Killer Site Audit

Discussion in 'White Hat SEO' started by SweTech, Oct 24, 2012.

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  1. SweTech

    SweTech Power Member

    Apr 22, 2011
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    SEO freelancer
    Stockholm, Sweden
    The list below is the one I use when I perform a "real" site audit for enterprise customers. It might be interesting to look at for you guys.

    Table of Contents

    1. Site Architecture
    2. Technical/Server Issues
    3. HTML Use/Analysis
    4. Content Review
    5. Negative Practices
    6. Keywords
    7. Webmaster Tools
    8. Social Media

    Site Architecture

    Canonical URLs (Best Page Addresses)

    - Access to pages on domain (www vs. non-www)
    - Home Page linking consistency
    - Capitalization/Lower Case (capitals in domain name ok, in folders and files a potential problem)
    - Print Versions (CSS Rather than crawlable duplicate PDFs/Docs
    - Canonical Link Elements ? do they match up right?
    - Rel Prev/Next link elements for paginated pages?
    - Internal Redirects (internal 301 redirects avoided)

    Robots.txt File

    - Correctly formatted
    - Includes all it should (including cart pages, email referral pages, login pages)
    - Includes link to XML sitemap or XML Sitemap Index

    Meta robots noindex/nofollow

    - Used Appropriately
    - Used on pages that a deep crawler might try to index (like form and search results pages)

    Category/Site Structure (URLS and Information Architecture)

    - Unique and User Friendly
    - Use of appropriate category and sub-category link structures
    - Customer orientated rather than feature orientated
    - Provides tasks/Options for different personas

    Choosing File Names

    - Uses hyphens as word separators
    - Unique
    - Avoids Keyword Stuffing
    - If file names to be changed, links on site changed, and 301s set up for external visitors

    Custom Error Page

    - Sends proper 404 code status
    - no soft 404s
    - Helpful to visitor (navigation, directories, search)

    HTML Sitemap

    - Organized into user friendly and user oriented categories
    - Provides links to most important pages
    - Avoids using too many links
    - Doesn?t include 404s or links that redirect internally

    XML Sitemap

    - Properly formatted (XML proper encoding)
    - Uses only canonicals
    - No 404s and no internally redirected pages
    - Submitted to GWT and Bing Tools

    Technical/Server Issues

    OS/Server/CMS/Catalog Considerations

    Server Status: Messages 200, 300, 400, 500

    Secure Server | HTTPS Protocol

    - No error messages
    - No https bleed-over to pages that aren?t supposed to be https
    - No certificate authority errors

    Search Friendly Links

    - All links to be indexed reachable by text-based links or ?href? and ?src?.

    Broken and Redirected Links

    - Broken links identify, links removed or replaced
    - All 301 redirected links replaced with direct links

    External Links

    - Checked for broken links and redirects and replaced where appropriate
    - Pages linked to checked for repurposed content

    Duplicated Content

    - Internally (see canonical section above)
    - Mirrors identified and disallowed/noindexed as appropriate
    - Substantially duplicated content on self-owned other sites removed/changed/blocked
    - Substantially duplicated content on other sites removed (friendly email, AUP letter to host, DMCA)


    - Can pages be navigated with javascript disabled? If not, are URLs for pages accessible in HTML code with ?href? and ?src??
    - If Ajax is necessary, is Google?s hashbang approach used?

    Dynamic Pages

    - Avoid session IDs in URLs
    - Avoid excessive multiple data parameters in URLs
    - Avoid excessive processor calls
    - Avoid calls to multiple servers as much as possible
    - Avoid keyword insertion pages (pages were the content is substantially the same except for keywords that are inserted into the pages).
    - Keep boilerplate (disclaimers, copyright notices, other text that appears on most pages) that exists on templates light.
    - Label page segments semantically well (the div class for those could be things such as header, footer, sidebar, advertisement, or whichever is most appropriate.)

    Page Load Times

    - Images compressed for right dimensions and for file sizes?
    - GZIP or Deflate used?
    - Base 64 encoding for images avoided?
    - External CSS and Javascript used and minimized?
    - Long browser caching dates?
    - CDN in use where appropriate?
    - Other Page Speed considerations


    ? Navigation of indexable pages possible without accepting them?

    HTML Use/Analysis

    Deprecated HTML/HTML Validation

    - If invalid, are errors the type that will harm SEO?

    Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

    - If invalid, are errors the type that will harm SEO?

    Title Elements

    - Relevant to the content of the page and be keyword-rich.
    - Meaningful and able to stand on its own as a description of the page it titles.
    - Persuasive and Engaging to those who see it out of context
    - As unique as possible compared to other titles on the site
    - If the name of the site appears in the title, it should be at the end of the title, and not at the beginning, unless it is the home page.
    - No more than ten words or roughly 60-70 characters in length.
    - Unique if possible compared to titles from other sites.

    Meta Description Elements

    - Descriptive of the content of the page
    - Includes the main keyword phrase the page is optimized for
    - Engaging and persuasive to viewers who see it out of context (search snippets or social shares)
    - Around 25 words or 150 characters in length
    - Well written sentences, using good punctuation
    - One sentence preferable, but two alright if keywords are in the longer sentence
    - Preferable to have keywords as close to the start as appropriate

    Heading Elements

    - Top level heading should describe the content of the page
    - Lower level headings should effectively describe the content they head
    - One top level heading preferable per page
    - Headings should be used like headings in an outline, in proper order
    - Main and subheadings can, and should contain targeted keywords if possible and appropriate.
    - A heading element should not be used for the page logo
    - Headings for lists and sections in page navigation should use CSS to style them rather than heading elements.

    Strong/Em Elements

    - For bold text, use the ?strong? HTML element.
    - For Italics text, use the ?em? HTML element
    - Use Strong and Em to highlight the use of keywords and related words
    - When bolding or italicizing other text on a page, use CSS to style how it looks
    - Don?t over use bold or italics ? emphasizing too much means emphasizing nothing.

    Image Optimization

    - Use alt text for images on a page that are meaningful
    - Use captions for images on a page that are meaningful
    - A caption for an image should be contained within the same HTML element as the image (like a div)
    - Select images that are meaningful that are related to the keywords optimized for
    - Use the chosen optimized keywords in the alt text and captions where appropriate
    - Use file names that reflect those keywords where appropriate.
    - Use hyphens to separate words in image file names.
    - Use alt=?" for images that aren?t meaningful like decorations or bullet points
    - Use alt text for logos that are descriptive of the business or organization
    - Larger images with better resolution might be ranked a little better than smaller and lower resolution images.
    - Alt text should not be a list of keywords, but can contain a keyword phrase.
    - Alt text shouldn?t be more than 10 words or so.
    - Avoid keyword stuffing alt text, captions, and image file names.

    Anchor Text

    - Keywords should be used in anchor text
    - If the keywords for a page being pointed to aren?t used, related terms should be
    - Anchor text used in navigation should be descriptive of what is on the page linked to
    - Anchor text should not use generic terms such as ?click here.?
    - Anchor text shouldn?t be longer than 10 words or so if possible
    - Anchor text shouldn?t be stuffed with multiple keywords

    Meta Data optimization

    - Search engines do not use Dublin core meta tags
    - Search engines do not use the revisit meta tag
    - A robots index, follow tag is unnecessary and redundant
    - a NOODP will keep Google and Bing from using Open directory project titles instead of title element titles, if the site is even listed in DMOZ

    Content Review

    Amount of Text

    - Having some minimum amount of text on a page (200 words?) gives search spiders something to index.

    Spelling Errors

    - Possible quality signal
    - Important to credibility

    Keyword Use in Copy

    - Are keywords chosen for a page being used in page titles, meta descriptions, headings, and content

    Keyword Prominence/Visual Segmentation

    - How well does the HTML code of a page show how it?s broken down into different blocks (heading, main content, sidebars, footers, etc.)
    - Are keywords used in the different sections, and especially in the main content area of pages?

    Use of Related Words/Phrases

    - Some words tend to co-occur on pages ranked highly for a certain query (or categories of results for queries), and it can help in the rankings for a page to use some of those phrases.

    Penguin/Panda Analysis

    Is there a loss in traffic that corresponds to one of the Panda or Penguin updates?

    Negative Practices

    Hidden Text

    - Is there text on pages in the same font color as the background?
    - Is there text on pages hidden through an offset div?
    - Is there a large amount of text on pages in small iframes or CSS scrolling overflows
    - Is there text in a font color that matches the font color as the page background that might be mistaken as hidden text?


    - Does the site use cloaking to show search engines one thing and visitors something else?

    Meta Refresh

    - Are meta refreshes used instead of redirects, and if so might they be used in a way which might deceive search engines?

    JavaScript Redirection

    - Is javascript redirection being used so that search engines see one thing, and visitors see something else?

    Outward Links/Link Exchanges

    - Is the site using link directory pages that promise being listed in exchange for a link?


    Keyword Research, Selection and Implementation

    - Are relevant, competitive, appropriate and popular keywords being used on the pages of the site?
    - Are those keywords being used effectively on those pages?

    Keyword Focusing | Mid- to Long-Tail Key Phrases

    - Do the main pages of the site focus upon more competitive keyword phrases?
    - Do deeper pages with less pagerank focus upon long-tail phrases?
    Webmaster Tools

    Google Webmaster Tools/Errors Analysis*

    - Has the site been verified with GWT?
    - Has a choice of ?www? setting been made? (Doesn?t have to be if domain access issues are addressed)
    - Has a targeted country/location been selected? (Doesn?t have to be)
    - Have any errors listed been checked upon?

    Social Media

    Social Media Audit | Status

    - Does the site integrate appropriate social sharing buttons?
    - Do the pages of the site provide links to social profiles for the site?

    On-Site Social Engagement

    - Does the site provide ways to give feedback to the site owners?
    - Does the site provide a way to leave comments?
    - Is there user generated content on the site, such as reviews and ratings, and does it use rich snippets if so?
    - Are there public user/member profile pages, and if so how rich are they in terms of features?
    - Is there a forum on the site, and if so, some guidelines for its use?


    Have analytics been set up for the site?
    - Code on every page
    • Thanks Thanks x 19
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2012
  2. infinitehorizons

    infinitehorizons Regular Member

    Mar 8, 2011
    Likes Received:
    SEO | CRO | Global Strategic Sourcing and Partners
    I think that is the most thorough SEO audit I have ever seen.
    SweTech content special - Awesome share man rep+
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  3. proweb

    proweb Regular Member

    Feb 24, 2011
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    Not a big thing, but P3P Policy existence could be added to the list.
  4. kicksetc

    kicksetc Newbie

    Sep 5, 2011
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    Any experts out there that will do this for my sites? PM me.
  5. The Web Designer

    The Web Designer Regular Member

    Jul 22, 2012
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    I need to print this and paste them on my wall.
  6. camstryker

    camstryker Registered Member

    May 1, 2012
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    Casterly Rock, Westeros
    haha i agree maybe even frame it
  7. Zapdos

    Zapdos Power Member

    Oct 22, 2011
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    Eastern North Carolina
    Deprecated and only supported by IE.
  8. notyourmatey

    notyourmatey Power Member

    Jul 7, 2011
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    real talk
  9. angelovepink

    angelovepink Newbie

    Feb 1, 2010
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    Wow swetech thanks!! This is very detailed... How much do you usually charge clients for a thorough audit like this? Thanks again!!

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  10. trooperbill

    trooperbill Registered Member

    Sep 22, 2010
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  11. Smeems

    Smeems Regular Member

    Apr 29, 2012
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  12. soofi

    soofi Newbie

    Oct 27, 2012
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    lol good catch :)
  13. marcus528

    marcus528 Regular Member

    Jun 26, 2010
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    Busted! Lol
  14. seoguye

    seoguye Regular Member

    Sep 14, 2012
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  15. deathx01

    deathx01 Registered Member

    Oct 23, 2012
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    lol I was like ... i see that before
  16. Seolic

    Seolic Newbie

    Sep 28, 2012
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    Great job man!!! You can ad "look for your ip neighbors", sometimes one of the sites in your server is in a black list, killing your seo posibilities.
  17. KeyzDT

    KeyzDT Power Member

    Aug 9, 2010
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    pretty in depth. How long does it take for you to go through that checklist?
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