To have success in SEO, your website needs to have great content and a healthy backlink profile. However, if your website has technical shortcomings, its SEO potential can be severely limited.

It is recommended that you regularly do a technical SEO audit of your website to ensure that everything is working correctly. During this audit, here are a few important things to look for.

Robots.txt File

The robots.txt file is an instruction manual for how search engines should crawl and index your website. When Google crawls your site, this is the first place it looks.

If your robots.txt file is formatted incorrectly, it can cause several SEO issues. Important pages may not be crawled, and your site may be left out of Google’s index altogether.

As you begin your technical SEO audit, review your website’s robots.txt file. Ensure that it is blocking only the pages and resources you don’t want to be included in Google’s index.

You can check if your robots.txt file is blocking any resources by using the robots.txt Tester within Google Search Console.

404 Errors

Pages with 404 errors (or “404 pages”) are another significant pitfall to look for in a technical SEO audit. These are pages that no longer exist or work properly on your website. Users and search engines are presented with a dead-end, broken page.

These are problematic for SEO in a few ways:

  • User Experience – if a user is presented with a 404 page, they may leave and visit a competitor’s site.
  • Crawl Issues – search engine crawlers cannot follow a broken page’s links to other pages or resources.
  • Trapped Authority – 404 pages do not pass along PageRank obtained from backlinks to other pages of your website

Using Screaming Frog, you can identify 404 pages on your site as well as other pages linking to them. Once you have identified these pages, correct the issue at the link source by updating the internal link(s) to direct users to a different, live page on your website

If the broken page has accrued PageRank from backlinks, consider implementing a 301 redirect instead. This will minimize disruption to user experience and allow the flow of authority to continue throughout your site.

Mobile Friendliness

Ever since the roll-out of Google’s mobile-first index, making your website conducive to mobile users is more important than ever. Mobile devices have grown as a preferred method of visiting websites, and Google wants to deliver sites that will provide users a good experience

When doing your technical SEO audit, check the mobile friendliness of your website using Google’s Mobile Friendly Test. Google will report on how mobile friendly your site is and provide recommendations on how to further optimize for mobile users.

Page Speed

Page load speed is a key component of good user experience and is becoming an increasingly important part of SEO. Google has confirmed that page speed is now a ranking factor for both desktop and mobile.

While Google has stated that this update will only affect “pages that deliver the slowest experience,” it is never a bad idea to speed up your site.

As a part of your audit, test the speed of your site using tools such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Web Page Test. You will receive thorough reports of your site’s speed as well as ways to optimize for faster load times.

Duplicate Content

Google defines duplicate content as blocks of content on different pages of your website that are exactly the same or very similar.

The problem with duplicate content is that search engines get confused as to which page to serve users for relevant queries, diluting your site’s overall SEO value.

You can see if your site has duplicate content during your audit with tools such as Site Liner. From there, it is recommended that you either update the on-page content to be unique or implement canonical link elements.

Putting time and effort into technical elements is crucial for your website to enjoy its full SEO potential. It is recommended that you regularly do a technical SEO audit to ensure everything is working correctly. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, looking for these five things will help you create a more technically sound website.