Website optimization is no longer optional. Modern consumers rely heavily on online platforms and tools for their purchasing decisions. They use the internet to research brands, products and services, making sure that when they decide to purchase, they choose the one that best addresses their needs.
With the change in user behavior, search engine optimisation (SEO) has become more crucial than ever for businesses. More and more shoppers are choosing to make their purchases online, in the comforts of their own homes, even if they already have the option to go out.
What does this mean for businesses? It means that your internet marketing efforts should be doubled. This includes having an SEO strategy that is more aggressive, since the competition has only grown fiercer.
The backbone of a solid website optimisation strategy is conducting regular SEO audits.
What is an SEO website audit?
An SEO audit evaluates your website for its ability to rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). An audit checks the health of your website, looking at your backlinks, keyword usage, content and other major ranking factors used by Google.
Ever wonder why your website doesn’t get the traffic you want even with the amount of time and money you spend on SEO? Do you ask why a competitor’s website is ranking higher than yours even though you have the same topic, products or services? If so, how do you outrank your competitors?
The answer to your problem can be solved with an SEO audit.
Why is an SEO Audit Important?
With an SEO audit, you’ll be able to spot areas for improvement, get baseline metrics and determine how to adjust your optimisation strategy. You may also compare your website performance to that of your competitor’s. It gives you some insight into what your target market wants to see in a business like yours.
For small businesses, conducting a site audit once every six months should be enough. But if you have a larger company publishing new website content every month, a quarterly audit will help you better evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts.
So, how do you perform a website SEO analysis?
SEO Audit Strategy
A typical site audit includes the following:
- Technical Analysis
- On-Page Analysis
- Off-Page Analysis
- Competitive Analysis and Keyword Research
First, you want to make sure that your website is working as designed. A technical SEO audit looks at the architecture of your website and makes sure that search engines can properly crawl and index your site. Technical analysis helps you with two things: accessibility and indexability.
Accessibility refers to the user’s and the search engine’s ability to see your web pages. Check your robots.txt files and meta tags to assess your site’s accessibility.
A robots.txt file tells search engine crawlers which web pages they can access. If they can’t crawl the page, Google won’t be able to index and rank it. In other words, it won’t appear on SERPs.
You can restrict access to areas of your site that you don’t want to be indexed, such as duplicate content and pages that are still under development.
Apart from your robots.txt files, XML sitemaps are another critical aspect of your technical SEO. They provide a roadmap of your website, allowing Google to see and access all the pages that need to be crawled and indexed.
Indexability goes hand-in-hand with accessibility. Both are necessary for users to see your web pages. If your pages are indexable, it means they show up on SERPs.
If your website has indexability issues, the search engine won’t show it to users, and you might get a penalty for it. There can be various reasons behind a Google penalty. You’ll get a message on your webmaster’s tool account about the penalty. Check the message to find out what the issue is so that you can rectify it immediately. Then, request reconsideration from Google.
It’s crucial to resolve accessibility and indexability problems quickly. Otherwise, you risk losing potential website visitors.
After checking the technical aspect of your site, move on to the user-facing side. From a user experience perspective, your website content should have a readable layout with relevant information.
From an SEO perspective, your content should be optimised according to search engine algorithms. Follow on-page content best practices, such as inserting targeted keywords in the article, including meta descriptions and putting image alt tags, among others.
When doing your site audit, watch out for these common on-page issues:
- Duplicate content: Although Google doesn’t penalise duplicate content, this issue can still affect your rankings. Identical content confuses the algorithm, forcing the search engine to choose one page for the top search results. It means that only one of your two identical pages gets ranked, so the other doesn’t provide much SEO value.
- Temporary redirect: A 302 redirect informs the search engine that the page has been moved temporarily. The search engine won’t remove the original page from its index, so you’ll retain its ranking, authority and traffic value. However, many website owners make the mistake of using a 302 for permanent redirection (which should be a 301). Although there’s no penalty for this kind of error, a 302 redirect doesn’t allow you to pass any link authority to the new page where your content now resides. Only a 301 redirect can do that. Using 302 for permanent redirection can cost you some valuable link juice.
- Keyword Cannibalisation: Many businesses think that the more pages you have targeting a specific keyword, the better you’ll rank for the search term. This is a misconception. When you do this, you’re competing with yourself for the top result. The search engine will have a difficult time distinguishing between the two pages and might end up devaluing the more relevant article.
Off-page SEO analysis is all about raising your domain authority. Your domain authority affects your search ranking – the higher the score, the greater the ability to rank high.
Search engines also favour websites with higher domain authority scores over those with low ratings. Those with better domain authority appear more trustworthy and relevant to users, which means they’re worth putting at the top of search results.
One of the things you want to look into when doing off-page analysis is bad backlinking. Unnatural and suspicious backlinks can put your credibility into question. Users and search engines might think that these backlinks indicate that your website isn’t capable of getting quality links. Do a website check for your suspicious backlinks and remove them if necessary.
You might also want to look at the freshness of your backlinks. A high-quality webpage continues to get new backlinks, indicating that the content is evergreen. If a page stops generating new backlinks, the search engine might assume that it’s no longer relevant to readers.
Competitive Analysis and Keyword Research
Top keywords change all the time. It’s essential to keep an eye on traffic-driving keywords so you can adjust your SEO strategy accordingly.
Through keyword research, you’ll also see which of your current keyword bids are getting enough clicks and which ones aren’t providing any SEO value. You can replace the underperforming keywords with ones that drive a lot of traffic but have low competition/difficulty (higher chances of ranking).
Competitive analysis is a crucial aspect of keyword research. Your competitors may be targeting high-volume keywords that you haven’t considered. Look at the keywords they’re using in their content, especially the ones that are driving traffic and attracting clicks. Doing so will show you the search terms that your target audience uses to research businesses like yours – words and phrases that may not have appeared on your own keyword research.
Why do you need to conduct an SEO audit?
A good SEO strategy is adaptable. A lot of factors go into website optimisation, and most of these factors are always adjusting. For instance, search engines update their algorithms frequently and consumers follow various trends at a time. You don’t have to do it alone, for one, there are SEO tools available today for free or on subscription basis. So, unlike before where SEO experts have to manually conduct audits and optimisation, you now have access to these tools to enable you to do your tasks faster and more efficiently.
On another, you can also partner with a trusted digital marketing agency offering seo services and have them perform the work for you. This is if you’re not too savvy with SEO yet, or you don’t have the time to actively do the job.
SEO involves in-depth analytics and may get more technical as you go along. This is why more companies are investing in it. If you want to compete in the big league, you have to step it up and bring your A-game right from the start.
You have to stay on your toes to make sure your search ranking goes up and stays up, regardless of these changes. It underscores the need to have someone adept with SEO look at your site and make expert recommendations on how to go high and stay high on SERPs.
If you need more information about SEO and other outsourced digital marketing services, get in touch with us today. Let experts take care of your on-page optimisation, link building and technical SEO needs.
No matter what you decide on doing, the important thing is to start now and start right. Improve your online visibility and drive more qualified website traffic. More traffic means more leads, and more leads mean more opportunities for conversion.