Search Engine ranking algorithms are one of the most mysterious components of the digital marketing world. Ultimately, no matter how careful you are with your content and website creation, there’s a good chance that you’re going to experience a drop in rankings at some point.
That’s because the things that Google might reward on your website one day could be the elements that it chooses to penalize the next.
While it’s difficult to completely defend yourself from SEO mishaps, an SEO audit could be the key to avoiding any major blunders. What’s more, auditing your website ensures that you can get yourself back on track after any problems as quickly as possible.
Here’s your guide to SEO audits, and why every business can benefit from them.
What is an Audit?
The word audit can be enough to fill any business owner with dread. However, the truth is that audits are usually good for you.
In the case of an SEO audit, you get a professional to search through your website’s nooks and crannies for any signs of search engine issues. Remember, there are more than 200 ranking signals that Google considers when determining where you should rank for any given search query.
This usually entails pulling data on your website from Google Analytics, Google Search Console, as well as other more specialized SEO tools, and providing you with an overview of your website’s current performance, strengths, and opportunities to improve.
The role of an SEO audit is to figure out how many of the known ranking signals you’ve got under your belt, as well as which SEO areas you need to improve in.
While you can perform audits on your own, it’s often much easier (and more accurate) to have a professional do it for you, with the help of advanced auditing software.
So, what can an SEO audit do for your business?
The first and most obvious benefit of an SEO examination is that it allows you to see the weaknesses in your website and strategy for ranking at the top of search rankings.
1. Find Weaknesses in Your SEO profile
The only way that you can reasonably determine whether you’ve got all the right backlinks, meta-descriptions, keywords, and other crucial components in place to capture the attention of the search engines, is to review your website. Even if you think that your SEO strategy is pretty impressive, there’s a good chance that you have some old-fashioned methods in place that are either:
- No longer supporting your ranking efforts
- Pushing your rank in the opposite direction
Google is constantly updating its algorithms. Something as small as having too many keywords on your landing page could be enough to ruin your SEO potential today. Whereas ten years ago, the more keywords you could cram onto a page – the higher you’d rank.
Auditing keeps your company ahead of the curve.
2. Improve Site Performance
Google wants to deliver the best possible browsing experiences to its audience across all devices.
That means delivering relevant, high-quality content, from reputable sources. However, just having the right information on your site isn’t enough. You also need to convince Google that your website is healthy and easy to use for both desktop and mobile users.
No customer wants to click on a website to find out that it takes forever to load, displays improperly, or has broken links – this is more likely to result in a high bounce rate. Running an SEO audit will flag any issues that could be dragging your user experience factors down. These can be related to your website’s compatibility with mobile devices (responsive design), page load time, broken links, etc.
Some of the issues with UX will be easy to fix immediately. Other elements of your website might take longer to address. Performing regular audits will make it easier to get ahead of any problems as quickly as possible.
3. Measure the Impact of Improvements
Another reason an SEO audit should be the first step you take when optimizing your website is because it gives you a reference point to track the results and effectiveness of the work you’re doing. The initial audit will provide you with all the information you need regarding the state of your site in terms of search engine optimization. Armed with this data, you can prioritize tasks and make data-driven decisions when planning for the future.
A couple of months down the road, after you’ve implemented some changes and optimized your website, you can compare the results of the next audit with the previous one and determine what you’ve managed to accomplish. On the other hand, working on your website without auditing regularly would make it hard to measure the right metrics and evaluate the effectiveness of the steps you’ve taken.
4. Understand Your Keywords
We all know that keywords are critical to SEO.
However, most business leaders don’t fully understand which keywords are delivering the most value to their company. An SEO audit offers valuable information on where you’re getting the most hits in the search results, and which keywords you should be spending your budget on.
An insight into your SEO could reveal that you’re targeting keywords that don’t actually appeal to your target audience. Or you may find that there are certain customers that you’re attracting to your website that you never thought about reaching out to before.
You may even notice that some of your best content isn’t ranking because it’s not properly optimizing. Going back through some of your old blogs and other material and updating them with a better understanding of your keyword strategy could completely revitalize your website.
5. Track How Your Keywords Rank in Search Results
The number of keywords your site is indexed for, as well as how you are ranking are good indicators of your website’s overall performance. SEO audits can give you detailed information on where you stand at the moment in this sense, alongside of potential reasons for poor performance.
Performing SEO audits at regular intervals will let you monitor how you rank and for which keywords. A good trend indicates you are doing a good job in terms of search engine optimization, while picking up on downward movements will help you address critical issues quickly.
6. Improve Your Site’s Structure (Links)
There’s more to a site’s structure than fast-loading pages and an easy-to-use navigation bar.
When Google’s browsing through your website, searching for reasons to rank you at the top of the search results, it’s looking for internal links between the various pieces of content on your site that highlight your knowledge and authority.
An SEO audit will go beyond looking at things like external links to other authoritative websites and force you to reconsider the way that different pages in your site are connected. For instance, you may find that if you’re an email marketing company, creating different sections in your blog for:
- Email marketing tips
- Email marketing software guides
- Lead page building topics
…and so on, make it easier for Google to navigate and index your pages.
7. Audit Your Competition
It may sound counter-intuitive, but auditing your competitors’ websites can give you detailed insight into their SEO strategy and performance. Knowing what they are doing and what they’re not, as well as how their website is performing, can help you tailor your own strategy.
For example, identifying the keywords they rank for and the type of content they post can help you discover opportunities to beat them in search results and drive traffic to your website. If they have a top-performing page that brings in a lot of visitors, perhaps it would be a good idea to have a similar page on your site. On the other hand, if they have no blog section at all or it is performing poorly, that presents an opportunity ripe for the taking.
Assessing their backlink structure can also give you valuable information that you can use when planning your SEO efforts. Knowing where the majority of their links are coming from will aid you in targeting the right websites with your guest posts.
8. Create a Plan for the Future
Finally, if you want to get the most out of your SEO plan, then you need to be committed to continually improving and updating your campaigns.
An SEO audit will ensure that you’re not just making changes to your website based on the latest trends in the industry, or what your competitors are doing. With an audit, you can build a customized strategy for success.
This could mean creating customized 404 pages, re-designing your backlinking strategy, or creating content pillars that make your information easier to index. Other options include:
- Improving your Local SEO strategy to attract more relevant customers
- Changing your keywords to suit a different kind of client
- Updating your meta descriptions and alt-tags
- Removing old plugins that weigh down your site
- Getting rid of, or updating mature content that’s harming your reputation
- Adding author bios to improve your E-A-T ranking
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to succeeding with the search engines, and only an in-depth audit will give you the information you need to figure out what you need to do to thrive online.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of an Audit
As daunting as the concept of searching through your website for hundreds of SEO ranking factors can be, it’s definitely worth the time.
Conducting regular audits will help you to get on top of SEO issues before they lead to penalties from Google. What’s more, a deeper understanding of how your organic ranking strategy works could mean that you’re more capable of outshining your competition on the search result pages.
When was the last time you had your own SEO audit?
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