Natural Search Blog

60-Second Website Audit

While your mother may have taught you not to judge a book by its cover, she probably wasn’t an SEO. Mother’s logic is still pretty good to live by, but for as complex as SEO is or may seem, it’s pretty amazing what you can learn about a website’s SEO quality in 60 seconds or less.

Okay, you aren’t going to fully understand the intricate details and you’d obviously spend far, far more time (closer to hours than seconds) on a true site audit, but I’d venture that 60 seconds is enough for a good gut check and for identifying areas that need deep exploration.  What may make this most interesting is to compare results that your “team” gets from this exercise since we all have our own approaches, hot buttons, etc.

Ultimately, I’d recommend all SEO practitioners go through this exercise, even randomly on any old site, at least once or twice a week. I say this because like most skills, true mastery comes when it transcends thought…it becomes instinctive and our minds take in and process more naturally without conscious thought.

Of course, every one of these 60-second site audits will also be different based on initial perceptions and where the path leads us. Some elements we identify will be revealing in and of themselves, while others will merely be stepping-stones to other elements or footnotes toward criteria for our eventual recommendations.

Here is just a quick list of the things that I might look for in undertaking a 60-second SEO audit:

That’s just a sampling, but a very powerful sampling that can provide a considerable amount of insight into a site. What you might have found surprising is the amount of information learned about a site without even looking at the site, but through the search engine results pages. For the daring souls, try this exercise without even looking at the site itself — how much can you learn just through analyzing SERPs?

And this isn’t just for work. Feel free to amaze your friends and family at your next party — then again, perhaps reserve that for parties with other SEOs.

So, what cues would you look for in your 60-second audits?

6 comments for 60-Second Website Audit »

  1. MyAvatars 0.2

    I think it would take me at least 10 seconds just to type in ‘&filter=0&num=990’. Great list

    Comment by tjgill99 — 6/20/2009 @ 10:40 pm

  2. MyAvatars 0.2

    As a starter, I always check what the W3-validator has to say. Whilst validation is not everything, a quick ‘x-ray’ can give you a rapid insight into the amount of time and effort someone has put into constructing a semantically meaningful page.

    Comment by John — 6/21/2009 @ 7:26 am

  3. MyAvatars 0.2

    First thing I check (which of course is related to your first bullets canonization and indexation) is if there are several URL-versions of the main pages, and if the forwarding is done by 301s.

    So far, I have not come across a single site where I did NOT find a few old 302s….

    Comment by Radicke — 6/21/2009 @ 3:29 pm

  4. MyAvatars 0.2

    Come on Tim, I know you can type faster than that… or set up a speed command!!

    John, absolutely…while completely compliant code may not be the end all, some of the general “site validation/evaluation” tools provide great insight. That’s why I love the Web Developer toolbar… I first discovered when I was creating sites, but I use as much or more for SEO now.

    Radicke, canonicalization, duplication and URL structures, especially of critical pages can be a big issue, even for (read, especially for) big name sites. And you’re right, 302’s usually aren’t far behind at that point.

    Comment by Brian R. Brown — 6/22/2009 @ 6:44 pm

  5. MyAvatars 0.2

    Without looking at the site and just using SERPs you can find number of backlinks, allinanchor, number of indexed web pages, URL structure – just for starters.

    Comment by AJ Schott — 8/26/2009 @ 11:51 am

  6. MyAvatars 0.2

    Another quick way to get an idea is to plug in the site in question at semrush to get an indication of keyword rankings.

    And then there is Joost De Valk’s bookmarklet tool call Quix that makes performing routine actions very quick.

    Comment by Peter Knight — 2/8/2010 @ 8:34 pm

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