Whether you have just signed a new SEO client or you are finally choosing to invest in your own website’s SEO (good choice!), a thorough SEO audit should be your first port of call. And if you hire an SEO agency like ourselves, it will be the very first thing that they perform.
Unfortunately, this is not as straight forward as it sounds! In an ideal world, we would have one piece of software that comes with a big red button labelled ‘audit’, and we could press that then sit back and watch as it does all the work for you. *Sigh*
Instead, there are multiple tools that SEO managers use to perform audits, and they are all better at certain things than others. So really it relies on you knowing not just what to look for but also how to do so.
Want to know more? Then stick around while we give you an overview of this vital component behind all SEO strategies.
What is an SEO Audit?
An SEO audit is an analysis of your website in terms of its all-round SEO performance. They highlight any issues your site has, and provide you with an insight on how to proceed moving forward.
Some elements of an audit can be automated, but others will require some leg work to get to the bottom of. For example, there are a number of tools or even SEO chrome extensions that can tell you that your site has missing H1 tags. But for something like content that has poor readability, that might need a human touch to figure out.
It’s also important to remember that after drafting up an SEO audit your job doesn’t stop there. You actually have to figure out what the best way is to solve any issues that your audit highlighted.
Why SEO audits are so important
Your site could have many fundamental issues affecting its performance and you would not know unless you completed an SEO audit. All future SEO tasks that you undertake are reliant on a thorough initial SEO audit to be successful.
Let’s give you quite an obvious example of just how important audits are. Let’s say you are struggling to get any visitors through to your site so you decide to dramatically increase the word count on your content to win some more organic traffic.
While this potentially could be a good approach and can be fruitful in some circumstances, there could be any number of reasons why your current content isn’t ranking aside from its length, meaning that this change in tactics could be a huge waste of time and effort.
An SEO audit could reveal that actually you’ve forgotten to upload a sitemap, your meta descriptions are too long and keyword stuffed, and you have a ton of 404 errors from when you last overhauled your content.
You need to be able to make smart, data-driven decisions to make improvements. Without the data gained from an SEO audit, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to guesswork and unguided decision making.
What does an SEO audit include?
SEO audits contain information that relates to all three pillars of SEO: on-page, off-page, and technical. There will likely be other information included too, provided that it is relevant to your website.
Depending on how you want to present your SEO audits to your stakeholders, it could include any number of elements. You might want to simply break it down into the SEO pillars listed above, or you may prefer to group your audit by general elements, mobile specific elements, content elements, etc.
There isn’t really an industry standard on this. In fact, quite the opposite. If you are an ecommerce business with thousands of products, your SEO audit will likely look considerably different to a website with ten pages that targets enquiries and lead generation.
As long as you are tracking all of the information that is important to your website, your business, and your SEO strategy, then you should be setting yourself up for success.
SEO audit checklist
Because your audit should be tailor made for your own site, we can’t give you a list of everything that you should include (unless you get in touch and want to enquire about our services!).
So instead, we’ll give you some of the more general things to look out for when performing an audit.
Get hands on with the site and see how it feels from a user’s perspective.
Is it slow? Is the content too wordy? Are there any broken links? Pretend you are a customer and see whether the user journey is poor, this could be preventing you from seeing conversions.
Even have a look on search engines and make sure all of your information is correct. If applicable, make sure your map pack listing is accurate with your name, address, and phone number.
You can find a lot of errors with your site this way, which can be a big help when performing a full audit because you know what to look out for, and some of the problems you identify may be ones that a crawl through Screaming Frog or SEMrush wouldn’t have caught.
Technical SEO is the bedrock of your site. If you have errors here, it could be severely limiting your performance.
Is there an accurate XML sitemap for your site? If not then there should be. Is your site HTTP or HTTPS? Installing an SSL certificate if not already done will help your SERP performance. Does your site contain Flash? This will hinder mobile performance and should be removed if so.
An analysis of your technical performance is necessary if you want to give other aspects of your SEO the best chance at succeeding.
Content is something that you might overlook with an SEO audit. If you are uploading content every day then it’s easy to feel like you are on top of everything.
But you should always take content into account with an audit. Some things to look out for are:
- Content length – not too short but also not needlessly long
- Duplicate content – the same (or similar) content in more than one place on your site is a sure-fire way to confuse search engines and will affect your performance
- Images – images make your content more appealing to users and search engines, just make sure that the files aren’t too big or your site speed will be affected
- Category/service page content – content shouldn’t just live in blog posts; you want your pages to rank too
As mentioned, you’ll also need to decide whether or not your content reads naturally. A tool won’t be able to give you a definitive answer that you should trust on this. Instead, use your own intuition, ask for feedback, and get a professional writer’s insight if needed.
Backlinks are important to establish your site as an authoritative figure within your industry, but poor quality backlinks can actually be a negative sign to Google and other search engines.
By analysing your backlink profile, you can see if any of your links come from spam websites and then choose whether or not you need to remove some of them by disavowing them.
Too many backlinks of the highest quality can also be a cause for concern. Google may think that you are buying backlinks and your performance can be hindered as a result.
Internal links are also important as they direct users (and crawlers) to different pages on your site, and establish a hierarchy between your pages. Usually, your most important pages like your homepage or main pillar pages will have the most internal links pointing to them.
Blaze Media: experts at auditing
SEO audits are massively important, if we haven’t stressed that enough already. So, if you have decided that you need some expert advice then here is the best tip that we can give you: approach an SEO agency!
Not only will a dedicated SEO agency uncover more about your site than anyone else could, they’ll also act on the audit and make the improvements needed to your site.
Personally, at Blaze Media, we love sitting down with our new clients and presenting them with an in-depth audit that we’ve pulled together. Because every business is different, audits are never the same and it’s a really fun challenge that keeps us on our toes!
So, if you’d like to invest in your SEO then get in touch with us today and we can get started in putting together your audit for you!
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