I recently had a new client of mine ask why he needed an SEO audit performed on his website every year. My response was the first thing to understand is that an SEO audit will identify problem areas on your website that need improvement. Secondly, an effective audit will keep your website up-to-date with the latest developments in search engine marketing and give you an advantage over your competition. So yes, a yearly SEO audit is necessary if you want to succeed online!
What’s in an SEO Audit?
An SEO audit will check the health of your website from an SEO perspective. The audit will identify the issues that are preventing your site from ranking well and provide recommendations on how to fix it. The ultimate goal of the audit is to increase the SEO performance of the website in the search engines. The SEO audit will usually include:
This is the most important aspect of the audit. To check if your website is optimized for search engines, you need to take into consideration the following on-site factors:
Meta Titles and Descriptions – All titles and descriptions must be unique for every page. It is important that the character count per title and description is within the optimal character count. Additionally, it is important that the title and description are relevant and use the same words that are used within the page content.
URL Structuring – Make sure that all of your URL’s are unique, properly formatted and include the relevant keywords. Keep the URL readable for humans!
Text Formatting – Search engines use the “H” tag structure to understand the importance of the text on your page. The significance of the H1 to this engagement metric is that it is often the first page element a user sees upon landing on a page. Therefore, it is imperative that this headline assures the user they are in the right place and have found what they are looking for. Additionally, if everything is listed in plain text then the search engine will have no way to understand the information that is presented.
Content – The content of your website has to be unique, properly formatted, promoted, with well-written copy that is lacking grammatical errors. You also need to check the content length and freshness. You want the search engines to see your info as relevant and new.
Internal Linking – Make sure that you are linking related pages together by taking into account:
- You have between 2-10 links per page.
- The pages you want to rank better in search have the greater number of internal links.
- That you are using keyword anchor text for the internal links and that you use both full page title and non-keyword anchor text.
- The pages you want to rank better in search are linked from your home page.
Images – Images are useful when making up a webpage. However, they could be hurting you if you aren’t paying attention to these factors.
- All images are compressed to minimize their size.
- All images need to have an ALT tag defined.
- Make sure the image file name is descriptive as to what is happening in the picture.
Broken Links – Broken links are not good for search engines or end users. To check for broken links, log in to your Google Search Console, run a crawl report, and fix the errors that are reported.
Banner Ads – Google has been penalizing websites that use too many ads above the fold.
User Friendliness – A user-friendly website should use structured copy, have a responsive design, and have easy to navigate menus. There are a few simple things you can check to make sure your website employs some basic user experience principles.
- Is it easy to tell the difference between site content and ads?
- Can a user find what they are looking for within a reasonable amount of clicks
- Does it have a clearly defined menu?
- Is the interface consistent across all pages?
- Is the 404 landing page friendly? Does it easily allow you to get back to the other pages?
- Is there a sitemap?
Page Speed – Today’s internet users want their information fast. If your pages aren’t loading within a matter of seconds, you may see an increasing bounce rate, which means you’re losing business to your competitors. There are many tools out there to help you identify site speed issues – but fixing them oftentimes requires technical expertise to ensure your site’s technical integrity and functionality is not impacted. Some items you might see in a list of recommended fixes are:
- Optimize Images
- Reduce Redirects
- Use compression plugins
- Minimize HTTP calls
- Use a CDN
Site Structure – No matter the type of website you are running there are elements common to all. These elements go hand in hand with basic SEO, and their purpose is to make the user experience better while helping Google to understand your website.
- Does it have a disclaimer?
- Is the structure of your website clear and easy to understand?
- Does it have contact information on each page?
An important part of your audit is the competitive analysis. Your competitor’s websites can help you by showing you what’s working for them. Start by generating a list of direct competitors. Once you have the potential competitors that you have gathered from different relevant sources it’s time to validate them, by analyzing and filtering which of those are already ranking, and to which degree, for the same keywords that you’re targeting. Additionally, at this stage you’ll also expand your list of potential target keywords by performing keyword research.
Compare with your competitors
Now that you have your SEO competitors and potential target keywords, you can gather, list, and compare your site to your competitors, using the relevant data to select and prioritize those keywords. This will likely include keyword relevance, ranked pages, as well as domain link popularity, content optimization, current rankings, search volume, and page result characteristics, among others.
Select your target keywords
It’s time to analyze the previously gathered data for your own site and your competitors, using the specified criteria to select the best keyword to target for your own situation which are those with the highest relevance, search volume, and profitability.
Social Media channels are just another form of a search engine. Without having a presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… ETC. You are not taking advantage of the broad spectrum of users on the largest marketplace around. You may be thinking to yourself, how is social media related to an SEO audit? That’s because social media can boost your linking while increasing traffic to your site. So, this traffic should be monitored with Google Analytics and included in your report.
What is Off-Site SEO? Major search engines look for quality and relevant sites that link back to your site as an indicator of its useful content. If a number of relevant sites want to link to your site, then you must have good content.
Google Search console gives you the ability to check who is linking to you, run this report and get the numbers. Once you have this report, answer yourself the following questions.
- Which of your pages has the most links?
- Do the pages with the most links have top level keywords?
- How many pages link to your home page and how many link to internal pages?
- How many unique domains link to you?
- Which of these domains are considered trusted domains?
It is important that links don’t all point to your homepage, make sure that the internal pages are getting some link juice as well.
There are numerous tools available to complete an SEO audit yourself, though it is recommended to either do the audit using a guide, or hire an SEO auditor to perform it for you.
SOAP Media offers a FREE SEO Audit of your website. We look at the data and present you with a plan of action. Email us or Call us today at 613-302-9051 and talk to an SEO Strategist.
What you can expect from our SEO Audit?
- The audit will include a detailed analysis on how your website is performing with speed (load times), error messages, and malware intrusions.
- A list of keywords that you are targeting and how they are ranking currently on search engines.
- Internal/external link checking.
- A list of actions based on a SEO audit checklist together with explanations for each item.
- A competitive analysis.
Try to remember that a good SEO audit will include recommendations for finding missing opportunities, understanding where your demographic hangs out online and suggests ways to make your visitors into customers. If this is all too overwhelming, enlist the help of an expert SEO resource here at SOAP Media Inc.