After generating more than 300 forensic SEO audits, totaling more than one billion pages indexed, I felt it would be helpful to develop not only an SEO audit checklist, but to take the previous version I created back in 2011 and transform it into a complete 80 factor, 200 point scoring system spreadsheet.
While there are arguably hundreds of factors and thousands of sub-factors in the actual Google ecosystem, I’ve found that these can be grouped into several dozen easily understood (or relatively easily understood with enough training) factors. So that’s what I include in the checklist, based on my years of audit work.
In this spreadsheet / scoring system, I’ve assigned each factor to one of six sections:
- Primary On-Site Factors
- Primary Off-Site Factors
- Manual Penalty Status
- Situational Factors
- Secondary On-Site Factors
- Secondary Off-Site Factors.
I then also include an additional 6th, “bonus points” section as well.
How the Audit Scoring System Works
Each factor is given an initial “Max Score” it can earn, on a 20,000 point scale. That’s a very hefty number to process, so the system then converts, or “normalizes” that metric into a more manageable 200 point “QUART” Score.
I use “QUART” as the basis for my site audit evaluations and I recommend that you do as well. It’s an acronym I came up with a few years back where every single factor needs to be held up to what I call the “5 Super-Signals of SEO”.
If any individual factor or group of related factors fails to do well in more than two of those, that factor is more likely going to be harmful to the site’s SEO to whatever degree (max score value) I believe that individual line-item is likely to impact the overall site’s health.
Raw Score Thinking
I left the “raw” score metrics in this spreadsheet because it helps communicate more easily the relative importance of a given factor or group of factors. So instead of having to say “wow — this factor is worth 0.25 points” (which makes it seem extremely insignificant), the raw score still shows it as 25 points. So while that IS relatively insignificant given how complex SEO is, when there are dozens of individual factors, the combined raw score really does have an impact.
Audit Factor Groups
Within the spreadsheet I have also assigned each factor to one or more “groups” — conceptual topics specific to SEO, as a way to help people conducting audits or the people they present their findings to, to understand these relationships.
These groups include:
- BR: Brand Reinforcement
CA: Crawl Allocation
GS: Google Slap
HMDM: Health Monitoring / Decision Making
IA: Information Architecture
MC: Multi-Channel Interaction
TD: Topical Discovery
TF: Topical Focus
UX: User Experience
By associating a given factor with one or more groups, this will hopefully allow people who use this checklist for site audits and who don’t yet fully grasp the complexity of SEO, the ability to become more aware of how factors relate to each other specific to industry terminology.
While I find this system to be helpful in putting numeric value understanding into an audit, SEO is vast and complex on many levels. And your experience may be different than mine. Because of this, I left the spreadsheet open so that if you want to change the numeric “raw” score value for any of the factors I include, or if you want to add your own, you’re free to do so. Note however that if you do, I’m not prepared to fix something that might break.
It’s also an Audit Checklist
Even though it’s a full scoring system, you can of course, use it purely as an SEO audit checklist. It’s built on (and revised / updated from) my previous checklist. So if you really just want to be able to have a reminder as to what the big picture factor types and groups are, this will definitely provide that value. It’s up to you how you want to use it.
Audit Scoring System Spreadsheet — Free Here!
If you’re ready to check it out, you can download the spreadsheet right now and give it a spin.
If you find my audit checklist and scoring system helpful, please let me know what you think!
Alternative Aid: Annie Cushing’s Complete Site Audit Checklist and Guide
If you need more guidance in performing an audit, but can’t afford a professional solution like the ones I offer, I highly recommend you consider purchasing the 140 Page Self Guided Site Audit Checklist that Annie Cushing created. It’s a complete Guide, Template and Walk-through presented in a “do-it-yourself” format with boilerplate text and visual aids.
I’ve known Annie and had the honor to work with her on audits in the past — she knows her stuff and she’s a wizard when it comes to helping those who want to learn. So check it out. It’s a crazy good bargain!
(no, this isn’t a paid link — I don’t take compensation for anyone who buy’s the audit checklist / guide — it really is so good and helpful that I recommend it)