A regular SEO audit helps you focus on correcting any issues on your charity website which may affect its search engine ranking. Follow our ten-step guide to carry out an effective SEO audit for yourself.
A good website is one of the most important things that your charity can have, but a good website is not enough. To ensure that it is as effective as possible, it has to be easy to find – and that means it has to optimised so that it appears prominently in search engine rankings.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the art of ensuring that your website and its content rank highly in Google searches. If your charity website isn’t designed with SEO in mind then you are undoubtedly missing out on a huge amount of traffic.
Even if you’ve done a great deal of SEO work on your website, that doesn’t mean that the job is finished. You still need perform an SEO audit every three to six months to ensuring you are keeping abreast of search algorithm changes, and to provide a prioritised list of actions that you need to take to keep improving your charity’s search performance.
Here are ten steps to help you perform an SEO audit:
To carry out an SEO audit you need a good SEO tool to scan your website and provide you with relevant information about how well it has been optimised, as well as any areas that need fixing or improving. There are many such tools available, including:
One of the most common problems with SEO involves what Google and other search engines perceive to be duplicate sites.
For example, say that your domain name is yourowncharity.org.
You may be able to access your site at the following URLS:
Even though these are all the same site, search engines may not recognise them as such. You can use a scanning tool to check that only one of these URLs is the main or canonical URL, and the others redirect (using a 301 redirect) to the canonical one.
Open your browser and type "site: yourowncharity.org" in the search field to check out how many pages Google finds.
This ought to be the number of pages on your website, so if the result is very different then you should investigate further. For example, it might be because some of your pages are not being indexed, or Google may be having trouble because of the ecommerce functionality of your site.
Google takes the performance of your website into account when it ranks it. The platform does not like referring Google users to slow sites.
That’s because as the wait period while a page loads increases from 1 to 3 seconds, the probability of the user "bouncing" – leaving the site and trying elsewhere – increased by 32%. From 1 to 5 seconds the figure is 90%, and from 1 to 6 seconds it’s 106%, according to Google.
You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool or an SEO scanner to get a benchmark of page loading times and to see which pages are problematic and what can be done to speed them up.
Google uses the fact that a website has been secured using https as a ranking signal. If you are not using https to establish an encrypted connection with site visitors, you should consider implementing it in the near future.
To do so you need an SSL certificate, and while this used to be pricey your charity can now get one free from Lets Encrypt.
Let’s Encrypt is a non-profit certificate authority run by Internet Security Research Group that provides certificates for https encryption at no charge.
The majority of Google searches have come from mobile devices for several years, and for that reason mobile-friendliness has been a Google ranking factor since 2015. This means that your website should be as usable from a mobile device as it is when accessed from a desktop or laptop browser.
Many platforms such as WordPress convert the web pages they host to mobile-friendly ones automatically, but a scanner tool should highlight any pages on your charity website which are likely to cause problems on a mobile device.
If your website is not ranking highly, look at similar charities which do rank highly for relevant searches.
You can use a scanner tool to look at the keywords they are using, as well as the type of content that they are providing. You can use this information to inform future SEO-inspired changes to your content using keyword tools such as Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends.
Broken links are annoying to users, so Google avoids sending users to sites with broken links. But just because all your links worked last month, it doesn’t mean that an external page has not been removed and one of your links is now broken.
That’s why it is a good idea to use a link checker such as Xenu’s Link Sleuth (some scanner tools can also check your links) to identify any that need fixing or removing from your site.
Backlinks are links from external sites to your content, and a good scanner will find and show you all of them. You can also use the free Ahrefs Backlink Checker tool. Google ranks sites with many backlinks higher than ones with few or none.
Understanding where backlinks are (and where your rival charities’ backlinks are) can help you focus on where to work to generate more backlinks in the future. You will also not want to remove any pages on your site which have valuable backlinks providing you with visitors (unless the content of the external site is particularly negative).
You can use an SEO audit as an opportunity to: