An SEO’s Guide to SEO Audits Part 4: What to Include in Your “SEO Site Audit Checklist”

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This is really the heart of the matter: what are you going to include in your SEO audit? This should be influenced by:

  • Your price
  • Your area(s) of expertise
  • The client’s expectations, goals, and what they expressed they’re looking for
  • Your personal approach

I’ll give you an idea of what I include in an audit and how I approach each section, but again every SEO’s audit is likely at least a little different. Here are a few great examples of alternative perspectives on what to include in your audit:

As always you’ll need to consider the factors above and ultimately will have to roll your own, but as I mentioned in the last installment of the series, as a general approach I like to orient the client to what we’re trying to accomplish with each section of the report, and then start to drill in to more specific recommendations.

For instance let’s just look quickly at the first section of the report, keyword targeting: what I aim to do with this section is arm the client with a methodology for better attacking keyword targeting – I’m not going to hand-write each and every title tag on their site, but rather I’ll make strategic suggestions such as:

“Your current strategy over-emphasizes head terms in both the IA and your link building efforts – we recommend you place more emphasis on longer tail variations such as X (more on how to specifically execute against this in the link building, title tag, and information architecture sections).”

And again as I mentioned in the last installment it’s really helpful here to link to the sections where you do, in fact, give specific recommendations on how to implement a keyword research strategy.

This is basically the approach I’m applying to each of the following sections:

  1. Keyword Targeting
  2. Information Architecture
  3. Search Visibility & Indexation
  4. Duplicate Content Issues
  5. Title Tags & Meta Descriptions & Keywords
    1. Title Tag Best Practices
    2. Duplicate Title Tags
    3. Meta Keyword Tag
    4. Meta Descriptions
    5. Robots.txt File
    6. Page Speed
    7. Errors in Webmaster Tools
    8. XML Sitemap
    9. Cannonicalization
    10. Broken Links
    11. Internal Linking
    12. Additional On-Page Factors
      1. Alt Attributes – On Page
      2. Alt Attributes – Hyper linked images
      3. Content Blocks on Category Pages & Dynamically Generated Content
      4. Content & Link Building Strategy

I won’t go into a lot of detail about how to conduct each of these analyses as this isn’t meant to be a tutorial on how to do SEO, but obviously making detailed recommendations within each of these sections will lead to a really time and labor-intensive project and in most cases a pretty lengthy document (although there’s no need to worry about the plop factor – if you’re doing the audit properly and doing a good job of setting expectations you’ll likely be delivering value well north of what the client’s paying for your report, which should be a lot more interesting than how many words or pages are in your final version).

That brings us to the end of the four part series on conducting an SEO audit. Hopefully if you’ve read the guide from end to end you’ve learned something about:


Spotlight Image Credit – Artem Samokhvalov / Shutterstock

Tom Demers

Tom Demers

Managing Partner at Cornerstone Content
Tom is the co-founder and managing partner of Measured SEM and Cornerstone Content. He was also the former Director of Marketing for WordStream, Inc. Prior to working at WordStream, he was an in-house SEO specialist and SEO Manager, worked as an SEO consultant for a search engine marketing agency, and had done independent organic and paid search engine marketing consulting for numerous clients for several years.
Tom Demers
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  • Benjamin Ehinger

    After all the crazy updates and clients bugging me all day about what to do, this post has become very helpful for me. Just wanted to thank you.

  • Nick Stamoulis

    I usually break my audits into two parts, high level and page-by-page analysis. I want to give my clients enough information so that they understand why I am making these recommendations. The high level recommendations deal with site structure, design factors impacting SEO and things like that. The page-by-page is where you get into the “meat” of the audit and focus on content optimization.

  • Denny

    I normally sit with designer to give him guidance for better understanding of website structure before it is built by highlighting things about onsite optimization factors to keep in mind while designing part is done. Once design is ready,I would review the onsite factors to ensure all are implemented properly to meet the standards of SEO.

    Next point would be content optimization, which plays vital in getting better rankings in search engines( I ensure that black hat technique is not implemented for content optimization). At last but not the least, would go offsite optimization techniques to build quality back links to drive more traffic.

  • Eric Sangerma

    Thanks Tom, your article series is definitively going into my resources folder. Appreciate the work you put into it as well as the links to other resources.

  • Marisa South

    Just like Eric, I am bookmarking this blog post. Your comprehensive list will be a very valuable resource next time I am involved in a client audit. Your effort is appreciated!