SEO

How to perform a technical SEO audit in one hour

Technical SEO audits can take forever. They’re like the matrix of search engine optimisation. Once you peer into the data, you have no choice but to descend down that rabbit hole. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you could be lost forever.

As a growing agency with multiple clients on our roster, it’s my job as an SEO Specialist to dissect, distil and contextualise a website as efficiently as possible. These are some of the things I consider when I do an audit:

  • Crawl depth
  • Internal and external linking
  • Status codes
  • txt
  • Follow vs. no follow URLs
  • Indexability
  • On-page factors
  • Security

So, without further ado, here’s how to perform a technical SEO audit in just one hour.

First things first: build your toolkit

Time: 15 minutes

In the words of Liam Neeson, a technical SEO audit requires ‘a very particular set of skills’.

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When I audit a website, my main tool is Sitebulb. It’s an award-winning SEO platform that delivers insights into a website’s performance. At £25 (plus VAT) per month per license, you get a good return on data.Sitebulbs SEO dashboardSitebulb’s dashboard

Next, I use Google PageSpeed Insights for mobile and desktop page speed scores. It’s fast, reliable (because it’s a Google tool) and it gives our developers the necessary information they need to begin optimising.

Google PageSpeed InsightsGoogle PageSpeed Insights

For on-page SEO factors, I use our own in-house tool, HubToolKit. We’re HubSpot advocates, and we built a tool to help us (and others) quickly fix on-page SEO factors like meta descriptions, image compressions and broken links from one place, without having to jump from blog to blog.HubToolKitHubToolKit

The final technical SEO tool I use is Ahrefs. When it comes to technical audits, I use this tool to gauge a website’s domain authority, backlink profile and referring domains.Ahrefs dashboardAhrefs dashboard

If you’re efficient, it should take you no longer than 15 minutes to download, install and begin using this toolkit.

Next, run your audits

Time: 15 minutes

Now that you have a toolkit in place, it’s time to begin conducting audits. Quite simply: I take the domain in question, I then run it through my toolkit, and I see what comes out.

My Sitebulb audit is my bible – it gives me everything I need to know about how a site is put together. I use the other tools to build a more in-depth picture. If there are multiple broken links across a blog, for example, HubToolKit or Ahrefs will show that information. If my website is slow to load, Google PageSpeed has the answers.

The tools I've named above do have some overlapping features, but that’s no bad thing. It allows me to cross-check data and ensure that the results are reliable. If, for example, my Sitebulb audit tells me that a site has multiple 404 errors, I can go into Ahrefs’ Site Audit tool and run an audit there to see if this is accurate.

By doing this, I can deliver a clearer story to clients.

Finally, contextualise your data

Time: 30 minutes

Data by itself is meaningless, and to be honest, anyone can download these tools, run a domain through them and look at the data. It’s not rocket science.

The reason my job exists, however, is because it takes someone with a little know-how to understand what this data means and how it fits into the bigger picture.

The most important thing you can do is dedicate time to understanding context.

What’s causing so many broken links in a blog? And what’s the solution to this problem? If the homepage has a crawl depth of four, why is this bad for SEO and how can it be improved? Why do meta descriptions need to be under 155 characters long, and where should the keyword go when writing it?

Your data tells an encrypted story, it’s an SEO Specialist's job to decrypt it.

I’ll confess, technical SEO audits take me more than an hour…

Okay fine, I’ll come clean. Technical SEO audits almost always take longer than one hour. That's because I spend my time cross-examining data points and working out what that data actually means for the client.

Sure, I can gather all the data I need in about 30 minutes. But, ideally, I want to sit with that data and think about it to make sure the context correlates with a client’s long-term goals. We have to prioritise which issues are more important, too. Do we spend budget on fixing on-page SEO factors, or do we dedicate it to improving site speed?

The truth is: time is underrated and undervalued. Adding value isn’t about deliver results as quick as possible, it’s about delivering results that mean something.

Yes, a technical SEO audit can be completed in one hour. But, for it to be completed well, you should put some thinking time aside, because it’s this time that helps you tell a better story and come up with the best out-of-the-box ideas.

Heck, how do you think we came up with HubToolKit?

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Callum Sharp

Marketing Copywriter and the go-to SEO guy at Articulate. Lover of Jack Kerouac, strong coffee and travelling. I can't afford a house because I like avocados too much.