In today’s digital world, having a strong online presence is crucial for large businesses, and this is where an enterprise SEO audit comes into play. This process helps businesses understand how well their websites are set up for success in search engine rankings, which is essential for being found online. But what does this audit involve, and why is it so important for large, enterprise websites?
In this article, we cover:
The Importance of Enterprise SEO Audit
Imagine you have a large store with thousands of products. An enterprise SEO audit is like a thorough check-up of this store to ensure every product is easy to find, the store layout is user-friendly, and customers have a pleasant shopping experience. For a website, this means checking that every page is accessible, the content is relevant, and visitors can easily find what they are looking for.
Enterprise SEO Audit Checklist
1. Understanding Your Audience
Before diving into the technical side, it’s important to understand who your audience is and what they are searching for. This involves looking at what words or phrases (keywords) people use to find your products or services. Keyword research helps you understand the search volume, i.e., how many people are searching for these terms, and tailoring your website content to meet their needs. If you are a local business, it's important for you to focus on the search demand in your local area and how your local customers find products or services online.
2. Technical Audit
Technical SEO is the foundation of a site’s health to ensure your website can be successfully crawled and indexed by Google bots. It is especially crucial for large enterprise websites, where some areas of technical audit can be more complex due to the site's size. A technical SEO audit uncovers and addresses critical technical issues that underpin the website’s overall SEO health. This includes examining canonicalisation issues, indexing issues, and URL structure, which are essential for avoiding duplicate content penalties and ensuring proper page ranking.
Canonical tags guide search engines to the preferred version of a webpage when duplicate or similar content exists. In enterprise setups, such as franchise websites and sprawling ecommerce platforms, the correct implementation of canonical tags is paramount. Common canonical tag mistakes include non-usage of canonical tags, self-referencing tags for duplicate content, and complex canonical chains that can confuse search engines.
In case a page contains unique content and there is no duplicate version found, implementing self-referencing canonical is a clean practice to guide search engine bots, though not compulsory.
Crawlability & Indexability
Indexability and crawlability are the fundamentals of enterprise SEO.
Each website is given a crawl budget, which refers to the number of pages Google will crawl on your website within a given time frame. In simpler terms, it's like an allowance of how many pages the search engine will visit and analyse on your site during its visits. Therefore, for enterprise websites with thousands or millions of pages, we want Google to crawl and index only the most important pages that have values and will drive traffic. We don’t want to waste the crawl budget by having Google crawl pages with less valuable content.
Tools like Google Search Console and Screaming Frog can be used to identify indexing issues, orphaned pages, and discrepancies in the sitemap and robots.txt files. Additionally, addressing URL issues such as missing HTTP to HTTPS redirect, loading both WWW and non-WWW as unique pages, and mixed case URLs are essential for proper indexing.
How to check indexing issues with Google Search Console?
Go to Google Search Console → Indexing → Pages, then scroll down to look for the reasons why pages aren’t indexed and can’t be served on Google. Deep dive into each of the issues to see if any important pages are not indexed by accident and come up with a solution.
Just like a well-organised store where you can easily find what you are looking for, a website needs to have a clear and logical structure. This involves looking at how the different pages on your website are linked together and whether there are any broken links or pages that are hard to reach. A well-structured website not only helps visitors but also search engines that are crawling your website to understand what’s on it so your new pages can be crawled and indexed more quickly.
Page Load Speed
Imagine if you walked into a store and had to wait a long time for someone to assist you – you might leave and go somewhere else. The same applies to websites. If a web page takes too long to load, visitors might leave. Page load speed is, therefore, a crucial aspect of the audit, ensuring that every page on the website loads quickly for a smooth user experience and to reduce bounce rates.
Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals are a set of factors that Google considers important for the overall user experience of a website. These include how quickly a page loads, how interactive it is, and how stable the content is as it loads. Monitoring these factors and making necessary improvements contribute to a better user experience and can positively impact search engine rankings.
Here are some tools that can help you audit Core Web Vitals:
Google PageSpeed Insights: This tool provides information on how well a page performs based on the Core Web Vitals metrics and offers suggestions on how the page performance can be improved.
Google Search Console: The Core Web Vitals report in Google Search Console gives you an overview of how your entire site performs on the Core Web Vitals metrics and identifies pages that need improvement.
Lighthouse: Lighthouse is an open-source, automated tool for improving the quality of web pages. It has audits for performance, accessibility, progressive web apps, SEO, and more, including Core Web Vitals.
Chrome DevTools: Chrome DevTools provides a set of web developer tools built directly into the Google Chrome browser. It can help you audit Core Web Vitals by providing insights into how to improve page load performance and identify issues.
Web Vitals Extension: This is a Chrome extension that measures the three Core Web Vitals metrics in real-time on any webpage, providing instant feedback on loading performance, interactivity, and layout shift.
GTmetrix: GTmetrix is a website performance testing tool that provides insights into how well your site loads and provides actionable recommendations on how to optimise it, including measuring Core Web Vitals.
WebPageTest: This tool allows you to run free website speed tests from multiple locations around the globe using real browsers and at real consumer connection speeds, with detailed optimization recommendations including Core Web Vitals.
Pingdom: Pingdom offers website monitoring and performance testing tools that can help you understand your site’s performance and identify areas for improvement, including Core Web Vitals.
Sitebulb: Sitebulb is a website crawler that offers insights and actionable recommendations, including a detailed audit of website performance and Core Web Vitals.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider: While primarily an SEO tool, Screaming Frog SEO Spider has integrated with Google’s Lighthouse API to provide performance metrics, including Core Web Vitals, directly in the tool.
3. Content Audit
Content is king in the digital world. The audit assesses whether the content on the website is relevant, informative, and meets the needs of the audience. SEO content needs to be optimised with the right keywords but also provide value to the reader. Duplicate content, i.e., having the same information on multiple pages, should be avoided as it can confuse search engines and visitors.
Here are some popular issues that you might encounter when doing content audit for enterprise websites:
Duplicate Content: This occurs when identical or very similar content appears on more than one page of your website or across different websites. Search engines might struggle to decide which version to index, which can dilute the visibility of each duplicate.
Thin Content: Pages with little or no added value content can be seen as low quality by search engines. Thin content offers little to no value to users and can negatively impact your site’s SEO.
Keyword Stuffing: Overusing keywords on a page in an unnatural way can lead to a poor user experience and can harm your site’s ranking.
Lack of Internal Linking: Internal links help search engines understand the structure and importance of pages on a website. A lack of internal linking can result in poor site structure.
Keyword Cannibalisation: Keyword cannibalisation occurs when multiple pages on a website target the same or very similar keywords, leading to competition among those pages for rankings in search engine results. Instead of having one strong page that attracts all the traffic for a particular keyword, you have several pages that dilute the SEO value, resulting in lower search rankings for each of those pages. There are several reasons for this, such as duplicate pages or over-optimisation. However, the most popular cause is due to a poor content strategy. Without a clear content strategy and keyword mapping, it’s easy to inadvertently create multiple pieces of content that compete for the same keywords.
4. Backlinks Analysis
Backlinks are like recommendations. If other reputable websites link to your website, it’s like they are vouching for your content. Analysing the backlink profile, i.e., looking at which websites are linking to yours, is an essential part of the audit. It helps build the website’s credibility and improve its position in search engine results.
Enterprise websites, given their scale and complexity, can encounter several backlink issues that can impact their SEO performance. Here are some common backlink issues for enterprise websites:
Low-Quality Backlinks: Acquiring backlinks from low-quality, spammy, or irrelevant websites can harm the site’s SEO. Search engines may perceive these links as manipulative and apply penalties, affecting rankings.
Lack of High-Quality Backlinks: Not having enough high-quality, authoritative backlinks can limit the website’s ability to rank well in search engine results, as backlinks are a significant factor in determining a site’s authority and trustworthiness.
Over-Optimised Anchor Text: Using excessively keyword-rich and optimised anchor text for backlinks can appear unnatural and manipulative to search engines, potentially leading to penalties.
Broken Backlinks: Links pointing to non-existent or moved pages (resulting in 404 errors) waste link equity and provide a poor user experience, which can impact SEO.
Backlink Concentration: Having a majority of backlinks pointing to only the homepage or specific pages, rather than a diverse set of pages across the site, can limit the SEO benefits across the entire website.
Unnatural Link Patterns: Rapid acquisition of a large number of backlinks, reciprocal linking, or other unnatural link patterns can raise red flags with search engines and potentially lead to penalties.
NoFollow Overuse: While NoFollow links can be part of a natural backlink profile, having a disproportionate number of incoming links tagged as NoFollow can limit the flow of link equity throughout the site.
Site-Wide Links: Backlinks coming from site-wide elements (e.g., footers or sidebars) on other websites can be devalued and potentially seen as unnatural by search engines.
Lack of Contextual Links: Links embedded within the content of a page (contextual links) are typically more valuable than links from footers or sidebars. A lack of contextual backlinks can limit the SEO impact.
Irrelevant Linking Domains: Backlinks from websites in unrelated industries or niches may carry less weight and relevance in the eyes of search engines.
Link Velocity Spikes: Sudden and unnatural spikes in the rate at which new backlinks are acquired can be seen as manipulative and trigger search engine penalties.
Redirected Links: Links pointing to URLs that are redirected multiple times can lose their link equity and provide a suboptimal user experience.
Geo-IP Cloaking: Receiving backlinks from sites that use Geo-IP cloaking to present different content to users and search engines can be problematic and violate search engine guidelines.
5. User Experience Audit
User experience is all about how visitors feel when they navigate through your website. Is it easy to find information? Is the website accessible on different devices, like mobile phones and tablets? Ensuring a positive user experience is key to keeping visitors on your website and encouraging them to come back.
To understand user behaviours, use analytics tools like Google Analytics to collect data on user behaviour, traffic sources, page views, bounce rates, and conversion rates. Also analyse user feedback, surveys, and customer support enquiries to understand user pain points and preferences.
Here are the checklist for UX audit for enterprise websites:
Evaluate Mobile Responsiveness: Test the website’s performance and usability on various mobile devices and browsers. Ensure that the mobile version is user-friendly, with easily clickable elements, readable text, and optimised images.
Assess Page Load Speed: Use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to analyse page load times. Identify and address any issues causing slow load times, as this impacts both user experience and SEO.
Review Content Quality and Relevance: Evaluate the quality, relevance, and readability of the content on the website. Ensure that the content meets user needs, is well-organised, and is easy to understand.
Examine Calls-to-Action (CTAs): Assess the effectiveness of CTAs across the website. Ensure that CTAs are clear, compelling, and strategically placed to drive user actions.
Check Accessibility: Ensure that the website is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. Test colour contrast, font sizes, image alt text, and keyboard navigation.
Analyse Visual Design and Layout: Evaluate the visual appeal, layout, and design consistency across the website. Ensure that the design enhances usability, builds trust, and aligns with the brand identity.
Remember to conduct A/B tests on different elements of the website, such as CTAs, images, and headlines.
Developing an Action Plan
After the audit, it’s important to develop an action plan to address any issues or areas of improvement identified. This involves prioritising tasks, setting goals, and continuously monitoring progress. There can be hundreds of issues detected in the audit, so implementation prioritisation is very important. You need to understand which areas will likely bring the highest return on investment if being fixed and improved, and which optimisations can be scaled with automation.
Navigating the digital landscape can be challenging, especially for large businesses with extensive websites. However, by understanding the importance of an enterprise SEO audit and breaking down its components, businesses can demystify the process and take proactive steps towards digital success. Whether it’s optimising for relevant keywords, enhancing page load speed, or improving user experience, every aspect of the audit plays a pivotal role in building a strong online presence. With the right tools, expertise, and commitment, achieving SEO excellence is within reach for every enterprise.
If your enterprise is looking for experienced SEO professionals, get in touch with SOUP. We are the leading independent digital marketing agency in Sydney, with extensive experiences in building SEO strategies for enterprise websites, including tier-1 companies. For more information about our other SEO services, such as local Sydney SEO, visit our website and speak to us.