Auditing a website can be a long process without the help of having specialist tools like Screaming Frog in your toolkit. Screaming Frog crawls a website, assessing URLs, data, images, CSS and onsite search engine optimisation factors.
If you’re not so technical and just want an automated way to audit your website, then check out SEMrush. It comes with an entire suite of marketing tools beyond just website auditing, that will help improve your overall search engine rankings and website health. It’s a fantastic tool that every website owner or administrator should have in their artillery.
For the purpose of this article though, we go through 10 ways we use Screaming Frog for website auditing.
1. Page errors
Screaming Frog can be used to identify any page errors that are on a website such as 404 “not found” errors or 30X redirects. The tool is extremely helpful as it tells you where the errors are being triggered from, the “inlink” pages, making it easier to fix the errors up.
For example, you may have a 404 error coming from a URL linked to text on a website page. Clicking on the Inlinks tab will help you identify which page the bad link is coming from. The Anchor Text column will tell you which text it is. The To column tells you where that link is going to.
If you have an internal 301 redirect, clicking on the Outlinks tab will tell you where the page is being redirected to. The URL in the To column is where you need to redirect the page or update the anchor text link to go to, avoiding the unnecessary redirect.
What you want to see is all of your website pages with a status code of 200. This means the request has been received and is “OK”.
2. External link errors
While not as important, identifying external links going through redirects or hitting 404 page errors can help improve the user experience once cleaned up.
Much like the page errors mentioned at the beginning of this article, these can be solved using Screaming Frog in a similar way. Instead of looking at the Internal tab, navigate to the External tab. This will present you with all of your URLs and their response code.
Let’s use https://www.optimizely.com/ as an example here.
Navigating to the Inlinks, we can tell the link is coming from a blog article, linked to the text “Optimizely”.
So what’s going on here? The Outlinks tab is telling us Optimizely have introduced a redirect and the URL is now redirecting to https://www.optimizely.com/anz/ making it easy to update the anchor text link.
3. Image size
One of our favourite features is being able to identify which images are over 100kb. This can be a quick win to reducing page load time. A factor that is crucial for mobile speed optimisation and important for search engine optimisation (SEO).
After crawling a website, navigate to the images tab for a full list of the images on your website. We then like to filter the images by size from largest to smallest, making it easy to identify any larger images that need to be optimised.
4. Image alt text
Identifying which images don’t have alt text can be an important part to a website audit. Underneath the Overview tab, scroll down to Images. You will be presented with Missing Alt Text and Alt Text Over 100 Characters. Clicking on each will give you a full list of the image URLs. The Inlink tab will also tell you what page or pages that image is used on.
5. Number of pages on a website
If you have a website with a bunch of pages you want to exclude from a website crawl it’s easy to do this via the Configuration settings. Navigate to Configuration > Exclude and enter the URL with a .* at the end. For example https://www.punchbuggy.com.au/expertise/.* By doing this, all of our expertise pages will be excluded from the crawl.
6. Establishing which pages have thin content
The Yoast SEO plugin (A highly regarded SEO plugin for WordPress websites) recommends a minimum of 300 words. Screaming Frog identifies the word count for each page.
Hint: We like dragging the columns over to the left when assessing certain page elements.
7. Site structure for content planning
Understanding a websites structure is essential for content planning, especially when you are planning or organising your topic clusters. The Site Structure tab gives you an overview of your pillar pages or your top menu navigation pages. Usually your “About”, “Our Work” or “Contact” pages.
8. Meta titles
There are two ways you can look at the meta titles for a website.
a. The Page Titles tab gives you a full list of your website’s URLs and their titles. It also tells you the titles length in characters and pixel width.
b. Navigating to the Overview tab and scrolling down to Page Titles will also give you this information. Clicking on each section will identify the URL of the pages.
For website auditing, you may want to identify which pages:
- Don’t have a meta title
- Have duplicate meta titles
- Have meta titles over 65 characters
9. Meta description
Just like meta title information, there are two ways to look at meta descriptions for a website.
a. The Meta Description tab gives you a full list of your website’s URLs and their meta descriptions. It also tells you the descriptions length in characters and pixel width.
b. Navigating to the Overview tab and scrolling down to Meta Description will also give you this information. Clicking on each section will identify the URL of the pages.
For website auditing, you may want to identify which pages:
- Don’t have a meta description
- Have duplicate meta descriptions
- Have meta descriptions over 156 characters
10. Identifying H1s and H2s
The Overview tab allows you to check which pages have H1s and H2s. Similar to Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions you can see which pages are missing headings, have duplicates, or are over 70 characters.
While using Screaming Frog for website auditing may seem daunting if you have never used it, it’s going to save you some serious time, especially if you are auditing a website with hundreds of pages and you want to quickly identify priority items. Even better, each report created is able to be exported into a spreadsheet for further filtering or sharing with your development agency.