You’ve finally built your own website after spending long hours, a huge chunk of resources, and considerable effort to make it work exactly how you want it to. But after a while, you’ll eventually notice that you’re not getting the amount of traffic you expect, stunting the growth of your business. You even find out that your competitors are leaving your market share in the dust as they rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).
When this happens, there is only one definitive action to be done: perform an SEO audit. This lets you go through a checklist to find out if your entire website, including its individual pages, is optimized for search engines. A lot of people mistakenly believe that they should approach their online presence less meticulously than an offline business. However, this shouldn’t be the case.
A sloppy approach will probably do more harm than good. You’ll need to perform a systematic review to check how it’s performing. Through an SEO audit, you’ll be able to find the reasons why, despite the competition having lower authority and poor user experience, they might be ranking higher than your site. With an SEO audit, you’ll find the answers that can help you make the necessary changes to your website.
What is an SEO audit?
An SEO audit is an evaluation of a website that determines its ability to appear in SERPs. These audits are completed with the objective of finding any issues that need to be addressed to boost your website’s performance on search engines.
Think of an SEO audit as a kind of grading system for your site’s likelihood to be found on search engines. You might have built a clean and well-designed website, but if search engines can’t read it, all the hard work you put into the pages of your site may go to waste.
A full SEO audit can give you an actionable plan that helps you do the following:
● Find out what your competitors are up to and use it to your advantage
● Pinpoint what changes are needed to be made and how to approach them
● Get a general rundown of your site’s SEO efficiency
● Expose your site’s weaknesses and repair them
● Set expectations for your site’s future
Some current guidelines include:
● Ensure the responsiveness of your site or preparedness to be mobile-friendly
● Optimize for voice search
● Update your content
● Link your social media efforts to your website
● Make sure that your keywords are found in the right places
It’s worth noting that it would be difficult to improve on all your findings, so you might not be able to do it all at once, but you can work on several essential factors over a period of time.
Components of an SEO Audit
1. Technical Audit
A technical audit will help you identify the technical-related issues in your website that’s causing the restrictions of search engines to crawl and understand its content. You will need to be meticulous and your report should summarize all the technical problems you find along with the necessary solutions so you can take action immediately.
Here are the things that you need to do:
● Make sure your pages can be indexed
Your objective here is to ensure that Google isn’t blocking your relevant pages by mistake. Check your index status on Google Search Console to know the number of pages Google has crawled from your domain. What you want to see here is the data indicating an increase in page count over time. While you’re there, you can also use the site and URL errors reports to locate problems.
For Google not to block your pages, test your robots.txt file by adding /robots.txt to the end of your domain to make sure your pages aren’t “disallowed” in search. To retrieve a list of indexed pages, do a Google search for site:yourdomain.com.
● Secure your website
Google now favors sites that are encrypted with HTTPS, which provides encrypted communication with a web server, so you might want to secure yours with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). If your website isn’t HTTPS-enabled, maybe it’s time to upgrade.
● Go through your metadata
When pages are crawled, sometimes a NoIndex meta tag is inserted, blocking Google from doing its job. Do a quick search to make sure there aren’t any NoIndex tags on pages where they shouldn’t be.
● Optimize site speed
Speed impacts the way search engines rank your site, so when yours loads too slow, visitors are prone to bail out and go elsewhere. It’s best to optimize your website to load in three seconds or less.
● Optimize for mobile
Use a responsive design that delivers an excellent user experience for any screen size. To test your improvements, use Google Search Console’s mobility usability report to find problematic site pages. Google’s Mobile Test tool scores these pages relative to mobile-friendliness.
● Optimize for voice search
The rise of virtual assistants in mobile devices and smart speakers have created a need to optimize your site for voice search. Aim your site to become a featured snippet by optimizing for semantic keywords and queries to boost traffic for voice search.
2. Link Profile Audit
A link audit analyzes your current links, a.k.a. your link profile, to help evaluate how good they are for your website. A comprehensive link audit reveals any risky links and shows you the way to how you can improve your strategy. The goal is to ensure that your search rankings are not negatively affected.
Link profile auditing outlines issues related to inbound links, broken links, and bad links. Conduct a complete backlink audit to spot problems and find new linking opportunities.
3. Content Audit
A content audit allows you to assess and evaluate your site’s copy for relevancy and clean up its pages of any issues related to content. You can then ditch duplicate content that dilutes the authority of the primary URL, causing it to rank lower.
This will also allow you to remove low-value pages by ensuring each of your Google-indexed pages contains original and valuable content with relevant keywords. This is also an excellent time to de-index low-value pages that aren’t necessarily robust pages. Instead, redirect them to content-rich URLs.
4. Competitor Audit
Through a competitive website audit, you can learn about what your top competitors are up to in their SEO efforts and how yours compare to theirs. This process will also allow you to find out what particular messages resonate better and implement different strategies to build your business, staying ahead of the pack.
5. Local SEO Audit
You’ll be able to obtain accurate and actionable data on key areas of local optimization in this kind of audit. This includes local listings and citations, on-site and off-site activities, local search rankings, and reviews. The end report will detail issues in these critical areas, allowing you to address concerns and improve local rankings.
How to Successfully Perform an SEO Audit
It’s recommended that you take your time to plan things out before diving into making any sort of analysis. A comprehensive audit requires a little groundwork to make sure everything goes according to plan. Generally, an SEO audit is broken down into the following:
There’s no point in creating a website if both Google and users can’t access its content. It’s extremely important to check every detail, including the robots.txt and meta robots tags since they usually restrict Google’s access to certain areas of your site. Be sure to check them manually to know that everything’s up to speed.
Your XML sitemaps should be the next thing on your list. It’s a way for site owners to let search engines know about all your existing web pages, so it’s crucial to format your XML sitemaps and submit them to Google Search Console for better accessibility.
Another vital step is to check the overall architecture of your website. Make sure that the number of clicks needed to move from your homepage to another is reduced. This will make it easier for crawlers to do their jobs. And if you have any redirect issues, they must also be addressed accordingly.
Now that you’ve taken care of all the Google necessities, it’s time to focus your attention to user experience. Keep in mind that your visitors are more likely to leave your site immediately if they’re unable to browse freely, which is pretty bad for business. For this reason, you’ll want to work on making improvements on the speed and other concerns that may cause your visitors to navigate away.
If accessibility is centered around the ability of a search engine to access your web pages, indexability involves how those pages are shown in Google once they’re accessed. But if some pages are not shown to users, there may be several reasons.
At this point, your site may have found itself on the bad side of Google, perhaps due to a page not following their SEO guidelines or some similar reason. In a case like this, the first thing you need to know is that Google’s bots work differently from site to site. A popular business website with a lot of content has a better chance of being indexed quickly compared to personal bloggers who only post occasionally.
3. On-Page Analysis
When you’ve reached this point in your checklist, there’s a good chance your website’s already up and running in a sense that both users and crawlers can access its content with ease. The next thing you should be doing is run an on-page analysis that focuses on general content and single page issues.
To begin with, it’s in your business’s best interest to focus your efforts on creating original and relevant content since the two major challenges content creators face are keyword cannibalization and duplicate content.
When duplicate content happens, Google gets confused with published articles that have similar content, which eventually leads to issues with indexation. With keyword cannibalization, the site owner tries to rank for a particular keyword on multiple pages. When this happens, Google spreads keyword authority across multiple pages, minimizing the effect of each.
4. Off-Page Analysis
For the most part, off-page analysis highlights the level of popularity of your site on the internet. When it concerns this, you’ll want to look at trust factor, which is a huge deal if your website has earned it form Google. This happens when you gain more trust and avoid all black hat or unethical SEO techniques.
After gaining this trust, make sure your content resonates with your audience and other bloggers in your industry, so it should be tailored your target audience’s interests. This leads to more traffic, good quality links, higher retention rates, more shares, and lower bounce rates. Essentially, off-page analysis gives you a clearer picture of the kind of impression your site leaves on users.
5. Competitive Analysis
You’re finally done with all the internal issues, and now you can move on to carry out keyword research or what’s also known as competitive analysis.
Ideally, your ideal keyword should be within that sweet spot between difficulty and traffic. While it’s okay to go for medium difficulty and volume, it’s in your best interest to take on high-performing keywords to boost traffic and beat your competitors. A good rule of thumb is to go for the low-hanging fruit by picking target keywords with low competition and high search volume and buyer intent.
Let the Experts Handle It
There is no doubt that SEO audits are essential for your business’ success since they’re focused on a comprehensive examination of your website. However, this kind of audit cannot be done in an instant; it takes days or even weeks, depending on the size of your site. This is where you might need the help of accomplished professionals to get the job done.
If you’re looking to perform a complete SEO audit for your business’s website, SEO Company guarantees to go through all the right motions in looking for issues that may affect your site’s ranking. Your successful SEO audit is just a few clicks away.