Technology

A Basic (Yet Powerful) Technical SEO Audit for Beginners

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Technical SEO audits are very important. But for a beginner to SEO, they can be extremely daunting. So in this video, I’m going to break down a super basic, yet powerful SEO audit that you can use to find some seriously weird technical SEO issues on your website. Stay tuned. [music] What’s up SEOs? Sam Oh here with Ahrefs, the SEO tool that helps you grow your search traffic, research your competitors and dominate your niche. Now, a few weeks ago, I posted a question on our YouTube community board asking our subscribers to submit their website if they wanted us to feature it in this video. So I dug through a bunch of your submissions and congratulations to S Krag of centralparktutors.com and Jim Miller of xs-stock.co.uk. I found a bunch of technical SEO issues with your websites. Don’t worry guys… you’re not alone. A lot of popular websites, even in the marketing niche, have some seriously weird technical SEO issues.

And the only tool that you need to find and fix these errors is Google. Now, before we dive into the tutorial, I want to give a huge shoutout to Glen Allsop from detailed.com, who shared a bunch of these tips with us. So make sure to check out his site… seriously solid stuff. Alright, so let’s break down example site #1 that we’re analyzing. Central Park Tutors is a group of teachers and parents who provide private tutoring services in NYC.

According to Ahrefs Site Explorer, the website gets around 500 organic search visitors per month and Google has indexed around 400 pages. So the first thing I’m going to do is type in their domain in the browser. And you can see that they’re using the unsecure, non-www version of the website. And of course, we should check for the www version too.

And it looks like the redirect is good. So I’ll check the HTTPs version now. And it looks like this one loads without a redirect. And I’ll check the secure www version, which then redirects to the secure URL without the www. So the first thing you’re going to want to do is to create the proper redirects and choose one version. So I would recommend consolidating to the https domain version, which will be applied to every individual page on your website in addition to the homepage. Now let’s get to our search queries. First, we’ll enter in “site:centralparktutors.com”, which will look for all indexed pages on this domain and then we’ll add “inurl:www”, which will look for any indexed pages that contain www within the URL.

And everything looks good here. Now, I’ll modify this query a bit and change this last part to “-inurl:https”, which will look for unsecure versions of the pages that are indexed. And there are around 164 results here. So I’ll click on this one and indeed, it does not redirect to the secure version. In fact, this page looks a little bit strange, because it has a random link to a Money Coach, some kind of Swiss website, and a Winnipeg driving school.

That doesn’t really make much sense to me, so I’m led to believe that your site has been hacked. Alright, let’s go back to our search query, and remove the minus sign to look for secure URLs that are in Google’s index. And testing this URL, there is no redirect either and a bunch of interesting links here too.

Now, if you find that your website is having similar issues, then I highly recommend fixing these before continuing on with this tutorial. So I’ll switch gears here and analyze another one of our subscribers’ websites called xs-stock.co.uk. Now, this is a family-run business based in Scotland selling discount items. They have an e-commerce store as well as a massive 25,000-square foot retail warehouse. And according to Ahrefs Site Explorer, the website gets around 11,000 organic search visitors per month and Google UK has indexed around 6,700 pages. I’ve already tested all redirect versions and all seem good as well as the other queries we had done before. So this time, I’ll start off with just the “site:xs-stock.co.uk” query.

Now from here, I’ll just kind of skim through the results to look for potential issues. And I actually don’t even need to scroll down because there’s one thing that I notice immediately. Most of the pages actually have “XS-Stock.com” in their title, when the website actually uses the .co.uk TLD. Now, while this particular issue is more for branding, it creates incongruence between the title and domain, which may affect click-through rates. In other times, you’ll see templates that have just gone completely wrong. So I’ll modify our query and add “intitle:xs-stock.com”. And you’ll see hundreds of pages where the title tags need to be updated to reflect the correct domain. Now the thing with technical SEO is that as you discover one problem, you’ll start to discover others. So if we go to xs-stock.com, you’ll see that they’ve redirected the homepage to their “.co.uk” domain. Great! But let’s see if any pages from their .com version are still indexed. So I’ll enter in “site:xs-stock.com”, and you’ll see over one hundred results.

Clicking through, you’ll notice that they haven’t redirected all pages yet since this URL still loads. Let’s go back to the original Google SERP and, as we start to scroll down, you’ll start seeing some other technical issues that are worth investigating like empty meta descriptions, truncated title tags, some pagination issues, and likely faceted navigation issues too. For example, we could take the “page” parameter and change our query a bit by adding “inurl:page”. And you’ll see about one hundred pages that are indexed here. And there’s another URL parameter called “sort,” which they probably wouldn’t want indexed here either.

And the list, I’m sure, will go on, particularly since it’s an e-commerce website where it’s really easy to make technical SEO mistakes. Now, if you’re using WordPress, then you can search for a whole bunch of common footprints like “site:yourdomain.com”, then add “inurl: tag”, or “author”, or “page”, which will help find pages that you may want to noindex. Or you can look for weird ones like this: site:domain.com inurl:welcome-to-wordpress OR inurl:hello-world which will show you if a site still has the default pages from the initial WordPress install. You could also do something like site:domain.com “lorem ipsum,” to find any pages that are indexed by Google that are still using dummy text.

To be sure, look at the meta description to see if the whole dummy text is being used on the page. One last tip I want to share with you is for the privacy of your assets, employees, and clients. And that’s to do a site search for your domain and then to add “filetype:pdf” or whatever file extension you want to search. Now the PDFs here on Ahrefs aren’t that exciting, but through my research, I’ve found organizations that are uploading employee salaries, home addresses, and other personal details that are worth deleting.

As you can see, you don’t need any fancy tools to run a basic SEO audit. So I encourage you to do this not just for your own site, but if you’re an agency, you can use these queries to find prospects for new business. Now, the downside to using Google alone is that they don’t always recrawl these so-called “meaningless” pages frequently and the results can be quite messy. Now a few good things about using tools like Ahrefs Site Audit is that: #1. You can get fresh data since you would run the crawl on demand. And #2. Our tool automatically searches for over 100 common technical SEO issues, that you can’t quite find using Google alone like 301 redirects or 404 broken pages, unless you want to click through to each page. So from our Site Audit, you can see that we found 276 300-series redirects and 30 404 pages.

#3. You can automatically monitor the technical SEO health of your website through scheduled weekly crawls. And #4. You can use Data Explorer to create your own custom queries to find issues that wouldn’t apply to every site. For example, if I wanted to look for pages that include “XS-Stock.com” in their title tag, then I could run a custom query to look for internal HTML pages that return a 200 response code with titles that contain “XS-Stock.com”.

From here, I could export all of the URLs and have someone else update the affected pages or send it to a developer to fix the template. So while you might want to go and build links or create content, make sure that your website’s rankings aren’t hindered by basic technical SEO mistakes because they’re super important and quite easy to fix for the most part. Now, if you enjoyed this video, make sure to like, share, and subscribe. And if you want to see more technical SEO videos, then let us know in the comments. So keep grinding away, don’t ignore your technical SEO, and I’ll see you in the next tutorial..