SEO Score: A 3-Step Guide to Boost Your SEO with Semrush

Michelle Ofiwe

May 27, 202110 min read
seo core

Though some might come close, it’s true that no one will ever really know how search engines interact with or rank your website. However, we can get a good idea from using ranking tracking tools like an SEO score checker.

Tracking your SEO score helps you understand your general site health and identify areas that you need to improve to boost your ranking. 

In this guide, we’ll show you how to find your SEO score and how you can improve it with Semrush in 3 steps. 

What Is Your SEO Score?

Your SEO score indicates how well your site performs, which contributes to your website’s organic ranking and crawlability. 

A high SEO score will likely point to the ability to rank higher. Sites that don’t rank well are likely to have low SEO scores. 

Your SEO score will be ranked on a scale of 100. The more issues and problems you have within your site, the lower your SEO score will be. 

Why Is Your SEO Score Important?

Although it doesn’t directly influence your ranking potential, your SEO score is intrinsically linked to it. Optimizing your website to increase your SEO score will also benefit your ranking in search results. 

Google doesn’t “count” or consider your SEO score when deciding rankings. Instead, Google and other search engines will consider all of the aspects that contribute to your SEO score, like technical or on-page SEO.

That is why increasing your SEO score doesn’t always mean that you will rank better. You should work on improving your score at the same time as working on other aspects of your website, like your domain score.

How Is An SEO Score Different From Your Domain Score?

There are many scores to use as benchmarks when it comes to SEO. You’ll need to understand how they’re different, and how they can all contribute to the improvement of your website.

Your SEO score is quite different from your domain score. Both are based on algorithms and machine learning. Algorithms carry out checks on certain aspects of your website and assess the outcomes based on machine-learned scoring. Each check will have a pass, fail, and percentage importance, which contributes to your overall score. 

SEO scores are based on aspects of your site known to affect crawlability and ranking, like mobile usability, content, and technical SEO.

Your website’s domain score is determined by metrics that indicate your authority and trustworthiness. This includes aspects like your backlink profile, number of links, the authority of linking domains, and spam score.

When it comes to ranking in search engines, you should pay attention to both your SEO score and your domain score.

Get Insights on Backlink Profiles

with the Backlink Analytics Tool

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Our focus in this article is primarily on your SEO score and how you can improve it, but we will include elements of your domain score that support your ranking efforts. 

For more detailed information on your domain score, check out our domain authority guide

What Affects Your SEO Score?

In order to improve your SEO score, you should understand what aspects of your website affect it. 

Your SEO score covers four major aspects:

  • Website Health
  • Content
  • User Experience
  • Mobile-friendliness

Website Health

The technical health of your website is a heavily weighted aspect of your SEO score. Your website will be “graded” on how easy it is to crawl and index. 

Crawling is determined by how well search engines can access and discover all the pages on your website. Crawling is often affected by site structure, page speed, URL structure, server responses, and more. 

Indexing tracks how and how often search engines return your website pages as results. Indexing involves using and reading structured data markup, noindex tags, hreflang tags, nofollow tags, redirects, and more.

Often, technical issues can go unnoticed until you use an SEO score checker or a site audit tool. Consider and address any potential technical issues before you launch your site or make any major changes to consider to avoid poor scoring later on. 

Content

The quality of your website’s content is a mid-weighted factor in your overall SEO score. Search engines will consider how your content is structured and how it is related to other elements on your website. 

Content checks include: 

  • Meta Content: Search engines will determine how relevant your meta descriptions and page titles are to the content on your page and to the user’s search query. Your site will also be checked for missing or duplicated content.
  • Internal linking: Search engines want to understand what sites are linking to your content, and the sites your content links to. Avoid broken links, internal linking that echoes site hierarchy, and any links to or from untrustworthy external websites. 
  • User Metrics: Your content is “graded” by how it is perceived by users. Metrics like bounce rate, time on page, and pages per session are important to this type of check.
  • Duplicate Content: Your website’s content will be judged by how unique it is. You’ll definitely be penalized for duplicate or plagiarized content. 

User Experience 

User experience metrics from your website are becoming increasingly significant to your SEO score. User experience focuses on how well the user can navigate your site and find information. 

You’ll want to consider your website’s:

  • Images: How responsive are they? Pau attention to how quickly they render, any alt text, how many images are on a page, and how your images affect page speed.
  • Navigation: How well can a user find information on your site? Navigation includes click depth, internal linking, site structure, and button size. 

Mobile Friendliness 

Your website’s mobile experience is another aspect that impacts your SEO score. With Google’s Core Web Vitals algorithm updates, mobile-friendliness is becoming a large factor in ranking. 

Mobile-friendliness checks track how quickly your site renders across a range of devices.

Your website will also be checked for:

  • Responsiveness: How dynamic is your content across devices? This includes image sizing, button sizes, text size, and more. 
  • Speed: How quickly does your site load across mobile connections? This includes how quickly your site loads on all stages of page-load: FCP, CLS, TTI, and more. 
  • Touchscreen Ready: How well your site can be navigated on a touchscreen? This includes button size, scrolling, and more. 

What Factors DON’T Affect Your SEO score

Your SEO score isn’t affected by how big your site is. Instead, your score takes into account how many of your pages have an issue versus how many pages are healthy with no issues. This proportion is what affects your SEO score. 

How To Check Your SEO Score

If you want to know how to check your SEO score on your own site, you need to use an SEO score checker. Our Site Audit tool is a user-friendly checker that monitors your SEO score and offers a list of issues to fix. 

The issues the Site Audit tool returns are ranked by severity:

  • An error indicates an issue that should be treated as a priority. 
  • Warnings, while not as pressing as errors, still impact your score and should be addressed next. 
  • Notices are issues that may not have as much impact on your score, but you should still address them to support your score. 
Site Audit

Each suggestion includes an explanation of the error, why it’s important, which URLs are affected, and how to fix it.

Although you aren’t able to fix the problems directly in the Semrush tool, you can track your progress with future audits. To fix your issues, you may need to work directly within your website’s backend or CMS.

How To Improve Your SEO Score

Improving your SEO score can help you boost your ranking and performance in search engines, so it can work as an indicator of your organic performance. 

In order to improve your SEO score, you will need to address any issues you discover on your website. These issues will often affect your website’s technical health, content, user experience, or mobile-friendliness. 

You’ll likely need to tend to your website’s technical health, on-page health, and off-page health. 

Your SEO score is directly impacted by your technical and on-page health, which is made up of technical health, content, user experience, or mobile-friendliness. 

Your off-page health doesn’t directly impact your SEO score, but it does affect your domain score and has some bearing on the links used in your content. 

It is also good practice to consider off-page SEO when working on your SEO strategy, so we included it as a recommended step to improving your SEO score. 

3 Steps To Improving Your SEO Score With Semrush

Once you understand the factors that affect your SEO score, you can start working on improving it. 

There are 3 steps that you can take using the Semrush tool to improve both your SEO score and domain score:

  1. Improve your technical SEO with the Site Audit tool
  2. Improve your on-page health with the keyword research tools
  3. Improve your off-page health with the Backlink Audit tool

Step 1 — Technical SEO

As technical health is a significant part of your SEO score, you should start by trying to improve the technical aspects of your site that are failing. 

To do this you should run a site audit to check for issues with your technical health or mobile friendliness.

You can run a technical audit quickly and easily with their Site Audit tool. The Site Audit tool returns a list of issues to tackle in just 4 steps: 

  1. Set up a project in the Semrush tool. Navigate to your project dashboard and select the Site Audit module. 
Site Audit

2. Use the tool’s wizard to configure your project with your domain and crawler settings

3. Click ‘Start Site Audit’ at the bottom of the set-up panel

4. Wait for Semrush to audit your website

You’ll be notified by email once the tool has finished auditing your site. You can then click to view your audit results where you will find:

  • Your Site Health Score
  • Top Issues (ranked by importance as errors, warnings, and suggestions)
  • Reports by issue type (Thematic Reports)

From here you will be able to benchmark your site with your site health score and work through the list of issues the tool has identified. These issues will likely be tech-based and include:

  • Slow page speed
  • Server status errors (404, etc)
  • Javascript errors
  • Image alt text errors
  • Issues with tagging, like hreflang or canonicals

Once you have completed the fix for a handful or even all of the issues flagged in your site audit, you should then rerun your audit to see your site health score improve.

However, technical health is not the only factor that affects your SEO score so you need to consider other aspects of your site that are affecting your content and user experience.

Step 2 — On-Page SEO

The quality and consistency of your content is another factor of your SEO score. This includes proper keyword mapping, meta descriptions, page titles, and correct header use.

To make sure that you are you should:

  • Do keyword research: identify the best keyword for your page based on search volume, search intent, and difficulty level. Tools like the Keyword Magic tool can help you.
  • Group keywords: organize keywords based on similarity so that you can use your content to target related groups of keywords. Tools like Keyword Manager tool can make grouping keywords easier.
  • Optimize content: optimize or write your content based on your keyword research. This should include the creation of meta descriptions, page titles, and headings that use your keyword. There are tools to guide you in optimizing your own content, including the SEO Content Template tool.
  • Monitor your keywords: keep an eye on how your content is performing once you have set your optimized content live. This will give you an indication of whether your efforts have been successful. If not, consider why. What are the sites doing that are ranking which you are not?

To monitor your ranking, use tools like the Position Tracking tool.

Once you have optimized content, run another site audit. You should see an improvement in your SEO score. Content is weighted less in the SEO score algorithm but is still an important ranking factor. 

Step 3 — Off-Page SEO

Although off-page SEO is not a factor in your SEO score, it is another important aspect of your site’s ability to rank and should support the content you create on your site.

Any work you do to improve your off-page SEO will support your EAT (expertise, authority, trustworthiness) profile and domain score. 

First, you should consider what your backlink profile looks like. You can do this easily with the Backlink Audit tool.

  1. Go into the Backlink Audit tool in Semrush
  2. Set up the audit using the Set Up Wizard
  3. Click ‘Start Audit’ at the end of the set up
  4. Wait for Semrush to audit your backlinks
Backlink Audit Tool

The tool will identify any spammy links pointing to your site. Use the tool to get rid of spam links by creating a disavow file or move onto building new links using the Backlink Gap tool.

The Backlink Gap tool will give you a list of potential sites to ask for a link back to your site. It generates the list based on the profile of your competitors, which you can specify when you configure the tool.

To use the Backlink Gap tool, you should:

  1. Open the tool in Semrush
  2. Add in your domain in the first field entry box followed by up to 4 competitor domains
  3. Click “Find Prospects”
  4. Wait for the tool to return a table of potential domains for you to contact
Backlink Gap

From here, you can filter the data Semrush presents to find the most relevant domains for your site. 

You can then use the Link Building tool to keep track of your communications and monitor any improvements in your backlink profile. Though this may not directly improve your SEO score, it will improve your domain score and support your efforts to rank in search engines. 

For more information about domain score and improving it, read our latest guide.

Get Your SEO Score

Now you understand how your SEO score is made up and what you can do to improve it, it’s time to get your own SEO score. 

Visit our SEO score checker on the Site Audit tool to get started.

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Michelle OfiweEditor & writer, deeply dedicated to good copy. Based in Houston, TX.
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