"Not many SEO companies include design in their audits, but we do because it's a huge part of the user experience," says Stephanie Biscow, vice president of digital media, DCW Media. "If your site is ugly, people aren't going to be as intrigued. Simplicity and cleanliness give users the ability to easily read content without distractions. We also like to evaluate where advertisements are placed. Sometimes websites plaster ads all over the place and it doesn't allow for a user-friendly experience."
Recommended Site Auditing Tools
In addition to the tools already mentioned, SEO experts recommend the following utilities to help with site audits.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a favorite among many SEO experts. "There's a free version that inexperienced DIY SEO individuals can use to familiarize themselves with the data," says LILLY + Associates' DiPatrizio. "Simply enter your site's URL and click Start.' Clicking through each tab and using the built-in filters can give you a great idea of what might need to be fixed on your site."
Copyscape is duplicate-content-detection software and a plagiarism checker, and it's another favorite of SEO experts. A free version is available. Copyscape Premium will analyze a site's entire content for 5 cents a page. "Within minutes you'll have a plethora of data about which pages on your website contain duplicate content, the exact content highlighted for you, and a full list of other Web pages that your content was also discovered on," says DiPatrizio.
MajesticSEO offers a basic free plan as well as paid plans, and it "evaluates all links and helps separate high-quality links from low-quality links," according to LegalAdvice.com's Kline. "The site also breaks down anchor text in a pie chart and is a great tool to see if your link anchor text is over-optimized. That is, whether Google would deem your anchor text wording an out-of-compliance attempt to spam or game the search engines." (Anchor text is the text within a hyperlinked phrase.)
Yoast's WordPress SEO Plugin (free) is for sites that use the open-source WordPress.org CMS, and it "can automatically fix and streamline many technical errors a site might have without too much technical knowledge needed," says Marchie. "You can also use it to enter your HTML title tags and meta descriptions."
Raven's free 30-day trial provides an in-depth audit using its Site Auditor tool. "This will give you another tool to check your metadata, alt tags, headings, keyword usage, as well as a few additional data points," Marchie says. The report arrives in PDF format, and you can use it to measure progress as you fix site problems.
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