Alright, let’s face it, on-page SEO is probably the worst part of my job. Well I wouldn’t say the worst, but it definitely doesn’t get me as excited as trying to get a cool new article to go viral or making a fun interactive that everyone uses.
Yet it’s still extremely important, in fact, in many cases I would say that it is more important than all of the link building and content that you could make for a website.
Which is why I have decided to write this post, most SEO guys that I know don’t have any idea on how to do a proper on page SEO audit. I’m always surprised when I get a new client who has been working with another agency that and they have horrible on page SEO.
The first thing I always do is a site audit and many times within a week I see traffic jump up. If you are one of the SEO guys out there who does not do on page SEO now is the time to change. Just follow the post and template below and you will be well on your way to high rankings and a lot of traffic.
- Check for a sitemap
This is always the first thing you should start out with. Does the site have a sitemap? You would be surprised at how often sites don’t have one. Now most SEO’s are under the idea that a sitemap is only to help your site get indexed. In part this is true, a sitemap does help you get indexed quickly.
But there are many other things that it can help you with. For instance having a good sitemap will let you take a look and see;
how the site is really structured.
Does it look like it makes sense?
Are there proper categories on the site?
Google does use a sitemap to try to make sense of what your website is about.
If your client does have a sitemap just take a look for a minute to see if you can understand it. Site structure is extremely important, I’ve had a few clients that had repeating categories and categories that were misspelled. These kinds of things can generally be seen from the sitemap and should be looked at.
- Screaming Frog!
Screaming frog is an amazing program, if you don’t have it, well then you need to get it. This program is my favorite to use while doing on-page SEO. If you have another favorite program by all means feel free to use it.
Screaming Frog is a simple program that will scrape a site and return all of the normal errors that you would be trying to find while doing an on-page site audit. Using this program is not necessary, but it will make it extremely easy to do an on-page site audit. Thanks to this program, it only takes me a day or two to do a whole site audit, without it I’m sure it would take me at least a week.
The program itself is easy enough to use, this article is not a tutorial on how to use the program. All you need to do is fire it up and point it at a site, then ask for the information you want. If you need further help there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube that explain the cool things you can do with this program.
- 302 Errors
302 Errors are an epidemic when it comes to websites. They are a huge problem since most webmasters don’t really know what they are or what they are supposed to be used for.
What is a 302 redirect?
Simple, it’s when you want to point your webpage temporarily to a different page.
For example let’s say that one of your products is temporarily out of stock, all you need to do is set up a 302 redirect to a page that says “out of stock” and voila, you’re done; just remove the redirect when you have the items back in stock.
Why is a 302 bad?
Well many web owners use them incorrectly; they use them when they want to permanently redirect a web page.
For instance let’s say you updated your website and you have a new page for your products, the new page will take over the old one. You should 301 redirect your old page to the new one, this is a permanent redirect.
What this does is it tells Google that this is the new page that you want indexed and that you want ranked in Google. If you have a 302 redirect many times Google will not realize that you want the new page indexed. There is also a lot of evidence that 302 redirects don’t pass any link juice at all.
So what you need to do is make a list of all incorrect uses of 302 redirects on the website and then send them to the web master to fix. These fixes alone can result in huge ranking changes for websites.
- 404 Errors
404 Errors are almost exactly like 302 errors, they’re easy to fix and can make a huge difference. A 404 error is created whenever something links to a webpage on your site that doesn’t exist.
This generally is because you have moved some old content around, or because you or another website has misspelled a link. Whatever the case, these 404 errors need to be fixed. In many cases they are losing you link juice as well as unique visitors and customers.
Get a list of the 404 errors and send them over to the web master. Have them 301 redirect the errors to the appropriate pages and then sit back and watch as your rankings grow.
- Duplicate Content
This is another big one, take a look through the website and find if there is any duplicate content. If there is make sure that the proper canonical tags are being used on the site. The last thing you want is a penalty for some simple same content pages on your client’s website.
- No Interlinking
I personally think that this should be on the list of the 7 deadly SEO sins. Interlinking is such an important part of SEO, and I’m always surprised at how many sites choose to ignore its potential.
Want to see some sites that use interlinking a lot?
Oh just a few small names such as Amazon, Wikipedia, and Moz. These sites use heavy interlinking, want to know why?
Because it works, it helps your visitors navigate your website and it helps Google know what your website is supposed to be about.
Try to see how many pages are interlinking to your keyword pages. If it isn’t a lot that’s something that you will want to fix, once again this is something that Screaming Frog can tell you.
This is a simple one to take a look at. How much unique content does the website have? Does it have a blog? Does it need one?
These are all questions that you should be looking at and analyzing. Take this time to look at your competitors a little bit as well; it will help you understand how the website is doing in relation to the industry.
Also take a look at how many pages have similar content on the website. Are there any pages that you could consolidate? Consolidating pages into one huge information page is a great way to gain Google’s interest, and will help out your visitors as well.
- Social Shares
This is the last big part of your on-site audit. I understand that social shares come from off of the page, but social shares will tell you a few important things about the on-page content.
For instance is the content going viral? Is it doing well?
If the site is big I like to use programs such as Import.io and Google Refine to analyze and see how well the sites content is doing. Once again you can find some simple tutorials for these programs through a quick Google search; doing this can really help you understand where your client is at and what they really need done to their site.
An on-page site audit is vital to any SEO campaign. If you follow the above steps and make the necessary changes you will start to notice some quick rankings and a good traffic boost.
Don’t skimp on the details and make sure that you truly understand where the website is at. We promise that in the end you will be glad that you did and so will your client.
Another note is try to do a site audit at least once or twice a year for your clients. You would be surprised at how often those 302 and 404 errors can pop up. By keeping a constant eye on these things you will be able to dodge all Google penalties and rank like a king.