Best SEO Software 2020

How to Use the SEMrush Site Audit Tool

SEMrush's Site Audit tool is built to help you find and fix on-page SEO errors and drive more traffic to your website. Read below for a step-by-step walk through of how to use the tool and see how it compares to alternatives.

Website auditing is a foundational SEO process. There are numerous software tools that you can use to audit your website and identify the most important on-page errors to fix. A subscription with SEMrush includes access to its Site Audit tool, which is a top option for websites with hundreds or thousands of pages.

For a full analysis of SEMrush and its most important features, check out our SEMrush review.

Table of Contents

What is a Site Audit?

A site audit is an evaluation of the quality of a website, specifically based on the factors that result in strong SEO performance. Site audits test websites on numerous factors including on-page HTML elements, mobile friendliness, page speed, internal linking, and page status code. Site audits are performed by SEO software that crawls the pages of the website by following the links on each page. The results are reported by the software, and can be prioritized to determine the biggest opportunities to improve the site's search engine result page (SERP) rankings.

How Often Should I Run a Site Audit?

The ideal site audit frequency depends on the size of your website and how actively you are making changes to it. For a smaller website with a few hundred pages and infrequent updates, we recommend doing an audit once a quarter. For larger sites with thousands of pages and frequent updates, it's best to do a site audit once per month. Regularly auditing your website ensures that you are aware of any new SEO issues and that your SEO improvements are properly implemented.

SEMrush Site Audit Tool vs. Alternatives

The SEMrush Site Audit tool works well for small to medium websites. It's thorough, tests for all major SEO errors, and synthesizes results into easy-to-digest reports. At the same time, its analysis is not as in-depth as alternatives built for large websites.

Here are the most popular site audit tools, and who they work best for:

  • Ahrefs: Ahrefs is SEMrush's top overall competitor. Its site audit tool is comparable, and does provide slightly more detailed information about each website's SEO performance.
  • Botify: Botify is an enterprise SEO solution that is ideal for large websites. It combines site audits with log file analysis to surface deep insights into how to improve SEO performance.
  • Deepcrawl: Deepcrawl is a specialty tool focused specifically on site auditing. It's more in-depth than SEMrush, and ideal for larger sites and SEO experts.
  • Screaming Frog: Screaming Frog is another specialty tool focused on site auditing. Similar to Deepcrawl, it's best for larger sites and SEO experts.
  • WooRank: WooRank is a good option for smaller websites. At $59 per month, its cheapest plan is more affordable than Ahrefs and SEMrush, but only crawls up to 2,500 pages.

How to Use the SEMrush Site Audit Tool

You can use the SEMrush Site Audit tool to get a thorough assessment of your website in less than 30 minutes. The results are synthesized into a prioritized list of SEO errors for your team to resolve. Here's a step-by-step overview of how to use the SEMrush Site Audit tool.

SEMrush Crawler Settings

Before starting your site audit, it's important that your crawler has the right settings. SEMrush has a setup wizard that walks you through each of the six steps below.

StepQuestions to AnswerOur Recommendation
Domain & Page Limit
  • How many pages should SEMrush crawl?
  • Should the SEMrush crawl start with your website or sitemap?
  • We recommend allowing SEMrush to crawl as many pages as possible.
  • We recommend starting with your website.
Crawler Settings
  • Which user agent should SEMrush use?
  • Should SEMrush use a crawl delay between pages?
  • We recommend using GoogleBot and picking desktop or mobile.
  • We recommend no delay unless you are worried about overloading your site.
Allow & Disallow URLs
  • Are there pages that SEMrush should or should not crawl?
  • We recommend allowing SEMrush to crawl all URLs, unless you're running a crawl focused on one part of your website.
Remove URL Parameters
  • Which parameters should be removed from URLs before they are crawled?
  • We recommend instructing SEMrush to remove any browse filters or referral tags you append to your URLs.
Bypass Website Restrictions
  • Should the crawler bypass instructions in your robots.txt?
  • We recommend not letting the crawler bypass instructions in your robots.txt.
Schedule
  • How frequently will SEMrush run this crawl?
  • Weekly for smaller websites, daily for larger websites.

Site Audit Dashboard

Once you start the audit, it will take between a few minutes and a few hours to complete. Once completed, SEMrush returns the results in the site audit dashboard. It's helpful to review the metrics in this overview before digging into specific reports.

SEMrush Site Audit

There are numerous metrics on this dashboard. Some of the most important are:

  • Overall site health
  • Number of SEO errors, warnings and notices
  • Number of crawled pages grouped by SEO health
  • Top issues
  • Robots.txt errors
  • HTTPS usage

Site Audit Errors

The next report you should visit is the errors report. Here, SEMrush ranks your SEO errors in order of severity. This is super helpful for those with less experience with SEO – other tools just return your errors, they don't rank them.

SEMrush Site Audit

As you can see in the image above, SEMrush recommends that this website start by fixing its broken internal links, incorrect pages in its sitemap.xml file, and the pages with duplicate meta descriptions.

Individual Page Results

The errors report provides the most important information – the errors that your team should prioritize fixing to boost your SEO performance. After digesting that information, you can look at the crawled pages report to dig into the performance of your top individual pages.

For each individual page, you can see the top errors, warnings and notices, as well as the page's backlinks. This is a quick way to ensure your most important pages are healthy.

SEMrush Site Audit

Site Audit Statistics

The error report and top pages reports are all you need to identify the SEO errors that you need to fix. SEMrush also provides a site audit statistics report that shares summary information you can use to better understand your website.

SEMrush Site Audit

As you can see above, this report gives you a bird's eye view of useful statistics such as the percentage of your pages have proper markup, return the right status codes, and have canonical tags. These are many of the metrics that determine your overall SEMrush health score. As you fix SEO issues, these metrics should improve.

Compare Crawls Report

The final report in SEMrush's Site Audit tool is the compare crawls report. The compare crawls report displays the results from your first crawl next to your latest crawl. This report makes it extremely easy to see the progress you are making in resolving SEO issues, and is another example of why the SEMrush Site Audit tool is valuable for SMBs.

SEMrush Site Audit

Bottom Line

The SEMrush Site Audit tool works well for small to medium websites. In six steps and less than an hour, you can use it to gain a thorough understanding of your website's SEO health. The tool also prioritizes the top fixes for you, which is valuable for people who aren't SEO experts.

If you're looking for a new software tool that can support your online search efforts in many ways, including site audits, then we highly recommend SEMrush.

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Bruce Hogan

Bruce Hogan is Co-founder & CEO of SoftwarePundit, a technology research firm that provides advice, information, and tools to help businesses thrive. Bruce has experience investing at multi-billion dollar private equity firms, leading teams at venture-backed Internet companies, and launching new businesses.

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