242 Point SEO Audit Checklist (updated)

242 Point SEO Audit Checklist

What is an SEO Audit?

If you are unsure that everything is running correctly with your website, then you will likely want to figure out what the problems are. This is where you need to turn to an SEO Audit (why this SEO audit checklist was created in the first place) and it’s something that I do on a daily basis, and have been doing for many years now.

And if you want to know why an SEO audit takes 2-3 weeks (or sometimes longer), this is why!

16 steps and 242 inspection points…

Many of the documents in circulation cover the basics of a technical audit but don’t seem to have taken into account how Google has changed – and continues to change!

No amount of technical corrections will help if you are simply not finding the cause, which is why I created this SEO audit checklist and made it public.

This technical SEO checklist covers all of the following audit points and how they should be performed.

Please remember that these are checks – results from these checks should form part of an ongoing strategy for any website owner.

Before Starting An SEO Audit…

In the world of website inspection, two important keys are preparation and knowing the right questions to ask. You would be surprised at how many times you can tie an issue down to a website event.

Before beginning, consider all of the following…

  • What is the history of your website?
  • Has work been completed previously?
  • Have any new strategies been applied?
  • Have a minimum of 30-50 keywords to track.
  • Do you have the time to commit to an audit?

The last point here is especially pertinent because if you realise that you don’t have the time to perform this work, you will risk skipping possible issues and be back at square one.

Why was this SEO audit checklist created?

SEO Auditing is one of those areas that needs to be all or nothing, and by publishing the audit checkpoints that I cover, it means that everyone has access to a hugely comprehensive list that will miss nothing out.

I have spent many years creating an SEO audit that I can deliver to clients knowing that the results will find issues, no matter how small, that can all have an impact on search positions. While cleaning up my audit process I decided to share all of the points that are investigated when I’m auditing a website.

Tools used while auditing a website

There is no point trying to audit a website with just one tool – you are almost guaranteed to miss something, so I use many different tools to inspect various elements.

However, I am not saying that you need to use every one of those below. You might find that you can get away with only using some of them.

Each of the tools I use is listed next to the audit check to be performed.

Accessing The SEO Audit Checklist Spreadsheet

I have decided to go a little further and have made public this part of the SEO Audit checks in Google Sheets.

It is open to the public for anyone who has the link, so please do feel free to share it.

Access the SEO Audit spreadsheet

GOOGLE - 14 Checks
These points are intended to check how the site is seen by Google.

Is Google Analytics Installed?
gachecker.com

GA duplication check
GA Debug Plugin

Is Google Search Console setup?
Google Search Console

Are there any Google Search Console errors?
Google Search Console

Google Cache Analysis
‘cache:’ in Chrome e.g. cache:andydrinkwater.com

Is there a live primary sitemap.xml file or multiple sitemap files?
Google Search Console

Is there a discrepancy between indexed pages in Google and the Sitemap files?
Check Sitemap in Google Search Console and use ‘site:’ in Google e.g. site:andydrinkwater.com

Are there any invalid pages in the sitemap?
Google Search Console. More checks can be completed using Screaming Frog

Are there any negative search results for the brand?
Search for the brand name in Google

Are there any negative Google Autosuggest?
Go to Google.com and complete a brand name search – look for negative phrases

Is there a Google News sitemap.xml file?
Google Search Console

Are there Any manual actions?
Google Search Console – Security & Manual Actions

Are there any crawl errors?
Google Search Console

Core Web Vitals
Check for issues with LCP (largest contentful paint), FID (First Input Delay) & CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift)

BENCHMARKS - 8 Checks
Setup your benchmarks before beginning. This way you know where growth/changes have occurred.

Total Pages Indexed in Google
Use ‘site:’ in Google e.g. site:andydrinkwater.com

Total Number of Backlinks
Ahrefs or Majestic

Total Number of Linking Root Domains
Ahrefs or Majestic

Total Number of Organic Keywords
Google Search Console, Ahrefs, or SEMRush

Top keyword positions
Google Search Console, Ahrefs, or SEMRush

Bounce Rates
Google Analytics

Domain Age
webconfs.com/web-tools/domain-age-tool/

Identify top 50-100 under-performing pages
Google Analytics

COMPETITOR ANALYSIS - 5 Checks
Understanding what your competitors are doing can be a great way to emulate and improve on a campaign.

Top 3-5 competitors identified?
Client / SEMRush / Ahrefs

Has the competition been benchmarked?
Visual / Export

Competitor top 10 keywords
Visual / Export

Competitor average search positions
Visual / Export

Top ranking keywords
Visual / Export

SITE ARCHITECTURE - 28 Checks
If there are issues here, it can mess up a whole site and any future campaigns. Architecture plays a big part in SEO.

Site protocol checks
Most Crawling Tools

Pagination checks
Screaming Frog

Canonical checks
Screaming Frog

Can /should pagination be replaced by load-on -scroll?
Visual/Client

Are any URL’s being over-optimised?
Visual

Print version noindexed?
Visual

Is there a blog on a subdomain?
Visual / Crawl

Internal Linking checks
Screaming Frog / SEMRush

Are there any broken/404 pages internally?
Screaming Frog / SEMRush

Site Visualisation Checks
Screaming Frog / Sitebulb

Internal redirects
Screaming Frog

Redirect chains & Redirect loops
Screaming Frog

Robots.txt present?
Visual

Robots.txt review
Visual / SC

Are pages being correctly blocked by Robots.txt?
Visual

Are pages being correctly blocked by Meta Robots?
Screaming Frog

Are all pages <4 clicks from the homepage?
Most Crawling Tools

Site Structure & Silo Use
Screaming Frog / Sitebulb

Category Use (ecomm)
Visual

URL naming convention – is this well optimised?
Most Crawling Tools

Error Pages
Screaming Frog

Is an HTML Sitemap in use?
Visual / Screaming Frog

Are Tag Pages being used?
Most Crawling Tools

Is the site using a crumb trail?
Visual

Is primary navigation easy to use?
Visual / UX

Footer navigation checks?
Visual

Is all good content under 4 clicks from home?
Most Crawling Tools

Menu setup and use
Visual

TECHNICAL SEO - 33 Checks
Many technical issues can go completely undiagnosed because you don’t see them.

Primary Protocol Use (HTTP / HTTPS)?
Most Crawling Tools

Does the site have a valid SSL certificate?
Chrome / sslchecker.com

Are any https pages loading insecurely?
Visual/Chrome/Most Crawling Tools

Do all pages redirect from HTTP to HTTPS correctly?
Most Crawling Tools

Is an HSTS policy in place?
securityheaders.com

Does the site use Subdomains?
Most Crawling Tools

Does the site carry a Favicon?
Visual

Site Uptime
uptimerobot.com

Broken / Redirected Internal Links
Most Crawling Tools

Broken / Redirected External Links
Most Crawling Tools

Javascript Use
Screaming Frog / Visual

Is the .htaccess file configured correctly?
Visual

Are Dynamic Pages being served correctly?
Most Crawling Tools

Does the site have open dynamic pages that can be blocked?
From Crawl Data

Malware & Security Checks
sitecheck.sucuri.net

Blacklist check
mxtoolbox.com & ultratools.com/tools/spamDBLookup

Site Speed Checks
webpagetest.org / GTMetrix

Are any pages being duplicated due to poor architecture?
Most Crawling Tools

Structured Data & Schema Use
Google Testing Tool / SC

Are there any Chrome Console Errors?
Chrome Inspect

Is CSS being minified?
seositecheckup.com/tools/css-minification-test

Is Inline CSS being used?
Visual

Is every site page secure and without errors?
Screaming Frog

Are there any canonical errors?
Most Crawling Tools

Are all ads and affiliate links nofollowed?
Most Crawling Tools

Can the site be crawled and used without Javascript on?
Chrome Web Developer Extension

Server location by IP
iplocation.net

Check all sites on webserver
viewdns.info/reverseip/

Do any pages have more than 100 external links?
Most Crawling Tools

What platform is the site built on?
builtwith.com

Does the platform come with known restrictions?
Research

Is a CDN in use?
builtwith.com

Check domain history
SEMRush / Wayback Machine

WEBSITE IMAGES -7 Checks
Images can bring a site to life, but can also slow it down. Use them, but do check as well.

How many images are used sitewide?
Most Crawling Tools

Are images being optimised?
Most Crawling Tools

Are ALT tags being regularly used?
Most Crawling Tools

Are images named sympathetically?
Most Crawling Tools

Are there any dead images?
Most Crawling Tools

Are too many stock images used?
Visual

Are there any images in excess of 100Kb?
Most Crawling Tools

MOBILE AUDIT - 15 Checks
Mobile checks are hugely important as more than 50% of searchers now use mobile devices.

Responsive check
Google / responsinator.com

Popups/Interstitials
Visual

Mobile Page Size
webpagetest.org

Image use
Visual / webpagetest.org

Image optimisation
webpagetest.org

Image resizing
webpagetest.org

Search console errors
Google Search Console

AMP Check
Screaming Frog / Google Search Console / validator.ampproject.org

Mobile UX issues
(see UX) Visual / Hotjar / Yandex Metrica

Mobile Navigation
Visual

Use of video on mobile
Visual

Are buttons and links easy to click?
Visual / Google Search Console

Is the Favicon being displayed in mobile SERPs?
Visual

Parity checks – Content, Meta & Directives the same as desktop?
Screaming Frog – 2 Crawls + Export

Mobile Testing
Mobile Moxie

PAGE LEVEL & ELEMENT ANALYSIS - 28 Checks
Sometimes known as Best Practice, these elements are mostly on-page or easy changes.

Is SERP tracking setup?
Client

Are Deprecated HTML tags being used?
seositecheckup.com/tools/deprecated-html-tags-test

HTML Validation
validator.w3.org

Accessibility Checks
https://www.webaccessibility.com/

CSS Checks
From Data

Page Titles
Are all page titles under 65 characters? (appx. 570 pixels)
Are any Page Titles under 30 characters?
Duplication without canonical/pagination?
Any signs of keyword cannibalisation?
Is the primary keyword/phrase close to the start?
Are all page titles descriptive of page content?
Are any page titles missing?

Meta Description
Are all Meta Descriptions unique and descriptive?
Are any Meta Descriptions missing?
Any duplication without canonical/pagination?
Are any below 70 characters?

Are Meta Keywords in use?
Most Crawling Tools

Are there any redirects other than 301?
Most Crawling Tools

Are there any 5xx errors?
Most Crawling Tools

Are images ALT tags in use?
Most Crawling Tools

Are there too many ads on any pages?
Visual

Does the site bombard you with popups?
Visual

Does the site carry clear Call to Actions?
Visual

Does each page have a clear H1 tag?
Most Crawling Tools

Are H2’s being used across the site?
Most Crawling Tools

Is the site W3C Compliant?
validator.w3.org

Does site:brand show expected sitelinks?
Google / Visual

Is the site using a Cookie acceptance notice?
Visual

KEYWORD ANALYSIS - 11 Checks
Google expects certain keywords when on a page. Make sure you are delivering these.

Site keyword research for Benchmarks
Most Keyword Tools

Brand search – Does homepage come up #1 when searched?
Google /Visual

Primary homepage term
Taken from homepage title

Is a keyword strategy in place?
Client / Research

Is there evidence of keyword duplication or overuse?
Most Crawling Tools

Are keywords in Page Titles?
Most Crawling Tools

Are keywords in H1?
Most Crawling Tools

Are keywords in H2?
Most Crawling Tools

Are keywords in Meta Description?
Most Crawling Tools

Are keywords in the main page document?
Most Crawling Tools

Overall, is the site trying to target the correct keywords?
Most Crawling Tools + Specific Tools

CONTENT AUDIT - 19 Checks
By understanding more about your content, you can enhance pages that might previously have been letting you down.

Is the site considered evergreen or fresh?
Niche Requirements

Is content kept updated if required?
Visual/Client

Do key pages satisfy user intent?
Niche+SEMRush/Keyword Tool

Are all fonts large enough to read clearly?
Visual

Are hyperlinks clear?
Visual

Could font colour be considered too light?
Visual

Are there clear primary and supplementary content types?
Visual

Is content Evergreen or Fresh?
Visual

Are there any thin pages? <200 words of content?
Most Crawling Tools

Does the site carry an up to date Privacy Policy?
Most Crawling Tools

Does the site carry up to date TOS’s?
Most Crawling Tools

Is there any duplicate content internally?
Most Crawling Tools

Is there any duplicate content externally?
Siteliner

Is any content scraped from external sources?
Siteliner

Is the contact page easy to find and use?
Visual

Content Gap Analysis
Ahrefs

Copy and classification checks
uclassify.com/browse

Has page grammar been checked?
Grammarly

Have page spellings been checked?
Checkdog / Grammarly

USER EXPERIENCE (UX) - 8 Checks
User Experience is a Googel ranking signal. You would be wise to make sure you get this right.

Site video use
Visual

Homepage check
Visual

Internal page checks
Visual

Contact page check
Visual

404 page check
Visual

Category Pages (ecomm)
Visual

Mobile UX Priorities
Visual

Review live site usage
Hotjar / Yandex Metrica

E.A.T - 30 Checks
Expertise, Authority & Trust signals and indicators.

E.A.T Analysis
Check to see if the site meets all Expertise, Authority and Trust requirements.

Y.M.Y.L
Would the site be considered Your Money Your Life by Google?

MC (Main Content) Quality
Visual

Enough high-quality MC?
Visual

Positive reputation for website or content creator?
Google

Distracting ads/ supplementary content?
Visual

Do pages answer questions / search intent?
Visual

Site spelling & grammar check
Checkdog + others

Do any pages lack purpose?
Visual

Average internal links without 404
Page Optimizer Pro

Average total internal links
Page Optimizer Pro

About Us page present?
Page Optimizer Pro

Twitter Card added?
Page Optimizer Pro

Are contact details complete?
Page Optimizer Pro

Is a Blog page present?
Page Optimizer Pro

Social Media links added?
Page Optimizer Pro

Customer Service page/Contact/FAQ/Help
Page Optimizer Pro

Twitter Description Tag present?
Page Optimizer Pro

Organization Schema added?
Page Optimizer Pro

Privacy Policy page and link?
Page Optimizer Pro

Clickable Email link?
Page Optimizer Pro

Person Schema present?
Page Optimizer Pro

Meet The Team page live?
Page Optimizer Pro

Terms of Service page?
Page Optimizer Pro

Link to Author page?
Page Optimizer Pro

More than one email on site?
Page Optimizer Pro

Cookie Policy/GDPR page live?
Page Optimizer Pro

Trademark link in footer?
Page Optimizer Pro

Are Authority Outbound links present?
Page Optimizer Pro

Meta Author tag used?
Page Optimizer Pro

BACKLINK ANALYSIS - 9 Checks
Google relies so heavily on backlinks, that you want to make sure you are on top of this.

Backlink health & score
Ahrefs / SEMRush

Spammy domains
Ahrefs

Has a disavow file been created?
GSC

Has a disavow file been checked?
Ahrefs / Visual

Anchor Text Use
Ahrefs

Backlinks lost
Ahrefs

Backlinks Gained
Ahrefs

Broken Backlinks
Ahrefs

Is blog commenting being closely monitored?
Visual

INTERNATIONALISATION - 9 Checks
Often confusing, international SEO has the ability to drop a site from the SERPs. By checking these elements you can ensure site health.

Does the site have an international audience?
Client / Research

Is the site using rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” ?
Most Crawling Tools

Is the site being translated without errors?
Visual

Is the site using an international URL structure?
Most Crawling Tools

Are the correct localised web pages being used?
flang.dejanseo.com.au / Research / Client

Does the site have backlinks from target countries?
Ahrefs

Is the site Multilingual, Multiregional or both?
Client / Research

Does the site location need to be setup in Search Console?
Google Search Console

Checks from international locations
Browseo & International IP’s

LOCAL SEO AUDIT - 9 Checks
So many sites require a local presence that no business should really be without this. Set it up and continue to improve.

Does the site need and gain traffic from local audiences?
Client / Research

Are local titles tags being used?
Most Crawling Tools

Is there a consistent NAP across the site and external sites?
Visual / Ahrefs

Is local structured data being used?
Visual

Is there a Google MyBusiness listing?
Google My Business

Is the site listed in reputable business directories?
Research / Ahrefs

Does the site have local citations?
Ahrefs / Research

Does the site carry good local content?
Visual

Does the site have too many thin content local pages?
Most Crawling Tools

NEGATIVE PRACTICE - 8 Checks
These do still crop up from time to time, often without site owners realising, so worth checking.

Hidden text
Crawling Tools & Research

Cloaking
duplichecker.com/cloaking-checker.php

Doorway pages
Most Crawling Tools

Meta Refresh
Screaming Frog

Javascript redirection
Screaming Frog

Link Exchanges
Ahrefs / Research

Is Flash being used?
Screaming Frog

Are iFrames in use?
Screaming Frog

Further Reading

The resources below all provide additional information when auditing your website and provide even more practical assistance.