The Beginner’s Checklist for a Technical SEO Audit


If you’re reading this, you own or manage a website that could benefit from technical improvements. As a website creator for the past 18 years, I can tell you that it’s very likely that even an expertly built website can have weaknesses and blindspots.

Here my checklist for beginners conducting a technical SEO audit.

Technical SEO Checklist

XML Sitemap: Ensure you have a valid XML sitemap that includes all relevant pages and submit it to Google Search Console.

An XML sitemap is like a roadmap for search engines, telling them which pages on your website to crawl and index. When you create a comprehensive XML sitemap, it ensures that search engines discover and understand the structure of your website, making it easier for them to rank your pages appropriately in search results.

To get started, you can use various online tools and content management systems (CMS) plugins to generate your XML sitemap automatically. Once you have the sitemap, it’s crucial to submit it to Google Search Console (formerly known as Webmaster Tools) or Bing Webmaster Tools. This step helps search engines know about your sitemap and encourages them to regularly crawl and index your content. Regularly updating and maintaining your XML sitemap is equally important, especially as you add new content or make structural changes to your website.

Robots.txt: Check for any disallow rules that may block search engines from crawling essential pages.

Site Speed: Optimize page loading times to improve user experience and SEO rankings.

Mobile-Friendly Design: Ensure your site is mobile-responsive for better rankings on mobile search.

Mobile Usability: Test and optimize your site for mobile usability, focusing on factors like touch-friendliness and mobile-specific issues.

HTTPS: Use SSL certificates to secure your site with HTTPS, as Google considers it a ranking factor.

Canonical Tags: Implement canonical tags to avoid duplicate content issues.

URL Structure: Use clean and descriptive URLs that include relevant keywords.

Title Tags: Optimize title tags for each page with relevant keywords and ensure they are unique.

Meta Descriptions: Write compelling meta descriptions to improve click-through rates from search results.

Header Tags: Use proper HTML header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to structure your content logically.

Image Optimization: Compress and optimize images for faster loading and include descriptive alt text.

Schema Markup: Implement structured data markup to provide search engines with more context about your content.

Internal Linking: Create a logical internal linking structure to help search engines understand your site’s hierarchy and prioritize important pages.

Broken Links: Regularly check for broken links and fix or redirect them to relevant pages.

HTML Sitemap: Create an HTML sitemaps to help users and search engines navigate your site.

Pagination: If you have paginated content, use rel=prev and rel=next tags to indicate the relationship between pages.

Internationalization and hreflang Tags: If applicable, implement hreflang tags for internationalization and multilingual content.

Structured Data Testing: Use tools like Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to verify your structured data implementation.

301 Redirects: Check for and resolve any issues related to 301 redirects to avoid unnecessary redirects and chains.

Canonicalization: Ensure proper canonicalization of pages to consolidate authority.

Site Architecture: Assess your site’s architecture for easy navigation and hierarchical structure.

HTTPS Migration: If you switch from HTTP to HTTPS, ensure proper redirection and update all internal links and resources.

Social Integration: Optimize social sharing elements, Open Graph tags, and Twitter Cards to enhance social visibility.

About the author

Daniel Dessinger is the founder and chief strategist at Search Matters. He served dozens of local and Fortune 500 clients in SEO and user experience from 2006 to 2012. He has been the tech and SEO behind the popular health and wellness website He's built 40+ websites on the WordPress platform and currently enjoys tinkering with GeneratePress and a host of online tools.

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