The 19-Step SEO Audit Checklist for 2020

The 19-Step SEO Audit Checklist for 2020

Brian Dean

by Brian Dean · Updated Feb. 24, 2020

The 19-Step SEO Audit Checklist

Today I’m going to show you exactly how to do an SEO audit in 2020.

In fact, this is the same process that’s helped me grow my organic traffic 62.15% over the last year:

Analytics – Organic Traffic increase to post

So if you want to get higher Google rankings, you’ll love the actionable steps in this guide.

Let’s get started.

Step #1: Check To See If Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly

Mobile SEO is more important than ever.

Why?

First off, 60% of Google searches come from mobile devices.

Second, Google recently started using their Mobile-First Algorithm.

This means that Google now uses the mobile version of your site for mobile AND desktop searches.

The question is:

How do you know if your site is mobile-friendly?

Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool.

Just pop your site into the tool…

…and you’ll see whether or not Google considers your site optimized for mobile devices.

Step #2: Make Sure Google Indexes ONE Version of Your Website

Did you know it’s possible to have different versions of your site indexed in Google?

It’s true.

For example, here are 4 different versions of the same site:

  • http://yoursite.com
  • https://yoursite.com
  • http://www.yoursite.com
  • https://www.yoursite.com

To you and me, those URLs are pretty much the same.

But not to Google.

And unless you redirect these versions properly, Google will consider them completely separate websites.

(Not good)

Fortunately, this is easy to check… and fix.

Just type each of the 4 different versions into your browser.

They should all end up on the same URL:

In my case, the “WWW” version of my site redirects to backlinko.com.

 

And when someone visits the HTTP version of my site, they get redirected to the HTTPS version.

 

All good.

If a version of your site isn’t redirecting properly, no worries.

Just 301 redirect it to the version you want to use.

Then, move onto step #3.

Step #3: Speed Up Your Site

A few years back Google confirmed that your site’s loading speed is a ranking factor.

And they recently rolled out a new update that makes speed even MORE important.

Here’s how to get your site to load REALLY fast:

First, clean up your site’s HTML code.

You can easily find problems with your code with PageSpeed Insights.

Pro Tip: Don’t just analyze your homepage. Make sure to also test popular pages from your site, like blog posts, service pages, and category pages.

Second, run a speed test.

This type of test actually loads your page… and lets you know about bottlenecks that slow things down.

I personally use WebPageTest.org. But GTMetrix is really good too.

Third, crunch your images.

Huge images can bring your site speed to a screeching halt.

That’s why I recommend compressing your images with a tool like Kraken.

Pro Tip: Upgrade your hosting. If you spend $10 per month on hosting, don’t expect fast loading times. A few years back I switched from a budget host to $200/month premium hosting. And the speed difference was insane.

Step #4: Find and Delete “Zombie Pages”

Type site:yourwebsite.com into Google.

This will show you how many pages Google has indexed:

If this number is higher than you thought, you’re not alone.

In fact…

Many sites have 50-75% MORE indexed pages than they’d expect.

(I call these extra pages “Zombie Pages”)

As it turns out, deleting Zombie Pages can get you A LOT more organic traffic.

For example, Sean from Proven deleted over 9k Zombie Pages from his site…

…which helped boost his Google traffic by nearly 50%:

Why does this work so well?

Well, Google has said that more content doesn’t make your site better.

And when you delete Zombie Pages, you give Google what it wants.

Pro Tip: Deleting Zombie Pages also makes the rest of this SEO audit MUCH easier. Fewer pages=fewer problems

With that, here are the most common types of Zombie Pages:

Which leads us to our second step…

Step #5: Find and Fix Indexing Problems

Next, it’s time to find web pages that Google isn’t indexing.

To do that, fire up the good ol’ Google Search Console.

The “Index Coverage” report shows you a list of pages that they can’t index for some reason.

As you can see, Backlinko is pretty much error free.

All good right?

Maybe.

To double check everything is A-OK, I recommend a free SEO tool called Screaming Frog.

Screaming Frog crawls your site the same way Google would. And it lets you know about pages that it can’t access.

(For example, if you’re accidentally blocking a page with your robots.txt file… or the page has a noindex tag).

So if you find a page that’s blocked, double check that it’s meant to be blocked.

For example, we paginate comments here at Backlinko.

And I don’t want Google to index every single comment page. So we throw a noindex tag on those pages.

In this case, the pages that are blocked are meant to be blocked.

And once you’ve confirmed that Google can access all of the pages you want them to access, it’s time to…

Step #6: Check Your Organic Traffic

Now it’s time to see how much organic traffic you’re getting.

To do that, head over to Google Analytics.

Then, go to Acquisition >> All Traffic >> Channels.

Hit “Organic Search”.

And you’ll see how many people visited your site from search engines last month.

Next, set the dates to the last 6-8 months.

And you’ll see whether or not your organic traffic is trending in the right direction:

As you can see, my organic traffic has gradually increased over the last few months.

Now:

If your organic traffic is flat (or declining), no worries.

The goal in this step is just to establish benchmarks.

Things should start to improve once you finish this SEO audit.

Speaking of…

Step #7: Improve Your On-Page SEO

It’s no secret that on-page SEO is super important.

That said:

You probably don’t have time to optimize every page on your site.

Fortunately, you don’t have to.

Here’s what to do instead:

First, identify your 5 most important pages.

These can be pages that:

  • Target an important keyword
  • Get less traffic than they did back in the day
  • Already rank well… but have the potential to crack the top 5

For example…

I recently published a list of my favorite link building tools.

Besides the basics (like including my keyword in my title tag), I didn’t do much to optimize this page.

And because it’s already on the first page for my target keyword…

…it has a good chance of cracking the top 5.

Then, optimize your page with the strategies in this video.

Now:

If you’re REALLY pressed for time and don’t have time to implement everything from the video, focus on these 5 strategies:

  • Include your keyword in your title tag
  • Include your keyword in first 100 words
  • Add 5+ external links
  • Add 5+ internal links
  • Use LSI keywords

Once those strategies are in place, let’s dive right into step #8:

Step #8: Set Up Keyword Rank Tracking

Now it’s time to start tracking your rankings in the SERPs.

There are a million rank tracking tools out there.

But to me, the best out there is probably SEMrush.

Why?

SEMrush is awesome because it doesn’t just track the keywords you give it.

(Although it does that too)

What’s cool about SEMrush is that it automatically finds keywords that you rank for.

Nice.

There’s no doubt about it:

Backlinks are still REALLY important.

In fact, our study of 1 million search results found that backlinks correlate with rankings more than any other factor.

And now it’s time to analyze your backlink profile.

Here’s how:

First, enter your homepage into a backlink analysis tool.

(I’m using Ahrefs for this step. But you can also use Majestic SEO or Moz Pro)

And you’ll get a report on your links:

Then, check out referring domains and Domain Authority.

Referring domains = the number of different websites that link to you.

Don’t sweat the exact number too much. You’re just benchmarking where you’re at.

You also want to take a look at your Domain Authority.

Every tool has its own name for “Domain Authority”.

(For example, Ahrefs calls it “Domain Rating”)

But the idea is the same:

Domain Authority tells you how much authority your site has… based on a combination of the quantity AND quality of your backlinks.

Finally, look for toxic links.

To do that, check out the most common anchor text in your link profile:

If you see a lot of branded anchor text (like “Backlinko” and “Backlinko.com”), you’re good.

Fortunately, that’s the case with my link profile:

But if you notice lots of keyword-rich anchor text (like “SEO blog” and “SEO training company”), that’s a sign of a toxic link profile.

Here’s an example of a link profile with spammy anchor text:

And if you want to dig deeper, take a look at some of your backlinks.

Most of your backlinks should come from REAL websites.

For example, you can see that most of my links come from blogs and news sites that write about digital marketing and SEO.

(Which is good)

But if you notice that most of your links are from shady sites, you might want to disavow those links.

Pro Tip: Spammy links are a normal part of any link profile. So don’t stress if you see a few black hat links.

A few years back Google stated that they don’t “lose sleep” over broken links.

That said:

Broken links are bad for user experience… which CAN hurt your SEO.

(More on that later)

With that, here’s how to fix broken links on your site:

First, find broken pages on your site that Google can’t index.

You can find this info in the Google Search Console’s “Index Report”.

I stay on top of broken links, so I’m in the clear.

Here’s what you’ll see if your pages are giving Google 404 errors:

Sometimes you deleted pages for a reason (for example: you deleted a bunch of Zombie Pages).

If so, you don’t need to do anything. Google will eventually stop reporting these broken pages as problems.

But if Google can’t access a page that you want to rank, you obviously want to get that page back up ASAP.

Next, use a tool to find broken internal and external links.

You can use Ahrefs…

…or a free tool like Broken Link Check.

Both work.

Step #11: Competitor Analysis

Now it’s time to spy on your competitors.

Here’s how to do it:

First, find your competitors’ best keywords.

You can easily find this info using SEMrush…

…or Ahrefs.

Needless to say:

If your competitors rank for these keywords, you have a good chance to rank for them too.

Which makes them GREAT keywords to target.

Second, check out the pages that are ranking for those terms.

Then, figure out what those pages have in common. That way, you know what type of content works best in your niche.

For example, if you look at some of my highest-ranking pages…

…you’ll notice that my content:

  • Is long-form (3k+ words)
  • Contains custom visuals and illustrations
  • Cites research studies, data and statements from Google
  • Isn’t super technical

Finally, see who links to those pages.

To do that, pop a URL into Ahrefs.

And take a look at the links pointing to that page.

This tells you who the influencers in your niche are. That way, you can start to build relationships with them.

(Which will come in handy when you get started with link building)

Step #12: Make Your Content 10x Better

Back in step #7 you SEO-optimized your most important pages.

And now it’s time to make the content on those pages 10x better.

Why?

It’s simple:

To rank in 2020, your content needs to kick butt.

With that, here’s how to make those pages 10x better:

1. VERY short intros.

No one wants to read long winded introductions like these:

Instead, keep your intros short and sweet:

2. Small paragraphs.

People don’t read online. They skim.

And small paragraphs help skimmers consume your content better.

3. Lots of subheaders.

Subheaders help break up your content into digestible chunks.

Use them early and often.

4. Use visuals, images and video

Multimedia makes your content MUCH more compelling.

(Plus, visuals help people learn and understand)

For example, in this SEO checklist post, I use lots of images:

Visuals:

And videos:

And because my content is easy to read and understand, the average user spends 05:08 on that page:

Step #13: Optimize For UX Signals

RankBrain is Google’s new AI algorithm.

Unlike the old Google, RankBrain measures how users interact with your site.

Which means:

To rank in Google today, you need to optimize for UX Signals.

In other words, your content needs to make users happy.

When you do, Google’s going to give you a HUGE rankings boost.

For example…

A while back I noticed that this post on my site wasn’t ranking that well.

(It was hovering between the 10th and 15th spots for my target keyword: “SEO Campaign”)

And when I looked at my content, I realized why…

My content didn’t give people searching for “SEO campaign” what they wanted.

Instead of steps, they got a case study of ONE specific strategy:

My post also had lots of outdated screenshots:

In short:

Because my content wasn’t optimized for UX signals, Google buried it.

So I decided to overhaul the entire post.

Specifically, I:

  • Replaced the case study with a step-by-step guide
  • Included more actionable tips for beginner and intermediate SEOs
  • Added examples from several different industries
  • Lots more

In the end, I had a piece of up-to-date content that was a PERFECT fit for someone searching for “SEO campaign”:

Sure enough, because my content is designed to make Google searchers happy, my page quickly went from #15 to the #4 spot in Google.

And it recently hit the #1 spot:

Very cool.

Step #14: Flatten Your Website Architecture

Your site architecture is simple:

It’s how the pages on your site are organized.

As it turns out, your website architecture is REALLY important for SEO.

Why?

Two reasons:

First, site architecture helps search engines find and index all of your pages.

When your site’s architecture is a big ol’ mess, Google’s gonna have trouble finding all of your pages:

But when your site architecture links your pages together, Google can easily find and index your entire site.

Second, architecture tells Google which pages on your site are most important.

In general, the closer a page is to your homepage, the more important it is.

The question is:

How should your site’s architecture look?

Well, I know I said that this SEO audit wasn’t going to be super technical.

So I’m going to keep this super duper simple…

You want to keep your site architecture flat.

In other words, not like this:

Instead, you want it to look like this:

(Super flat)

Or put another way:

It shouldn’t take more than 3 clicks to go from your homepage to any page on your site.

In some cases, you’ll need a developer to completely overhaul your site’s navigation.

But you can also just add internal links to different pages…

…and add links to the sidebar:

As long as users can reach any of your pages in 3 clicks or less, you’re good.

Step #15: Launch a Skyscraper Post

The last step of this SEO audit is to publish a piece of content using The Skyscraper Technique.

Why?

It helps Google quickly find and index all of the changes you just made.

For example, look at the spike in “Pages crawled per day” whenever I publish something new:

And this video will show you exactly how to execute the Skyscraper Technique process:

But as a quick recap, here’s how it works…

First, check out the top 10 results for a keyword that you want to rank for.

For example, I recently published a piece of content called: “27 Ways to Increase Website Traffic”.

Before I wrote a single word, I analyzed the first page for keywords like “how to get more traffic”:

The content I found was pretty good. But nothing special.

Next, publish content that’s 5x better than what you found.

I took things up a notch with my post.

How?

I included lots of detailed steps:

Screenshots:

And techniques that are working RIGHT NOW:

Finally, it’s time to promote your post.

This is key.

When Google sees a flood of people (and links) coming to your site, they say: “This site is blowing up right now. We need to send Googlebot there right now.”

(Like I mentioned earlier, this helps Google quickly process all of the changes you made to your site).

In my case, I sent out a newsletter to my email subscribers:

And promoted it on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter:

Bonus Step #1: Get More From Your Internal Links

Internal linking is one of the most underrated SEO strategies on the planet.

The question is:

How do you internal link the right way?

It’s simple:

Make sure you link to high-priority pages as much as possible.

Pro Tip: You might find a handful of non-important pages in this report. For example, you might have lots of links pointing to your privacy policy or contact page. That’s usually because you link to those pages from your site’s navigation or footer. Don’t sweat it.

Bonus Step #2: Use a Site Audit Tool

I tried to keep this SEO audit process as non-techy as possible.

But if you want to dig deeper into your technical SEO, I highly recommend using an SEO audit tool.

Which tools do I recommend?

Actually, I use and recommend two.

The first is Seobility.

Unlike most audit tools, Seobility is VERY easy to use. Plus, the reports are simple to understand and take action on.

Even though SEMrush is mostly known as a keyword research tool, it has a surprisingly in-depth site audit feature.

Bonus Step #3: Optimize for Featured Snippets

Featured Snippets can DRAMATICALLY increase your organic traffic.

For example, a while back I got this page to show up in the Featured Snippet spot.

And organic traffic to that page shot up like a rocketship:

How do you get your content in the Featured Snippet spot?

To show up in the Featured Snippet, you need to…

  • Have your content optimized for mobile
  • Have HTTPS installed
  • Use lots of headers (H2 and H3 tags)
  • Include short answer to questions (42 words)
  • Link out to authority resources

That’s about it 🙂

Now It’s Your Turn

That’s it for this SEO audit process.

And now I’d like to hear from you:

Do you have any questions about this process?

Or maybe you have a cool tip that I didn’t include here.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

305 Comments

  1. Raj Sidhu Avatar Raj Sidhusays:

    Hi Brian,

    You seem to have some content missing about SEMRush in the Bonus Step #2: Use a Site Audit Tool – other than that ….EPIC as always

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Raj. I just checked and that step looks right to me.

  2. Old but gold Brian. Just saw on my email your update and I will waste about 3-4 days for sure to check what is new. Thanks for great articles

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome. Glad you enjoyed the post.

      1. Outstanding as always, Brian. You are Appreciated!

        Keep kicking ass & as always:

        #MakeItAmazing

    1. Hey Barry,

      I know, isn’t it funny when he writes something, the length of time we spend enjoying it and putting it to action?

      I love it!

      Thanks,

      Chris

  3. Hey Brian,

    Great article my friend!!

    I’ve been working on the “Optimize for Featured Snippets” which I find super rewarding.

    Thanks,

    Chris Pontine

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Chris. I’m with you: Featured Snippets are huge. I’m still learning, but so far it looks like one of the fastest ways to get more Google traffic.

  4. Thanks Brian.
    After the August major update i lost almost 70% of my organic traffic. But i have recovered almost 50% of traffic by your tips. Like: Deletion of Zombie pages, adding good external links, Social signals, improving content.

    Regards.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Shivam. Has that helped get your site back on the right track?

      1. Shivam Avatar Shivamsays:

        As always. Your guidance has always helped me in rankings.

  5. Divyanshu Jangid Avatar Divyanshu Jangidsays:

    Another great post from You. Looking forward to see a post on technical site audit to become pro in site auditing.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks. I wanted to make this SEO audit process accessible to everyone. That said, I plan on publishing more technical SEO stuff in the future.

  6. I do SEO audit for my clients. I have looked for a great guide for it. At least I have found it in my Mail. I’m a huge fan of your blog 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Happy to help.

  7. Great article Brian, as you always make the best articles. This is even for beginners friendly and they can learn a lot. For us old is good to remind time to time from some as you that must take care about basics, you know duplicate meta tags and other thing. Its funny but its true.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks.

      You’re right: as sites grow they end up running into issues (like duplicate content). That’s why it’s important to do an SEO audit once every quarter.

  8. Hi brian
    about “zombie pages” –> do you really trust what the command”site:” returns ?
    I am notr sure that GG give you ALL the pages that are really indexed ( and then NOT zombie pages…)
    Do you really confirm that this is THE command to delete zombie pages ?
    Thanks your excellent article !

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Bernard. The site:website.com isn’t 100% accurate. But it’s a fast and easy way to see if you have too many pages indexed. If you want to get every single page , you’ll want to look at the GSC and your sitemap.

  9. Hi Brian,

    Awesome piece of content..as usual..

    However, if possible, I would like you to expand a bit on your “zombie pages” tip..we run a site where are definitely enough pages to delete (no sessions, no links, probably not even relevant with the main theme of the site, not even important for the architecture of the site)..Nonetheless, I am not very sure what is the best technical decision for these pages…just deleting them from my CMS, redirecting (if there is a relevant alternative) or something else? Unindex them on Search console? what response code they should have? ..

    Can you pls elaborate in technical terms what the next steps should be?

    Thnk you very much in advance.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Aris, good question. Basically, when it comes to Zombie Pages, you have two options:

      1. Delete the page
      2. Redirect to a related page

      So if you have a related page, I’d redirect. Otherwise, in my opinion, you probably want to delete the pages.

      Noindexing is only for cases where the page provides value to users… but not to search engine visitors.

      Does that make sense?

      1. Aris Vourvoulias Avatar Aris Vourvouliassays:

        I am only confused with the very last noindexing part, Since I am not sure how can I make this separation (useful for the user but not for the SEvisitor).. For the other part I think you were clear.. Since I can’t find a page to redirect without misleading the search intention of the user.. Probably deleting is the only way to treat these pages..
        One last question:if you delete a page how fast you assume Google Spider will stop showing the meta data of the page to the users?

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Exactly. At the end of the day, if the page doesn’t provide value in any way, it’s best to delete it. In terms of how long it takes, it depends on the authority of the site and page. Usually within 2-3 weeks.

  10. Hi, Brain Sir like always you publish a great stuff again. But I have one question related to S.E.O Tools, that which one should I use for keyword research ubersuggest or keyword everywhere chrome extension?

    Please Help Me.

  11. What is the best way to find these zombie pages? And is no indexing them the same as deleting them?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Candi, there’s no easy process unfortunately. At the end of the day you need to go one-by-one through lots and lots of pages.

      That said, the easiest process is to login to Google Analytics and sort pages by visitors. And start with pages that get very little (or no) traffic.

      Unless the page has a purpose for users (but not SEO traffic), I’d delete vs. noindex. But it’s ultimately your call.

  12. That’s absolutely great Guide Brian;

    For me, I’m not a pro but confusion I always get the point on speed optimization;

    Minification
    Image compression
    Website Design

    Are those only way to optimize them or is there anything else you would specifically work on?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks. One thing I didn’t mention is your web hosting. You get what you pay for. That can make a massive difference.

  13. Hey, Brian! Just started following you and SO glad I did! I’m planning a site audit at year end (this is year one of my site), and this guide is going to save me so much time researching. Quick question: Do you use a plugin to manage your zombie pages? Or do you delete them manually? If you do use a plugin, what’s your recommendation?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Awesome, Shanna. Depending on the lst tie you did an audit you’ll probably find lots of stuff to fix. They’re really helpful to do 1-2x per year.

      To answer your question: yup, I delete them manually.

  14. Yusuf Avatar Yusufsays:

    Hi Brian Dean, a great post, but my question is different from the topic or maybe the same I don’t know, hopefully you would respond.

    Now I am running a WordPress blog and curious about whether to index or no-index the categories (For tags I set it to no-index), will the categories be better to be excluded from search’s index or it’s better?

    Will the categories being indexed causing the duplicate contents and as the result effecting our blog’s performance in SERP?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Good question. I recommend noindexing category pages in most cases. So it sounds like you’re all set.

  15. Such amazing valuable information put together! How long does this take you Brian. We really appreciate it. I will do an audit on my site with the info & make sure I’m ranking high. Thanks again, as always!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Darshana. Happy to help.

  16. What do you do after deleting the zombie pages? Do you need to do a redirect (301) or something else to avoid having a bunch of 404 errors?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      It depends on the page. If you have a very closely-related page, redirect. Otherwise, I recommend 404ing it.

      1. Cristy Avatar Cristysays:

        If we delete multiple pages, is that creating a new SEO problem with so many 404s? (assuming there are many) Thanks for the post!

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Cristy, I recommend rolling this out over a few weeks to monitor and make sure everything is going OK. I wouldn’t delete 10k pages overnight

  17. Brilliant piece of content again! I think that many people are underestimating Step #1, but at the same time, it is critical. Less is more especially in the SEO world.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Well said, Ivan.

      That’s one of the few SEO strategies that works pretty much every time.

  18. Deleting pages? :-S A bit of a dangerous advice. Always redirect.

  19. Dude this is so good I can’t believe it’s free! I’m going to tackle this tonight. My blog is about 30 days old so I’m just learning. Your website and emails have been invaluable. Thank you!
    I’m using All-in1-SEO because Yoast breaks my menu every time regardless of theme. Have you ever heard of that?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Craig. I’ve actually never seen that before. Both plugins work great so you should be good with all in one.

      1. Craig Avatar Craigsays:

        Thats good to know, thanks again. I was worried it wasn’t as good but you’re the second person to say that.

  20. Once again, amazing article Brian 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Cheers David. I’m glad you liked it.

  21. Thank you Brian. Your research and presentation are very helpful. What steps do you take to flatten a site’s architecture when they have hundreds of thousands of pages. Is there a process you follow to prioritize, organized and add/remove pages?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Good question, Doug. I hate saying “it depends”… but it really does 🙂

      How you go about that depends on your CMS, development team and current SEO status (for example, if you’re killing it, you may not want to change things).

  22. Will be showing this to one of our new SEO interns as mandatory Wednesday readings. Thanks Brian!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Ryan. Happy to help

  23. Prokhor Sikder Avatar Prokhor Sikdersays:

    Usually I don’t waste time to read “long” posts like this. But,when it is written by Brian Dean,than you are not wasting the time. Because it helps you all the time.

    Thank you man !
    Loved it.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks 👍👍👍👍

  24. Could you help me understand this benefit of Yoast Premium, which for me would be the key benefit.

    The fact that you can optimise for more than 1 keyword, what exactly does that mean?

    Would I be able to do the same myself, if I manually entered the keywords into the meta data like here https://www.w3schools.com/tags/tag_meta.asp ?

    Or are we talking about something else?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Christine, I’ve never used Yoast Premium personally. “Optimize for more than 1 keyword” means that you can optimize for multiple keywords per page. I haven’t tried it so I’m not 100% how that works. My take is that Yoast’s free version is good to start with.

  25. Hi, Brian. Thank you for the great article. I have a question about the part about 4 website addresses. Ours currently is set to https://www., and we would like to change it to just an https:// as the main website. Will this hurt our current link profile, or will everything stay the same? This might be a foolish question, but we are a bit worried. Thank you.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Margot, that’s a really good question. As long as you 301 redirect from WWW, you should be good. That said, there’s always a small risk with any change. So it might not be worth the risk if you’re crushing it with SEO right now.

      1. Thank you for such a quick response. We will look at our current SEO profile. Thanks again for such a great article.

  26. I my case, I can say that my older blog is full of zombie pages because Google shows in index about 5,000 results, even if my blog has only about 1,100 articles.
    I guess that the difference (about 3,900 results) are represented by tag pages some of them bringing traffic, but most of them just laying there without producing any traffic or income.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Dan, that’s why I recommend noindexing tag pages. WordPress usually creates them by default so they’re hard to delete.

  27. Ashwani Kailiya Avatar Ashwani Kailiyasays:

    Its very very helpful

  28. A few years back we decided to move our community forum from a different URL (myforum.com) to our main URL (mywebsite.com/forum), thinking all the community content could only help drive additional traffic to our website. We have 8930 site links currently, which probably 8800 are forum content or blog content. Should we move our forum back to a different URL?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Matt, it depends on how well that worked for you. Did the forum help you get more traffic?

      1. I’d say yes. For the most part, the discussions in our forums are related to the product or the lifestyle. At the time we migrated (i think 2015), we were fairly small with less than a 1000 unique visitors on both the forum and website combined, monthly. We now have 60K or more unique visitors monthly.

        I was just curious reading the section on zombie pages if the extra content from the forums is a bad thing in Google’s eyes.

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          In that case, I’d keep them. If the page brings in traffic (or links), it’s worth keeping. So I’d say you’re good.

    1. What would be the purpose of/reason for moving back to a different url? If its been a few years, I’d leave it alone unless you watched everything decline since moving to the main url. Moving the forum to a new url now would probably be a bit chaotic, not only for your main url but for the forum itself…. Only reason I could imagine myself moving the forum in this scenario would be if all those links were really awful and unrelated to the url it currently sits on…

      With all that said, I’d want to take a much closer look at all the analytics data before making any real recommendations.

  29. Another masterpiece Brian, your post comes to the right time. I have a client his site has lots of issues that I know can be solved only by technical seo.

    However, I did everything thing I know but I also know that there is something I am missing. After reading this post I think I’ll be able to figure put those problems.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Sounds good, Umesh. I hope this helps

  30. Yet another great addition to my research/read list.
    Brian, you are the man of out times. This November, I’ll be speaking at WordCamp and I can’t wait to share part of your SEO wisdom.
    I deeply appreciate every effort you pit in to craft this insane content. It takes nerves.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks man!

  31. Hey there, Brian. This is such a timely article! This audit is exactly what I needed this week. It’s extremely comprehensive. I am a total fangirl of all your the content you publish!

    Also, thanks for including using the updated GSC in your audit. I am still getting used to learning the new console.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Hannah, No problem at all. I’m happy to help.

  32. Alison Avatar Alisonsays:

    Thank you for your recent post which looks fabulous as always.

    To be honest I am a little confused. Step one is to delete zombie pages from your site.

    I went to site:yourwebsite.com and found I got lots of listing with

    ,,,,,/page/103/

    listed which obviously looks odd.

    I want to delete the zombies but I can’t see a link explaining how. Your link to
    Sean from Proven deleted over 9k Zombie Pages from his site…

    goes to The Complete SEO Checklist For 2018 and I cant see the steps

    Thank you

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Alison, good question. Those blog pages are actually fine to keep. In our case, there are like 15 of those pages. It’s only a problem when you’re talking about 100+ pages.

  33. Hello Brain,
    This is amazing information about SEO audit.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Nitin

  34. I read and made changes to my site. Sited my site on Google and found zombie pages and deleted them. Noindexed some pages that would never have been done without reading your step by step guide.

    Super helpful article. Thank you Brian.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Way to take action so quickly, Leon!

  35. The depth of your articles impresses and amazes me. I love all the specific examples and tool recommendations. You discuss the importance of backlinks. How important is it to use a tool to list you on directories (Yext, Moz Local, Synup or JJUMP)? Will Google penalize you for listing on unimportant directories? Is it better to avoid these tools and get backlinks one at a time and avoid all but a few key directories?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Karen.

      To answer your questions: it depends on the business. If you’re a local business that’s trying to rank for local keywords (“___ in Boston”), those citations are really important. Google probably won’t penalize you for it as long as you’re not spamming. That said, I’d focus on really relevant directories to be on the safe side.

  36. Anonymous Fan Avatar Anonymous Fansays:

    Hey Brian,

    I am going to keep myself anonymous here as my competitors are watching very closely.

    I started implementing your suggestions in Jan 2018. I’ve increased my traffic from Google from 4,000 to 9,000 daily clicks in 7 months.

    The impact of what you share is unbelievable.

    Too good to be true, but true.

    Please do more SEO that Works courses through the year. I missed out and I want to enroll!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Congrats on your success! Also, we’re launching a new version of STW in a few months.

  37. Just what I was looking for, but I noticed in Bonus #3 for the snippet guide, you list to use multiple H1 and H2 headings… Shouldn’t it be H2 and H3 because you only want a single H1 tag per page, right?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks for the heads up, Dan. You’re absolutely right: that’s a typo. It should be H2 and H3.

  38. Superb stuff – thank you so much for putting this together so a non-techie like me can understand it …

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome Gary. I tried to make this thorough yet accessible.

  39. Vivek Kumar Avatar Vivek Kumarsays:

    Hey Brian, Great Article. I always read your blog and it is helpful for new bloggers. Is is possible to use SEO/Keyword on blogger blog.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Vivek. Yes it is but you definitely want your own domain.

  40. @brian -on your next blog post- you should target on SEO Reporting 😉

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks for the recommendation, Tejas. I’ll look into that.

  41. A wonderful post, everything is clear and understandable. Now I need to find the time and apply all the steps to my site)) Thank you.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Vilkov. If you’re strapped for time you can always do 2-3 steps to start with and go from there.

  42. Michael Fielding Avatar Michael Fieldingsays:

    Hi Brian,

    Great article, as always!

    Quick question. I know this report isn’t meant to be overly technical.
    However, how would you suggest dealing with faceted navigation? I’ve been adding the noindex tag to pages with 2+ faceted elements, providing they don’t target any useful terms i.e. through colour, size etc.

    Be interested to know your thoughts.

    Thanks!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Michael. In my opinion, you’re doing the exact right thing. Noindexing most search result pages (especially when more pages are created with faceted navigation) is your best bet.

  43. Wao, another great tutorial, Thanks Brian

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Happy to help, Vikas

  44. Hi Brian

    Wow! Your article is really well done and really gives the keys for our website to be perfomant!

    To see the free backlinks, do you like backlinkwatch.com? We can see 1,000.

    Thank you very much for your help 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Benoit

  45. Great one, Brian!

    Question about Zombie pages. Is putting as “no-index” the same as deleting? 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Gerric. It’s kind of the same.

      The issue with noindexing is that the pages still exist. So it makes the remaining steps harder. So I recommend deleting them in most cases (there are exceptions).

  46. Yam Avatar Yamsays:

    Your content is clear and concise. I love it!

    One question: with zombie pages, how do you deindex tag pages to ‘delete’ them? I’m using WordPress.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Yam. You can do that with the Yoast SEO plugin

  47. Gabby Avatar Gabbysays:

    Awesome guide! However, about short URLs.. I get that’s how you’d want to structure them if you have a blog site like yours, Brian, but what about if you’re a business and have different services. Should you structure your URLs like this?

    Version 1: https://www.website.com/service/service1
    Version 2: https://www.website.com/service1

    Which version is best?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Gabby, if your URLs are already long, I wouldn’t change them. It’s probably not worth the risk. So if they look like that already, I’d keep them like that… even if it’s not ideal.

  48. Brian, this is as ever absolutely fantastic! So much stuff to work through but it is all good! Do you have any other blogs on backlink analysis? I am using Moz Pro, and if you have anything to help me understand things a bit better it would be great.

    Regardless thanks for an excellent post again!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Steve. I don’t have any posts that deep dive into backlink analysis.

      1. No worries, you provide so much vital information and I just wanted to know your posts are always appreciated.

  49. Tim Avatar Timsays:

    Thanks for the post, Brian!

    I’m wondering how to delete zombie pages. I’ve been to my WordPress site but can’t seem to find where all of these pesky pages are? Any tips?

    Thanks!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Tim, it depends on the page. If they’re category or tag pages, you can noindex them with Yoast (they’re a pain to delete). Everything else should be a post or page in WordPress.

  50. Sam B Avatar Sam Bsays:

    I learned a ton here, thank you! Question about the 3-clicks-deep site structure: does this also apply when you have a blog post in your archives, but you have to click through a few archive pages to find it?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Sam, I’d say no. It’s more for normal pages that people access.

  51. An offtopic Brian,

    Do you suupport Breadcrumbs? As they create internal links to the main page…but passes some link juices to middle pages (unimportant) as well?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Uddin, it depends on the site. For ecommerce sites breadcrumbs can make sense. For most other sites… not as much.

  52. Cheefoo Avatar Cheefoosays:

    Thanks for the awesome post as usual. Indeed, to improve site speed is simply by changing to a better hosting. Some just don’t get it. Lol.

    I tried step 1 by deleting zombie pages. Would deleting zombie pages from a subdomain (eg. test.abc.com) be helpful to the main domain (abc.com) quality as well? Do we use remove URL from Search Console to remove those pages that are being indexed accidentally?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Yup. You can optimize images like crazy. But if you’re paying 5 bucks a month on hosting… yeah.

      I’ve actually never tried that. Google is still weird about subdomains, so I’d say delete them gradually and see how it goes.

  53. This is a great SEO Audit. I liked the best i.e. to start with 5 pages first to unlock the SEO potential. It will really make the job easier. By the way, have you also published any blog about link audit or competitors link building strategy?

    I checked the last published blogs but didn’t find anything related to Link Audit.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Umesh. I might publish something on link auditing and competitor backlink analysis in the future.

  54. Brilliant and concise. Thanks for providing such valuable information and its truly a great guide. Your blog is a boost and help for us newbies who is learning SEO.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Cheers Dav

  55. Zakir khan Avatar Zakir khansays:

    But some webmaster says you have to write that short answer of 42 words in your site HTML code or any WordPress plugin than Google will feature your rich snippet.

    So, is it necessary to optimize as well as write that 42 words rich snippet answer in your site code?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Zakir, you can include a snippet inside of a longer blog posts. For example, add a “What is X” snippet at the top of a long blog post.

  56. Nick Carlson Avatar Nick Carlsonsays:

    Wonderful article Brian!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Nick. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  57. Cheefoo Avatar Cheefoosays:

    Brian, I’m going through Step 3, which is referring to the one version of the website. I found a very good free tool (https://varvy.com/tools/redirects/) to recommend. It checks on the redirect and gives you a visual number of hops. More hops mean more delay. For example, if I use your manual method to check on https://uprenew.com, all looks good. However, if I use the tool and check, I realize there is an unnecessary 1 hop/delay, whereby I can fix it. Hope this helps. : )

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Chefoo. Good stuff.

  58. My blog is still new and less than 15 posts. Is it safe if I follow all the methods provided on all of this site’s content?

    I feel safe, because you said, you managed to get lots of visitors in a short time.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Good question. This process isn’t as important for new sites. Instead, I’d just follow this process a few times per year to make sure your SEO in on point.

      1. I mean, if i follow all your seo strategy, is that can make my new site get increase visitors ?

        I created a new site, because my old site experienced a decrease in visitors.

        But apparently, almost all sites in my country with ‘health’ niches have decreased visitors.

        Everyone calls it the medic algorithm. I’m sad, I have to start again from the beginning.

        And I found this article https://old.backlinko.com/increase-website-traffic
        Is this step suitable for me to practice to my website?

        Thanks Dean 🙂

  59. Brian, I have a burning question regarding keyword placement and frequency. You wrote: “Use the key in the first 100 words … “. What else? I use Yoast and a WDF*IDF semantic analysis tool to check the content of the top10 rankings. Pretty often I have the feeling I overdo it, although Yoast and WDF/IDF told me I use the focus keyword not often enough.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Enrico, I wouldn’t worry about keyword frequency as much. Just sprinkle your keyword in the content a few times and you’re good.

  60. Hi Brian,
    Still not sure about how can I remove zombie pages. I have pages index that is not even there or never created such as tags in WordPress are indexed. If there is guide how can we effectively remove these pages would be great. Many of your readers have same query I think reading through comments.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Prasun, you can just noindex tag or category pages with Yoast.

  61. Hey Brian,

    Your article reaches me at just the perfect time. I’ve been working on getting back to blogging and have been at it for almost a month now. I’ve been fixing SEO related stuff on my blog and after reading this article (by the way is way too long for one sitting) I’m kind of confused. I’m looking at bloggers like Darren Rowse, Brian Clark, and so many other bloggers who use blogging or their blogs as a platform to educate their readers more than thinking about search rankings (but I’m sure they do).

    I say this because they published at least 1 article a day and sometimes more. Readers find great value and they also rank well on Google. On doing some more research I find that Google also likes frequently updated systems and that’s why blogs tend to work better when ranking vs. static pages.

    So what strategy does one follow. I have about 100 odd posts on my blog each about 1000 words plus. Do I super charge the posts or do I write more posts focusing on newer subjects.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Eddie, there’s no “right” way to grow a blog. In my opinion, quality over quantity is the key to growing in 2018. So I recommend updating and improving the posts that you have on your site.

  62. All of your SEO related articles are excellent thanks for it.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  63. Great piece, Brian I will go through it step by step, its a good reminder for maybe simple stuff we are doing. keep up the good work

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Sounds good, Gary. Let me know how it goes.

      1. Did find one problem checked ahref backlinks, and noticed that some of my backlinks I have done recently don’t have the / at the end and some of them are being 301 redirected. I don’t know if this is a problem for them backlinks? What do you think. Thanks again Gary

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Gary, as long as they redirect to the right URL, you’re good to go.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Akash

  64. Hi Brian
    I use the tags in my posts. Some tags are shared between pistachios, can this be bad?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Pistachios? I think that’s a typo…

  65. Hi Brian. Thanks for this guide. Really helpful. I just have 1 more question. How about expired domain?

    I just bought an expired domain. It has good backlink profile.

    Before this I update 3 post and it rank very well. Then the site seem like hard to rank.

    Better use it as PBN? Or I can try one more time by cleaning bad backlink, and resubmit to Google once again?

    Which one better?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Afiq. It’s hard to say without seeing the domain. I’ve found that Google now considers most expired domains as new domains… which means it can take some time for it to start ranking.

  66. Arun Avatar Arunsays:

    Your strategies are really great! Is research is the name of the game?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Arun. In a way, yes.

  67. Great article Brian, re Bonus Step #2. I like to run sites through multiple Site Audit tools as well. Thanks for the Seobility recommendation and I’ll add that to the list, I usual use a combo of Ahrefs Site Audit, Agency Analytics, Serpstat and SEMRush as I find 1 tool doesn’t tell you everything.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Jamie, good call there. That’s actually why I included 2 tools. I actually haven’t tried Ahrefs site audit feature yet. Any good?

  68. Hey Brian,

    Big fan, your post are always really simple and easy to understand.
    Thank you for the awesome article.

    Is it a good idea to post guest post on not so relevant site?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks. I wouldn’t recommend guest posting on irrelevant sites. It’s not worth the risk.

  69. Perfect like your previous articles !!
    I think the most powerful technique for wining the seo competition is optimize our website for UX ! I believe that Google only look 1 thing and that is User Exprerience…

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Nima. I agree.

  70. Hello,
    Your article has very useful information for SEO Audit. My question is I am running some blogs I allow to google to crawl category and tags pages. Is it not good for getting traffic? If No then how to resolve this issues because my blog has 1200+ pages crawled in google. If I blocked these categories and tags is it affect my ranking?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Manish, I personally don’t recommend indexing category and tag pages. But it’s ultimately your decision.

      1. If I deindex category and tag pages? This is affecting my ranks?

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Hey Manish, there’s always a risk of rankings changing whenever you make a change to your site. I’d like to be more concrete than that, but the results depend on the site, technical SEO setup, current rankings etc. etc.

  71. David Avatar Davidsays:

    Hi Brian, Thanks for the outstanding post. I have found numerous zombie pages and pages with little to no traffic over the past year that could be deleted. Before I move forward, should I consider not deleting if they have external links pointing to them?

    For example we have a few blog posts from several years ago that did see some traffic for a while, picked up some links, but now sees zero traffic as the subject is no longer relevant.

    Thanks in advance,

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, David. In that case I’d keep the posts or redirect them. You definitely don’t want to delete a page with backlinks.

  72. I want to improve my SEO Skills
    Thanks for the excellent on target information!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Ram. I hope it helps.

  73. How to fix technical SEO, need some more information on this regarding SEO site audit.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      I tried to make this a non-technical site audit process. I’ll probably publish more technical SEO content in the future.

  74. Well, Brian, you are the best and that is what I like about you. I always learn one or two things from you everytime I visit your blog and the results are great. Thanks for putting up this detailed post

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Emmanuel.

  75. Hey, Brian,

    Fantastic article. Your stuff is always informative and helpful. I appreciate you.

    John

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks John. Happy to help.

  76. Always great info. Best SEO stuff on the internet. I’m a real estate agent in Fort Lauderdale, do my own website. Problem in real estate is the big sites suck up most of the first page of Google. Zillow owns Trulia, and they are usually 2 of the first 3 sites which appear in organic results, which does not seem fair.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Jim. Very true. Fortunately, there are niche keywords (like neighborhood level terms) that the big guys don’t bother optimizing for. There’s usually an opportunity there.

  77. Thanks for yet another great post! It’s amazing how many people that comment.

    Another question about Zombie Pages. I’m not quite sure what an “archive” page is? Is it simply when unpublishing a page rather than deleting it (to keep the content for repurposing later on for instance).

    Thank you!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Ninna. Archive pages are pages that link to old articles or other pages on a site. WordPress doesn’t have them, but some CMS’s do. So they’re worth keeping an eye out for.

  78. Hey Brian,

    Nice article as always 🙂

    Just wanted to ask why do you use so many images in a single post.

    I see that you have more “real estate” for images in your blog post. Is that to increase dwell time?

    Don’t these images decrease the loading time of the webpage?

    Regards,

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Rajit, they’re there to make implementing the steps easier.

  79. Manu Avatar Manusays:

    Hi Brian i Thank you For This great post and i have doubt that Picture compressing or CDN which is better to get a faster loading site?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Manu, I recommend doing both

  80. Another great article from Brian. I read lots of article on seo site audit but it is best of them.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      👍👍👍👍

  81. Hey Brian,

    Thanks a tonne for this super valuable article. Your whole blog is great, but I’m right in the middle of a website redesign and SEO rework at the moment and this article just eased a lot of my concerns and questions.

    Many thanks.

    Dan

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Dan. I’m glad that today’s post helped you out.

  82. I really liked this. This is helped me enormously, and I even got things that I didn’t even take into consideration. Thanks mate!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Carl. Happy to help

  83. Thanks for sharing this Brian, being a beginner in SEO I must say this blog has really helped me make my SEO audit easier. You are a real super star.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Happy to help, Bruce

  84. Jen Avatar Jensays:

    Great article 🙂

    In regards to your first tip what method do you use to delete zombie pages? I know a lot of people use NOINDEX for archives, tags & categories, but do you do that for individual posts as well? Is there any reason to use the temporarily remove URL option in Google Search Console over NOINDEX?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Jen. Noindex makes sense for those pages. But I actually delete the actual page if it doesn’t serve any purpose.

  85. Clark Avatar Clarksays:

    Delete “Zombie Pages” will result in a large number of 404s. How do you handle these 404 pages?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      That’s true, Clark. I just leave them be. If possible I redirect the page. But if there’s no related page, I just delete it.

  86. Erik Avatar Eriksays:

    Hey Brian – thanks for the tips. For the Zombie pages I assume you redirect those to related pages?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Erik. If you have related pages, definitely.

  87. Brian Avatar Briansays:

    HI Brian thanks, in the new look Search console where would I find the HTML improvements? Thanks, Brian

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Brian. They don’t have the exact 1:1 feature in the new GSC yet. They do have a “Mobile Usability” report that’s pretty close

  88. Great tips Brian,

    Thanks for the resourceful and EASY guide to site audits.

    Here’s how actionable your content is:

    While reading the first section itself I was performing a search on Google too hunt zombie pages and boom I had two freebie pages (and a thank you page) indexed in Google. De-indexing them was a no-brainer.

    Time taken: Hardly 60 seconds
    Result: A quick SEO win.

    Now a question,

    I see my sites’ archive pages like page 2 and 3 (and subsequent pages) of category pages showing up on Google. Should I no-index them? and How?

    Best,
    -Swadhin

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Nice! If the pages are like /blog/page/2, I’d keep them. It’s no big deal.

      1. Thank you so much. Yes they’ve the same structure you mentioned. I’m keep them. 🙂

        Thanks so much!

  89. I like you post simple yet so much information to take on and take action. However i dont agree with category pages need to be deleted, as cyrus shepard says category pages can be taken advantage of to make hubpages and also rank in search engines

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Jeff. It depends on what you mean by “category page”. If it’s just links to blog posts (which is what WordPress category pages are), then I recommend noindexing them. In some cases you can make a category page valuable by adding unique content, curating posts in that category, etc. But that’s not the case for 99% of category pages.

  90. Hey Brian,

    Yet another awesome guide. It is helping alot in my efforts to review my lost traffic. I had one Q&A section which generated lot of URLs but many were thin content out of them. I disabled that section as each question and answer created another URL.

    I have one question though, I have some articles with 2500+ comments and read about comments help or not in your SEO. I have a pagination enabled too. I also read that you mentioned that you disabled crawl of comments pages beyond first page. Can you please tell me how did you do it? I tried searching but could not find the apt solution for it.

    Also, I see that due to large number of comments on my blog some of the page sizes are reported by some tools as worriesome. Do you think I should reduce the page size and disable crawl/indexing of further pages. I am also thinking of disabling the comments on posts after an year,

    Your inputs will be highly appreciated.

    I am working hard with a realistic 6 month timeline to implement many of your guides and would also love to share my case study and numbers with you when the next travel season starts for my blog in March. I am already seeing progress in a month.

    Thank you in advance.

    Regards
    Dheeraj

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed the guide. To your first question, that’s something we custom coded in. There might be a plugin that helps noindex paginated pages. I’d focus more on actual loading speed vs. page size. Comments are usually just text (or a small image). So they don’t usually slow loading speed down that much

  91. Thanks Brian for this awesome article. This is the best one among other SEO audit articles on internet. May I know how much time will you take on research purpose before publishing a quality article like this? Can you please share your strategy for content writing?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Kribesh. A post like this takes around 20-25 hours

  92. Your content never disappoints! Few SEO guys out there can make such easy-to-digest guides. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Luis. Happy to help

  93. Raghuveer Singh Rao Avatar Raghuveer Singh Raosays:

    I am super exciting to implement all these SEO audit factors on my eCommerce website.
    Thank you so much Brian for giving right direction.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome

  94. Well Brian I am facing a issues one is my site is not showing indexed in Google. But I am updating content regularly and showing in Google search. Use this format cache:www.abc.com

    Shall any issues in website or google cache problem. And Thanks for cover a great topics.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Swapan, I recommend getting a link to your site. That’s the best way for Google to index a new site.

  95. Jack Avatar Jacksays:

    That’s an awesome piece of information. Thank you Brian. I’m going to clean my damn site tonight.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Jack. Let me know how it goes.

  96. Wohoo! That’s an amazing article, very useful and helpful, did not know I have to go through this. I am planning to make site Audit in the next few months, and this gives me a huge idea of what’s going on. One question, as for Zombie pages, how can I find them and delete without affecting my rank? can you show me simple example?

    Thanks!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Amira. Most Zombie Pages are obvious. If you’re not sure whether to delete a page, you’re better off keeping it.

  97. Hey Brian,

    Excellent audit – thank you! Another one to add to your list of common Zombie pages is image URLs without image file extensions.

    I’ve worked on quite a few WordPress sites where there are 1000s of indexed pages simply because the media library is producing landing pages for every image.

    A simple but effective fix with the use of Yoast and I’ve seen rapid boost in rankings after making this tweak

    Thanks
    Joe

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Joe. Good call there. Not sure if you saw but Yoast had a bug that also caused that exact issue (they quickly fixed it though).

  98. Mike Avatar Mikesays:

    Hi Brian – I’m baffled by this. I just entered site:yourwebsite.com with my domain of course, as you said, and one of the results contained my WordPress login username. It was at domain/author/xxxxx where xxx is my username. Is that a setting I need to change in WordPress?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Mike, Yes I’d definitely change that.

  99. Alvaro Pizza Avatar Alvaro Pizzasays:

    Hi Brian:

    I’m a long time reader and subscriber to your newsletter. I have a few questions.

    1. What hosting do you recommend for a beginner?
    2. At what point do you recommend switching to a more potent hosting and buying a CDN? (What hosting do you use?)
    3. What’s paginated comments?
    4. Do you create your own graphics & visuals or do you hire a graphic designer?

    Thanks in advance for replying…

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