SEO Technical Audit Checklist (advanced)

The idea of technical SEO is to minimise the work of bots when they come to your website to index it on Google and Bing. Look at the build, the crawl and the rendering of the site.

Tools Required:

  • SEO Crawler such as Screaming Frog or DeepCrawl
  • Log File Analyzer – Screaming Frog has this too
  • Developer Tools – such as the ones found in Google Chrome – View>Developer>Developer Tools
  • Web Developer Toolbar – giving you the ability to turn off Javascript
  • Search Console
  • Bing Webmaster Tools – shows you geotargetting behaviour, gives you a second opinion on security etc.
  • Google Analytics – With onsite search tracking *

    *Great for tailoring copy and pages. Just turn it on and add query parameter

Tech SEO 1 – The Website Build & Setup

The website setup – a neglected element of many SEO tech audits.

  • Storage
    Do you have enough storage for your website now and in the near future? you can work this out by taking your average page size (times 1.5 to be safe), multiplied by the number of pages and posts, multiplied by 1+growth rate/100

for example, a site with an average page size of 1mb with 500 pages and an annual growth rate of 150%

1mb X 1.5 X 500 X 1.5 = 1125mb of storage required for the year.

You don’t want to be held to ransom by a webhost, because you have gone over your storage limit.

  • How is your site Logging Data?
    Before we think about web analytics, think about how your site is storing data.
    As a minimum, your site should be logging the date, the request, the referrer, the response and the User Agent – this is inline with the W3 Extended Format.
log file analyzer

When, what it was, where it came from, how the server responded and whether it was a browser or a bot that came to your site.

  • Blog Post Publishing
    Can authors and copywriters add meta titles, descriptions and schema easily? Some websites require a ‘code release’ to allow authors to add a meta description.
  • Site Maintenance & Updates – Accessibility & Permissions
    Along with the meta stuff – how much access does each user have to the code and backend of a website? How are permissions built in?
    This could and probably should be tailored to each team and their skillset.

    For example, can an author of a blog post easily compress an image?
    Can the same author update a menu (often not a good idea)
    Who can access the server to tune server performance?

Tech SEO 2 – The Crawl

  • Google Index

Carry out a site: search and check the number of pages compared to a crawl with Screaming Frog.

With a site: search (for example, search in Google for site:businessdaduk.com) – don’t trust the number of pages that Google tells you it has found, scrape the SERPs using Python on Link Clump:

Too many or too few URLs being indexed – both suggest there is a problem.

  • Correct Files in Place – e.g. Robots.txt
    Check these files carefully. Google says spaces are not an issue in Robots.txt files, but many coders and SEOers suggest this isn’t the case.

XML sitemaps also need to be correct and in place and submitted to search console. Be careful with the <lastmod> directive, lots of websites have lastmod but don’t update it when they update a page or post.

  • Response Codes
    Checking response codes with a browser plugin or Screaming Frog works 99% of the time, but to go next level, try using curl and command line. Curl avoids JS and gives you the response header.

Type in Curl – I and then the URL

e.g.

curl – I https://businessdaduk.com/

You need to download cURL which can be a ball ache if you need IT’s permission etc.

Anyway, if you do download it and run curl, your response should look like this:

Next enter an incorrect URL and make sure it results in a 404.

  • Canonical URLs
    Each ‘resource’ should have a single canonical address.

common causes of canonical issues include – sharing URLs/shortened URLs, tracking URLs and product option parameters.

The best way to check for any canonical issues is to check crawling behaviour and do this by checking log files.

You can check log files and analyse them, with Screaming Frog – the first 1,000 log files can be analysed with the free version (at time of writing).

Most of the time, your host will have your logfiles in the cPanel section, named something like “Raw Access”. The files are normally zipped with gzip, so you might need a piece of software to unzip them or just allow you to open them – although often you can still just drag and drop the files into Screaming Frog.

The Screaming Frog log file analyser, is a different download to the SEO site crawler – https://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/log-file-analyser/

If the log files are in the tens of millions, you might need to go next level nerd and use grep in Linux command line

Read more about all things log file analysis-y on Ian Lurie’s Blog here.

This video tutorial about Linux might also be handy. I’ve stuck it on my brother’s old laptop. Probably should have asked first.

With product IDs, and other URL fragments, use a # instead of a ? to add tracking.

Using rel-canonical is a hint, not a directive. It’s a work around rather than a solution.

Remember also, that the server header, can override a canonical tag.

You can check your server headers using this tool – http://www.rexswain.com/httpview.html (at your own risk like)


Tech SEO 3 – Rendering & Speed

  • Lighthouse
    Use lighthouse, but use in with command line or use it in a browser with no browser add-ons.If you are not into Linux, use pingdom, GTMetrix and Lighthouse, ideally in a browser with no add-ons.

    Look out for too much code, but also invalid code. This might include things such as image alt tags, which aren’t marked up properly – some plugins will display the code just as ‘alt’ rather than alt=”blah”
  • Javascript
    Despite what Google says, all the SEO professionals that I follow the work of, state that client-side JS is still a site speed problem and potential ranking factor. Only use JS if you need it and use server-side JS.

    Use a browser add-on that lets you turn off JS and then check that your site is still full functional.

  • Schema

Finally, possibly in the wrong place down here – but use Screaming Frog or Deepcrawl to check your schema markup is correct.

You can add schema using the Yoast or Rank Math SEO plugins

The Actual Tech SEO Checklist (Without Waffle)

Basic Setup

  • Google Analytics, Search Console and Tag Manager all set up

Site Indexation

  • Sitemap & Robots.txt set up
  • Check appropriate use of robots tags and x-robots
  • Check site: search URLs vs crawl
  • Check internal links pointing to important pages
  • Check important pages are only 1 or 2 clicks from homepage

Site Speed

Tools – Lighthouse, GTMetrix, Pingdom

Check – Image size, domain & http requests, code bloat, Javascript use, optimal CSS delivery, code minification, browser cache, reduce redirects, reduce errors like 404s.

For render blocking JS and stuff, there are WordPress plugins like Autoptimize and the W3 Total Cache.

Make sure there are no unnecessary redirects, broken links or other shenanigans going on with status codes. Use Search Console and Screaming Frog to check.

Site UX

Mobile Friendly Test, Site Speed, time to interactive, consistent UX across devices and browsers

Consider adding breadcrumbs with schema markup.

Clean URLs

Image from Blogspot.com

Make sure URLs – Include a keyword, are short – use a dash/hyphen –

Secure Server HTTPS

Use a secure server, and make sure the unsecure version redirects to it

Allow Google to Crawl Resources

Google wants to crawl your external CSS and JS files. Use “Fetch as Google” in Search Console to check what Googlebot sees.

Hreflang Attribute

Check that you are using and implementing hreflang properly.

Tracking – Make Sure Tag Manager & Analytics are Working

Check tracking is working properly. You can check tracking coed is on each webpage with Screaming Frog.

Internal Linking

Make sure your ‘money pages’ or most profitable pages, get the most internal links

Content Audit

Redirect or unpublish thin content that gets zero traffic and has no links.

Consider combining thin content into an in depth guide or article.

Use search console to see what keywords your content ranks for, what new content you could create (based on those keywords) and where you should point internal links.

Use Google Analytics data regarding internal site searches for keyword and content ideas 💡

Update old content

Fix meta titles and meta description issues – including low CTR

Find & Fix KW cannibalization

Optimize images – compress, alt text, file name

Check proper use of H1 and H2

See what questions etc. are pulled through into the rich snipetts and answer these within content

Do you have EAT? Expertise, Authority and Trust?

https://www.semrush.com/blog/seo-checklist/

SEO – Use Search Console to Create Blog Posts that Rank

Go to search console

  • Click “Performance” in the side bar
  • Click “Position”
  • Click “Pages” (near the bottom-third of the page on the left)
  • Click on a high-performing post in terms of Impressions and Clicks in google
  • With the specific page/post selected, click on queries
  • Make a note of all relevant queries in the top 100
  • See if these queries can be added to the ranking post
  • Find any queries that are not directly related to your post
  • Create a new post specifically about this/these queries (if you rank for it without a specific post – you’ll rank better with a specific post for that query)
  • In the original post – put an internal link to the new post

How to Scrape Google SERPs (No Coding)

Add the Chrome Extension – Linkclump – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/linkclump/lfpjkncokllnfokkgpkobnkbkmelfefj?hl=en

Go to the options in Linkclump – click “Edit” in the “Actions” section

Change to Copy links to Clipboard instead of open in new Tabs

Do your search

Zoom out to see more results

Change Google settings to see 100 results per page

Hold down Z and click and drag over results

Paste into a google sheet

KW Research in 2020

Hello,

Just thought I’d write a post about how I go about doing my SEO & PPC Keyword Research these days.

  1. Add head term to google search bar in chrome

Make a note of the suggested searches & predicted searches

Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.29.22
Predicted Searches in the Address/Search Bar
suggested google searches
Related/Suggested Searches at the Bottom

2. Google ‘Alphabet Soup’

Put in your main head term and then add a

then b, then c and so on

Make a note of the relevant suggestions

Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.33.18
Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.33.21
Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.33.23

For product related KWs, this also works if you go to the desktop version of the Google Play Store.

3. Have a Quick Look on Reddit & Amazon

Have a look at any relevant subreddits on Reddit – e.g. https://www.reddit.com/r/jeffbridges/

Do a quick search for “KW” site:reddit.com

Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.41.49.png

Have a look on Amazon, just search your head term and see what products appear

Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.42.40.png

In the example above .- “The Dude and the Zen Master” might be a decent KW

Other forums can help too. For example, when looking for KWs for my MMA blog, I’ll look on sherdog forums for trending & frequent topics.

4. Add Competitor Domains to Ubersuggest

https://neilpatel.com/ubersuggest/ or use the SEMRush plugin.

If necessary, we could export the KWs in this report, and then filter in Excel for those containing “Jeff Bridges”

Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.46.34.png

5. Upload your Final KW List to Keyword Planner

https://ads.google.com/intl/en_uk/home/tools/keyword-planner/

A final note on search volumes.

For some blogs and websites, even keywords with 0 monthly searches may be relevant.

My other blog – blackbeltwhitehat.com has built all of its traffic off KWs that Google KW planner says has 0 searches.

It all depends on how authoritative your website is and your competitors are. You can go after bigger, more popular KWs if you are a huge website with a DA of 90. It’s a different ball game if you are running a personal blog with a DA of 15

Try and include a number of the relevant searches in your articles etc.

Beginner’s Guide to Online Marketing

online marketing

My friend has an interview on Tuesday for a marketing manager role, and has never done any online marketing, so here goes my introduction to it…

About the title-image, sorry it’s a bit sexist – studies suggest that faces looking at you are the best for Calls to Action (CTAs) and for thumbnails on Youtube videos.

The above image is used for my marketing video and thought it would double up to get people to click on my blog post. May as well embed the video now! Here you go:

Internet Marketing Jargon

Online marketing has so many abbreviations, that if you don’t know them, it sounds like another language

What is a “Browser”?

A browser is Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari on an Apple device or Opera. It’s a piece of software for navigating the internet and downloading/rendering websites.

DO NOT say that you use Internet Explorer in an online marketing interview. Say that you use Chrome.

The main reason that people use Chrome and Firefox is that you can get plugins/extensions for Google Chrome. The most popular in online marketing is probably the ‘Mozbar’ which helps you see the ‘Domain Authority’ of a website.

What is a CMS?

Content Management System.  A typical CMS is WordPress. This site is made using the free version of wordpress that uses the WordPress hosting platform, a free design template. The wordpress software can also be used when hosted with a different company such as GoDaddy, and the paid WordPress software allows plugins.

What are “WordPress Plugins”?

They are add-ons to your site that allows you to add ‘functionality’. For example you might add a Paypal plugin that allows you to create a shopping cart and payment system on your site to make in an online shop/ecommerce site.

What does “SEO” Stand For?

Search Engine Optimisation. This is the process of ranking as high as possible on Google and other search engines such as Bing.com.

Some terms to be aware of in SEO:
Meta Description – This is the description that you add the theof your website page’s code that shows in the Google Results. It just described what is on the page. Meta Descriptions should be 155 characters or less.

Meta Title .- this shows at the top of the tab in your browser and in the Google results pages.

meta-description
Image Source

What does “CRO” Stand for?

Conversion Rate Optimisation. This is the process of getting people who visit your website to buy things or sign up for a newsletter or submit a form. If you have an online shop, a ‘conversion’ would normally be a purchase on your website.

What does “PPC” Stand for?

Pay Per Click advertising (not Payment Protection Cover as I thought in my interview at the bank I used to work at). The 2 most popular forms of this are Google Adwords and Facebook advertising. Facebook is usually more effective on a smaller budget.

SEOmoz-PPC-vs.-SEO2

Image Source

What is HTML?

HTML stands for hyper text markup language. It structures websites whilst something called CSS – Cascading Style Sheets.

The best place to start learning HTML is w3 Schools. It can be overwhelming at first, but it’s easy when you get the hang of it. It’s just a load of numbers and letters inside angle brackets <> to remember. There’s no working out or formulas to remember, just letters and numbers.

HTML is one of the ways a websites ‘talks’ to a browser, so that the browser can render the website and show you what’s on there.
CSS makes it looks nice, adding colours, styles etc. For example the CSS might tell the browser to make all the main headings red and all the list items italic.

What is DA?

DA stands for Domain Authority. DA is an indication of how ‘powerful’ or authoritative a website is. The higher the DA (score of 1-100), the more valuable a link is from that website.

What is a Link?

A link or a hyperlink is a bit of text or an image, that you click to go to another website. For example this red underlined text is a link to a fitness blog. When you click it, you should be taken to another blog.

The more links a website has, from high quality websites, the more likely it is to rank higher in Google. You can gain links by creating great content, you can create and run marketing campaigns that people will want to write about, or you can be naughty and pay for some links.

What is Guest Posting?

Guest posting is an old school tactic to gain links to your website and rank on Google. You create an article/blog post, send it to a blogger in an email and ask if they would like to use it on their website. The article will contain a link back to your own website. The typical response from a blogger is either “no thanks” or “okay, that will cost $50”.

Now, this is against Google guidelines and you can get penalised by Google for doing this. People still do though. In theory, if a blogger accepts a payment to link to another website, in any form, whether it is via a blog post or sidebar-link or banner, then it should be a ‘no-follow’ link.

What is a NoFollow Link?

A no follow link has the HTML code – rel=”nofollow” added to it.

This tells Google NOT to count this link and not factor it in to it’s ranking algorithm.

What is the Google Algorithm?

It’s the formula that Google uses to work out where to rank websites on their results pages. Apparently nobody knows all of it, but it looks at how many other websites link to yours, the quality of the websites linking to yours, the quality of your website and its content and how fast your website loads.

What are Keywords?

Keywords or KWs, are search terms used in Google. If I search for “Red apples” then the keyword is “red apples”.
Rather confusingly, search phrases are also called keywords. You want to find KWs with lots of monthly searches, that don’t have lots of competition and add them to your content and headings in a natural format.  Don’t stuff them in everywhere.

Use the Keyword Planner Tool to find KWs with lots of monthly searches. And do a Google search to see which websites rank for those terms. If the top 10 websites for that KW are the likes of the BBC, Fox News and Amazon, you probably aren’t going to rank on the first page for that term.

Long Tail Keywords are less popular KWS, with less searches but often ‘convert’ to sales etc. better.

A Head Term might be “Tennis Balls”
A Long Tail Keyword might be “Buy Yellow Slazenger Tennis Balls UK”

“Tennis Balls” will have a much higher volume of monthly searches but will be very hard to rank on the first page of Google for. “Buy Yellow Slazenger Tennis Balls UK” will have less search volume each month, but will be easier to rank for and people searching for that term are more likely to buy/convert.

Tools for Internet Marketing

A CMS – such as WordPress so that you can create a website

A Keyword Tool such as the Google Keyword Planner. So that you can see what keywords to try and rank for or advertise with if you’re using PPC ads.

Google Analytics – to see who is coming to your site, where from and to what pages.

Google Chrome and some extensions such as the Moz Bar

Screaming Frog for Technical SEO. This gets all the information from a website and downloads it into an Excel Spreadsheet.

SEO Mofo – to make sure your meta titles & descriptions are the correct length. Add a CTA – Call To Action such as “Book Now!” or “Learn More” at the end of your descriptions.

Yoast SEO Plugin – This makes it easy to add meta titles and descriptions as you make your webpages and blog posts.