Within the living medium as dynamic and ever-changing as the Internet — nothing needs more attention today than your website.

That includes your website health, your goals and what you are hoping to achieve.

You must consider the entire picture, which include strategic and tactical elements and real-world user testing.

forensic SEO audit chaosmap
Forensic SEO audit to create high performance selling websites

And, if you need consistent and converting traffic, there is nothing more trusted than SEO-driven, organic clicks that come from top search engine visibility.

But, there are over 200 factors that count into the search algorithm for Google.

For example, most business owners don’t know that the search engines look at freshness and recency of data. Plus, click metrics and user behavior now counts as one of several “new” important indicators for online success with search.

While many of these factors are not known, we’ve learned about most of them over the last decade that we’ve worked within the search and digital space.

A Comprehensive Forensic SEO Audit

After a questionnaire and interview questions, we create an audit for large websites, E-commerce and transaction based websites, which may include 100’s of thousands of pages, or a million+ pages.

The resulting document contains a detailed study of your domains, pages, content, links, traffic, usability, engagement, technology, infrastructure, search analytics and much more – and is absolutely essential to long term visibility in search.

Review all the features of your site and get a comprehensive list with details and proper go-forward SEO plan is essential.

All the data points can and should be used ongoing to compare progress as things get implemented and fixed. And, make sure to continually monitor changes – it is paramount in SEO work.

Go Beyond SEO

And, you must consider the softer, non-technical aspects of an SEO audit: the company marketing and intent. You can find and solve technical issues all day long, but SEO is much more than that: it’s about the eco-system of the user experience and serving the visitor’s initial request.

Know deeply how websites and the web works, and educate the audience as you go along. Simple changes can have a ripple effect through large sites, so be careful.

Here’s a top level view of broad categories within SEO forensic audits:

Branding and Market Conditions – Trustworthiness, site links, title tags, headline tags, competitor keywords (branded & non-branded), traffic (mobile & desktop), web analytics (Google analytics audit) and call to action.

Onsite SEO – Penalties, keyword plans and content structure (including duplication issues), server issues, crawling errors, internal links, broken internal links, robots management, page speed / timings (including geo-locations, connection speeds & browser types), image optimization, SSL, AMP, mobile friendliness, canonicalization and International SEO. Focus on user experience and relevancy.

Learn more about tools and strategies to start the SEO on-page analysis.

Offsite SEO – Penalties, back link audit, broken links, site / domain quality, social, reviews and citations, bad neighborhood linking, disavows, blacklists, link diversity and link growth / frequency.

TIP: Here you can learn more about how to use blogging as one of the popular backlink-building, traffic-driving, SEO off-page strategies.

The Benefits of the SEO Audit


There are many, but these are important:

NUMBER 1: Some of the most important are finding out where and how to get more quality traffic, discovery of how traffic may have dropped (quickly or over time), or if any past penalties (Panda, Penguin) is currently holding your site back. You need clarity and focus on keywords, content and analyzing the right engagement metrics.

NUMBER 2: You may be thinking about an upcoming domain migration, or have recently redesigned or migrated the site(s) and lost rankings and traffic and need to understand what happened, and how to fix it …FAST.

NUMBER 3: You may be considering moving to SSL across single or multiple domains, and must understand the whole picture, the impact – while minimizing the fall-out.

NUMBER 4: You may be launching a series of websites or needing to re-boot an existing one — and require a clear path and plan on how to get more converting traffic while building a trusted brand.

NUMBER 5: Or, you’re trying to understand what products to keep or filter out from search engines based on traffic and sales. This also considers profits and is an important strategic consideration. This discussion goes beyond just “being #1 in search results” which is not always what you need.

NUMBER 6: Sales! Considering revenue is critical and real sales is what your CFO is looking for, not rankings (although your marketing team may initially feel differently!)

And, if you use the popular WordPress platform there are likely many search engine blocks preventing you from top rankings and converting traffic – right now!

Don’t build a website on shaky ground. Build SEO for stability and long term.

Building a Website On Strange Land?

Imagine building a beautiful, pretty house (your website) on a major earthquake fault line or a sloped hill, and you don’t even know it.

It’s a disaster waiting to happen. Revealing all the issues along with a detailed explanation, education and plan about all the potential concerns, would be essential.

You already understand that you must have a user-and-search friendly site, and that includes BOTH mobile and desktop.

All pages and content must be specific, measurable and have unique quality content that serves the right audience and that is socially ready and aware.

When you start with the 7 components below – all search engines will reward you with a higher position in natural search results.

The art and science of SEO (search engine optimization) is simple as they say, but not easy. And, for larger sites and SEO website migrations, things can get very complex quickly.

Here are 7 insights for a better search experience. This is not a comprehensive audit checklist, but a starting place to ask questions.

seo-audit-starting-listSEO is more than just creating a page or website and deploying.

You must think strategically about keywords, content, users and links.

It’s also important to address all the technical issues – from the server side issues to the HTML code and more.

As mentioned, engagement metrics are essential, and you must understand your analytics to great detail. Google specifically is looking at user behavior and click patterns. (e.g.: ‘Did the visitor to the web page click back or off the page immediately?’)

Begin with these 7 areas of consideration:

  • Keywords – do you have keywords and phrases that people search for on your pages? Did you analyze your market and perform keyword research? Are they included naturally throughout your page(s)? Relevancy is key.
  • Links – are you creating enough quality content to attract links from others? Link quality matters more than link quantity.
  • Anchor text links – are you receiving links with “keyword phrases” in your inbound link profiles? For example, “Bankruptcy Attorney New York” is better than “Click Here”
  • Popularity – how “popular” is the page that is linking back to you? How relevant is the exterior page and link? If your theme is about topic “X”, get more relevant links from within that community
  • How do the visitors see your site? How favorable is that view? Make sure your traffic and click-through-data matches the search query, and that you don’t have a high bounce-rate. Both desktop and mobile are crucial in this review.
  • Are you including social media? Search engines (indirectly) use signals from activity on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and others. How well is that traffic converting?
  • Page speed and website up-time. Make sure you are hosting with a professional grade hosting partner, and that you have fast load times of pages and all online assets (code, images, documents, etc)

Finally, ensure you are found for your buying keywords, and that keywords match your pages and content. You can use the Free Google Keyword Tool to get a sense for the market and levels of competitiveness. You should already have scripts from Google Analytics and the Google Search Console installed.

seo-audit-getting-startedWhen we look at doing an SEO audit for your website – we look at all these factors + indexation issues, crawling issues and much more.

We use free and paid SEO tools including proprietary, internal processes and software to gather metrics that we manually add to our 100+ page report. Depending on the scope of the site, it can take anywhere from 3-5 weeks on average.

A detailed, and separate Website Analytics Audit is also highly recommended.

This audit will ensure that your “website house” will be created and built on solid ground for a long time with an implementation plan you can use internally.

Want To Take A Deeper Look?

CONTACT US when you want to get advanced and detailed information to 10x your sales and improve your overall website performance.

Jon Rognerud is known as the most sought-after SEO, Digital Marketing Consultant and Online Advisor for Finance, Technology, Real-Estate and Health industries. He is famous for building business strategies, mobile websites and integrated marketing solutions that brings process, profits and brand loyalty…without wasting time. Jon Rognerud is the author of the best-selling book (Buy On Amazon), “The Ultimate Guide To Optimizing Your Website” (Entrepreneur Press) and is the Founder of Chaosmap. Get more information about the company here.