SEO Audit Outline Sample

Lindsay Wassell's picture

By the time I was faced with producing my first SEO Audit, I had been doing SEO for a while. I was pretty confident I'd touched on most major SEO factors and felt like I had a good sense of the overall SEO picture. Despite that, something about the task of preparing a full top to bottom audit was terrifying. So much to cover!

Back then, I searched high and low for a template, outline, or sample and came up empty handed. As part of my research for this post I looked around again and even leveraged a tool that wasn't available to me the first time around, Twitter.


I don't have a ton of followers on twitter but its a really responsive and helpful group made up mostly of SEOs. I was surprised that nobody had a resource to point out. The following tweet was also met with the online equivalent of a blank stare. I wasn't as surprised.


It looks like it would be just as difficult to get started today than it was back then! Once I started asking people why they wouldn't share their audit templates, the silence was broken. Here are a few of the reasons:

  1. They spent the time to build their own audit from scratch, why give some newcomer a head start?
  2. Their company's policy forbids them from doing so. It's proprietary.
  3. The audits they produce are highly customized. If they pull out the client stuff, there would be nothing left of value to share.
  4. Some audits are computer generated. The 'template' is code and algorithm based.
  5. Peer review can sting.

Despite some reasons not to, today I'm happy to share with you the basic audit outline that I use. The first version was created years ago and I've carried it with me as my SEO career has evolved and had a number of smart folks weigh in. The point of this post is to give you a starting point if you are new to auditing or something to compare your own audit against if you've been at this a while.

Sample SEO Audit Outline

I. Overview

II. Scorecard (link to download template)

III. Most Pressing and Valuable Changes

IV. On-Page/Content Optimization

  • Keyphrase Targeting
  • Title Tags
  • Meta Descriptions
  • H Tags
  • Substantive & Unique Content
  • Image Alt & Filenames
  • Over-Optimization

V. URL Conventions

  • Keyword Inclusion
  • Length
  • Sub-folders
  • Parameters
  • File Extension
  • Word Separation
  • Case

VI. Site Architecture

  • Content Hierarchy/Organization
  • Internal Anchor Text

VII. Crawling, Indexing & Technical Issues

  • Meta Directives
  • Robots.txt
  • XML Sitemaps
  • Crawling Problems
  • URL Redirects in Place
  • Expiring Content Policies
  • Site Speed
  • Duplicate Content

VIII. Search Guidelines & Spam Protocols

  • Canonicalized Site Versions
  • Search Result & Sort Pages
  • Link Acquisition Practices
  • Outbound Linking Practices
  • Other

IX. Link Opportunities

X. Link-Worthiness

XI. Vertical Search Opportunities

XII. Competitive Comparison

XIII. Keyword Research

XIV. Metrics

XV. Conclusion

XVI. Appendix

Combine this audit outline with a couple other nuggets I've shared recently on SEOmoz (4 Ways to Improve your SEO Site Audit and SEO Site Audits: Getting Started) and you've got yourself a pretty good starting point, if I do say so myself!

Happy Auditing!

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