A technical audit is an essential step when performing an SEO audit, the bedrock on which we rely. It will provide a useful, clear overview of a website, as well as issues and precise indicators for in-depth analyses.
Technical aspects play a very significant role in SEO, all the more so for big websites, because of:
- Performance / usability issues that impact users (and indirectly bots) and bots (directly)
- Limited crawl budget of search engines bots
- Technical issues / poor code quality that is a bad signal
- The fact that Googlebot is a bot, this is why SEO needs to guide it to crawl and understand websites contents in the best possible way.
For a successful SEO strategy, we need to use all available levers. Technical ones are within easy reach (which does not always mean that it's easy), so don’t skip it.
Technical SEO will not, on its' own, make pages rank; but it's definitely required, just like content and popularity. The first thing to do is to correct errors and optimize technically in order for the content and popularity strategies to be fully effective. To have relevant reports, you need to run exhaustive crawls which include the deepest pages, without URL limits.
The SEO pre-audit: useful for both client and consultant
A complete SEO audit (marketing & competition, technical, content, popularity, analytics) will be the starting point of any SEO consulting mission to define the strategy. Without it, you're lost and without a compass: you don't know where to go.
Before it, the pre-audit will provide a state of play, help you to define the perimeter of your tasks and quote it, but that's not all. If you are a SEO consultant, you have probably already had, at least, one client asking for SEO without audit. Maybe:
- he doesn't want to pay for it,
- he doesn't want to challenge himself (or the agency who created the website, or the staff involved in the project),
- he already did one (3 years ago...),
- he doesn't believe in it (bad previous experience?).
The technical part of a pre-audit will bring out some correlations, for example, mobile bounce rate and load time, low ratio of indexed pages due to bad website architecture or directives mistakes, international SEO problems due to hreflang issues, providing strong and tangible arguments... A technical SEO is a tangible SEO.
The technical audit, based on the crawl reports, explains what and how to optimize or correct, limiting the possible interpretation errors. There can sometimes be discussions regarding which actions to implement (it's not always as simple). In that case, it's a good idea to ask the question: which actions will be of the most benefit to the user?
For those who begin with technical SEO, the Web Developer's SEO Cheat Sheet by Moz is a good and simple starting point to get the basics.