Need to execute an effective SEO audit? These are the questions to ask yourself to maximize growth.
Organic search traffic is typically pretty reliable, so when you see a significant and rapid drop, it’s safe to assume something isn’t quite right. An SEO audit is the best way to identify any on-page SEO errors.
We often hear the question, “how long does it take to perform an SEO audit?
The answer is dependent on the size of the website, its age, the quality and speed of the site hosting provider, and the complexity of the technical infrastructure of the content management system (CMS).
A complete SEO audit is more complicated than it used to be. The elements Google uses in 2017 to determine where a given webpage ranks on search engine result pages (SERPs) are highly nuanced. Mobile-accessibility, server load time, site architecture, the quality of the content (which is, in turn, determined by another set of factors) and countless other technical and qualitative variables determine how well—or how poorly—a website ranks on search engine result pages (SERPs).
How Often Should I Perform an SEO Audit on my Site?
You should review your website for SEO opportunities and errors at least once a year. For larger websites (particularly sites built on custom CMSs and those who publish a high volume of index-able content), we recommend doing an SEO audit quarterly (once every three months).
If you’re launching, upgrading, or migrating a website it’s important to inspect it once every quarter to ensure everything is indexed smoothly, and that there is minimal disruption to the user experience.
Improperly redirecting traffic from old or outdated pages to newly updated pages can result in significant drops in site ranking and search engine traffic.
8 Steps to Follow for an Effective SEO Audit
A good SEO audit is, essentially, making sure that your website is in compliance with best practices set forth by Google, for the most part (search engines like Yahoo! Japan and Baidu are more competitive in Asia and Africa).
The point of an SEO audit is to discover technical errors or poor on-page SEO (the language and structure of the content itself) that is leading to poor search engine rankings.
Included with each step are questions intended to help you understand what it is you hope to achieve post-Audit. An SEO audit is only valid if the results yield a positive ROI.
1. Business Goals
What are my goals or objectives? What do I hope to achieve with the increase in traffic that will likely result from this site audit?
2. Keyword Research and Analysis
Do the semantics (word choice and structure) I’m using to describe the solution sought by my audience align with the way my target audience is searching for that solution?
3. Competitive Analysis
Who are my competitors for SERP space and what keywords are they using? In what manner is the information presented on a competitor’s site and how is it different than mine?
4. Technical Analysis or Off-Page SEO Audit
Does my website allow for search engines to index its content and is my CMS or website architecture set up in a way that’s hurting my ranking potential?
5. On-Page Analysis or On-Page SEO Audit
What are the pages that are bringing the most traffic to my website and what are some relatively quick ways to improve depth and quality of the information? Are the keywords that this page ranks for the most optimal based on my keyword research and analysis?
6. Content Audit: Content Strategy Analysis
Rather than focusing on individual keywords and semantic analysis, focus more broadly. How do I determine what content I’m producing for my website? Is my content providing the information or solutions my audience is seeking and is my content even attracting my target audience? What are the keywords or phrases that yield the biggest ROI? Into what categories can I segment my audience?
7. User Experience (UX), Information Architecture and Design Audit
Is my site mobile-friendly? How easy is it to use? Do I have any features enabled that are making it more difficult or inconvenient for people to engage with my website?
8. Backlink Audit
How relevant are the backlinks to my site? Are they authoritative or not?
How to Set and Manage SEO Goals and Objectives
SEO is no different than any other marketing medium or channel that you use to promote your business. When performing a first time SEO audit, or reviewing strategic objectives, make sure you are working towards a goal. Your goals are and should be what you or your business is endeavoring to achieve through SEO. Transparent and established strategic goals ensure your campaign remains focused on its intended purpose.
When setting goals for your search engine optimization campaign, be sure to associate each objective with a particular action or metric. If not, you’ll be unable to track progress and set key performance indicators (KPIs).
Secondly, make sure that it serves a practical purpose.
Example of impractical goal: “I manage a car insurance agency and I want to rank within the top 5 positions, on page 1 for the term ‘car insurance.’”
The above example is an unrealistic goal because it’s not tied to a particular action and, moreover, it’s going to be a very competitive term for a small business or startup to rank for immediately. A more appropriate goal is: “I want to increase impressions on the keyword ‘car insurance in Atlanta, GA. Doing so will give me an estimated XX% in leads, which, if I maintain my conversion rate, will generate an estimated $XX in revenue.”
A better method would be to analyze long-tail queries about the term “car insurance.” To do this, your team (or you) must test optimizing a given page for many tens of, hundreds of or even thousands of long-tail keywords that build context around the target short-tail keyword.
Analyzing long-tail keywords is an unbelievably beneficial product ideation and conceptualization technique. We’ve developed insanely profitable products and remarkably powerful conversion messaging for clients based on in-depth analysis of the long-tail keywords driving the most enthusiastic engagement from their target audiences.
Consistent, cyclical critical analysis of SEO can seem cumbersome. However, this collaborative process is essential for anyone seeking to establish achievable goals to drive audience development and revenue-generating initiatives.