Performing regular technical SEO audits spots issues that undermine your rankings before Google penalizes you. But where to start if you’re a beginner? I’ll walk you through a simple technical audit process covering key elements like site speed, mobile optimization, XML sitemaps, and more.
Arm yourself with this checklist and you can diagnose and fix technical problems boosting your SEO. Let’s nip those technical troubles in the bud!
Why Audit Your Technical SEO?
First, let’s review why a regular technical SEO check-up is so important for beginners:
- Identifies obstacles slowing down site speed. Faster page speed improves rankings.
- Ensures a positive mobile user experience. Over half of searches are mobile.
- Confirms your site is easily crawlable for search engine bots. Critical for rankings.
- Allows you to fix issues before Google penalizes you. Better to be proactive.
- Provides benchmarks to measure progress addressing problems over time.
Even if you’re new to SEO, audits help you cover technical bases closing any gaps hindering performance.
Tools To Guide Your Beginner Audits
The right tools make auditing much easier. Here are a few free ones to help beginners audit technical SEO:
- Google PageSpeed Insights: Analyzes site speed and mobile performance.
- XML Sitemaps: Checks crawlability and indexed pages.
- Google Search Console: Identifies indexing issues.
- Google Mobile-Friendly Test: Tests mobile optimization.
- Chrome DevTools & Lighthouse Reports: Debug problems like page errors.
- ScreamingFrog: In my opinion, one of the best tools for Technical SEO
These provide user-friendly data to diagnose common problems.
Leverage SEO Crawlers
One of the most powerful technical SEO auditing tools for beginners is Screaming Frog.
This desktop program crawls your site to identify:
- Crawl errors blocking pages from indexing
- Duplicate page titles or meta descriptions
- Pages with thin content that should be beefed up
- Broken internal links directing users to error pages
- Pages optimized with keyword-rich titles and H1s vs. those lacking SEO elements
The visual crawl map also helps you evaluate site architecture for optimization opportunities.
Screaming Frog shines a light on technical issues that may be invisible without a deep site crawl. It's free for up to 500 URLs.
Other helpful SEO crawlers include DeepCrawl, Botify, and SiteBulb. These provide further insight into technical problems hurting your rankings.
Leveraging crawlers takes your audits to the next level vs. merely surface-level checks. Well worth learning for beginners
Technical SEO Audit Checklist
Now let’s walk through a beginner technical SEO audit checklist hitting all the key elements:
- Use PageSpeed Insights to measure mobile and desktop speed performance. 85+ is good.
- Check if your site uses caching plugins like WP Rocket or W3 Total Cache. Turn on caching if not.
- Make sure pages load key HTML content in under 3 seconds.
- Compare site speed over time to see if new plugins or web hosts improved or slowed down performance.
- Work toward improving PageSpeed Insights metrics each audit by addressing flagged issues.
- Run the Google Mobile-Friendly test to check for any mobile errors. Fix issues.
- Click around site pages on a mobile device yourself. Test forms, buttons, navigation, etc.
- Use the “Responsive” view in Chrome DevTools to simulate mobile screens. Check responsiveness.
- Ensure text doesn’t require pinching/zooming to read on mobile.
- Simplify and streamline navigation/menus for thumb-friendly mobile access.
- Submit XML sitemaps in Search Console for each section of your site to facilitate crawling.
- Crawl a sampling of pages yourself checking for any indexation or 4xx/5xx page errors.
- Review indexed pages in Search Console to spot gaps in coverage. Consider optimizing or adding pages.
- Check for pages blocked via robots.txt. Allow search bot access to all pages you want indexed.
- Ensure your site has a sitemap page listing all key pages for users and crawlers.
- Check that category pages load in under 3 seconds. Slow pages frustrate users.
- Do internal site links use descriptive anchor text? Or just repetitive “click here” generic text?
- Are site sections and URL structures intuitive? Simple structures improve UX.
- Make sure site runs on HTTPS rather than HTTP for security.
- Check robots.txt isn’t overly restrictive blocking helpful bots.
- Ensure ad networks and third party JS isn’t slowing down your site speed.
Regular technical audits following this checklist help instill best practices. Over time you’ll confidently squash issues threatening organic success!
I've put together a 100 point technical audit checklist that you can get by simply asking for it!
Leverage NitroPack for Faster Page Speed
One easy win for improving site speed is enabling NitroPack. This plugin works seamlessly with your WordPress site to:
- Cache pages for faster load times
- Compress images
- Serve pages over a CDN
Together these optimizations can significantly boost your PageSpeed score and metrics.
The plugin automatically applies performance best practices without any complexity. Set it and forget it after installing.
Fixing site speed issues flagged in PageSpeed is crucial for beginners. Tools like NitroPack make it easy to get fast results.
Note: Just be careful about the default "Ludicrous" mode setting which can sometimes break functionality on your website.