How to Do an SEO Audit Using Google Search Console
Search engine optimization, aka SEO, has taken incredible strides forward over the last decade. SEO traffic is 5 times greater than pay-per-click (PPC) and at least 10 times greater than social media.
Digital marketers have a ton of SEO auditing options at their fingertips, but many of these tools charge a subscription or other types of fees. For small business owners operating on a tight budget, that can render some of these great resources inaccessible.
If you want to run an SEO audit on your website but aren’t in a position to invest in a monthly subscription tool, there’s good news – you don’t need to look any further than Google’s free tool.
Does Google Search Console Help SEO?
Google Search Console (GSC), formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, offers website owners a variety of tools to help them improve their site performance, boost traffic, and monitor errors.
But for those who are familiar with GSC, there’s a lot more to the tool beneath the surface. With the right SEO knowledge paired with GSC’s analytical data, website owners can run a free analysis to find opportunities to improve website speed, keywords, and overall SEO rankings.
Before we get started, here are a couple of tips to keep in mind:
- You need to be the website property owner or have full permission for the property.
- This type of audit is for existing websites that are already indexed by Google and have some traffic, so you can spot trends and generate reports.
How Do I Use SEO with Google Search Console?
SEO consists of many factors that measure the overall user experience, load speed, content quality, and other metrics that Google and other search engines use to determine a website’s ranking.
Here is how you can check the health and potential of your website’s SEO metrics in Google Search Console:
Step 1: Start with the Overview to Monitor Site Health and Errors
Not only will this section show you a quick look at traffic performance, but you’ll also find a list of any errors Google has flagged on your site. These might include duplicate URLs, problems with redirects, pages that are missing from your sitemap, and other technical issues.
Addressing these problems should be a top priority to improve your site’s health. Leaving these issues unresolved will impact user experience and send negative signals to Google.
Step 2: Discover Keyword Opportunities
The Search Results section provides invaluable insight into your website’s performance. On this page, GSC will break down the top queries bringing people to your website.
While this information is useful in and of itself to see how people are discovering your content, Google Search Console also shows clicks and impressions, which can illuminate missed opportunities.
For example, if you have a page that’s making thousands of impressions but not translating to clicks, this is a good indicator that you’re targeting the right niche but missing out on a keyword opportunity or captivating heading to attract website visitors.
3. Improve Internal and External Links
Internal linking is often overlooked, but it’s actually an important piece of the puzzle for Google as it crawls your website and strives to understand it for proper indexing.
Within the Links section of GSC are analyses of your pages for both internal and external links. It’s a good idea to review the pages at the bottom of your internally linked page list to find improvement opportunities where you can add more internal links.
With the external links list, you can get a better idea of which outside properties are linking to your website and which pages are linked to.
However, not all backlinks are good. If you catch spammy and malicious websites linking to your site, you can export a list of harmful links and then submit them to Google’s disavow links tool. This tool won’t actually remove the link, but it will tell Google to disregard it.
Use the disavow links tools with extreme caution – you can damage your website’s ranking in Google if you end up disavowing credible backlinks in the process.
4. Improve Your Crawl Budget
First, you might be asking, “What is a crawl budget?”
A crawl budget is how many pages Google will crawl on your website per day. For websites that have a lot of pages and a low crawl budget, it can take Google a long time – sometimes even months – before a page is crawled.
Within Settings, navigate to Crawl Stats to see Googlebot activity on your website. If you want to increase your crawl budget, here are some extra tips:
- Use Google’s URL parameters tool to stop Google from crawling unnecessary pages. For example, if Google is wasting time crawling a lot of /tag pages, you can eliminate them by excluding “tag.”
- Boost your site speed. The faster Google’s bots can load your page, the faster they can crawl it.
- Up your backlink game. When other high-quality websites are linking back to yours, they’re sending signals to Google that your site is important and should be crawled regularly.
"Need help with website maintenance and Google Search Console? I'm here to help!"
Regular Website Maintenance and Tune-Ups are Important for Google
Search engines rely on a variety of cues and signals from websites in order to accurately categorize and rank them.
Over time, websites that haven’t been maintained lose their authority in Google. They accumulate errors, broken links, outdated plugins, and other issues. Regular monitoring and maintenance are essential if you want Google to give you a high authority rating.
Is your website overdue for a tune-up? Learn more about my website maintenance services.
Stay up-to-date on trends and services
Is your website overdue for a tuneup? Learn more about my website maintenance services.