SEO Mega Blunders: How Important is a SEO Site Audit?

Answer: Very

Its getting quite late and I’m loosing momentum but had to get this one out there.

A while back I was using a WordPress theme for a client. We decided to rebuild the website onto the WordPress platform and use the powerful theme, Avada. It is feature heavy and has a great professional look and feel to it for a business.

When it came to building a new site for a new niche I was working on, I opted to use that theme again. I needed a stripped down version, so decided to remove some of the unwanted styling. One of the things I removed was the grey title bar. It already had a plain title heading below so thought nothing of removing it and didn’t see the point of title duplication.

About 5 weeks passed and I noticed a drop off in search queries. I mentioned this in my niche affiliate marketing mistakes post I made a few days ago. Traffic seemed to be declining and rankings got worse. I thought I had done something to penalise my site. I originally though it was the PLR content I had rehashed and used in places.

It wasn’t until I ran an SEO site audit using the demo of Raven Tools did it flag up the fact that there were no H1 tags on the site, except for on the category pages. Holy bat shit! That’s why I was only ranking for those category pages and nothing much else!

It turns out by removing the styled grey title bar and opting for the plain title heading instead, I was actually using an H2 tag instead of H1 for my titles. Some schools of thought don’t put much weighting on H1 tags but this is wrong, very wrong. In the two days that I have fixed it all, my keywords have jumped 30 places in some cases. Google is still re-indexing a lot of the pages so there is still a lot to do.

Now over 75% of my keywords are starting to get back in the game again.

Here is a chart from GWT after a few days of H1’s being back in place:

google search queries after H1 added

This is the ultimate noob mistake, although as far as I was concerned, I had just removed some excess styling. The settings should have warned that disabling this will remove your H1 tags and effectively your SEO!

Oh well, you only make that mistake once. I have now ditched that theme and gone to StudioPress Genesis as its a far more lightweight and SEO freindly. Avada was just too cumbersome for me. The page size before caching was 1.3MB. StudioPress Genesis is 400kb and thats without caching.

What have I learned from this? Well just how important it is to do a site audit after any major changes to a site design or a theme. Just because your Yoast SEO plugin is giving you the green light doesn’t mean that everything is ok.

You need to hit up an external site audit and have your site crawled so it can be seen through the eyes of a search engine. There are loads of places you can go for this, both paid, demo and free online.

Here are a few as a starting points:

  • Raven Tools – Has a 30 day trial. A serious online marketeers tool which provides an intelligent site audit report. Does lots more hence the monthly fee but would replace most existing pieces of software. Pulls its data and metrics from multiple sources.
  • Website Auditor – Part of the highly regarded SEO PowerSuite. Handy piece of kit that can perform a full, indepth review of your site looking at everything to social signals, page optimisation and HTML markup. I now actually have the whole suite and highly recommend it. Can be purchased separately. Check out the free trial first.
  • Traffic Travis – anyone from the Affiloblueprint crew will have access to the free version. It’s a bit clunky and basic but it covers the basics. Use it!
  • Seorch – Free online audit. Will do page or whole site for free. Will email a PDF of results. Not ideal but if you’re on a budget…

Ok, that’s all folks. Happy auditing!

Comments

  1. says

    On-site SEO can be tedious, but it can also score your site some big victories! I’m really glad Raven’s Site Auditor was able to help you make some great, productive changes to your site. Thanks for sharing the story!

  2. says

    Well, I’m not convinced the decline was due to H2’s. It could just as well be that the Avada theme is less efficiently coded (bloated) and therefore loads slower. Google takes page load speed into account, when determining how well a site should rank.

    Oliver

    • admin says

      Hi Oliver, thanks for your feedback and you are right, Avada is bloated with a much larger page load. I had to use W3 caching to speed things up. However the average page load in GWMT was well under 1000ms which would not impact on SERPS.

      With regards to the H2 error, it was related as I kept the site on Avada for a while with H1’s back in place and the rankings came back quite quickly.

      See you around.

      Nick

  3. Luke says

    Hey! Just saw this article and wanted to post a comment. You removed the page title bar which contained the H1 title. I’m not sure what you thought would of happened at that point but you removed the H1 yourself.

    Thanks

    • admin says

      Hi Luke. Yes, I did remove it myself, which is why I titled the post “SEO Mega Blunders”! :)

      However, as you will know the Avada theme has two titles on the blog page layout:

      http://theme-fusion.com/avada/nullam-vitae-nibh-un-odio/

      One above the feature image and one below. I presumed they would both be H1’s as they auto-populated, so I switched the top title off as didn’t want it repeated like that.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Nick

  4. Shay says

    Hey Nick,
    I just had something similar happened to me.
    I changed theme and didn’t bother checking everything after the change.

    Now my site is tanked and it might be due to this change which messed up all the titles on my site.

    Guys this is really important so don’t forget to audit the site after you switch.

    Thanks Nick.

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