How to Run Your Own Free SEO Audit for UK Websites

You’re here because you want a free SEO audit. We’re going to assume you know what SEO is, but don’t know how to check if your website is getting as much traffic as it could be. 

Instead of hiring an SEO consultant to do your audit, you can perform this yourself and save the money. Here’s how to do it.

We will assume you are a small website – because larger businesses generally pay to get this done – but those starting out understandably don’t have money.

SEO auditors would normally want to know what business you’re in. Are you a restaurant in London, an e-commerce store selling in the UK and Europe, a law firm, an app for runners, or a data startup with a complex technology stack? As the answer on how to audit a business' SEO profile varies on these sorts of things.

We’ll look into the sector-specific questions at the end, but let’s begin with the basics, assuming you’re a small website for something local…

Summary: SEO Audit Checklist

  • Your site is trying to rank for relevant, competition-appropriate keywords that are appropriate to its authority;
  • Your site has made a webpage for each keyword it wishes to rank for;
  • Your site has implemented best practices for each page, such as header tags, page URL slugs and page titles including the keyword;
  • Each page’s content is good, not junk;
  • Your pages are readable and load reasonably fast on mobile;
  • Your site has a sensible internal linking structure;
  • Search engines (such as Google) know about your webpages;

Below we will break this down.

For those who have 5 minutes to complete this task, skip to  the below section "Search engines (such as Google) know about your webpages" – but note, you get out what you put in.

Finding relevant, competition-appropriate keywords that are appropriate to its authority;

Say you run a boutique jewellery shop, like my friend who runs one in Barcelona. She’s a metallurgist, not an internet entrepreneur. But she understands that people search for things on the Internet, and that appearing at the top for searches is a free steady source of customers that you can build a large business off the back of. Say 5,000 people discovered her online a month, 200 of them came to visit, and 20 of them purchased jewellery for $400 each – that’s $8,000 of store revenue without paying for ads. Good, we’re convinced this is worth it.

She would quite reasonably think I want to appear at the top for searches, made by tourists, including “designer jewlery Barcelona” and “tiendas de joyas Barcelona” – and ask us to optimise her site for that.

Bad idea. Even if the website was 100% ‘SEO optimised’, this would not make a difference – no new traffic, no new customers, and she’d end up disappointed why it didn’t work. So really it’s not worth anyone's time doing what she’s asked for. Why?

SEO is about supply, demand and competitiveness. Here she can’t compete.

She has a small website, and small websites only tend to appear for ‘uncompetitive’ searches – ones that are niche. These ‘obvious’ or ‘mainstream’ terms are too competitive for a small website like hers. Google and other search engines will prioritise other, established websites at the top, and she is unlikely to appear for these terms.

(Screenshot from SEMRush, an SEO research tool. 0 is least competitive, 100 is most).

How do I know if she has a small website? One short answer: in any SEO research tool you can look up the ‘authority’ of a domain – 100 being the highest, and 0 being the lowest. My friend’s website, being a 7, is low (but we note, this is not unusual for a local business).

But even without having an SEO tool, you can ask other questions to get a feel for whether you’re a small website. For example, if you’re looking for a free SEO audit, you probably have a small website. Here are some other questions you can ask…

  • Is it a new website or a new business – under a year old? If yes, you’re probably a small website
  • Have you ever thought about SEO before? If not, you’re probably a small website
  • Have you set up Google Search Console? If not, you’re probably a small website
  • How much traffic do you get a month, if you inspect Google Search Console traffic? If it’s under 1,000 a month, you’re probably a small website
  • Do you have less than 50 website pages? If so, you’re probably a small website…

These are just benchmark questions. 95% of the time they will correctly identify you as a small website or not.

I will assume you have a small website, like my friend, and proceed from this basis for the rest of this ‘audit’.

Small websites should compete in uncompetitive areas, and build up their reputation over time.

In my friend’s case, this means we need to find relevant keywords that are ‘easy’ or ‘not too competitive’. Here are some examples below: antique jewellery Barcelona, second hand jewellery, vintage jewellery – all perfectly good and relevant terms.

They’re not exactly 0 in difficulty, but under 10 in difficulty is fine for a small website like this.

What next?

Now that we know the keywords to target, the rest is simple.

  1. Create web pages for each of these keywords;
  2. Ensure you follow best practices;
  3. Tell Google and Bing about that these web pages exist;

Create web pages for each  target keyword

Even though they have much in common, someone looking for ‘Personalised Jewellery Barcelona’ should probably get a different page to ‘Second Hand Jewellery Barcelona’. In this example, there should be two web pages each focusing on these different aspects of the jewellery on offer. There are some nuances, but for a small website we’re not going to overcomplicate it.

Note this is not necessary for word form variations – e.g., ‘Personal Jewellery Barcelona’ and ‘Personalised Jewellery Barcelona’ are the same thing. You can treat these keywords as the same, and have them on one page, for when it comes to the below.

Over time, you will build up your content profile – and as you reach certain milestones (eg 20 pages, 50 pages, 100 pages) you will see your website's search presence increasing with it.

Ensure you follow best SEO practices

This is probably what you were expecting this ‘audit’ page to focus on. Even though these requirements are documented extensively on the internet, to repeat them, they are:

Get the target keyword (eg Personalised Jewellery Barcelona) into the:

  • Header 1 tag on the page
  • Page meta title
  • The page URL slug (eg
  • Ensure the page is focusing on the target keyword – if you do this, you will naturally include lexically or semantically similar terms, which is what the search engines are looking for. For example, if you have a page talking about your personalised jewellery, you will probably naturally include related terms such as ‘silver’, ‘gold’, ‘engraving’ and so on. Search engines probably use graphs of some sort (in the maths sense) to determine a page’s relevance to a topic by the proximity to similar words.
  • Each page’s content contains, say, 1,000 words. If you can’t do that, aim for 500 at a minimum.
  • E-Commerce product listings, which tend to have no words, are a different matter and are not discussed here.
  • You include other media (eg a video, embedded tweet, relevant images) – anything that keeps the user on the page. Google can measure this, even if you do not install Google Analytics on your site.
  • The website loads quickly. WordPress, for example, being written in php is generally pretty slow by our standards, but there are workarounds to speed it up. Wix is ok, and SquareSpace / WebFlow / whatever you’re using –  you can see how ‘performant’ your site is over here: PageSpeed Insights
  • The pages load correctly on mobile. That is, they have a responsive view that adapts to the user’s screen size correctly. The text remains readable on mobile.

Internal linking structure

We do not need to overcomplicate this for small websites. But ensure people (and Google’s bots) can actually get to your web pages by clicking from the homepage. For example, if you have hosted a page on personalised jewellery over on your blog (say ), starting at the homepage, make sure I can click onto the ‘blog’ page, and from that page onto the personalised jewellery guide. Alternatively you can include a link to the guide in your homepage somewhere, or in the footer if it’s a really key term. Naturally your website footer cannot contain hundreds of links. That looks weird – it’s an attempt to manipulate the search engine. Weird things, in theory, are not rewarded by Google.

While you’re here, when writing your new pages, it is good to get into the habit of linking from one page to another, using a target keyword word as the ‘anchor text’. For example, in this sentence, my friend runs a Jewellery Shop in Barcelona, I have chosen the anchor text ‘Jewellery Shop in Barcelona’. 

Search engines (such as Google) know about your webpages

Sign into Google Search Console. If you’ve not done this before, you’ll need to verify your site. You can submit the page URLs at the top and then request indexing from there.

We’d suggest you do this manually for small websites. There are other ways to do this automatically or ‘programatically’ for larger websites to save the manual labour (eg via sitemaps), but it can be slower for Google to acknowledge the page. Manually submitted URLs are higher priority for Google. Given you’re a smaller website, do that.

If you have 5 minutes to complete your 'SEO audit', very well. Add a sitemap over on the 'sitemap tab'. Your website hosting provider will (usually) auto-generate a sitemap for you, which is usually titled sitemap.xml and hosted after your root domain (eg Now Google will know where to look to find a map of all your website's pages. As above, we recommend manually submitting URLs for those following this full guide. You can repeat the same process for Bing Webmaster Tools.

Other things about Search Console

Google Search Console will tell you some useful things, such as:

  • If pages have a bad experience (eg load slowly or incorrectly on mobile)
  • If there are missing pages (known as a 404 error)

When you connect your site to Google Search Console for the first time, you should wait a few days then review these errors – as a website with too many ‘problematic pages’ like this tend to be lower priority in Google’s ranking system.

There you go – audit for a small website complete.


We're not going to discuss backlinks here but they are the main factor in how high you can 'compete' in competitive search terms. As we've assumed you're a small website, and so have a low domain authority or reputation, we've suggested you target keywords that are low competition and so you do not need to worry about backlinks in this strategy. Gaining backlinks for small websites getting started is a nuisance and can lead to you throwing money down the drain where this is not necessary. Services in India, Nigeria etc offer to do this cheaply but often send you junk links. There are 'premium' providers who will charge $300-400 a link but with the above strategy this is not necessary. Your $400 would get you further on doing other things, rather than funding link schemes.

Sector specific SEO examples

A restaurant in London

SEO via the normal search engine tends to be less important – Google Maps here is more important. So the priority should be to appear highest on Google Maps and local searches. One would want to claim the business profile in Google and Bing, and have social media accounts which are factored in by the search engine. The website should make reference to the address and locality. Everything else said above is still valid.

An e-commerce store selling in the UK and Europe

E-Commerce is its own special category of SEO because of the large site footprints (eg product is its own webpage – and if you sell 10,000 items that’s 10,000 pages). Here a sensible internal linking schema is important so the crawlers are reaching the right pages to prioritise. Unfortunately you’re not going to get discussion on this in this post, but briefly, to rank for 10,000 items you’d want:

  • A website with a reasonable backlink profile
  • Integration with Google Shopping
  • A sitemap (or sitemap index)
  • Internal linking from the homepage to the key areas of the site pretty quickly
  • A very fast site and clever optimisation on each ‘product’ page, with any devices possible to keep the user on a given product page (eg videos / longer descriptions)
  • Internal linking from blog pages to product specific or brand-specific pages.
  • Great mobile experience
  • If the site exists in multiple languages, there are special considerations for multi-language sites so the search engine knows what’s the original content and what is a translation.

A legal consultancy or law firm

The same as discussed in the article and restaurant example, as legal searches in most cases are localised. The website would want a lot of good content and internal linking and a solid backlink profile as the legal sector tends to be competitive.

An app for runners

App stores such as the Apple App Store or Google Play are also search engines and similar principles apply. This is known as ASO (app store optimisation) and is a similar field with a few tuned parameters. So this would involve optimising both for web search and the app stores.

A data startup with a complex technology stack

The same principles apply to what was stated at the beginning of the article. But if the website is written in a javascript framework that renders the DOM dynamically, such as React, there are other considerations relating to page speed (and server-side rendering may be important for key content pages). Generally SEO / lead magnet pages for businesses in this space are not part of the app itself however, and so content best sits on a separate domain known as a ‘marketing site’ or something like that.


The above is a watertight way to get started for small websites. If you'd like us to take a look (but we're not free!) then get in contact.