Simply put, a SEO audit is a process to evaluate your business website, to ensure it is properly optimized for higher ranking in search engine results. This information can help you make decisions about how to make changes to your website to attract more Internet traffic, leading to more paying customers. A SEO audit should, at a minimum, always be done at the beginning of a new project, and at the beginning of a new quarter. Let’s take a look at the essential components of a SEO audit.
The technical analysis of the SEO audit evaluates if your website is functioning properly. This part of the audit is composed of two aspects – accessibility and indexability. Accessibility means your website can be accessed by search engines, such as Google, as well as Internet users. There are a number of details to evaluate the accessibility of your website. Check the robots.txt file and robots meta tags, to restrict access to certain parts of your website, but make sure the XML sitemap is accessible.
Take a look at your website’s overall architecture, particularly the number of clicks required to navigate from the home page to a destination page of the website. The fewer clicks, the easier it is for crawlers to access that destination page. If you have moved or deleted content, make sure that redirects are in place to lead visitors to the proper page. Make sure you have the applicable social media buttons on all of your website pages. Making sure that your website is mobile-friendly is an absolute must. Improve the loading speed of your website by optimizing text, images and videos.
Indexability refers to the pages that are listed within the search engines, after those pages are accessed. Keep in mind that a big company with lots of content will be indexed more quickly than the smaller website with only occasional postings — meaning it may take longer for a small company to appear in search results. When evaluating indexability, look for things that affect the loading speed of the webpage. Make sure you don’t have duplicate content on various pages of your website, and check for broken links.
Onpage analysis is the part of the audit that addresses both general content issues and individual page issues. General content issues include duplicate content in various areas of your website and keyword cannibalization (using the same keyword too often). Another general content issue is content that has nothing to do with the purpose of your website. For example, if your business is related to computers, don’t create content related to home improvement or gardening.
Use H1 for the main title, H2 for the main headings, and bold and italics for the important parts of your webpages. Lists can be used when appropriate, to break information down into smaller chunks of information. Use a clean, appropriate URL that is properly formatted, and do the same with the titles. Each page should have a unique title, and the description should be a quick summary of what the visitor will find on the webpage. When creating content, always make sure it is original and free from grammatical mistakes and typos, and longer articles are preferred. Make sure visitors can access a user sitemap, for easier navigation through your website, and create a consistent Web design style. Optimize images by compressing them, defining the ALT tag, and make sure that the image filenames are related to the images themselves. Lastly, link your pages together, for easier navigation, and use relevant links with proper keywords.
Offpage analysis is a little more complex and not always clearly defined. This analysis shows how popular your website is, if other websites are linking to it, and the trustworthiness and credibility of your site. This part of the audit should look at mentions of your website on social media, and how visible your business is on the Internet. Evaluate your website’s authority, meaning that people can trust your website to be honest and provide accurate information.
Of course, you’ll also want to look at your website’s ranking in search engine results because this is often the part of the SEO audit that is most important to business owners. You can also analyze the profiles of incoming links and find out just who is linking to your website. However, you should avoid black hat SEO; this will only result in penalties from search engines, and if the offense is grievous enough, can result in your website being dropped from the search engine completely.
Competitive Analysis and Keyword Research
The last parts of the SEO audit are the competitive analysis and research of keywords. Some may consider these two things to be completely separate but, in actuality, if you’re analyzing keywords, you’re also analyzing your competitors. Note what keywords your competitors are using, along with how their websites are designed.
When you’re considering specific keywords and phrases, consider both the volume and the difficulty of the keyword. You don’t want keywords that are used by nearly every other business in your industry, but you also don’t want keywords that no Internet user will use, either. The ideal is a keyword that has both medium difficulty and medium search volume. This will allow you to target certain Internet users, without having to fight all the other companies out there for those users.
A SEO audit can provide a great deal of useful information about your website and its potential for success. That’s why it’s so important to re-evaluate your business website on a regular basis, just as you go over sales reports and expense accounts.
John Stone is a business consultant at Algorithm Seo Sydney. He is a believer in the notion that form should always follow function and that developing the ability to think outside of the box is a prerequisite of being a successful entrepreneur. You can get in touch with him on Twitter.