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Website optimization is no longer optional and should be taken more seriously than ever before as customers today rely heavily on online tools or platforms for their buying decisions. They use the internet to research companies, services, and products, making sure that when they decide to purchase, they select the one that best meets their needs.

With this change in consumer behavior, search engine optimization (SEO) has become more important than ever for companies and organizations. Most consumers now prefer to shop online, from the comfort of their own homes. As a result, you have to double your online marketing efforts. Doing so includes developing a more aggressive SEO strategy, as the competition has become more cutthroat.

The backbone of a solid search engine optimization strategy is performing regular website SEO audits.

What Is SEO Audit?

An SEO audit, or Search Engine Optimization audit, is the process of identifying problems that could prevent your website from ranking on search engines like Google. Often described as the process of modifying and strengthening the online relevancy of a website, an SEO audit usually examines important components of your website such as:

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  • Google Adwords and Analytics configuration
  • Keyword density and analysis
  • Content-related issues
  • Social media engagement
  • Backlink and indexing analysis

A website SEO audit is very similar to taking your vehicle to get an oil change. As you know, regular oil changes can be one of the most significant ways to keep your vehicle running smoothly and extend its life. SEO audits need to be conducted regularly to make sure your website performs well in search engine results. Such an audit evaluates your website’s technical infrastructure, off-page essentials, and on-page elements to optimize its search engine visibility, conversion, and usability.

Image via Flickr by haywoodbeasley

Who Conducts an SEO Audit?

An SEO audit can be a very powerful tool in a marketer’s arsenal, but the following can benefit the most from using it:

  • Business owners: If you want to know how your website is performing, you can use the SEO audit as a diagnostic tool.
  • Agency owners: If you’re doing a quick SEO report to clients, you can use the audit as a supplementary document.
  • Digital marketers: If you’re starting an SEO campaign, you can use the audit as a guide for making informed marketing decisions.
  • SEO consultants: If you’re an SEO consultant who educates clients about their website, an SEO audit can be a valuable resource when talking to them.

Why Is an SEO Audit Important?

There are several reasons why it’s very important to perform an SEO audit of your website. These include the following:

Improved Organic Search Visibility

To improve your website’s search engine ranking, it’s important to understand what you want to rank for. A good organic search ranking begins with a solid keyword strategy. When you understand your market and competition better, it’s easy to create on-page SEO code for your website. When SEO code is properly implemented, Google and other search engines will identify what your website ranks for based on its content and on-page optimization. An SEO audit will involve in-depth research and keyword discovery that is then incorporated into your on-page SEO code and off-site website advertising.

Better and Stronger Content

An SEO audit evaluates and enhances your website’s key areas, such as page views, bounce rates, time on site, and much more, to ensure better search engine indexing. People and search engines visit your website repeatedly because of the quality of content you provide.

Performing an SEO audit will help you understand the types of content your visitors love and how they like viewing it — e.g., words, videos, and images. With an SEO audit, you can easily develop a solid content strategy for your website or blog. Your visitors will get useful and engaging content, which improves your website’s organic ranking on search engines.

Enhanced Usability

Your website’s design and functionality are only restricted by your SEO team and your imagination. Having busy web pages packed with information and overly complicated design elements can greatly negatively your website’s readability. Visitors will quickly leave your website if it doesn’t tell them that they’re in the right place in a clear and concise manner. Performing an SEO audit allows you to identify areas of your website that need to be simplified so you can determine the structure, function, and content that works perfectly for your visitors.

Improved Conversion Rates

Increasing website conversation rates is very important for any business. An SEO audit will thoroughly review your website’s top landing pages and their design, content, and even calls-to-action (CTA) to ensure they maximize conversions. This isn’t a simple process, and it can several months to determine what actually works for your website, but with testing, analysis, and strategic planning, performing an SEO audit for your website will boost your return on investment (ROI).

Better SEO

In recent years, SEO has drastically changed. Search engines, especially Google, make hundreds of updates in its algorithm each year. Thus, what strategies work now will likely be different from what works next year.

Also, search engines prefer to rank up quality websites. With an SEO audit, your SEO will be evaluated and professionals will find out how it affects your website’s user experience. Experts will then determine the best strategies that will both improve your search engine ranking and make your visitors happy.

Good SEO for your website should focus on providing the best user experience first and increasing search engine results second. When you focus on the experience of your website’s visitors, you don’t have to constantly analyze each detail of your SEO.

Determine and Capitalize on Traffic Trends

Trends in traffic are one of the immediate and major insights that you’ll gain through an extensive SEO audit. You can track high and low periods in hourly, weekly, or even monthly traffic. These statistics are important because they allow you to have a better understanding of your user’s behavior and strategically release content such as blog posts, email marketing, and new products to the right channels.

Improved Keyword Distribution

In the past few years, keyword stuffing was an easy way for companies to manipulate search results. However, changes to Google’s algorithm, particularly the Penguin 4.0 update, have reduced duplicate content and spam in search results. An SEO audit can help boost your website ranking in the organic Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) by using keywords naturally and strategically. While search engines won’t penalize your website or web pages for using a high frequency of keywords, you can be tagged, which might reduce your domain’s authority.

Identify and Fix Onsite and Offsite Issues

An extensive SEO audit can help you identify any onsite or offsite issues that are diverting your website’s traffic. Some issues that could be driving traffic from your website include hidden content, spam, backlinks, and unfriendly URLs, among others. These issues can affect your website’s overall traffic and conversions. An SEO audit can help uncover and even fix these issues before they get out of hand.

Improved Information Structure

Having readable and strong content on your website isn’t helpful if your content isn’t accessible to your visitors. To make sure that search engines and your readers can easily find your content, you have to use analytics data that is relevant and pertinent. With an SEO audit, you can identify areas of your website that need to be corrected to attract more traffic and boost the rankings of your website. With an SEO audit, you can present your information in a way that makes sense to your audience and attracts only the right audience to your business.

Determine Keywords for Which You’re Ranking

An SEO audit can provide you with information associated with your website’s organic presence in the search results. As soon as you determine the keywords that are increasing your rank, you can optimize the content accordingly. You may have written high-quality content on a particular topic, but if you haven’t optimized it correctly for the appropriate keywords, the chances of your target customers locating your website are low.

Types of SEO Audits

Website audits may include different aspects of an SEO implementation strategy. Some SEO specialists combine them in one SEO audit proposal, while others categorize their findings into different types of audits. Here’s a look at some of the common types of audits performed by SEO specialists:

Technical SEO Audit

This type of SEO audit covers your website’s technical aspects, including on-page elements, URL structure, website structure, and indexability. For example, checking for XML sitemap and identifying metadata with low CPR are included in a technical SEO audit.

A technical SEO audit is often made before banklink and content audits, as it focuses on resolving issues that prevent search engines from indexing or crawling your website properly.

Local SEO Audit

This type of audit is typically performed when you’re doing SEO for companies. A local SEO audit may have the same elements as a technical SEO audit, but with more focus on your website’s performance on local search results. One good example is when a specialist checks if your company has an accurate name, address, and phone number across major listings.

Local SEO audits provide you with a baseline of how your website ranks locally before moving to a more global audience. If you don’t optimize your websites for local search results, you’re missing the potential to improve conversions. Keep in mind that 50% of customers doing a local search on their smartphones visited a store within a day.

SEO Content Audit

SEO content audit provides you with a more in-depth look at your website’s indexable content. You can use this type of analysis to find out which pages or pieces of content are attracting traffic and which need to be removed and updated. An SEO content audit also helps you identify duplicate content on your website and guides you when looking for opportunities and gaps to better rank your websites.

That said, some SEO specialists confuse content audits with a content inventory. An SEO content audit is more of a qualitative evaluation of your website’s content, while a content inventory is a repository or account of your existing assets, such as videos, blog posts, marketing materials, and guides for lead magnets. An SEO content audit, on the other hand, goes beyond collecting and combining available assets of your websites in proper order. Instead, it focuses on how each piece of your site’s content engages your audience and delivers SEO impact to your company.

SEO Link Audit

An SEO link audit, also called a backlink audit, assesses your website’s link profile to determine the quality of the links pointing searchers to your site. As with an SEO content audit, performing a link audit can help you determine opportunities for building your SEO strategies. It can also be a safety precaution, helping you to avoid the penalties of an algorithm update by removing spammy links to your website.

An SEO link audit also provides you with insights into the backlink profiles of your competitors. Some SEO audit tools can help you determine the number of referring domains your website has, which you can use to come up with an effective link acquisition strategy. For example, you may want to build links to high DA (Domain Authority), a score that refers to the number of links to your website from other reputable websites.

How to Do an SEO Audit?

Here are the steps to conducting an effective SEO audit:

1. Crawl Your Website

If you have made several updates to your website, you should request that search engines “crawl” it. Crawling refers to the process of taking a full snapshot of all the content on your website, which is then used to direct web users to your website. That means that if you have made major changes to your website, but search engines have not yet collected the most recent snapshots, users won’t be directed to your new content.

Crawling your website can help you identify several issues with your website. There are a variety of SEO audit tools on the market that you can use to crawl your website for you. This allows you to save a lot of time. All you need to do is to put in your website’s URL and let the SEO audit tool do the job for you. The tool will run through your website the same way that the algorithm for search engines would and evaluate your website in the same way.

Once it’s complete, the tool will generate a breakdown of several components of your website to help you identify issues, such as duplication in content, missing links, inadequate word counts for content, and excessive redirects. These are all factors that can affect your website’s performance on search engines. Once you get this information, you can make changes to your website to fix those issues.

2. Check Search Engines for Indexing Problems

Aside from using an SEO audit tool, you can also search your website manually using your preferred keywords. You can count up the number of your web pages that rank on search results and check whether they appear at or near the top. This will give you an idea of how your website is performing. This will also allow you to determine if your website is indexing properly.

If you search your website’s primary URL, you can see the number of your web pages that are being indexed by search engines. If one of your web pages isn’t visible, you can search that specific URL to see if it appears. If there’s a webpage that isn’t indexing, there might be an issue with your site’s meta robots tag. A meta robots tag instructs search engines how to treat the content of your webpage for indexing. If the tag is broken or used improperly, then search engines won’t index your webpage.

3. Make Sure Your Website Ranks on the First Page For Your Brand

When you’re developing an SEO strategy, keep in mind that nothing you do is in a vacuum. You need to make changes or improvements to your website and your other digital marketing. However, keep in mind that your competitors might be doing the same things. A search engine ranking is a comparison of how websites are performing within a certain industry. You can’t guarantee that your website ranks high for all of your keywords, but by following the best practices you can improve your results.

Using your keywords, do a search for your website and see where it ranks. Your aim must be to get to the first page of the search results. The more pages back your website is, the less likely it is that web users are going to click through and find it. If your website is on the first page of the search results, then you’re increasing your exposure to new website visitors and customers.

4. Perform an On-page SEO Check

An on-page SEO check allows you to determine if the elements you need to optimize your site are in place and performing well. This involves evaluating all the content of your website, as well as the source code. If you optimize your website well, it will generate the information that search engines need to index your website accurately. The content will also be relevant to what users searching for so that they will want to engage with it, and it will help search engines identify your webpage as one with authority. This means that you have high-value keywords incorporated strategically in your high-quality content in your pages and posts.

Although keywords aren’t as valuable as they used to be, since search engine algorithms have become more advanced over time, they’re still an important component of any SEO strategy. What’s becoming more valuable is how relevant your website’s content is. It must be relevant to what your users are looking for. In other words, not only should your keywords be placed strategically, but the content that surrounds those keywords must also be engaging, readable, and useful for readers.

Performing an on-page SEO check will also make sure that your website is running as it should. This means that the user experience is as excellent as it possibly can be. Make sure that your site is easy to navigate and loads quickly. If you are using ads for revenue, make sure they don’t interfere with your site’s usability or you may lose out on more than you’re gaining with the ads. Also, test your website on smartphones and other mobile devices. If your website isn’t as easy to navigate on a mobile device as it is in a web browser, then you have to make major changes.

5. Check Your Website for Duplicate Content

Posting duplicate content can damage your SEO efforts. If search engines detect that there’s content on your website that’s similar to that on another, then search engines will penalize your website. Part of producing trustworthy and relevant content is making sure it’s original. Sometimes companies don’t even realize that their websites have duplicate content, so it’s very important to browse your website thoroughly. Remove or rewrite anything that may be deemed a duplication.

Duplication doesn’t have to be from other websites either. If search engines find that your website has duplicate content between its own pages, it will look like you’re trying to pad your website without truly providing informative content. Make sure you are not just copying or repeating information from your pages to fill space. Spend time creating original, engaging content throughout your website so that search engines will identify those efforts and rank your site high on search results.

6. Review Your Site and Page Speed

It may be surprised you how fast visitors will leave from a web page that doesn’t load quickly enough. You may think you have a minute or even 20 seconds, but unfortunately, you don’t. A study conducted by Google revealed that over 50% of mobile visitors will leave if a website takes longer than three seconds to load. Thus, check all the elements that cause a slow page load speed. This means that your videos and images should be smaller, and your website must be hosted on a fast server.

7. Conduct a Backlink Audit

A backlink audit evaluates the links that are pointing to your website. In effect, you’re testing these links for their own trustworthiness and authority. If search engines don’t trust the sites that are linking to you, then they won’t rank your website highly.

You want the web pages linking to your site to rank well in their own right and that have excellent domain authority. If there are backlinks from websites that don’t have related content to yours, or that are no longer updated regularly, then they’re most likely bringing your website down. The best backlinks are those with anchor tags that closely or exactly match yours on their pages.

8. Evaluate Your Organic Search Traffic

Organic search traffic refers to visitors that land on your site through search engines or without the use of paid ads. Organic traffic is much more likely to have a higher percentage of conversations, as those visitors are theoretically motivated to read or watch your website’s content. They might have searched for something relevant to what you have on your site. There are plenty of web tools that you can use to track your organic traffic to determine whether your SEO efforts are working.

Once you get this information, you can filter out those visitors who landed on your site via search terms. This can help you determine which keywords work well and eliminate those that don’t. You can also filter out visitors who found your site by simply searching for the name of your business. Expanding your business means looking for new customers, and organic traffic that landed on your website without searching your name is most likely new to your business. You can customize your marketing efforts around keywords that generate the most efficient hits.

Image via Flickr by MoneyBlogNewz

9. Look for Broken Links and Fix Them

When it comes to SEO, user experience is crucial. If there’s anything on your website that doesn’t provide an engaging and easy experience, your visitors may click away quickly. A broken link can be frustrating for web users and can make your web page look unprofessional and neglected.

Links that lead to an error, such as a 404 error, are considered broken. To ensure web visitors are being led to the right content, make sure that you’re checking all your links (both internal and external). Here are a few ways to avoid and fix broken links:

  • Update content instead of removing it: Rather than removing a web page, you can refresh or update its content. This can help you prevent avoidable unwanted 404 errors that may result from removing content that other web pages are linking to.
  • Use a 301 redirect: If the content still exists on your website but has simply changed location, or you have updated your web address structure, you can redirect your visitors to the new page using a 301 redirect. Doing so not only improves your user journey but also allows search engines to keep their index up-to-date.
  • Reach out to the webmaster and request an updated link: If the 404 error occurs because an external website is using an incorrect web address to link to you, you may be able to fix the issue by contacting and requesting an update from the webmaster or author.

10. Look for Content Opportunities and Gaps

Running an SEO audit is primarily about looking for gaps and opportunities. Once your audit is complete, you’ll be able to find weaknesses in your SEO strategy. It might be that your page speeds are lacking or that there are keywords that you’re not using.

Resolving issues you find will only lead to better results. Every error or gap is an opportunity to improve. All you need to do is to perform an SEO audit and review the results properly to boost your website’s performance.

How Often Do You Conduct an SEO Audit?

If you have a large website with frequent changes and lots of content, you will benefit from more frequent audits. This can be anywhere between every month and every quarter. If you have a smaller website, you might only need to perform an SEO audit every six months or even every year.

If you have made significant changes to your site, such as setting up an SSL certification, you may want to perform an SEO audit to make sure everything works correctly. If you have a new website, there’s little point in performing an audit. It might be helpful to check that the technical side of your brand new website works well or is set up correctly, but beyond this, you probably won’t have sufficient data to make a full SEO audit worthwhile.

What Are Some of the Best SEO Auditing Tools?

There are several SEO auditing tools out there — some paid, some free — that can help you improve your site’s ranking on search results. These include:

Google Search Central: Google Search Console

Formerly known as Google Webmasters, Google Search Central has several tools designed to help you appear in the SERPs for the keywords or phrases your target audience is searching for. One of its notable tools is the Google Search Console, which can help you with your website analysis and SEO. This SEO site auditor optimizes, debugs, and monitors your website, and you don’t need in-depth coding knowledge to use it. Here some website elements that the tool can help you optimize:

  • Your website’s mobile-friendliness
  • Crawl errors on your website
  • The keywords that currently rank on your website
  • The number of web pages indexed by Google
  • The website-related metrics that are important to you, such as impressions, clicks, average position, and average click-through rate (CTR)

SEOlyzer

SEOyzer is a free log analysis, site crawling, and SEO tool that helps you determine how Google and other search engines view your website. The tool analyzes specific log files, parsing, and organizing them into actionable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which you can use to boost the performance of your website. The tool also checks your website for redirects, error codes, and page speed.

In addition, SEOlyzer can help you:

  • Segment your web pages to identify what your most crawled pages are.
  • Manage and analyze your unique KPIs, such as crawl volume, page performance, active and new pages, HTTP status codes, and mobile versus desktop responsiveness.
  • Quickly determine, and continually monitor, SEO problems on your site, including error messages, poor response time, and crawl volume so you can address them before serious damage is done.
  • Measure the impact of your SEO strategies.
  • Compare the web pages that you deem as the most important to the ones that search engines deem as the most important.

SEMrush

For more than ten years now, SEMrush has grown to become one of the most popular tools in the SEO space. It now offers an all-in-one digital marketing suite that comes with over 40 intel tools specializing in social media monitoring, rank tracking, content optimization, paid ad research, competitor intelligence, and keyword research.

When it comes to SEO audits, SEMrush offers a site audit tool that crawls through your website to identify issues relating to your page loading speeds, website crawlability, SEO content, meta tags, HTTPS security protocols, internal linking, CSS and JavaScript, and AMP implementation.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs is an advanced SEO tool that analyzes your web pages and generates links, keywords, and ranking profiles to help you make better decisions on your website’s content. Some of the tool’s main features include:

  • Website Explorer: This shows you the performance of a particular web page on your website.
  • Content Explorer: This allows you to determine high-performing web pages under specific topics and keywords.
  • Keywords Explorer: This shows you the click-through rates and monthly search volume of specific keywords.
  • Site Audit: This crawls specified verticals within your website domain and identifies several technical issues at the page level.

Bing Webmaster

Microsoft Bing Webmaster provides you with several tools that offer insight into your websites, such as diagnostic, reporting, and SEO tools. The SEO tools, which you can use for free, can help you analyze your website, review keywords, and manage backlinks to make sure your website is well-optimized for organic search. Other things you can do with Bing Webmaster’s SEO tools include:

  • Learning about your backlink profile to understand anchor links, domains, and referring pages.
  • Performing keyword research to find out which phrases and keywords your visitors are searching for, as well as the search volumes of those phrases and keywords.
  • Using the website scanning feature to crawl your site and find technical SEO errors.
  • Getting an SEO audit report that provides you with information about any errors that are on your site and individual web pages.

SEOquake

SEOquake is a web browser extension that automatically checks your web pages’ SEO parameters, including data file export, real-time domain and URL comparison, external and internal link review, and on-page SEO audits. Other things you can use the tool for are:

  • Exporting the results of your SEO analysis into a shareable and adjustable report.
  • Auditing your website’s SEO to identify any SEO-related issues.
  • Comparing different URLs and domains for the SEO parameters that matter to you.
  • Adjusting the SEOquake reports you get to show only the metrics and parameters that matter to you.
  • Getting detailed information on how all of your links are performing — including anchor text, URLs, and other link types.

SpyFu

Just like SEMrush, SpyFu offers a range of digital marketing tools for rank tracking, PPC research, competitor research, backlink tracking, keyword research, and more. The tool doesn’t provide you with a dedicated SEO audit tool, but it combines several tools to provide you with insights into your SEO campaign. For example, its SEO Keyword Research tool identifies the bad keywords that you should remove, while its Competitor Research checks other similar websites for potential errors.

Seoability

Seoability is a free SEO-checker tool that tests your site’s level of compliance with the SEO guidelines. It analyzes your website thoroughly and provides you with recommendations on how you can better optimize your site. Aside from a detailed SEO audit of your site, you’ll gain access to about 1,000 sub-pages audits, keyword monitoring, and email reporting and alerts. Here are other benefits of using Seobility:

  • Determine specific server issues related to any redirects, JavaScript and CSS files, or HTTP headers
  • Determine how your web page and link structure can be improved by getting information about your site’s internal links, headers, number of links, and incorrect anchor text
  • Identify areas for improvement in your page quality and speed (related to text, responsive design, duplicate content, and alt attributes for content)
  • Understand the specific SEO problems with your meta information, including meta tags, meta descriptions/titles, and incorrect or invalid page URLs or domain names
  • Get an SEO score for various website factors, such as link structure, page quality, meta-information, and more
  • Find on-page SEO issues, such as technical errors, so you can fix them quickly

DeepCrawl

DeepCrawl is a website crawler that provides you with granular metrics and data on your website’s technical health. The tool is especially handy when you need to redeem yourself from Google algorithm’s penalties, migrate your SEO settings, evaluate your website’s architecture, enhance your website’s overall user experience, and spy on your competitors. DeepCrawl archives all that by keeping tabs on your SEO progress history, testing XML sitemaps, as well as reviewing your meta headers, page titles, meta descriptions, content quality, and canonical tags.

Performing an SEO audit is quite technical and complicated. It may not sound like the most exciting activity in the world if you are not a person who is very enthusiastic about technology, but it can actually boost your site’s performance and revenue in ways that you may never imagine if done correctly.

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