability scores.

Off-Page SEO Analysis

After reviewing the on-page SEO of your site, you can look at the external/off-site factors. Take a look at your link profile and the links pointing to your competitors to see what you may need to do to get your SEO visibility to the next level.
  1. Backlink Profile Review - Use tools like Ahrefs or Moz to evaluate the quality and quantity of your backlinks. Look for toxic and/or low-quality backlinks that could harm your site's credibility.
  2. Brand Mentions and Citations - Use tools like Mention or Google Alerts to monitor when and where your brand is mentioned online. This will help you manage your brand's reputation, and you can also follow up on any brand mentions to try and convert them into a link when possible which will drive more SEO impact.
  3. Competitor Backlink Analysis - Look at your competitors backlink profiles and take note of any which come from high authority and highly relevant websites. Seek to replicate these ones where possible.

Local SEO Audit (if applicable)

Most businesses will also benefit from some local SEO auditing. You should look at your local listing and some of the factors that go into its position in the local organic search results.
  1. Google My Business/Google Business Profile Analysis - Check your Google Business Profile profile for completeness, accuracy, and consistency with your website information. Make sure your location or service area is correct, and add any relevant products or services to it.
  2. Consistency of NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) - Check all of your online citations for your business to ensure Name, Address, and Phone (NAP) consistency across all the platforms. Examples are directories like Yelp and/or your key social profiles. Mixed citations risks making search engines less sure where your business is based and which searches it is most relevant to rank highly for.
  3. Online Reviews and Ratings - Monitor and manage your online reviews on Google, Yelp, and other relevant platforms. Positive reviews can improve your local SEO performance indirectly and, as large language models (LLMs) become more popular your reviews could even influence how likely they are to recommend you to searchers.
By meticulously following the steps above, you will be able to conduct a thorough and complete SEO audit. This comprehensive analysis will provide a roadmap for optimization, revealing areas of strength and highlighting opportunities for improvement.


The importance of SEO audits cannot be overstated. Regular and thorough SEO auditing will serve as the linchpin for your successful SEO strategy, ensuring that your website continues to perform optimally and align with search engine algorithms' ever-evolving standards.

Not only do SEO audits help in identifying and rectifying common technical SEO issues, but they also highlight areas for strategic improvement, enabling your website to stay ahead of the competition and continuously deliver value to its users.

In the realm of SEO, change is the only constant.

With search engine algorithms becoming increasingly sophisticated and user expectations continuously evolving, staying static is not an option. SEO professionals and website owners alike must foster a culture of continuous learning and adaptation. Regularly revisiting your SEO strategies, staying abreast of the latest trends and algorithm updates, and continuously refining your skills will be vital practices to maintain a successful online presence.

As we conclude this comprehensive guide, we hope to have imparted a clear understanding of the importance and process of conducting an SEO audit.


To ensure accuracy and credibility, all the information provided in this article was derived from reliable sources, SEO best practices, and established industry standards. For further reading and deeper understanding, here are a few valuable resources:

"The Beginner's Guide to SEO" by Moz:

"How to Conduct an SEO Audit" by Ahrefs:

"Step-by-step guide to conducting a technical SEO audit" by Search Engine Journal:
Previous Post Next Post