How To Perform an SEO Site Audit: A Complete Guide


Performing a comprehensive site audit is crucial when starting SEO work on a site.

Missing this step might limit your traffic potential moving forward. Just as a building with weak foundations can lead to disastrous consequences, when scaling your SEO efforts, neglecting this detail may have dire consequences down the road.

But before you just dump your URL into a website SEO audit tool and hope for the best, you must first understand what you are looking for in a site audit and why.

In this post, we’ll cover our ultimate website audit checklist. We’ll explain why you need a website audit and how you can get started with minimal resources.

But first…

What is a website audit?

An SEO site audit is a comprehensive analysis of all of the technical elements of a site in order to find errors standing in the way of its ability to rank pages on search engines. Your site audit should include site-wide factors, URL and website structure, and individual pages and errors.

What are the benefits of an SEO site audit?

Done correctly, an SEO site audit will help you:

  • Find and nullify technical issues
  • Improve how search engines crawl your site and navigate your content
  • Rank higher and beat your competition

1. Finding and nullifying technical issues

Technical issues could hurt your site’s performance in more ways than you realize. Issues like broken pages (404) or poor site structure can eat away at your conversion rates as well as kill your rankings. Long load times could affect key user metrics like Bounce Rate.

What’s more, working on the technical side of your website could open up many opportunities you didn’t even know existed.

2. Helping search engines and users navigate your content

If your users can’t easily find what they are looking for on your site, they are likely to find it on your competitors’ sites. And, if navigation is difficult for your users, it’s just as difficult for search engines. Because search engines analyze your navigation to understand how important pages are, they also look at your site structure to understand what your content is about.

This means auditing your navigation could potentially increase your conversion rates as well as your SERP rankings.

3. Beating your competitors with higher rankings

Let’s face it. SEO is, by nature, a competitive discipline. Sites in similar niches compete to rank on limited sets of keywords. This means that as an SEO, you should be constantly looking for leverage against your competitors.

The good news is that your website audit can help you find that leverage.

And since ranking in Google is about optimizing a number of factors, doing a thorough site audit might uncover a number of fixes that make your site more likely to rank than your competitors.

Getting started on the right foot early on will help you scale your SEO in the future.

Now that you understand the why, let’s get into the how of the website audit process.

How To Perform an SEO Site Audit: A Complete Guide

How to audit a website: Your 10-step website audit checklist

In this section, we’ll cover the key steps for assessing a website’s traffic potential during an audit. You’ll learn how to identify and address issues that may be hindering your site’s performance and discover structural enhancements to increase your organic traffic for the future.

Here’s a quick checklist of all the steps you need to understand for a thorough website audit:

  1. Assess your current SEO status and rankings
  2. Examine the robots.txt file and sitemaps
  3. Identify issues and opportunities using Screaming Frog
  4. Resolve indexing problems through Google Search Console
  5. Optimize your website’s speed
  6. Evaluate your site’s structure.
  7. Review internal linking
  8. Review your blog content
  9. Examine your site’s backlinks
  10. Analyze competitors to uncover gaps in your digital strategy

1. Assess your current SEO status and rankings

Evaluating your current traffic will help you understand what traffic potential is locked away in your site. But rather than tell you, we’ll show you how to do this by analyzing gardendesign.com through the lens of the Similarweb Website Performance report.

The first thing we see is the site got 6.484M visits in the last year.

Similarweb Website Performance report for gardendesign.com.

Where is that traffic coming from?

Breaking down your traffic channels

Examining the Channels Overview, gardendesign.com primarily relies on Organic Search and Direct Traffic for its traffic, as shown below. While other active channels drive traffic, Organic Search stands out as their primary traffic source.

Similarweb Marketing Channels report for gardendesign.com

Looking at their organic search traffic, we see that 94% comes from non-branded search terms.

Similarweb Organic Search report

This means that Garden Design’s site is strategically focused on content to bring in leads. The number of informational intent keywords in the Top Organic Search Terms confirms this theory.

Uncovering interesting traffic trends

Now, let’s take a look at their Channel traffic trends. Trend graphs generally help you see how the different channels influence one another. You can often find insights into the potential traffic you can achieve by strategically planning your channels.

Channel Traffic report including organic traffic

Above, you can see the site’s organic traffic began to grow in December 2022 and peaked in May 2023. What’s interesting is that we see a similar trend with direct traffic.

Channel Traffic report excluding organic traffic

Direct traffic began to grow in December 2022 and peaked in June 2023. This is a month after the organic traffic peak.

Was direct traffic influenced by organic? If so, this might indicate that by improving SEO rankings, you can also increase your direct traffic.

Ranking distribution

Another useful way to understand the latent potential of a site is to look at Ranking Distribution. This report will show you keywords that the site is already ranking for and group them by different position ranges.

You can see how many keywords could result in quick wins for your site with just a little optimization and how many existing keywords will need work before they see the light of day.

Similarweb Ranking Distribution report

This is important to understand because improving your existing rankings is much easier than targeting new keywords.

Above, you can see that 6% of gardendesign.com’s keywords are in positions 1-3, and 11% are in positions 4-10. With a little smart content marketing perhaps those 4-10 positions could gain and become 1-3 positions.

Now that we understand the high-level traffic metrics let’s dig into the organic keywords the site is ranking for.

Keywords report showing keywords for Garden Design

To get a more granular understanding of your site’s keywords, try using the filters available in the report. For instance, to see your organic traffic potential, you can filter out branded keywords so that way you’re looking at the broader search intent within your space. What’s more, you can also filter your keywords by topic.

Keywords report filter

This will help you understand which topics the site is already ranking for and which ones could use a little attention.

All of these metrics will help you benchmark your site and will be useful when looking for untapped opportunities moving forward.

Now that you understand your traffic and rankings let’s start your audit by looking at your site-wide metrics.

2. Examine the robots.txt file and sitemaps

Robots.txt files and sitemaps can affect your entire site. Get them wrong and they can kill all of your organic traffic. This makes it important to review them and make sure they are correct and up to date.

Robots.txt

A robots.txt file is a text file meant to instruct search engine bots how to crawl and index pages. To see the file, just add /robots.txt to the root of the website.

For instance: https://www.examplesite.com/robots.txt.

Looking at the robots.txt file literally takes a few seconds and could help you find obvious mistakes that could affect how search engines crawl your entire site. And guess what, we’ve seen sites where Googlebot was not allowed to crawl. (Things like this do happen when site migrations go wrong.)

Since robots.txt files instruct how search engines crawl your site, make sure your site allows:

  • Bot access to CSS and styling files
  • Access to content files

It should, however, deny access to login and admin areas or any area or pages of the site that you don’t want indexed (for example, paid search landing pages.)

Robots.txt file for gardenersworld.com

Above, you can see a robots.txt file that disallows bots to crawl:

  • Author pages
  • Login pages
  • User pages
  • Reset password pages
  • And more

Once you’ve looked at the robots.txt file, it’s time to look at sitemaps.

Sitemaps

A sitemap is a file that lists the pages, videos, and other files on a site that you want Google to crawl and index. This is especially useful if you have poor internal linking on your site or if you have a large site and you want to tell Google how to prioritize crawling.

Ideally, your sitemap should be organized logically, and there should be a separate sitemap for each section of the site. If there are subsections and separate sitemaps, there should be a sitemap-index.xml file that includes links to the separate subsection sitemaps.

Your sitemap can be broken down by:

  • Media type: content-sitemap.xml (for content), image-sitemap.xml (for images), and video-sitemap.xml (for videos)
  • Subject: plants-sitemap.xml (for subject A), design-ideas-sitemap.xml (for subject B), webinars-sitemap.xml (for subject C), etc.
  • Content hierarchy levels: plants-sitemap.xml (for the primary topic), flowers-sitemap.xml (for the subtopic), etc.
  • Languages

Make sure there is a logical division of content and that different content types are not mixed together in the same sitemap. Also, since your sitemaps present the URLs you want indexed in search engines, make sure that only canonical URLs appear. Where video or image content is included within a URL, make sure that their URLs are included as well.

Now that you understand your site-wide issues, it’s time to dig into the details. Start by crawling your site with Screaming Frog.

Screaming Frog report page in Similarweb

3. Identify issues and opportunities using Screaming Frog

Although it isn’t pretty, for technical audits, Screaming Frog is one of the most reliable site audit tools.

Once you’ve created an account and crawled your site, click on the Issues tab to uncover any hidden technical problems on your website’s surface.

Screaming Frog Issues tab

You can see above a list of issues that might be choking your site rankings. What’s great about this report is that it lists issues and organizes them by priority.

For example, below, you’ll notice the top issues are ‘Directives: Noindex’ and ‘Directives: Nofollow.’ If the Nofollow directive was intentional, you can keep it as is. However, if it was unintentional, removing it could significantly benefit your site. Removing the directive will greatly improve the chances of these pages getting indexed.

High priority issues

If you want to understand any errors reported in the tool, click on the result, and you’ll see information about the page affected by the error.

Issue details in Screaming Frog

For instance, we clicked the ‘Directives: Noindex’ result. Below, you can see the description of the issue and a brief explanation of how to fix it.

Also, when you click an issue, Screaming Frog will display all of the URLs with that issue in the main window.

URLs in Screaming Frog's main window

These technical issues could affect your site directly, and you should prioritize them.

Once you’ve done that, the SEO tool also brings you a list of content issues. Below, you can see issues related to:

  • H1 Tags (or headings)
  • Page titles
  • Content
  • Images

As you can see, these are of Medium importance and most of them are opportunities and not actual issues.

Medium priority issues

Now that you’ve worked through all of the issues found in the Screaming Frog Issues report, it’s time to jump over to your Google Search Console account.

4. Resolve indexing problems through Google Search Console

Google Search Console will tell you if any of the pages on your website are not indexed. And if your pages aren’t indexed, they simply won’t appear in search results. To find a list of these pages, look at the Pages report in the indexing tab.

Google Search Console Indexing

In the overview, you can easily distinguish between indexed and non-indexed pages.

Google Search Console Indexing report

If any of the nonindexed pages should actually be indexed and you want to know what to do about it, scroll down to the Why pages aren’t indexed table to see a list of reasons why pages are not indexed.

Why pages aren't indexed

You might see legitimate reasons for keeping pages out of Google’s index, including ‘Alternate page with proper canonical tag’ or ‘Page with redirect.’ Other pages might not be indexed due to an error.

For example:

  • Not found (404)
  • Soft 404
  • Crawled –  currently not indexed

Click on any of these reasons, and Google will redirect you to a list of all the URLs with that issue. If you click on any of the URLs, you will be redirected to a page that gives you stats about your page.

Google Search Console giving stats about a URL

If you want to understand how to have the page indexed, click the Learn More button at the bottom of the result.

Now, it’s time to move on to site speed.

Pagespeed.web.dev report page in Similarweb

5. Optimize your website’s speed

Many online tools will help you optimize site speed, but we recommend using Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

Simply drop the domain URL into the tool and hit ‘Analyze.’

Core Web Vitals report in Google PageSpeed Insights

Above, you can see the Core Web Vitals assessment, including metrics like:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
  • First Input Delay (FID)
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
  • First Contentful Paint (FCP)
  • Interaction to Next Paint (INP)
  • Time to First Byte (TTFB)

If you scroll down, you’ll see the report scores your site speed based on four criteria, including:

  • Performance
  • Accessibility
  • Best practices
  • SEO

Site speed criteria including Performance, Accessibility, Best Practices and, SEO

This breakdown will help you decide which area to work on first.

Based on the image above, we’ve scrolled down to the Performance section since Performance is the lowest-performing metric. As you can see below, there is an ‘Opportunities’ header and a ‘Diagnostics’ header. Under each header is a list of issues you can work on.

Opportunities and Diagnostics in PageSpeed Insights

If you click on any of them, the tool will show you an explanation of the issue and help you understand how to fix it.

PageSpeed insights: How to fix an issue

Track every aspect of your SEO

Expand your visibility with detailed SERP feature analysis.


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6. Evaluate your site’s structure

Website structure is crucial for two reasons. Firstly, having a logical structure will help your users navigate through your site, which could directly affect their satisfaction and conversion. Secondly, a clear site architecture will help search engines find and index all of the pages on your site.

What’s more, according to Google’s John Mueller, a structured site architecture helps Google understand how things are connected and how they fit together. And the better Google understands your content, the more likely it will rank in search engines.

When auditing site structure, there are three things you are looking for:

  1. Content hierarchy
  2. URL hierarchy
  3. Breadcrumbs

Content hierarchy

For site content to be useful to a user, it must be well organized. Think of your website as a virtual bookshelf. If your site represents a general topic (your business), then it makes sense to categorize each bookshelf into different subtopics.

Gardendesign.com’s homepage breaks its content into subtopics, including:

  • Garden ideas & inspiration
  • Gardening essentials
  • Plants
  • Popular now
  • Garden pests, plant diseases, & other problems

Garden Design home page

Clicking on ‘Garden ideas & inspiration’ takes you to a separate Garden ideas & inspiration category page that includes siloed content.

This is not only a great user experience, but by following these internal links, search engines can easily find and index all of this subtopic content. Additionally, this also helps the search engine understand how the site is segmented into topics and subtopics.

Once you have a well-structured content structure, it’s time to make sure that the content structure is built into the URL structure.

URL hierarchy

The site’s URL structure should follow the same structure that was set up by the content hierarchy. This will add an additional layer of clarity to both users and search engines. Including keywords in your URL structure will add a powerful layer of clarity. Your category pages should include generic category keywords, and every layer below that should get progressively more specific.

For instance:

https://www.gardenexample.com/plant-care/flowers/roses/

https://www.gardenexample.com/plant-care/flowers/tulips/

https://www.gardenexample.com/plant-care/vegetables/tomatoes/

https://www.gardenexample.com/plant-care/vegetables/carrots/

You’ve now baked your content hierarchy into your folder structure. There is one more layer to add.

Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are a great way to help your users navigate your site. And breadcrumbs are another way to communicate your content structure to search engines, which will improve crawling and indexing. It’s key that your breadcrumbs reflect your content hierarchy and URL structure and provide users with a way to navigate through topics and subtopics without having to use the navigation menu or the back button.

Breadcrumbs on the britannica.com

A few things to remember when creating breadcrumbs:

  • Pages should not link to themselves
  • Use the H1 tag as the anchor text for the target page

Here’s an example:

Target URL:

https://www.gardenexample.com/plant-care/vegetables/carrots/…

Suggested breadcrumbs:

Home > Plant Care > Vegetables > Carrots

  • Home: https://www.gardenexample.com/
  • Plant Care: https://www.gardenexample.com/plant-care/
  • Vegetables: https://www.gardenexample.com/plant-care/vegetables/
  • Carrots: https://www.gardenexample.com/plant-care/vegetables/carrots/ (make sure not to link to this page)

There are a few tools that will help you with this task. We recommend using the Similarweb Folders report to get a quick overview of your site’s folder structure.

Similarweb Folders report

If you need more granular information, Screaming Frog will give you a list of URLs you can filter.

For instance, in the example below, Screaming Frog only shows URLs in the /how-to/ folder.

Screaming Frog showing URLs in the /how-to/ folder

As you can see, this site includes subfolders such as:

  • DIY
  • Grow plants
  • Choose tools
  • Solve problems
  • Maintain the garden

If you find a flat architecture, you might want to plan a new site structure for your site. Just keep in mind that your crawl depth shouldn’t be too deep. In general, SEOs recommend keeping it to a maximum of three or four levels.

Now that you understand the site structure, it’s time to move on to a related topic.

7. Review internal links

Generally, we recommend reviewing internal links together with site structure. The reason is internal links are a way to influence your site structure. Internal links are one of the easiest ways to improve your rankings, and reviewing them is crucial.

There are four things you need to look at:

  • Crawl depth
  • Broken links
  • Anchor text
  • New opportunities

Crawl depth

Crawl depth refers to the number of clicks a user makes to go from your home page to a specific page on your site. For instance, a page linked to your home page is considered the second level.

The significance here is if a user has to click too many times to find something on your site, you are likely to have a high bounce rate, which might negatively impact conversions on your site. Also, the further a page is from your home page, the less important it will appear to search engines. And low importance could result in low search engine rankings.

In general, you should solve this by working on your site structure (see above) because, in general, a well-structured site should not be deeper than three or four clicks. But, if you are not planning on making dramatic changes to your site, you can easily solve this by optimizing your internal links.

By linking from pages high up in your content hierarchy, you can bring important pages closer to your home page without dramatically changing your site structure.

How do you find pages that should move up the hierarchy? The simplest way to do that is with Screaming Frog. First, crawl your site, and then click the Site Structure tab and focus on the Crawl Depth chart.

Below, you can see a site with literally thousands of pages that are ten clicks deep (much more than recommended).

Crawl Depth chart in the Site Structure tab in Screaming Frog

If you are a visual person, you can also use the Crawl Tree Graph to visualize your site structure.

Screaming Frog's Crawl Tree graph

Above, you can see how Google crawls your site. This will give you a visual understanding of your crawl depth and which pages are far from your home page.

Broken links

You’ve now looked at your crawl depth. Next, it’s time to look for broken internal links using Screaming Frog. To do that, ensure you are in the overview in the right-hand panel and scroll down to Response Codes.

Response Codes in Screaming Frog

Select Client Error (4xx). This will give you all of the 404 errors on the site. Make sure to set the filter to Internal.

Screaming Frog 'Internal' filter

You should now see all the 404s on your site with internal links pointing to them.

Screaming Frog showing 404 pages

Next, select a URL and click the ‘Inlinks’ tab under the table at the bottom of the page and you’ll see all the URLs linking to the 404 page.

URLs linking to a 404 page

You’ve now identified all the broken internal links on your site. The next step is to optimize your anchor text.

Anchor text

Internal links help Google understand what your pages are about. One of the ways Google does this is by looking at anchor text. This means website links that point to a specific page should include the target keyword or keyword variation for that page in the anchor text.

You can easily find all the internal links as well as the anchor text for your pages by clicking on the page URL and clicking the Inlinks tab at the bottom of the page.

Screaming Frog showing internal links and anchor text

Above, you’ll find the URLs linking to https://www.gardendesign.com/plants/natives.html. Most of the anchor text contains the exact match keyword ‘native plants.’ It’s advisable to avoid excessive use of identical anchor text; incorporating keyword variations is a better practice.

After auditing all your pages, it’s time to look for new internal link opportunities.

How to find internal link opportunities

If you want to increase the number of internal links pointing to a page, you need to find where the relevant keyword is mentioned in other content on your site.

There are two ways to do this. One is free, and the other costs (a little).

If you are on a budget, you can do this using Google’s site: search operator.

Simply type site:yoursite.com + keyword

In the example below, we’ve searched site:gardendesign.com aphids, and Google displays a long list of internal pages that include the word ‘aphids.’

Google SERP showing Garden Design pages including the word aphids

The problem with this method is that Google might not bring you a complete list.

If you want to be more thorough, you can make a custom search using the paid version of Screaming Frog.

To do that, click: Configuration > Custom > Custom Search.

Screaming Frog Custom Search

This will allow you to find any instance of your keyword on the site. To save time, filter it only to show instances of words and phrases that don’t already include an internal link. Since you are looking for anchor texts for new internal links, change the default HTML to ‘Page Text No Anchors.’

Also, to save time, you can search for more than one keyword at a time. This could include your target keyword and a few variations.

Setting up a Custom Search in Screaming Frog

Setting up a Custom Search in Screaming Frog

Below, we’ve set up the custom search to find all instances of ‘aphids’ and ‘natural aphid control.’

Setting up a Custom Search in Screaming Frog

Next up, optimize your blog.

8. Review your blog content

Since a blog has a different function to other parts of a site, you should review it separately in your audit. In this section, we’ll show you how to do a basic audit of your blog content. We will not get into a comprehensive content strategy, and that is something you should do separately.

We will, however, cover:

  • Content quality
  • Keyword mapping
  • Search intent optimization
  • Content freshness

Content quality

Google has stated many times that the goal of content is to be helpful to your users. Heck, they even named one of their systems the Helpful Content Update. This means to rank in search,  all blog content must be high quality and helpful to users.

When reviewing a blog, as a general rule, look for long-form, unique content that is detailed and thoroughly answers search intent. (This is a general rule, as there are many instances where the user intent requires a short answer. The point here is to use your common sense. 😉)

To do that, start by comparing each blog post to the top-ranking content on Google for its target keyword. Now, it’s important to remember that word count is not a ranking factor and shouldn’t be the only thing you look at. But word count can help you see if a blog post is thin and lacking in quality information.

Once you’ve looked at the word count, have a quick look at the writing itself. Is it unnecessarily repetitive, or does the writer get to the point? In many cases, a shorter blog post with clear, actionable information is far superior to having a high word count. The key is to write for the end user.

Also, look out for unique content. If your blog post includes actionable information that your competitors’ content doesn’t, you might have a ranking advantage. The reason is Google measures content uniqueness using an information gain score. This means having more information than your competitors just might give your content a ranking edge.

Creating a competitive edge through unique content is one of the areas where Similartweb’s keyword research tools shine brightest. You can explore further details below or jumpstart your site audit with our free checklist.

How To Perform an SEO Site Audit: A Complete Guide

Keyword mapping

Just having quality content isn’t enough to rank in search. You need to make sure that your blog content is keyword-optimized. This means each page is assigned a target keyword, and that keyword appears in the:

  • Title tag
  • Meta description
  • H1
  • First paragraph of the content

Also, add some keyword variations to the content.

But, just keyword-optimizing pages is not nearly enough to see those pages rising through the ranks. You must also ensure those pages accurately answer the search intent.

Search intent optimization

Search intent is defined as the primary goal or purpose behind a user’s online search. When analyzing search intent, your goal is to understand what search engines think search intent is. You can do that by Googling the target keyword for any given blog post and looking at the top results.

What results do you see?

Do you see an obvious pattern?

If you do, you’ve figured out how Google understands the users’ query intent. This means Google is likely only to rank similar content.

To analyze search intent thoroughly, look at:

  • The content format, including list posts, complete guides, etc.
  • The actual answer that the user is looking for to satisfy their query

Once you’ve analyzed your target keywords and their search intent, you might see that more than one blog post covers a similar user intent. Ideally, these posts should be merged into a single long post. If you do that, make sure to 301 redirect any content that you want removed.

Content freshness

SEO is competitive, and your organic competitors are working to outrank your content. Since content often gets outdated, you must make sure that your blog content is up to date with the most recent stats, examples, and explanations.

The best place to start is your older content. Dig up your old content and see if it could be updated or rewritten.

This could be a quick win for your site as often old content already has links pointing to it, and with a little content upgrade, the blog could see quick ranking and traffic gains.

Now that you’ve optimized your blog content, it’s time to work on your backlinks.

9. Examine your site’s backlinks

By analyzing your site’s backlinks you will be able to understand:

  • Which sites link to yours
  • How many unique domains link to yours
  • Anchor texts

This might help you uncover backlink opportunities that are hiding in plain sight.

Sites that link to your site

We recommend using Majestic for this backlink analysis. You can easily see a detailed breakdown of your backlink profile.

Use the tool’s Referring Domains report to see all the sites that link to yours.

Majestic Referring Doamins report

This will help you understand which sites regularly link to your site and the pages most commonly linked out to.

You can use this data in two ways:

  • By seeing the sites that regularly link out to yours, you can find potential link opportunities to pursue. Because sites linked to more than one of your assets are likely to link out again. This might result in relatively easy wins with the right amount of relationship-building
  • By seeing the pages that sites regularly link out to, try to figure out what about those pages resulted in so many links. If you can figure this out, you can create more link-worthy content

10. Analyze competitors to uncover gaps in your digital strategy

As we mentioned above, SEO is highly competitive, and the site best optimized site generally wins. This means the key to ranking above your competitors is to have a site that is better and more comprehensive than theirs. Analyzing your competitors will help you understand how competitive your site really is.

There are two main aspects to SEO competitor analysis when performing a site analysis:

Both of these can be easily accomplished with Similarweb.

Keyword Gap analysis

To get started, you need to first understand who your competitors really are. Because SEO competitors can be different from your direct and indirect competitors, a site that competes with yours for organic traffic might not actually compete with your products or services.

One of the easiest ways to find your SEO competitors is to use the Similarweb Organic Competitors report. The report will bring you a list of sites that rank on similar keywords to your site. Now, if you are specifically looking for direct competitors to your site, you must first set up a few filters.

Since gardendesign.com is a content publishing site in the Gardening niche, we’ve set the filters only to show content publishing sites in the Gardening niche.

Organic Competitors report filters

Below, Similarweb is now only displaying highly relevant site competitors.

Similarweb showing relevant site competitors

Now that you have found your SEO direct competitors, it’s time to find keywords that your site is not yet targeting but your competitors are with the Similarweb Keyword Gap tool.

Here we are analyzing gardendesign.com and four of its closest SEO competitors:

Similarweb Keyword Gap tool

You can see the keyword overlap between your site and your competitors. Use this report to understand the basic keywords you must target to rank your site the highest. You can then use the report to gain ground against your closest competitors.

For example, if you click the Opportunities filter, you’ll see a list of keywords your competitors rank on that your site is not.

Keyword Gap Opportunities filter

What’s great about this report is the ability to filter the keyword list for relevant opportunities. For example, we’ve configured the tool below to display only non-branded keywords with a low Keyword Difficulty score (KD). This approach is an effective way to gradually expand your search market share, one keyword at a time.

Keyword Gap tool showing non-branded low-difficulty keywords

Now that you’ve mapped out next quarter’s content priorities, it’s time to shift your focus to your competitors’ backlinks.

Competitor backlinks analysis

Looking at your competitor’s backlinks will help you understand:

  • How many links should you aim to build
  • Which sites regularly link out to content like yours
  • What are the pages that attract the most links

Competitor backlink analysis is similar to the backlink analysis you did on your own site, but you are analyzing your competitors’ backlinks.

You are looking to find the sites linking to your competitors multiple times. By doing this you might find potential partners who are dying to link out to your content but are not yet aware of your content.

Look for the pages that get the most links as these tend to be the best link bait.

Now that you’ve found all the technical issues and a few opportunities to improve your site, it’s time to devise a comprehensive plan to fix these issues.

Track every aspect of your SEO

Segment your keywords into clusters with Keyword Tags.


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Create an action plan

If you’ve completed the 10 steps above, you probably have a long list of content upgrades and technical issues to fix. While it may seem overwhelming at first, proper planning will enable you to prioritize high-impact tasks at the first stage, followed by tackling smaller changes later.

To create an action plan, start with site-wide fixes. Because these issues are likely to affect all of your content.

Sitewide issues include:

  • Robots.txt files
  • Sitemaps
  • Navigation (main + footer)

After addressing these matters, review the Screaming Frog Issues tab and prioritize the high-priority issues. Once you’ve resolved those, proceed to tackle the medium-priority issues.

Screaming Frog issues tab focusing on issue prioritization

By being systematic, you’ll be able to work through all of the issues one problem at a time. Remember, this will take time. Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get busy.

Schedule your technical and content fixes with a Gantt

When doing SEO, it’s important to work efficiently. The best way to do this is to schedule all of your work using a Gantt. A Gantt is a chart that helps you schedule all of your tasks systematically.

Create your Gantt by first listing out your key activities such as:

  • Create sitemap
  • Review robots.txt and sitemaps
  • Keyword mapping

List your tasks, allocate time estimates, and assign responsibilities. Ensure your tasks have milestones for progress tracking. When mapping this all out, it’s important to create a logical sequence of activities.

Creating a Gantt chart will provide a visual project timeline, aiding resource allocation and bottleneck identification. Regularly update the Gantt chart to reflect timeline and priority adjustments during the project.

Because we all understand how dynamic SEO can be.

You are almost set up. There is one more thing to do before getting started.

Track your keywords

Before you start to optimize your site, it’s crucial to track your keyword rankings. That way, you can see if your optimizations have improved your search rankings. You’ll also see which pages have improved and which ones still need work.

Although tracking all of your individual keywords is important, we also recommend setting up keyword tags. Keyword tags allow you to segment your site into different categories or topics. This way, you can improve your site one segment at a time. This works particularly well when you have a large site, and you work on one segment at a time.

For instance, we have segmented the site below into several different keyword segments.

Similarweb Keyword Tags report

And, if you are planning to work on one segment at a time, you can easily set Screaming Frog only to crawl that area of your site.

Website audit: The final word

You now have all the steps to perform a thorough website audit. If you follow all of the steps above, you’ll potentially improve every aspect of your website, including technical fixes and content improvements.

You now have the knowledge (and tools). The rest is up to you.

FAQs

What is included in an SEO site audit?

A site audit typically includes an analysis of a website’s SEO performance. This generally includes its SEO health, content quality, user experience, and technical aspects. An audit also typically covers factors like page load speed, mobile responsiveness, keyword optimization, backlinks, and overall site structure to identify areas for improvement and optimize for better performance.

How do I do a local SEO audit?

You can conduct a local SEO audit by verifying accurate business information across all of your online citations, ensuring consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone) information. You must also review your Google Business Profile, obtain online reviews, and optimize website content with local keywords. Evaluate local citations and backlinks for relevance and fix any inconsistencies to enhance local search visibility.

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