Search engine optimization should begin with and regularly updated using an SEO site audit. An audit is a means of reviewing and evaluating a website’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of SEO, and it can be used to guide the SEO process. While inbound links from other websites are a big factor in search engine rankings, over 43% of a search engine algorithm comes from internal features. Website owners who want to perform their own audits can take advantage of an SEO audit report template prepared by an experienced marketing consultant. There are various templates available, but they all highlight certain major aspects of web design and content in the form of a checklist that will generally include the following topics.

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Keywords

Use of keywords is one of the most important on-page elements of SEO. Keywords are the search queries users make that will, ideally, lead them to your website. Good keywords or keyword phrases should accurately reflect what customers want, but they also need to be non-competitive with major brands. Effective keywords are narrow in focus and may contain a geo-qualifier as well.

Title Tags

A title tag or element identifies your page in search results, and it should present a brief and accurate description of the page’s content. Some guidelines for titles include making sure each page has one and that each title is unique, using 50 – 60 characters per title, and using the keyword along with a geo-qualifier, like city and state names.

Meta Descriptions

Users have to view the source code to see a website’s meta description, but search engines see it automatically. A good meta description should have around 150 characters, but no more than 160, and should provide a unique and accurate description of the page, including the keyword for the page in each sentence. In addition, it’s important that all sentences be written clearly and correctly.

URLs

The URL should be user-friendly, easy to read and remember and, if possible, should include a keyword. Ideally, a URL should not exceed 255 characters in length, and none of those characters should be weird strings of numbers or random symbols. In addition, a good URL will not redirect to another page.

Headings

For a search engine, bigger fonts are better. Search engines consider large title and heading text to be the most relevant text on the page, so including keywords in headings, where appropriate, can help your SEO. Titles should use H1 tags and subheadings H2, and neither of these tags should contain logos or other images.

Images

When using images on a website, it’s important to compress their size so they don’t interfere with the website’s loading speed. A faster site is more attractive to search engines. Other considerations for images include using a descriptive file name and defining the ALT tag.

Content

Fresh, high-quality content is crucial for SEO. A page should include a minimum of 300 words, but the highest ranking pages have 2,400 or more. The words should be well-written and provide valuable content to the user. Shallow, repetitive, or duplicated content will decrease a website’s ranking in search results. In addition, the content should be well organized and grouped into appropriate categories, and new content must be added regularly.

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Links

Links create a website’s authority, so they are crucial for SEO. Search engines look at internal links that connect pages within a website, and they also look at external links that come from or go to another website. Outbound links should always link to high-quality, relevant content. It is useful to use the “nofollow” tag for links that blog commenters post so the search engine will not associate content your website doesn’t approve. SEO values a large number of inbound linksĀ but bear in mind that links from reputable sources are far more valuable than links from less well-established sites.

Before going through an SEO audit report template, it can be helpful to see your website as a search engine sees it by switching your user-agent to Googlebot. Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics can also give you information that will be valuable to your audit.