If optimizing your website for search engines is on the top of your company’s priorities for this year, running a website audit will enable you know what you’re working with first. Taking inventory of all your pages will not only play an important role in your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy, it can also become a valuable tool for your content strategy and development.

The first place to start is your current XML sitemap. If this has become outdated, you can pull the directory listing from your web server or use one of number of free or fee-based site crawler tools:

BeamUsUp - free, with versions for Mac, Windows and Linux
SiteOrbitor - free, Mac version only
WinWebCrawler - fee-based, Windows version only

A few of the website elements the site crawler tools extract:

  • URL
  • Meta tags (title, description, keyword)
  • Plain text between <body> to </body> tag
  • Page size
  • Last modified date value

These tools will enable you to export extracted data into an Excel spreadsheet to view key information for improving site performance:

  • Broken links
  • Duplicate pages
  • Number of inbound and outbound links
  • Metadata attributions (title, description, keyword)
  • Content type
  • Keywords
  • Author
  • Create and modify dates, and more

This exported file builds the foundation for conducting your site audit. Your next move is to break down each area of your website into categories, working methodically through each one to resolve issues, make fixes and take actions to boost your search engine results page (SERP) rankings.

From within the spreadsheet, a sample category breakdown would be:

  • Shop - your online shoe store, with sub categories
    • Boots
      • Product reviews (would apply to all pages)
    • Flats
    • Heels
    • Sandals
    • Sneakers
    • Slippers
  • Customer Service
    • Shipping and Returns
    • Measurement Guide
    • FAQ
    • Contact Information
  • About
    • Our team
    • Our story
    • Our shop in the media
    • Press releases
    • Customer testimonials
    • Blog
      • What’s hot for spring sandals
      • Extending the wear of your winter boots
      • Is running ‘slower’ better for your health?
  • Site elements
    • Sitemap
    • Privacy policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Mobile version
    • Customer Service
    • Landing pages
    • Newsletter subscription page

Combine this site inventory with your Google Analytics page metrics to build out and assign tasks for tweaking and improvement:

  • Titles are too short or too long
  • Meta description is too long or is missing
  • High bounce rates may indicate a need to improve on-page content or the link from a corresponding product page may be incorrect
  • Inbound links may be lacking
  • Opportunities to cross-link between internal product pages and blog posts may be missed

Depending on the size of your website, you may need to break down and assign each category section between team members. Creating a schedule and tracking which pages have been reviewed and approved within your spreadsheet will enable you to monitor your progress and stay organized. Sharing the spreadsheet within a platform like Google Drive will enable each member to update as needed and avoid conflicting information and versions.

The benefits to this site audit practice will not only contribute to your SEO process, it will also provide you with easy access to assets for your content strategy. With a birds-eye view of your entire website, you’ll be better prepared for planning and deploying email and social media campaigns, A/B testing landing pages, and take action on other SEO tasks like link building.

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About the Author

Kim Owens is a veteran digital marketer and copywriter for Brightpearl, creating engaging, customer-centric content that provides value and an opportunity to learn about the quickly evolving retail industry.