Performing Regular Tech SEO Checks with SE Ranking
Disclaimer: Recently, SE Ranking kindly granted Elementive a free trial of their tool. This post is a result of our time trying out SE Ranking during that free trial.
A while back, I wrote a post about the regular technical SEO tasks that should be conducted on a routine basis. That included fixing errors, finding and removing low-quality content, improving speed, and more. Although these tasks can be completed using a variety of tools, in this post, I want to walk through how we can do each of these tasks using SE Ranking’s audit tool.
Quick side note: I’d not used SE Ranking before this trial but after the trial, I’m impressed with what the tool has to offer as was the rest of the team at Elementive. Is it perfect? I’d argue no SEO tool is or can be perfect because SEO is far too complex. However, SE Ranking has some very good features and that’s what prompted me to write this post to highlight some of those features. I’d suggest you give SE Ranking a try if you haven’t already and see what all it has to offer.
SE Ranking Setup & Starting the Audit
Before getting into the specific tasks, you’ll want to add your website to SE Ranking, if it isn’t added already. After this initial screen, you’ll want to input the various items to track, like keywords or competitors.
Once you’ve added a site to your SE Ranking projects, access it from the Dashboard or from the drop-down list under the Projects tab and go to the Website Audit section. This is where you’ll find lots of great data to help with your tech SEO tasks.
A website audit will start automatically after adding the project and then you can re-run the crawl too from this page. As with every crawler, keep in mind that it will take some time to process given the volume of things that SE Ranking takes into consideration.
Once completed, SE Ranking highlights the important and semi-important fixes. This is what we’ll pay attention to for the various tech SEO tasks you’ll want to complete on a regular basis.
With that audit completed, we’re ready to dig into the regular technical SEO tasks. SE Ranking reports on a lot more than the few items I’m covering here, so I encourage you to review those items in more detail for your website.
Task: Find 404 not-found errors and find any broken links leading toward those errors. Once found, you can fix the broken link and redirect the not-found error.
As you scroll down SE Ranking’s audit report, in the sidebar menu select “Page analysis”. One issue reported here will be the number of pages with a 4xx response.
Click the blue link icon to the right to view the detailed list of each error. That will pop up in a modal that looks something like this:
This leads to a bit of a problem area within SE Ranking’s tool because not all of these are necessarily 404 or 410 response status codes since there are other 4xx response status codes that can be returned (for example, some of these could return a 403 indicating the requested URL was forbidden). As a result, to determine which specific links are not-found errors, you’ll need to manually evaluate each link. For a short list of URLs, you can check these manually or for a longer list you could stick the URLs in a crawl tool to get the response header. (To take that a different direction, this does mean SE Ranking shows you the 403s on your website, which are also a problem and isn’t something other tools report on.)
Once you have the complete list of pages in error, you can go back to the detail list and link “view all” to see all the pages containing a broken link referencing this error. That is very helpful and something SE Ranking does better than other SEO tools which tend to hide the source links pointing to the error. With this list, you can quickly run through each source link and update the broken links.
Finding and Removing Low-Quality Content
Task: Find low-quality or thin content pages and remove them from the website. You don’t want bad content to ruin good SEO.
This can be a tough issue to locate in SEO tools, but SE Ranking does a good job here. Scroll down in the sidebar to “Content analysis”.
Within the content analysis section, you can find information about several different content issues—more than I’d called out in that initial post about regular tech SEO checks. SE Ranking will report on duplicate content, low-volume content, missing headers, duplicated headers or headers that are too long.
Like with the errors, you can click the blue link to find more details about this issue. Helpfully, SE Ranking lists how many pages link to the page with the content issue. This feature helps to clarify importance of the issue—if an H1 tag is missing from a page that is only linked to once throughout the entire site, that issue probably isn’t as important as an H1 tag missing from a page linked to from several hundred pages on the site. That’s because of the likelihood of traffic to those pages and the importance Googlebot gives to internal links.
You can also find content issues under “Images analyses”. This section will report on which images are missing alt text and which images are broken.
Task: find where your website is running slowly and find ways to optimize. If you think you are fast enough already, you are (almost always) wrong and can improve some more.
SE Ranking helps you take on one of the most important and technically hardest aspects of technical SEO: speed. In the optimization reports within their audit, they provide a high-level summary of the types of speed tasks you may want to consider. For example, resizing images or handling scripts more effectively.
Unlike the other areas in SE Ranking’s audit, this one doesn’t have as robust details telling you which pages are the most affected or the details on which images or scripts are the largest in size—to get that information, you’d need to use other speed tools. But there is still value here to get a high-level summary of what issues exist and know where you would need to focus. That way, when you go to a speed tool, like Web Page Test or GT Metrix, you can know what parts of those reports to pay attention to.
I’ve only touched on a handful of items within SE Ranking’s audit (and more generally within SE Ranking’s total offering). Within this audit, you can find details about problems with title tags, meta descriptions, internal linking issues, problems with dofollow vs. nofollow, and more. There is also an ability to generate an XML sitemap which can be handy if your website can’t auto-generate this or if your website generates an XML sitemap full of errors.
One more tool that SE Ranking offers that I want to mention in a little more detail is an ability to view and track various kinds of search features. Search features include a wide variety of things. Some, like featured snippets, don’t have much to do with the technical side of SEO. However, other features, like Reviews, do have more to do with technical SEO because getting those features relies on schema.
To access this reporting in SE Ranking, you’ll want to leave the audit and access the Keyword Rank Tracker tool, which is under “Rankings” in the navigation.
On the main rankings page, you can see details about where keywords rank, trends of rank, and the total search volume. Scroll down below this table to the graph and select “SERP Features” in the sub-navigation. This report will show you how many of the tracked keywords have search features either for your website or for your competitors. For example, in this graph, we can see that this website doesn’t use any review related search features, but competitors do—that might indicate an opportunity to use reviews schema on the website to better compete in the search results.
I want to thank SE Ranking for giving Elementive access to this trial. It is a solid tool that provides a lot of information about a website’s performance, including several reports that are very helpful for understanding the technical SEO performance of that website and the actions you need to take to improve performance. As you are evaluating SEO tools for your SEO work, I would recommend trying out SE Ranking to see if it can be a good tool for your specific needs.
For more information about the technical SEO factors you do need to pay attention to, please consider checking out my book, Tech SEO Guide. Buy it now on Amazon. Or, for more personalized help, please contact me today to discuss how your website is performing.