How to Conduct an On Page SEO Audit: Step-by-step

“On page” SEO, of course, is the art and science of building SEO-friendly websites that “speak Google.” It’s about how you get your keywords onto the page in such a way that the website clearly communicates its keyword targets to Google yet is not so clunky, and keyword-stuffed that either Google or humans (or both) hate it. Let’s review the steps to how to conduct a quick ‘On Page’ SEO audit.


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First, we’ll assume you know your keyword targets. For purposes of this post, we’ll use The Balboa Pet Hospital, a veterinarian in San Francisco to which I have no relationship. It’s just an easy-to-understand website for the purposes of this audit. Their target keywords would include:

VET / Veterinarian in San Francisco

Emergency Vet

Pet Hospital

Pet Boarding
~ Cat Boarding
~ Dog Boarding

NICHE:

Sileo Noise Phobia

Branded: Balboa Pet hospital

Dr. Del Rosso
Dr. Mirzaeian

With the keywords in hand (obtained by working with the client, conducting keyword research, and creating a formal Keyword Worksheet), we can proceed to the actual On Page SEO audit.

I recommend you start “at the foundation,” not the homepage but the subordinate pages. So the next step would be to audit the footer. A good SEO-friendly footer would state the Business Value Proposition, be keyword-heavy and contain cross-links to the key landing pages. (You can check out mine at https://www.jasonmcdonald.org/).

Third, I would audit the landing pages against my anchor or core keywords; most small business websites would have about 7-10 tops. For example, we’d want a landing page for “cat boarding,” one for “dog boarding,” and one for “pet boarding” all built with a smattering of target phrases like “pet boarding San Francisco,” etc. (We don’t). So in some cases you have the landing page (and it needs to be optimized for SEO) and in other cases it’s completely absent (and you have to write an SEO-friendly landing page from scratch). Thus in this case you can see we have very rudimentary landing pages, if at all, and are missing a few critical ones. Don’t mix content together (e.g., your “pet boarding” landing page shouldn’t have anything to do with your “emergency vet” page, etc.).

Fourth, I would check my Google-friendly files such as my robots.txt, file, my XML sitemap, my HTML sitemap, whether we’ve signed up for Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics. These are foundational relationships to Google, and you want to make sure that they’re all in good order. The site: command in Google is a useful tool to see if the site is being correctly indexed. Google Tag Assistant is another good tool to check on Google Analytics and any other tags such as “Tag Manager” that may or may not be installed.

With the footer, landing pages, and Google-friendly files audited, fifth, I would turn to the blog. Does the site have a blog? (Yes). Are the blog posts SEO-friendly? Well, not so much. I would audit a few sample blog posts for SEO-friendly tag structure against relevant keyword targets, with an eye to whether the blogs themselves are written with SEO in mind. In addition, I would check whether the blog posts are linking “up” to relevant landing pages. In this case, the answer is pretty much “no.” We have a blog (good!) and some blog posts (good!), but they are not being written with SEO in mind (Bad!). So that needs to be fixed.

Sixth, I would audit the HomePage, the most important page on the site for SEO. With my keywords in hand, I would know which are our priorities and then audit whether our HomePage TITLE tag, META DESCRIPTION tag, HEADER tags, and IMAGE ALT tags contain relevant keywords pointing down to our key landing pages. The HomePage should have “one click” links DOWN to the key landing pages (which Balboa Pet Hospital’s does not). In addition, the visible content on the HomePage should contain the anchor terms plus key helpers such as “San Francisco” or “top” in this case. Our HomePage does not, so we have some content work to do after our audit!

Finally, I would sit down with the web designer / design team and ask about the desired action. In this type of a website, the desired action is usually a “phone inquiry,” so I would audit the site against this action. Is the desired action OBVIOUS? I mean REALLY OBVIOUS? If so, then it’s working. I’m looking for garrish colors, pop ups, big buttons… things which literally shout CLICK ME CALL ME but in a cool, subtle way that’s not cheesy or ugly. I’d also wonder if there is something “free” we can offer like a “free consultation,” something a little less put-offish than “set up an appointment” NOW and ENTER YOUR CREDIT CARD NUMBER. The goal of a website like this is to get inquiries, so I’d really analyze what can be done to make that appealing to the skittish audience that is today’s web surfer.

At the end of my On Page SEO Audit, I would have a formal document in Word or Google doc format going thru these elements. Then, the hard work begins of drilling into a task such as writing the footer, or re-writing the homepage. Take those tasks one by one and begin to implement them on the site.

Resources for On Page SEO Audit