Recommended Site Auditing Tools
In addition to the tools already mentioned, SEO experts recommend the following utilities to help with site audits.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a favorite among many SEO experts. “There’s a free version that inexperienced DIY SEO individuals can use to familiarize themselves with the data,” says LILLY + Associates' DiPatrizio. “Simply enter your site's URL and click ‘Start.’ Clicking through each tab and using the built-in filters can give you a great idea of what might need to be fixed on your site.”
Copyscape is duplicate-content-detection software and a plagiarism checker, and it's another favorite of SEO experts. A free version is available. Copyscape Premium will analyze a site’s entire content for 5 cents a page. "Within minutes you'll have a plethora of data about which pages on your website contain duplicate content, the exact content highlighted for you, and a full list of other Web pages that your content was also discovered on,” says DiPatrizio.
MajesticSEO offers a basic free plan as well as paid plans, and it “evaluates all links and helps separate high-quality links from low-quality links,” according to LegalAdvice.com's Kline. “The site also breaks down anchor text in a pie chart and is a great tool to see if your link anchor text is over-optimized. That is, whether Google would deem your anchor text wording an out-of-compliance attempt to spam or game the search engines.” (Anchor text is the text within a hyperlinked phrase.)
Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin (free) is for sites that use the open-source WordPress.org CMS, and it “can automatically fix and streamline many technical errors a site might have without too much technical knowledge needed,” says Marchie. “You can also use it to enter your HTML title tags and meta descriptions.”
Raven’s free 30-day trial provides an in-depth audit using its Site Auditor tool. “This will give you another tool to check your metadata, alt tags, headings, keyword usage, as well as a few additional data points,” Marchie says. The report arrives in PDF format, and you can use it to measure progress as you fix site problems.
Crazy Egg shows you a "heat map" of where your site's visitors tend to click most frequently. Plans start at $9 a month. The tool helps you discover which pages are most important to your visitors, according to Dave Davies, CEO, Beanstalk SEO.
Siteliner is a free utility designed to help find duplicate content, broken links and other site issues that can negatively impact SEO.
Ahrefs Site Explorer is a popular tool, with a free trial, for investigating links to and from your site.
QuickSprout offers free website analysis tools in graphical format and provides recommendations for fixing problems.
What to Do With Data You Collect
Many SEO experts use spreadsheet programs, such as Microsoft Excel, to incorporate data they gather from site audits, and they often augment the spreadsheets with written reports or presentations.
“Typically, we deliver two documents in the site audit,” Marchie says. “The first is a spreadsheet with every active URL listed and a note of the changes we'd recommend to each URL, such as redirects, content updates, title tag changes and so on. Additionally, we use this to line up the keyword we want to optimize each page for.”
Marchie also prepares a Word or PDF document with broader recommendations he'd give to the site's owners. "This can point out poorly structured URLs, poor converting design issues, speed issues, and crawler errors, as well as off-page opportunities their competition may be using. We also sum up the changes we recommend in our spreadsheet.”
SEO Audits Aren't 'Set and Forget' Affairs
“You can’t justrun an SEO audit, fix all of the items that have been flagged, and assume you'll be in the clear,” says Lisa Kirschner, managing director, Flair Interactive Services Inc. “You have to go above and beyond that and make sure you're truly offering unique, valuable content in many forms. That's what attracts users, converts them into paying customers, gets readers to share your message and ultimately increases your rankings. SEO is a constant endeavor that requires continual improvements and truly valuable content.”
One audit isn’t enough, according to Davies. “Once an audit is completed, it's time to schedule the work to be done and to schedule the next audit. If you did an audit every year or six months, there would be a lot of new information to digest and a lot of algorithm and industry tweaks to consider.”
SEO is always changing, and staying on top of it is a time-consuming process, according to James Blews, online presence consultant, Smart Idea Lane. “But if you get started today, you’ll see returns one day earlier,” Blews says.