Website SEO Audit – 14 Technical SEO Tips To Use in 2019
Technical SEO has changed a lot in the recent years.
Several new and improved strategies have been developed and more focus has been laid upon improving the experience of the user as opposed to over optimization for search engines.
A comprehensive website SEO audit is extremely necessary to defeat your competitors.
2019 is the year of machine learning, big data and artificial intelligence. You need to polish your technical skills as an SEO in order to properly optimize your website.
Follow the technical SEO tips provided below to conduct a thorough SEO site audit in 2019.
1. Understand Your Users With Cross Device Capabilities in Google Analytics
In order to understand the entire journey your customers are taking to interact with your website, cross device reporting in Google analytics can be of great help.
Cross Device reporting displays data related to the customers who visit your website from different devices (e.g. from desktop or from mobile). If people make an initial interaction with your website using mobile devices then you can run a mobile only ad campaign for them instead of both desktop and mobile. This report helps you take better decisions and create targeted ROI friendly ad campaigns.
Few SEO’s are using this feature but it is a necessary part of website SEO audit.
In order to start accessing the report, you need to activate Google signals.
2. Identify Any Indexation Issues With The Help of Index Coverage Status Report
One of the first activities that an SEO expert needs to perform is to fix any issues related to proper indexation of the website. There is no better way to do that other than the Index Coverage Status report provided by Google Analytics.
This report lets you accurately check the number of valid indexed pages, the number of excluded pages and the number of pages with errors or warnings.
If you see a spike in the number of indexation errors then this might have been caused by a change in your template or if you see a decrease in your total number of indexed pages then you might have made changes in your robots.txt incorrectly. Whatever be the case related to indexing, this report presents a clear idea before you so that you don’t lose your chance to achieve good rankings and traffic.
3. Make Your Website Voice Search Friendly
Voice search is set to remain one of the hottest SEO trends in 2019. With surge in the number of mobile devices and voice controlled home assistants, the need for voice SEO has grown tremendously.
Follow the below tips to make your site voice search friendly:
- Optimize the content of your website for question based keywords. Use the new markups for FAQ, How-To and Q&A pages.
- Use the Speakable markup to enable content within your web pages to be read aloud by smart speaker devices.
- Most of the voice search queries have a local intent. Hence, it is important to boost your local SEO presence by having a consistent NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) across all local business directories, an optimized Google My Business profile and have as many genuine business reviews as possible.
4. Increase Your Site Loading Time To 2 Seconds
Site speed is one of the most critical factors when it comes to improving the user experience especially on mobile devices. Google aims for under half a second loading time for its own website for a majority of other sites (especially e-commerce sites), aiming for a site speed of under 2 seconds can be a good bet. This is what Google’s John Mueller said in a recent tweet.
Besides, loading time is one of the major reasons for page abandonment so it has a direct impact on sales as demonstrated in the image below.
Here are some steps that you need to take in order make your web pages load faster:
- Create and test AMP pages because AMP is a light version of the regular HTML and it loads faster on mobile devices. Google prefers AMP sites in the search results.
- Improve your hosting plan because this is one of the easiest ways to speed up your website. Opting for a dedicated hosting is preferred in the place of shared hosting. Besides, it is always better to compare the hosting services before you choose one because not all services are same.
- Enable Gzip compression to reduce the file sizes to about 30%.
- Take the help of CDN services because this will help you to improve bandwidth and speed up the requests made by the server.
- Leverage the power of browser caching by adding expires headers in the .htaccess file.
- Keep the database clean and compress your images.
- Reduce the number of redirects and minify the CSS and JS files.
5. Perform a Complete Backlink Audit
Backlinks still remains one of the most important aspects of SEO.
Google and other search engines use backlinks as one of the crucial ranking factors. Sites having relevant and powerful backlinks are able to retain the top positions in the search engine results. On the other hand, sites who have spammy and irrelevant backlinks might risk themselves a Google penalty and entire deindexation of the site from the search results. Hence, it is necessary to perform a complete backlink audit to understand the type of links your site has and also to uncover the links your competitors are having in order to defeat them in the search results. In order to learn more about the backlinks, refer to this resource.
Use a tool like Majestic to conduct a backlink audit. Simply enter your site URL to reveal crucial metrics like:
- The total number of backlinks.
- The total number of referring domains.
- The number of referring IPs.
- The number of do follow links etc.
Similarly, you can enter the domain of your competitors to check the number of backlinks and referring domains they are having.
Apart from Ahrefs, use a tool like Link Detox to find and remove toxic links that can cause Google penalties and manual actions.
6. Check Redirects
A redirect happens when you send the users to a different page other than what they request. Sometimes, incorrect redirects can cause a lot of issues. You can lose link equity on important pages causing a drop in rankings.
Redirect can be of 2 major types – 301 and 302. For pages that are not available on a temporary basis, you must use a 302 redirect but for pages that have been removed permanently, you must use a 301 redirect.
You can check the pages on your site that are incorrectly redirected using tools like Screaming Frog.
7. Optimize Your Internal Links
Proper internal linking helps in the proper flow of link juice on all the important pages of your site. Follow the below tips to optimize your internal links:
- Use relevant anchor text to link your inner pages and do not over stuff your keywords.
- Use links that are natural to the reader and helps the user.
- Always use do follow links to link to other pages on your site.
- Use no follow links for social media buttons or other plugins because you don’t want the trust flow of your site to pass to these pages.
- Link all your important pages from the navigation.
- Do not create a massive list of footer links that looks spammy.
8. Switch To HTTPS
It’s 2019 and Chrome has already started marking sites as “not secure” that are not using HTTPS.
Hence, you must immediately take your site to HTTPS. Moving your site to HTTPS offers a lot of advantages like:
- Google will start to trust your site a lot more if it moves to HTTPS.
- All the information of your users will remain secured because of the security offered in HTTPS. One can easily read the data send over the HTTP server, but they can’t do so on HTTPS server because of data encryption.
- Customers have a lot of confidence for sites that are using HTTPS.
- The SSL layer guards against phishing and is an absolute necessary for ecommerce websites which accepts payments.
9. Optimize Your Metadata
Technical SEO is not completed unless you fully optimize the meta tags of your website. From an expert point of view, I would recommend you to follow the below tips to perfect your meta tags:
- Create unique and accurate page titles. Start the page title with your main keyword but do not use it more than once. An example of a good page title is provided below:
- Choose a title that accurately describes the content of your web page and also helps to generate clicks. You can present your best offers in the title itself or display your business phone number.
- Provide a description tag that accurately describes the page content. Avoid using generic descriptions and do not fill the description with just keywords.
- Make sure you have unique descriptions for each page.
- Add separate meta tags for Facebook and Twitter so that it gets displayed when someone shares your website on the social platforms. You can use tools like HeyMeta to check your existing meta tags and to generate meta tags easily.
- Last but not the least, you must submit XML sitemap to Google because it helps in better crawlability of your website. Refer to this resource in order to build and submit sitemaps.
10. Conduct URL and Navigation Analysis
Your website navigation plays an important role in improving the overall visibility of your website. Besides, the URL structure of your website should be SEO friendly. Here are some best practices improving the URL and navigation structure of your website:
- Keep the URL of your web pages descriptive and easy to read. Users should be able to interpret the contents of the web page just by looking at the URL.
- Do not use unrecognizable symbols or characters in the URL.
- Use hyphens to separate the words in the URL.
- Follow a hierarchical navigation structure for your website navigation.
- Always include a search bar in the navigation because it helps the users to find the product of their choice with minimal effort. An example of a hierarchical navigation map is given below:
- Use feature-rich drop down menus because it helps to improve the experience of the user. Have a look at how New Balance does this in their menu:
- Use auto suggest minimizing the efforts of the user in typing the name or category of products.
- Adopt a faceted navigation structure for efficient product filtering so that the users don’t spend all their time browsing the product of their choice.
11. Leverage The Power of PWA
Progressive Web Apps are a type of web app that uses the modern web capabilities and are reliable, fast and provides an incredible user experience.
Not many SEOs are fully utilizing the capabilities of PWAs but believe me, PWAs can have a tremendous impact upon conversions. You can learn more about Progressive Web Apps and how to develop them in this resource provided by Google.
India’s largest ecommerce website, Flipkart.com was able to triple it’s time on site using a progressive web application that also helped them to raise conversions by up to 70%. The PWA was called Flipkart Lite and it provided an impressive mobile experience with 40% higher re-engagement rate and 3x lower data usage.
12. Alt Text Matters A Lot, Add Them!
Do not forget the significance of adding alt text in your images. Google itself recommends using descriptive alt text in your images.
Google and other search engines use alt text to understand the image and it also helps the user to have an idea of the image in case the image does not load properly.
Do not include just your main keywords in the alt text. I must say this very clearly that alt text is not a place to stuff your keywords. Use relevant alt text that describes the contents of the image.
A good example of an alt text for an image of a deer eating grass is “deer eating grass” and not “deer” or “grass” or “123” or “””.
13. Use The Power of Chatbots
SEO is directly related to user experience meaning, if you improve the user experience of your website, Google will automatically promote your website in the search results.
Chatbots are a kind of computer program that are used to improve the user experience of your website by engaging with people visiting your site.
I would strongly recommend every SEO to request their client to add chatbots on their respective sites because they can assist in improving conversions. Chatbots have the power to take any business to the next level.
Here is a list of some of the best platforms to create a chatbot.
H&M’s Kik chatbot is the best example of a chatbot in action. The chatbot assists the users and helps them to choose a product of their choice without forcing them to buy. The presence of the chatbot on the site is enough to improve the time on site, engagement and ultimately conversions.
One thing I would like to clearly tell is that, please don’t add chatbots simply because you have to. Every chatbot must serve a purpose and the purpose is to help the user. It should not be used to annoy and force the user to convert.
14. Take The Help of “Clarity” To Observe User Interactions On Your Website
Clarity is a piece of software provided by Microsoft with tremendous UX improvement capabilities. It lets you see your website through the user’s eyes. You can discover customer behavior patterns, find interesting sessions using an array of filters, discover bottlenecks, identify page rendering difficulties, debug JS errors and do many other things.
Very few people know about Clarity but it is a real masterpiece of software that every SEO must use to improve the website experience.
There is no doubt that technical SEO should be a top priority for gaining good organic rankings. Keyword spamming is dead and user experience optimization is on the shelf.
Voice SEO is set to shift the focus from text based optimization to voice based optimization. Besides, chatbots can come as a game changer for many businesses.
Follow the strategies discussed in this article to better your technical SEO in 2019 and ahead.