What to look for in a technical SEO audit

These technical optimizations will become the key differentiating factors for ranking better than your competitors.

The post What to look for in a technical SEO audit appeared first on Search Engine Land.

According to Techradar, there are more than 547,200 new websites every day. Google has to crawl and store all these sites in their database, therefore occupying physical space on their servers.

The sheer volume of content available now allows Google to prioritize well-designed, fast sites and provide helpful, relevant information for their visitors.  

The bar has been raised, and if your site is slow or has a lot of jargon in the code, Google is unlikely to reward your site with strong rankings.

If you really want to jump ahead of your competitors, you have a huge opportunity to be better than them by optimizing your site’s code, speed and user experience. These are some of the most important ranking signals and will continue to be as the internet becomes more and more inundated with content.

Auditing your website’s technical SEO can be extremely dense and with many moving pieces. If you are not a developer, it may be difficult to comprehend some of these elements.  

Ideally, you should have a working knowledge of how to run an audit to oversee the implementation of technical SEO fixes. Some of these may require developers, designers, writers or editors.

Fortunately, various tools will run the audits for you and give you all the comprehensive data you need to improve your website’s technical performance.

Let’s review some of the data points that will come up, regardless of what technical SEO audit tool you use:

Structure

  • Crawlability: Can Google easily crawl your website, and how often?
  • Security: Is your website secure with an HTTPS certificate?
  • On-page SEO elements: does every page have the keyword in the title tags, meta description, filenames, and paths? Does it have the same on-page elements as sites ranking in the top 10 for your target keywords?
  • Internal links: Does your site have internal links from other site pages? Other elements you can consider are site structure, breadcrumbs, anchor text and link sculpting.
  • Headings: Is the primary KW in the H1? Do you have H2s with supporting keywords?
  • Compliance issues:  Does your site’s code include valid HTML? What is the accessibility score?
  • Images: Do your images load quickly? Are they optimized with title, keywords and srcset attribute? Do you use some new image formats such as webP and SVG?
  • Schema and semantic Web: Are your schema tags in place and set up properly? Some schema tags that you can use include WebPage, BreadcrumbList, Organization, Product, Review, Author/Article, Person, Event, Video/Image, Recipe, FAQ and How-To.
  • Canonicals: Do you have canonical tags in place, and are they set up properly?
  • SiteMap: Do you ONLY have valid pages in the site map, and are redirects and 404 pages removed from the sitemap?

These are simply a few of the elements you’d want to look into that most tools will report on.  

User experience

Google has been placing more focus on ranking factors revolving around user experience. As the web collectively becomes more organized, Google is raising the bar for user experience. Focusing on user experience will ultimately increase their advertising revenue.   

You’ll want to audit the user experience of your website.

  • Is it fast?
  • How quickly is the page interactive?
  • Can it be navigated easily on mobile devices?
  • Is the hierarchy of the site clear and intuitive?

Some of the ways of measuring this include:

  • Site speed
  • Web Core Vitals
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Structured navigation
  • Intrusive ads or interstitials
  • Design

Make sure you are working with a developer that is well versed in the latest technical SEO elements and who can apply the changes required to raise your SEO performance score.

Technical SEO audit tools

Some of the most popular SEO audit tools include:

  • Semrush Site Audit
  • Screaming Frog
  • SiteBulb
  • Website Auditor
  • ContentKing App
  • GTMetrix
  • Pingdom
  • Google Lighthouse
  • Google Page Speed Insights 

We’ll look at a couple of these tools and the data points you can gain from them.

Semrush site audit

Once you create a project in Semrush, you can run a site audit. Your overview will look like this:

Click on the “Issues” tab, and you’ll see a detailed list of the issues that were uncovered, divided by Errors, Warnings and Notices:

If you click on an item, you’ll see a list of the pages affected by each issue.

Review these as sometimes the data points are not valid.   

Ideally, you should export the CSV for each of these issues and save them in a folder.

Screaming Frog

This desktop tool will use your computer and IP to crawl your website. Once completed, you’ll get various reports that you can download.  

Here are a couple of example reports:

This is an overview report that you can use to track technical audit KPIs.

For example, this report gives you details of the meta titles for each of your pages.

You can use the Bulk Export feature to get all of the data points downloaded into spreadsheets, which you can then add to your Audit folder.

SiteBulb

Like the others, Site Bulb will do a comprehensive crawl of your website. The benefit of this tool is that it will give you more in-depth technical information than some of the other tools.

You’ll get an Audit Score, SEO Score, and Security Score. As you implement fixes, you’ll want to see these scores increasing over time.

Google Search Console

The Index Coverage report contains a treasure trove of data that you can use to implement the fixes that Google has discovered about your site.

In the details section, you’ll see a list of the errors, and if you click through to each report, they will include the list of pages affected by each issue.

Implementing technical SEO fixes

Once you have all of your CSV exports, you can create a list of all of the issues and go through them to remove duplicate reports created by the different tools.

Next, you can assign what department each fix belongs to and the level of priority. Some may need to be tackled by your developer, others by your content team, such as rewriting duplicate titles or improving descriptions with pages with low CTR.

Here’s what your list might look like:

Each project should include notes, observations, or details about how to implement the fix. 

Most websites will have dozens of issues, so the key here is to prioritize the issues and make sure that you are continuously fixing and improving your site’s performance each month.

E-A-T Audit

It’s important that your website reflects topical authority and relevance. E-A-T means:

  • Expertise: Are you an expert in your field? Are your authors authoritative?
  • Authoritativeness: Are you considered authoritative in your field by industry organizations? Do your social profiles, citations, social shares and link profile reflect this authoritativeness?
  • Trustworthiness: Can visitors trust that your website is secure and that their data is safe? Does your site have an SSL certificate, including privacy disclaimers, refund information, contact info and credentials?

Google has an entire team of Quality Raters that manually review websites to assess them based on these parameters. Google has even published the Quality Raters E-A-T guidelines for site owners to reference.

If your website is in a YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) niche, these factors are even more important as Google attempts to protect the public from misinformation.

Analytics audit

  • Is your Google Analytics code working properly?
  • Do you have the proper goals and funnels to fully understand how users navigate your site?
  • Are you importing data from your Google Ads and Search Console accounts to visualize all of your data in Google Analytics? 

BrainLabsDigital has created a Google Analytics audit checklist that will help you review your Google Analytics account. The accompanying article will give you a straightforward and strategic approach to ensuring your Google Analytics is set up properly.

Prioritizing technical SEO fixes

Make sure you prioritize continuously improving your on-page SEO. Depending on your site, you may have a list of a dozen or a few hundred fixes. Try and determine which fixes will impact the most pages to see a greater improvement from your efforts.

It can be discouraging to see a list with 85 different technical SEO improvements. The benefit is that, as you go through these improvements, you will start seeing movement in your rankings.  Over time, you’ll want to have very few, if any, errors show up in all of your crawling tools.

If your content is relevant, targeted and well developed, and you’re receiving new, quality links every month, these technical = optimizations will become the key differentiating factors for ranking better than your competitors.

The post What to look for in a technical SEO audit appeared first on Search Engine Land.

How to Perform a Content Audit on Your eCommerce Site

Use our complete, step-by-step content audit guide to evaluate your eCommerce website content and find areas for improving traffic, revenue, and more.

In a world where AI platforms can produce content at rates never seen before, many eCommerce businesses get stuck in the rat race of populating their websites with ever more blogs, product pages, and other helpful content.

But content creation is only part of the game. 

To maximize both your SEO and customer experience efforts, you also need to understand how your current material is performing. And that means performing a content audit. 

We know: Content audits can be tedious and overwhelming. You might have to review thousands of blog posts and product pages. It can be difficult to figure out where exactly to start, what content strategies to follow, and how to optimize effectively for search engines.

So, this guide is here to help. 

Today, we’ll walk you through every step of our content audit process, developed from years of working with eCommerce businesses just like yours. 

Use it now to create an effective SEO content marketing strategy that boosts your organic performance, conversion rates, and overall revenue.

Want to skip ahead to the TL;DR version? Download our Content Audit Toolkit to get started now.

Download our eCommerce Content Audit Toolkit Now. Logo: Inflow. Attract. Convert. Grow.

Table of Contents

What Is a Content Audit? 

A content audit is an analysis of all the content on your site, including blog posts, product pages, landing pages, and any other written material. It helps you understand what content you currently have, how it’s performing, and what needs to be improved or removed.

Content audits can be conducted for various different reasons. Perhaps your organic traffic has been slipping, and you want to identify the reasons why. Maybe you’ve hired a new SEO or content marketing manager who wants the lay of the land. In other cases, you might just want to organize your unwieldy number of web pages.

Whatever your reasoning for doing one, a content audit helps you identify issues or problems with your current content strategy and how you can enhance it moving forward. 

Along the way, you’ll use certain metrics to determine how each page is performing and what your next steps should be in the context of your overall content marketing plan

In an ideal world, a business’s content library should be audited every other year to ensure it is up to date. However, we recognize that’s not possible for every marketing team, so we suggest fitting this process into your schedule as it allows.

Why Content Audits are Important

A content audit isn’t just important for your content marketing strategy; it’s also key in related marketing efforts like search engine optimization (SEO). After all, only by understanding where your current content is can you know the improvements you can make moving forward. 

More specifically, content audits can be used to:

  • Identify underperforming content for improvement or deletion
  • Identify top-performing content to inform overall strategy
  • Serve as a content gap analysis of competitors’ sites
  • Better understand how to execute a keyword research strategy based on what content is (and isn’t) ranking
  • Discover new content marketing possibilities and gaps in the customer journey
  • Revamp stale content to be more engaging in terms of tone, writing style, and  overall approach
  • Revisit the accuracy of certain claims and data points to ensure everything is current and relevant
  • Rewrite old content or create new material to better suit your brand’s current goals and target audience’s needs
  • Refresh content in light of algorithm updates (such as Google’s Core Updates) to ensure that it remains SEO-friendly.

The nature and scope of your next steps after a content audit will be determined by which objectives are most important to you and how much bandwidth you have to invest in content going forward.

Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that evergreen content is repurposed and that old, irrelevant content is regularly deleted — keeping your content fresh for both customers and for search engines.

A Reminder for Ecommerce Businesses

In many ways, an eCommerce content audit is the same as a content audit for any other website. 

However, one indicator is far more vital on eCommerce sites than on any other type of site: revenue

While most content audits will recommend that you focus on sessions to analyze a page’s performance, in the online shopping space, your ultimate goal will always be to drive sales, not just traffic.

Every piece of content you create should directly impact your bottom line. A content audit is just one way to ensure that your efforts are actually driving revenue for your eCommerce business. Indeed, with the right tracking systems, you can associate revenue with not just product pages but other pages, as well! 

If you’re running an eCommerce content audit, we highly recommend keeping revenue at the top of your mind during your audit process.

To that end, we’ve created this comprehensive eCommerce content audit guide, complete with an eCommerce Content Audit Toolkit, a video walkthrough, and a spreadsheet template to follow. 

How to Do a Content Audit: The eCommerce Edition

Below, we’ll walk you through every step of the content audit and analysis process. This is the same process we use for our eCommerce clients, and it’s a great way to get started if the idea of conducting a content audit on your own leaves you overwhelmed.

Even if your site isn’t an eCommerce website, you can still use this guide to analyze your website’s performance and create a content marketing strategy. Make sure, however, to create a set of goals and KPIs based on what’s important for your site, since those may differ from the metrics we recommend for online businesses.

eCommerce Content Audit Checklist. Step 1: Understand Your Goals. Step 2: Gather Your Tools. Site Crawler, Data Sources, Organizational Tools. Step 3: Crawl Your Site. Step 4: Organize Your Data. Remove Duplicate URLs. Categorize Your Content. Step 5: Analyze Your Data. Revenue. Sessions. Word Count. Step 6: Create Your Strategy. Leave As Is. Update. Prune or Consolidate. Step 7: Improve Your Content. Logo: Inflow. Attract. Convert. Grow.

Step 1: Understand Your Goals

Before diving into your content audit, you need a clear understanding of what you plan to gain.

Are you looking to improve traffic numbers? Prune your site of old content? Increase your site revenue? Find content gaps and new marketing opportunities?

All of these play a role in a content audit, but we recommend choosing a few bigger goals to guide your decisions. Otherwise, you could get overwhelmed by all the possibilities. 

It might be helpful to create a checklist before you review each URL to remind yourself of what you’re looking for and which metrics to keep an eye on.  Doing this will help you stay focused and make decisions more easily.

Step 2: Gather Your Tools

If you want to run an efficient content audit, we recommend having a few tools on hand:

Site Crawler

Use tools like Screaming Frog, Ahrefs, or Semrush to pull your site data. 

We recommend Screaming Frog since it allows for integration with other data sources to pull not just your on-page data but also important metrics like sessions, bounce rate, time on page, and revenue.

Data Sources

The data sources you use are up to you. At a minimum, we recommend Google Analytics & Google Search Console and an external source like Ahrefs or Semrush. 

Make sure that your Google Analytics & Search Console accounts are tracking accurately. If your data is incorrect, the rest of your content audit will be of little worth.

Organization Tools

You’ll be dealing with a lot of data during your audit, so you’ll need a way to organize it. 

A spreadsheet is the most commonly used tool, but you might also want to use a content audit template. 

There are plenty of organizational tools out there, but we recommend our eCommerce Content Audit Toolkit. Not only will you receive a spreadsheet template to organize your data, but you’ll also get a step-by-step, eCom-specific walkthrough for the steps ahead.

Step 3: Crawl Your Site

The next thing you need to do as part of your eCommerce content audit is to crawl your site for an overview of its URLs, metadata, and performance metrics.

To crawl your site, you’ll need to use a tool like Screaming Frog or Ahrefs. These tools will track down every URL on your site and pull important metrics like traffic, bounce rate, time on page, and revenue.

Using your crawler of choice, run a crawl on your site to analyze all content of your choosing. Adjust your settings to avoid crawling dynamic URLs like faceted navigation URLs, internal site search URLs, and the like. Otherwise, you’ll crawl pages multiple times and have to wade through potentially hundreds or thousands of pages to identify the right ones.

For those using Screaming Frog, we’ve detailed our crawl settings in the video below. You can also download our custom Screaming Frog configuration file as part of our eCommerce Content Audit Toolkit.

The video below is hosted on YouTube. If you need assistance with viewing the video, please contact info@goinflow.com.

Step 4: Organize Your Data

Site crawls often churn out data in an unorganized manner. 

To make analyzing your content inventory much easier, take a minute to organize and categorize your URLs. (Our toolkit also gives you a Google Sheets template to do so.)

Remove Duplicate URLs

Even with the right crawl settings, duplicate URLs with parameters can still slip through the cracks. 

Save yourself time by identifying those in your spreadsheet and removing them — but only after making sure the original URL has been crawled.

Categorize Your Content

Whether your crawl returns hundreds or thousands of URLs, you’ll need to categorize them for easier viewing and content analysis.

For eCommerce sites, we recommend using the following buckets:

  • Page type
  • Buyer’s journey stage
  • Content format
  • Publication date
  • Content hub/cluster

We find categorizing by page type to be the easiest method for eCommerce businesses. Because the value of each page type differs (i.e., the goal for a product page is very different than a long-form blog page), arranging by this type allows you to better see how certain content is performing against the goals you’ve set for that specific page.

Start this process by searching for URL subcategories like “/blog” or “/product.” Depending on how well-organized your site is, some manual work will be required — but taking this step now will save you a lot of time in the long run!

Once you’ve categorized your content, you might also want to add details about its production to guide you later on. For example, taking note of which team wrote an article and its production time will allow you to assign tasks more efficiently when it’s time to refresh your content.

Take note of these helpful details:

  • Author/team that produced it (content team, marketing team, social media team, etc.)
  • Content production time
  • Type of content (blog, case study, infographic, guide, etc.)
  • Content goal (traffic, backlinks, engagement, conversions, etc.)
  • Word count
  • Engagement (bounce rate, average time on page, social shares, etc.)

Step 5: Analyze Your Data

Now, the fun begins. 

You’ll need to analyze each URL or page type against your desired performance goals. (This is where the goals you established in Step 1 will come in handy.) You won’t be able to make strategic decisions about your content if you don’t know what you’re comparing against.

Below are a few key metrics to consider during your analysis. 

Remember: Your strategic recommendations for each page should be based on a combination of metrics, not just one or two.

Revenue

Revenue is the metric you should consider above all metrics. It is, after all, the reason eCommerce businesses exist. 

As such, even pages with low traffic and poor content should be kept if they are driving revenue (or, for non-eCom sites, leads).

We recommend sorting your URLs by revenue to see those that are highest-performing. These should be the pages you focus on most when improving on-page content.

Sessions

After revenue comes sessions. 

Sessions refer to the number of times a user visits your site. Traffic is a crucial part of bringing in new customers, and your most popular content is a good indicator of which topics are performing well (and what you can do more of).

Review content with the most sessions to determine those that can be improved and those that can inspire new, related content pieces. 

On the flip side, review any pages with extremely low traffic. (This “standard” will depend on your site’s average traffic and performance.) If they aren’t driving any revenue, they are likely candidates for pruning from your site.

Word Count

One of the biggest areas of opportunity is “thin content” — low-quality content that can be quickly improved. The biggest indicator of thin content is a low word count.

Obviously, “low” will be relative for each site. Here at Inflow, we typically review any page with less than 800 words. Some of these pages may be old and outdated and can be pruned. Others could be quickly improved with new copy or images to boost their organic performance.

A note for eCommerce businesses: Even product pages should have at least 600 words of content.

Step 6: Create Your Strategy

As you go through the URLs in your spreadsheet and evaluate the data, you can start making a plan for each. 

For our team, this boils down to three choices:

Leave As-Is

This is the default choice if you don’t see any clear improvement opportunities. We typically leave pages as-is for two reasons:

  1. They are already driving revenue.
  2. They aren’t high enough on priority to justify the effort required to improve them.

Update

We recommend updating low-performing pages, especially eCommerce product pages or evergreen blog posts. 

If you have the resources to update them, these pages will likely perform better in search and help you lower your eCommerce site’s bounce rate.

Get started with our guide to improving product page SEO and content.

Prune (or Consolidate)

This is our team’s default choice for pages with little to no traffic or content that isn’t performing well. If you don’t see an opportunity to improve a page, it’s likely best to prune it from your site (or consolidate the content with a better performing URL).

This can save you time and resources spent on SEO and content marketing.


Ultimately, your strategy will come down to more than just the metrics associated with each URL. After all, in an ideal world, we’d be able to improve every page on a site — but bandwidth often doesn’t allow for that.

Instead, you and your digital marketing team should discuss which content is most worth your time. Create a priority list of these URLs, and then leave others as-is until you have the time and resources to revisit them in the future.

Step 7: Start Improving Your Content

Now that you have a strategy in place, it’s time to improve your eCommerce content. 

The improvements you make to each piece of content will differ depending on your objectives and how well the material is currently performing. For example, if a blog page gets lots of traffic but has a high bounce rate, you’d start by rewriting your content intro, not reworking the whole piece.

If you’re improving content for an eCommerce site, start with this checklist:

  • Rewrite or expand your on-page content: Review competing pieces to see where you can add new content like examples, tips, step-by-step guides, and more.
  • Update your product descriptions: Make sure the language you’re using is clear, concise, and convincing.
  • Add new images or videos: People love visual content, so consider adding photos or videos to your existing material.
  • Prune old content: Go through your existing blog posts and web pages and remove any outdated information or material that is no longer relevant. (See how this strategy boosted one client’s strategic content revenue by 64%.)
  • Add user-generated content: If you have happy customers, showcase their reviews and testimonials on your site.
  • Refresh your content: You may not need to rewrite a whole piece to improve your organic performance. Add in new details to keep your content accurate and relevant. (Read how our client increased strategic content revenue by 965% through streamlining their content.)
  • Improve your content structure: Add the right subheadings, pictures, and breaks to your content to improve a wall of text.
  • Update your CTAs: Convert better with more attractive, persuasive calls to action.
  • Optimize your metadata: If you only have time for the “quick hits” on your content, we recommend updating your meta titles (title tags), meta descriptions, and H1s. Get started with our SEO copywriting guide now.
  • Add internal linking: Internal linking is crucial for eCommerce sites. You’ll help direct your readers to important pages (like product pages) and improve their user experience on your site.
  • Update broken links: Review both internal and external links to remove 404s or other broken links.

Don’t confine these strategy changes to your one-time content audit, though. Use what you’ve learned from this audit to further enhance your overall content marketing plan, and keep updating it as you evaluate your progress.

While a content audit is a one-time project, the strategy that arises from it is not.

eCommerce Content Optimization Checklist. 1. Rewrite or expand on-page content. 2. Update your product descriptions. 3. Add new images or videos. 4. Prune old, underperforming content. 5. Add user-generated content. 6. Refresh your content for accuracy. 7. Improve your content structure. 8. Update your CTAs. 9. Optimize your metadata. 10. Add internal links and remove broken links. Logo: Inflow. Attract. Convert. Grow.

Start Your Content Audit Today

Now that you understand how to do a content audit and what should be included in one, you’re ready to get started on your own project. Use our step-by-step guide and checklist to create an actionable plan that will help you improve your eCommerce content and increase conversions.

While it requires a great deal of time and resources, when done right, a proper content audit can work wonders for your eCommerce site’s organic performance and revenue. In fact, the insights we’ve gained for clients from these website audits have assisted in thousands of dollars of increased sales, as you can read below:

It’s obvious why a content audit is one of the first steps our SEO team takes with any client; it sets their strategy up for success in a way that diving straight into content simply cannot.

If you’re ready to begin auditing your website content, download our eCommerce Content Audit Toolkit for free today.

Download our eCommerce Content Audit Toolkit Now. Logo: Inflow. Attract. Convert. Grow.


Axios news SEO playbook: Speed, authority and brevity

Ryan Kellett, VP of Audience at Axios, shares how SEO helps this news site compete against the world’s biggest news publishers.

The post Axios news SEO playbook: Speed, authority and brevity appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search E…

Ryan Kellett, VP of Audience at Axios, shares how SEO helps this news site compete against the world's biggest news publishers. The post Axios news SEO playbook: Speed, authority and brevity appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

How to Run an Internal Link Audit to Improve SEO

Learn how to audit your internal site links and improve your eCommerce site’s link equity and SEO performance.

For many SEO marketers, perfecting the placement and quantity of external links (backlinks) is a high priority. But that doesn’t mean that your internal link strategy should be forgotten!

Internal links are incredibly important for your site’s SEO performance — and even more so when you’re an online business with hundreds or thousands of product pages. 

Link equity, sometimes referred to as link juice, refers to how much authority your website has. That authority can be passed throughout all the pages on your website through internal linking. 

But, when an eCommerce website has so many pages, it can be difficult for marketers to know where and how to place those links for the best search engine optimization

In today’s guide, we’ll help by giving you step-by-step instructions to audit internal links on your own site and find the best opportunities to improve your technical SEO.

Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

Why is Internal Linking Important?

Internal linking is the act of building links to a website from that same website in an effort to improve the organic ranking of (and total traffic to) target pages through increased site visibility, page equity growth, and improved keyword targeting anchor text use. 

The two most important parts of internal linking are:

  1. Linking between pages to help spread link equity
  2. Capitalizing on the anchor text of internal links (which helps with topical relevance for search engines)

Proper internal linking strategy helps your site rank higher and helps search engine bots and your audience find what they’re looking for. The more targeted internal links you have, the better Google and other search engine crawlers can find, index, and understand the pages on your site. 

When internal links send page authority to key URLs (like critical product category or high-revenue product pages), you can improve your page rank and organic page performance. It’s easy to see why this practice can improve your eCommerce product page SEO, content marketing efforts, and more.

In short, fixing internal linking errors and optimizing your inlinking strategy can seriously boost your site’s performance. 

While auditing your internal links is an important part of any eCommerce SEO strategy, it can be an overwhelming project to start. Fortunately, with proper data and analysis, deliberate testing, and focused effort, you can turn this process into an effective strategy for your brand.

For a deeper look at both internal and external linking strategies, download our eCommerce Link Building Guide today.

Ecommerce Link Building: What you need to know. Download now. Learn how to? Build high-quality links, develop strategies, and implement tactics.

How to Complete an Internal Linking Audit for Your eCommerce Site

Here, we’ll walk you through the audit process that our SEO team uses as part of our clients’ eCommerce link-building strategy. We’ve developed and streamlined it over the years to identify actionable insights as quickly as possible.

Internal links typically fall into two categories: in-content (or on-page) links and navigation links. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll only cover the former in this audit and for existing web pages only. 

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive audit of your site’s internal links, contact our SEO team.

Step 1: Crawl Your Site

In order to audit your internal links, you need to understand their current state — ie., where they are and aren’t existing on your eCommerce site, which pages have broken links, which pages have too many or not enough, etc.

If you want to pull your crawl data for an internal link audit, we highly recommend Screaming Frog. Within this program, standard “Spider” mode is the easiest way to find all link sources.

By default, Screaming Frog will pull internal links for all of your URLs. You can locate these in the “Inlinks” tab on the SF app, or by exporting your site data from the “Internal” tab.

You can also specifically crawl internal links on their own by configuring your crawl: Configuration > Spider > Crawl > Internal Hyperlinks.

Screaming Frog Spider Configuration. Internal Hyperlinks is selected as a crawl setting.

Here’s the data you’ll want to gather (and eventually analyze):

  • Inlinks: Total internal link count
  • Unique Inlinks: Total internal unique link count
  • Outlinks: Total outlink count to internal pages
  • Unique Outlinks: Total unique outlink count to internal pages
  • Crawl Depth: How many clicks it takes to reach a page
  • Indexability: Whether or not a page is indexable

All of these data points can be found in the links report of a standard Screaming Frog crawl. Export this data to a spreadsheet (Excel or CSV) to start your analysis.

Pro tip: We recommend connecting APIs for external tools like Ahrefs and Google Analytics for a more complete picture of your internal linking performance (more on analyzing that data below).

Step 2: Find Internal Linking Opportunities for Improvement

Now that you’ve got your site data, it’s time for the analysis part of your audit. 

Below, you’ll find a few of the most obvious opportunities for your website. We recommend starting here to address these lowest-hanging fruits (and, thus, the biggest chances to improve your organic performance).

1. High Crawl Depth

The higher a page’s crawl depth, the more clicks it takes for a user (or search engine crawler) to find that URL.

You want your URL crawl depths to be low, to not only help users more easily navigate to important pages but to also optimize your crawl budget.

Here at Inflow, we typically recommend that all critical site pages have a crawl depth of three clicks or less. Less-critical pages are recommended to have a crawl depth of fewer than five clicks. 

However, use your own judgment on which threshold you want to set for your site.

2. Top-Performing Pages with Few Links

If your top URLs have few internal links, you’re missing a huge opportunity to drive the majority of your traffic to other pages with relevant content (and improve your page equity).

Filter your URLs by organic sessions (make sure you connected Google Analytics in your initial crawl) to see your top pages, then compare their individual internal link numbers.

3. Pages with Few Internal Links

Another excellent opportunity to address is those pages with few internal links. These will be some of the easiest opportunities to quickly add quality internal links across your site.

Filter your data by inlink count to identify which pages have the fewest existing links.

It’s up to you to decide what your threshold will be, based on your average internal link count and your site size. Keep in mind: Not all of your pages will require internal links. Consider page performance in combination with inlink total before deciding where to add new links.

Here at Inflow, we can’t make a recommendation on exactly what that link threshold should be without crucial extra context. Each eCommerce site should be assessed with its own unique needs and performance goals in mind. 

While there isn’t a hard-and-fast rule we can recommend, we’re happy to provide guidance and a free audit if you need help in this area.

4. Orphan Pages

Orphan pages are those with no internal links pointing to them. This means that no website visitors or crawl bots can find the page without a direct link. 

Deliberate orphan pages might include landing pages or other targeted marketing efforts. However,  most eCommerce sites should keep orphan pages to a minimum — especially when those pages are intended to direct the customer to your products.

If these orphan pages are crucial for your website and/or you want crawlers to index them, you’ll need to add some more internal links in Step 4 of this process.

5. Outliers & Inconsistent Patterns

It’s not just those pages with few or no internal links that we need to keep an eye on. We also need to consider pages with an outsized number of internal links, especially compared to similar page types.

For example, the number of internal links on a blog page with 10,000 words will likely be more than the number of internal links on a post with 1,000 words, simply because the length of the content on each of these pages will differ.

Keeping those differences in mind, look for consistency within page types.

For example, if all of your category pages but one have 100 internal links each, and that outlier has 5,000 links, you need to take a deeper look at what’s going on. You’ll need to analyze the pages’ performance to see which approach is the best for your site. Should they all have 100 inlinks or should they all have closer to 5,000 inlinks?

Again, the “right” answer here is specific to your company’s performance goals. 

Step 3: Review Third-Party Data (If Necessary)

In addition to your site’s data for each URL, we recommend reviewing external reports from sources like Ahrefs and Moz. They can provide additional opportunities to improve your internal links. 

While this step isn’t necessary for every eCommerce webpage, we prefer having more data and a larger perspective on a site’s activity to make more informed decisions. 

If you’re conducting this audit and the resulting updates in-house, this third-party data might be information overload. However, where possible, it can be a useful addition to your own understanding of your site’s needs and company goals. 

Please note: Both Ahrefs and Moz require paid subscriptions to gain access to these tools.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs’ Site Audit tool also includes a Linking Opportunities feature.

This feature scans the top 10 keywords each page on your site is ranking for. Then, the tool identifies mentions of those terms on other pages of your website, suggesting those opportunities in its final report.

Moz

You can use Moz’s Link Explorer tool to evaluate individual URLs. Note that this tool will analyze both internal and external linking opportunities.

You can also use Moz’s Top Pages report (found inside the Link Explorer tool) to confirm your top performers and cross-check your data against that which was revealed in your initial site crawl.

Step 4: Implement Your New Internal Links

Once you run your initial internal linking audit analysis, you should easily recognize the biggest opportunities for your existing pages. 

So the next set of questions is: How do you decide which pages to link to — and what’s the best strategy for doing so?

We recommend this guide from DWX for the most basic internal linking opportunities on product and category pages. Below, we’ve also added a few other best practices to consider:

Link to High-Performing Pages

Remember, the goal of internal links is to spread page authority and direct your website visitors to your most important pages. For an eCommerce website, this typically means popular product pages.

Review key metrics like organic traffic, conversions, and overall sales performance to find those top-performing pages. Then, strategically link to those URLs on relevant pages. You’ll also want to use these high-performing pages to link to other, relevant pages, to spread that link juice throughout the site. 

Use Meaningful Anchor Text

Your anchor text should be as detailed as possible to illustrate to the reader (and to search engine crawlers) what a particular page is about.

We emphasize diversity in anchor text for each inlink. The more ways you can describe the content in different anchor text opportunities, the more range and context search engine crawlers and your audience will have access to when searching for specific content.

If you’re not sure how to add variety to your anchor text, conduct further keyword research. This will reveal which other terms and phrases your audience is using in their Google search to find your products.

In the same vein, avoid using “click here”-type anchor text. “Click Here” doesn’t provide any context or detail about what’s contained in the link and can present accessibility issues. Instead, we recommend using the exact or similar target keywords as a page’s anchor text.

Example: If you’ve written a product guide about the best wireless speakers, use copy like, “Prepare your crew for your upcoming road trip by choosing the best wireless speakers for your needs.”

Avoid Over-Linking

It’s tempting to go overboard with your internal linking, but be judicious about your strategy. Not only is overlinking viewed as spammy, it also dilutes the power of each link on the page.

In other words, the amount of page rank a particular page can pass is finite. Adding a new link to a page will change the distribution of this passed page rank among the linked pages, as you are now splitting it across more pages. 

What constitutes “over-linking” is a bit of a judgment call. In general, keep content readable and useful for site visitors

Think about it from a user experience perspective: If you wouldn’t enjoy reading the content because of too many links or confusing, keyword-specific anchor text, someone else isn’t going to enjoy it either.

On the flip side, you can easily improve an already overstuffed page’s equity by removing links. Overlinked pages that are already over-linked do not have to damage your link equity forever! Don’t be afraid to remove low-quality existing links or update anchor text to be more relevant and meaningful.

In addition, know that the first link on the page passes more equity than subsequent links on that same page.

If or when you link to the same URL more than once from a single page, the first link to that URL will be more important. This matters for anchor text, especially if the first link’s anchor text needs improvement.

Start Your eCommerce Internal Link Audit Now

Because your internal linking structure is so crucial to your site’s organic performance, optimizing it should be a priority for your eCommerce brand. 

If a comprehensive site audit requires too much bandwidth, you can always begin by auditing your top-performing pages or a section of your website at a time. Chunk the work down into smaller, more manageable pieces. 

After all, auditing and implementing these links will take some investment on your team’s behalf and likely can’t be done immediately. The rewards, however, can be substantial.

If you want an expert to audit your internal links for you, Inflow’s team is happy to help. As part of our comprehensive content audit, we’ll evaluate your current internal linking strategy and present recommendations to improve your SEO performance.

Learn more by requesting a free proposal today.

Can a Website Sitemap Create Better UX? UX Sitemap Guidelines

A UX Sitemap allows you to understand your users better and plan your work effectively. How to create it? Read this article to get five essential tips!
The post Can a Website Sitemap Create Better UX? UX Sitemap Guidelines first appeared on Loop11.

A UX Sitemap allows you to understand your users better and plan your work effectively. How to create it? Read this article to get five essential tips!

The post Can a Website Sitemap Create Better UX? UX Sitemap Guidelines first appeared on Loop11.

How Does UX And Design Help A Website To Rank On Google?

UX and design are being considered vital elements behind a website’s performance. Scroll down to find out how these factors can improve its ranking on Google?
The post How Does UX And Design Help A Website To Rank On Google? first appeared on Loop11.

UX and design are being considered vital elements behind a website’s performance. Scroll down to find out how these factors can improve its ranking on Google?

The post How Does UX And Design Help A Website To Rank On Google? first appeared on Loop11.

Understanding Google Webmaster Tools

As much as you might think Google is making it hard to get traffic, they really aren’t. They have tools like Google Webmaster tools and Google Analytics. The difference between the two are the fact that Google Analytics measures your traffic, and Google Webmaster Tools tells you how Google actually sees your website. This article…

The post Understanding Google Webmaster Tools appeared first on Diamond Website Conversion.

google-webmaster-tools-logo-thumbnailAs much as you might think Google is making it hard to get traffic, they really aren’t. They have tools like Google Webmaster tools and Google Analytics. The difference between the two are the fact that Google Analytics measures your traffic, and Google Webmaster Tools tells you how Google actually sees your website.

This article is written to help you understand Google Webmaster Tools better. In fact, this article is part of a series, so there will be other parts to check out so you can become more familiar with Google Webmaster Tools.

Understanding Google Webmaster Tools

As mentioned before, Google Webmaster Tools is designed for you to see how the search engine (Google) sees your website. Consider it kind of like the doctor promoting healthy search for websites. Some of the results are:

  • Sharing what type of markup data format the search engines are seeing in your site, like Schema.org
  • Suggesting how to improve user experience and performance
  • Allowing you to demote specific areas of your site from Sitelinks
  • Giving a details list of search queries done on your website
  • Giving a list of links to sites linking into your website
  • Listing internal links
  • Showing Index status
  • Giving a list of keywords that are organized by the most significant one first
  • Allowing you to remove URLs from your website
  • Displaying crawl errors, as well as what types of errors
  • Having the ability to block URLs from the search engines
  • Being alerted if there are any security issues

In order to be able to use Google Webmaster tools, you must sign up and submit your website. The process involves putting a verification code somewhere on your website or verifying it through your domain registrar. After you verify the site, you need to submit a sitemap, once that is a valid Sitemaps.org sitemap.

The Sitemap.org valid sitemap allows Google to easily crawl the site. The markup used that search engine crawl is XML. For website owners that use WordPress and have the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin, finding the link to the sitemap is easy. For other content management systems, there is a somewhat equivalent method to find the sitemap. For static websites (ones not powered with a database and may be solely HTML), building a sitemap may be necessary.

Once the sitemap has been submitting, Google may take a little while to crawl the site. Some site are lucky to be crawled within the week, and others, two weeks. After your site has been crawled, you can view information on what Google is seeing.

search-queries-gwt-screenshotYou probably will want to make sure that there are no crawl errors like a page not found, or any server issues. You will also want to make sure to observe if you have any duplicate meta descriptions and duplicate title tags to improve your search results. You obviously don’t want the same article description for several posts, right? 😉

Another area you might want to check out is the search queries. It’s probably good to check out the first time in order to make sure that the keywords are relevant to what your website is about. If they aren’t, you might need to go back and improve your content.

One last area that you should check is to make sure your site isn’t flagged for spam, duplicate content, or has any security issues. If you’re accepting paid links, you probably should stop. Google has gone to great lengths to discourage website owners from accepting paid links. If you have any alerts, fix the issue. Once done with fixing anything that was flagged, you can reply to Google’s team and they will review to make sure your site is not violating any of their rules.

It’s important to understand that Google Webmaster Tools can be a powerful tool in making sure your website is listed as accurately as possible on the search engine results.

Do you use Google Webmaster Tools?

The post Understanding Google Webmaster Tools appeared first on Diamond Website Conversion.