An SEO site audit is an essential component to understanding and improving your website’s health and standing with search engines. An SEO audit gives you a complete analysis of all elements of your website, providing insight into how your site is optimised in order to evaluate how your site is visible and may perform in a search engine.
There are a variety of online resources and tools available to choose from to help conduct your full site SEO audit, including Matter Solutions and industry-favourite: Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider tool. Screaming Frog Spider tool is a desktop program which crawls a URL and presents all internal and external elements of the site, allowing potential SEO issues to be identified and addressed.
Screaming Frog is a free download and requires no prior knowledge or experience in order to perform and understand an audit – nonetheless, when you’re initially faced with a screen full of results, the task of deciphering the wealth of data it provides can be overwhelming. This guide will give you the essential know-how to understand your Screaming Frog report and the steps to take to rectify your sites SEO issues.
- First, to start a site crawl, enter the site url in the bar at the top of the screen and click “Start”. Screaming Frog will then begin crawling every accessible page of your website.
- The overview Tabs at the top of window allow you to inspect specific areas of your site
- Filter allows you to filter the view
- This filtered view and specific area navigation is also displayed in the right-hand column of the window. Using this overview section allows you to easily filter and find pages with particular issues. By showing the number and percentage of affected pages, this data gives you an idea of the prevalence of the issues within your site.
- Data is also displayed visually in a graph in the bottom right of the window
Let’s take a look at the some of the main tabs you should check when understanding your site’s data, what they mean, and SEO errors you should look out for:
This tab combines all of the data from internal pages of the site.
Includes information about the external data of your site.
It is important to check response codes and any page errors on your site. These can be viewed via the Response Codes tab. Using the filter, the pages with each response code type can be viewed in isolation. 200 response codes indicate the page of the site can be accessed without issues. However, if your report indicates that your site includes pages with 4xx, 3xx, or 5xx errors it is important to understand what these errors mean and what has caused them.
Common response code errors:
301: Permanent redirect
302: Temporary redirect
404: Page not found
500: Server error
This tab lists all indexed urls on the site. Url structure is an important factor in SEO, with the ideal URL length being 4-5 words and descriptive of the content. Order the urls by Length to identify ones which may be too long and can be better optimised.
Page titles are an incredibly essential component of a page, without appropriate page titles the pages ability to rank for a particular search query is severely hindered.
There are a few critical requirements that page titles must have to be search engine optimised. For example, it is important that every page has a unique title, that the total length of the title does not exceed 65 or fall below 30 characters, that the page title is not the same as the H1 tag, and that the title includes target keywords.
Character length does not directly affect rankings but can influence click-through rates. This is due to 512 pixel cut off to how your title is displayed in Google’s search results. This pixel limit is roughly equivalent to 55-65 characters, therefore, all titles must have a suitable character and pixel limit to be fully viewable to potential customers in search results.
Use the tabs to navigate your sites page titles and find any issues.
Meta tags and descriptions
Meta descriptions are a 160 character description and snippet of a pages’ content displayed below the title in a search engine result. Meta descriptions are a crucial aspect of on-page SEO, and a missing or inappropriate meta description can negatively impact your SEO. Without a meta description, Google will pull text from the page to use in the SERP snippet. A missing meta description negatively affects your SEO.
Similar to the character and pixel limits of page titles, each page of your site should have a unique meta description between 70 – and 156 characters long. The “Meta Description 1” field in the data window shows the meta description for each page. Use the overview and filter tools to identify pages with missing, duplicate, or inappropriate lengthed meta descriptions.
H1 and H2
H1 and H2 tags are headings on your page. As with other on-site features, heading tags should be below a certain character length (70 in this case), not duplicated, and different from the title. To better optimise your page for SEO, include keywords relevant to your content within headings and subheadings.
Use the filter view to identify pages with unoptimised or incorrect heading tags.
Images – size and ALT text
Images included on websites can impact SEO in a variety of ways such as Alt text, which allows visually impaired people and search engines to understand your pages’ content better, and impacts image sizing and loading times.
The size of image effects the page loading time with large, high-resolution images, over 100kb, can cause the loading time of a website to increase. The response times of a site is used by Google when ranking web pages. Therefore, it is essential to identify and compress excessively large images.
Use the “Over 100kb” and “Missing ALT text” filter to find any images used on your site which may be too big or missing alt text.
Duplicate content, including duplicate meta descriptions, meta tags and page titles make it difficult for search engines to decide which page to rank in response to specific keywords and queries. As previously mentioned, all meta tags and titles should be unique. Use the overview tab to isolate duplicates within your site.
Knowing how to understand and identify issues in your Screaming Frog scan means you can analyse and identify on-site elements of your site that are not suitably optimised for SEO.