If there was ever a time to think about auditing your SEO program, the end of one calendar year and beginning of the next is about as good as it gets. But, before you jump in and start evaluating how well your SEO is performing, you should check out your own audit system. With the fast evolutionary pace of SEO, it stands to reason that the means by which you assess it should also evolve.
What’s On Your List?
Following are five things you should do as part of your SEO audit—even if you have never done them before:
- How to Appropriately Block Content
Everyone has a need to block select pages now and then. The old-fashioned way of robots.txt may be the most frequently used method but it is not fool-proof. Google can get passed that and still elect to display a page if it believes it is relevant to a search query. Indexing via the x-Robots tag is the way to effectively block content—even from Google.
- Search for ALL Pages
When crawling the web for your own content, it is essential that you keep an eye out for old legacy pages. Many of these may not even have links left so if found, they are completely useless to people and can hurt you more than help you.
- Match Your Site Map to Search Results
If your site map is current, pages returned in a search should map appropriately. Any disconnect here signals either an issue with your site map itself or with rogue content out on the web.
- Hunt Down Duplicate Pages
Duplicate content does not just occur between your site and someone else’s (though of course you want to make sure to avoid that for sure). It can actually happen on your own site and result quite innocently—yet cause you big trouble. Having a “home” link on your site frequently tends to result in two home pages being found in a search—ding for duplicate content.
Additionally, domain structure can account for more than one of the same page appearing. Make sure your audit process accounts for domains that begin with www vs. not or https:// vs. www.https://. When multiple pages are found, check the page rank of each to adequately determine which one you need to keep.
- Check Status Codes
Are your status codes accurate? All redirects should be 301s, for example. Pages marked as 404 should actually be 404s. Make a list of all status codes and verify that they are appropriately implemented.
In addition to the above tasks, review your existing SEO audit list and see if there are tasks that can be eliminated because they are no long relevant. Reviewing Google Authorship, for example, may not be as essential as it once was.
While I do believe that the approach of a new year is a great time to audit your SEO program, I also believe you should not wait for that date each year. Be ready and willing to review—and revise—your SEO plan at any time.