In order for any website to rank well in search engines, a basic prerequisite is that the site itself is easily crawl-able for the search bots and provides them with the right information they need in order to understand the content of each page. An SEO audit takes a look at the website to check if it does indeed apply the best practices that are needed in order to ‘please’ these bots. Before we investigate whether or not your website needs an SEO audit, lets try to understand what is included in a standard SEO audit.
There are key elements that are typically analyzed when conducting an SEO audit. Let’s break down the different parts:
Identify technical issues
- 301 redirects, 302 redirects, 404 errors – Errors on pages and redirects should be minimal if at all. Having these errors affects the user experience on your website. Normally, many of these errors can be fixed to prevent the user from encountering them. Additionally, Google does not like seeing these errors on a site as they waste the limited amount of bandwidth (computing power) that they allocate to crawling your website, and they could hurt your rankings.
- Website and mobile speed
- This measures how long it takes for your website to load. Google has moved towards focusing on mobile so the speed of your website on mobile is more important than on desktop. Google wants users to have a pleasant experience on the sites it refers traffic to. That means that among other things, they need to be fast.
- Crawlability – this is how easily search engines can crawl your website. To make it easy for Google, you want to make sure that your website has up-to-date robots.txt files and a sitemap.
Identify on-page website issues
There are several easy “on-page” changes that you can make to your website so that it’s more relevant to the keywords you want to rank for.
- Meta titles and descriptions – make sure each page has titles and descriptions. They should be the right length and relevant to the topic of your page. They should also present your content in a way that will be enticing to users. These texts will appear in the search results, so think of them as ads. If they are more ‘click-able’ than other sites appearing in the search results page, you will be rewarded with more traffic.
- Article Titles– each page should have an H1 title tag for the main title of that page, an H2 title tag and possibly H3 tags for the sub headings that breakdown your content into smaller sections.
- Content – make sure that your website has relevant content to your business. The search engines need to understand what you do and the most important way to explain that is via your content. A focus needs to be on good quality content and not stuffing as many keywords as possible into your content.
Identify your backlink profile
There are different SEO tools that can analyze the links that are pointing to your site. It is important to know what kind of links are pointing to your website and how many there are in total. It could be that there are spammy links which need to be disavowed (you can request that Google ignore them). It is also important to understand how you rate against your competition. Do they have a massive number of links or not so many? This will help to determine how hard it will be to rank against them.
Creating a comprehensive keyword report is critical for any website that is interested in people being able to find them on the web. It is important to understand what keywords you can rank for and are relevant to your business. While it is true that as a business owner, you probably know your most relevant keywords but there can be variations of them that you are not aware of. While some websites only rank for a handful of keywords, others rank for thousands of keywords. You should be able to understand how your website is currently ranking for these words and if it is possible to rank for other important ones. Having this report can also help guide you in what kind of content you should create for your website or blog. It will tell you which keywords people are searching for and are popular so it can be used as a guide for creating content.
Understanding the competitive landscape
When a website wants to rank for certain keywords, it is crucial to understand their competition. Doing thorough research about your competition will help you understand what you are up against and how hard it is to rank for certain keywords. It could also give you ideas for keywords that you would have not thought about ranking for but that are relevant and worthwhile.
Now that you understand what is included in an SEO audit, you can begin to understand why your website needs an audit. If you want to be ranked for your keywords and if your site is not up to par with several of the listed factors above, you are not going to rank as well as you could or as well as your competition. Your site needs to be SEO optimized so the search engines understand who you are and then be able to show your site to relevant searches.
Understanding the competitive landscape and your backlink profile will help you build a content and link-building strategy. You can easily understand what your competition is doing and then decide how you can do better. Let’s say your competition is going after 1 keyword that is super relevant for your product. It is possible that you would have to put in so much effort and money into gaining any momentum for that keyword, that you would decide it’s not worthwhile to compete. However, maybe you will see other keywords that are similar and more easily attainable. By understanding all of this, you can build a content strategy that will work.
Conducting a comprehensive SEO audit is time-consuming, but in the end, you will have a very SEO-friendly website which is required for gaining rankings in competitive categories. You will also gain a very good understanding of what keywords are important to your business and learn about your competition so you can do better. This is an important step in the process of refining your online marketing and I would not recommend skipping it.