A few years ago I was the proud owner of a gorgeous 1965 VW beetle in pearl white. As my pride and joy, I lovingly spend hours tinkering with it and pimping it. However, there were moments – like the time it dumped all of its oil over the highway – when its performance was less than satisfactory.
In order to find out what was wrong with it, I had to remove the engine (it’s pretty easy to do on a Beetle), to establish what had caused it to go wrong.
In the same vein, there is nothing more frustrating than pouring your vision, heart, mind and soul into a website only to realize that it’s not living up to expectations and attracting visitors.
Much like diagnosing a car, SEO audits play a vital role in determining how your website is performing. Without an audit, it is virtually impossible to uncover everything that could be affecting your site. Without taking my car to bits or to a mechanic I wouldn’t have been able to diagnose problems and fix the oil dumping issue. I sold the car a year later!
Needless to say that SEO audits are important and key be the key to site success. However, we’re also going to be highlighting some of the other key benefits to SEO audit and how you can use these to your advantage.
What is an SEO Audit
There are literally hundreds (at least 200!) of ranking signals that search engines evaluate in order to determine where your site should rank for any given search query. Some carry more weight than others, but all of them, if not optimized, can hinder your site’s performance. The aim of an SEO audit is to review as many of these (known) ranking signals to indicate what is working well, what elements need improving and what parts of your site need attention.
There are two ways to perform an SEO audit.
- Do it manually using our comprehensive checklist
- Use an advanced website review tool that will make auditing as simple as typing in your URL and waiting for the results.
Why is SEO Auditing is Important
There are many benefits of regularly performing an SEO audit:
1. Find SEO weaknesses:
It might be obvious, but this benefit should not be underestimated. It’s possible to look at some elements (especially the on-page elements) to determine whether they are optimized correctly. For example, if you know that meta descriptions should ideally be 150-169 characters are yours are too long or too short, you will know they need tweaking.
However, SEO has evolved into something much more complex since the days of putting keywords into the correct places on your pages. Now, Google considers how your site is performing on many different levels, including technical performance and quality of content.
It’s important to remember that Google updates to its algorithms – a lot. The best people to discover and adapt to these changes are the experts who are immersed in the industry – the ones that build SEO auditing programs. Personally, I don’t stand a chance of being able to monitor the plethora of updates and re-assess my site based on my own personal assumptions.
Whether you’re a client using an SEO service or a consultant/in-house marketer doing your own SEO, you will need to measure the effectiveness of the work carried out on your site. An initial SEO audit will set the scene upon which all metrics and progress can then be measured. If you don’t know what the situation was like before, then it will be hard to later determine how your site has improved.
3. Prioritize marketing
It’s likely that an SEO audit will bring to light several areas for improvement. While it can be tempting to plow through all of these suggestions as quickly as possible, it’s worth segmenting individual tasks into mini projects and prioritizing these.
Things that impact on usability like, customized 404 pages, favicons and implementing structured data markup are tasks that will certainly improve the user experience. However, I would suggest initially focusing on technical SEO that could be hindering your site, like crawling and indexing issues. A site crawl can help to identify any problems in this area. If you don’t optimize your technical SEO first you may find that other improvements you make will have less of an impact on overall performance.
Similarly, if you discover that your bounce rate is high and you can’t get people to engage with your site past the first page, then you may need to prioritize optimising your landing pages for conversions.
4. Track progress of keyword rank
One of the best ways to establish how well your site is performing is by monitoring the movement of your keywords. As you optimize your site you should see your keywords move up. Similarly, negative movements can indicate critical issues or even penalties!
An auditing tool like WooRank records the progress of keywords so that you can quickly see how well they’ve performed over time, and if your site is trending up or down.
5. Assess the competition
Site audits are not limited to sites that you own. You can perform an audit on your competitor’s sites to discover their strengths and weaknesses. Important things to uncover about your competitors are:
- What keywords they use: Find out using a tool like KWFinder to determine whether it would be possible to rank for those keywords. If your competitors are ranking highly and have good domain and page authority, it might not be worth your while. Instead, focus on keywords that they aren’t targeting. Don’t feel guilty about their missed opportunities.
- Backlinks: Examine their backlinks closely to find out who is linking to them. Target these sites to see if you can also get a backlink or, even better, replace your competitor’s link completely with a link to your site.
- Strategy: By assessing your competitor’s site it is possible to get a good feel of their strategy. If they have great content that is attracting backlinks and getting shared, then perhaps a similar content strategy would be beneficial for your site. Similarly, if they are good at generating engagement across social media platforms, then investigate their approach to social media more closely and extract some wisdom from their approach.
- Mobile site: Maybe your competitors have a mobile site that puts yours to shame. If this is the case then use this knowledge to inform your strategy.
WooRank’s Project and Keyword Tool allows you to continually monitor your biggest competitors so that you can track your own progress at the same time as keeping a close eye on your competitors.
An SEO audit is a valuable way to diagnose any problems or areas of weakness on your site. The results will provide a detailed analysis of what can be improved to enhance your site for improved performance.
With many benefits including regular monitoring, being able to respond to sudden dips in traffic, and assessing your competitor’s strategy, the importance of an SEO audit should not be underestimated.