Alright, I want you to go ahead and take a moment to think about how your website is performing. Do you know if it's kicking butt and taking names? Or is it just meh? Here's the thing, you NEED to know how well your site is performing. It isn't something that you can just get away with not knowing. Especially if you want to up your website's game. Yes, the importance of regular audits are really important but when you only know the basics of SEO (search engine optimization) it can be incredibly difficult to comprehend.
I'm here to tell you that it doesn't have to be. Which is great, because in today's digital marketing it's incredibly important to know what you're doing. So, if you want to know how to perform an SEO audit in 2018, this post is for you. Today we're sharing some of the latest tools and a few great tips on how you can better understand the process of SEO audits.
Why is an SEO audit even necessary?
I know you can't just take my word for it so here's the deal. An SEO audit is like an all-around physical for your website. Whenever you perform these types of audits you can prevent spam and figure out how to best optimize your site. An audit helps you stay on top of things and makes sure your site is working for you. And not the other way around.
Another reason that SEO audits are extremely important... Google frequently changes their algorithm and you need to make sure that your site aligns with them. Doing so will keep you on top of the game and more than likely ahead of your competitors. This becomes even more important when you factor in new technology and search patterns.
A proper SEO audit will tell you how well your site is functioning in comparison to the market while still covering a lot of other areas as well.
What An SEO Audit Generally Covers
Keyword usage will help you determine if your keyword usage is relevant, well placed, and ready to bring in the most amount of traffic. A word of advice... when it comes to keywords you need to choose a specific set of keywords to target. So if you have a list of a thousand keywords, it's time to ditch 'em. Especially if they aren't specific at all. Depending on your budget and resources, it's best to stick with 10, 20, or 100 keywords.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI):
LSI refers to the context and intent behind a given search. As technology advances (I'm looking at you AI) it has the ability to understand even more in the way of specific meaning. This could possibly account for things like secondary and long-tail keywords with more frequency.
Organic Search Rankings:
If you pay for sponsored ads, you should always be on the lookout for ways to cut down on spending. An SEO audit is a great way to see how well you're actually doing in organic searches. If you're at the top of those organic search results, you won't have to spend as much on paid advertising. You can also use this information to your advantage as a way to create more strategies with organic reach at the forefront.
An SEO audit can also help you to understand where there might be a problematic code. This is important because if there are any bugs in your code it will slow down your site, which could result in you getting pushed further down the search rankings. Your best bet is to hire a web developer expert if you lack the knowledge. It's definitely worth it.
Not only do SEO audits help with getting the most out of searches, but it also helps to keep you in line with your competitors. Therefore you need to make sure to regularly check your SEO rankings and keyword placement. It also doesn't hurt to check your meta tags and links. Don't forget to check out some of the Worst SEO tactics and how to avoid them.
Investigating the SERP
It also doesn't hurt to do some SERP investigation. So go ahead and perform a search query in Google and see what comes up. This is one of the best ways to figure out what Google finds to be relevant to the keywords searchers. The reason behind this is so you can determine the type of content that's required. If you can find holes in the search queries you might be able to find a way to fill that gap and take over the ranking position.
Which is better: a manual audit or an automated one?
It should be noted that an automated scan once a month is great when it comes to basic factors. Such as bounce rate, page views, and conversions. This type of audit is often enough to bring up any major issues. And if you find any significant ones, you can contact who you need to in order to get a more detailed audit. As for a more thorough check, that should be done annually.
Whenever you do a full audit your site is assessed and you'll end up with some key indicators on what needs to be optimized for better SEO.
Here are a few key areas to focus on when doing an SEO check:
- Meta Descriptions: Are they the right length and are they unique to each page?
- Content: Is your copy formatted, informative, and well-written?
- URL Structure: Are ALL of your URLs simple and unique?
- Links: Are there an average of 5 per page? Do they work?
- Website Structure: It is clear and easy to navigate?
- Images: Are the descriptions accurate?
A complete and thorough check will analyze your landing page and how it relates to other pages. It's important to ask the following questions. Are the pages and menus user-friendly? Are banners and ads used in an effective way? Page speed is another factor when it comes to down a proper SEO audit. Seriously, your page time matters. If it's too slow, you'll end up losing customers.
Do you really need a specialist to do an SEO audit?
I'm a huge fan of DIY, but when it comes to an SEO audit, it doesn't hurt to use a specialist if you want a more in-depth audit. And if you do choose the DIY route, there are a plethora of ways to check some elements on your site all on your own.
Below are the main areas that a check will cover and the type that specialists might want to cover...
Technical: This checks the code (or foundation) of the website. A web developer will be your best bet when it comes to this type of audit.
On Page: This is definitely something you can check on your own. Take a look at your links, meta tags, and the overall user experience. This is where your content manager can help out.
Off Page: This is a look at what other people aka your competitors are doing. It also doesn't hurt to take a look at search engines too. Take a look at how well your site is indexed and how it ranks in search engines. A good off page audit checks for the following:
- possible link opportunities
- competitiveness of keywords
- the performance of different types of content
2018 SEO Audit Tools
For those of us who aren't SEO experts, there are a lot of tools out there that can assist you in performing an effective SEO audit. Below are some of the best audit tools of 2018:
Google Analytics: Talk about the gold standard of SEO auditing. This is definitely a must-have for any industry. It will give you key indicators of a wide variety of metrics and also guide you towards better SEO. Analytics is also something that you can continually use to track and monitor traffic.
Google Webmaster Tools (Search Console): Google is awesome becomes it provides several tools that are affordable. Best of all it allows ANYONE to do regular SEO checks. This will help you see your page as Google sees it. Which is great when it comes to checking the performance of your site.
Check My Links: This tool lets you check your links to make sure they work in favor of traffic, instead of against it. It will point out any broken links and the appropriate density of the links. In addition, it also checks the structure of both external and internal links. Granted, this is fairly easy to do manually, but this tool lets you do it in seconds.
SEO Report Card: If you're looking to see how your site compares to the competition this tool is perfect. It will go over things like link building structures, rank analysis, trust metrics, and authority baseline. Plus it assesses your site's overall user-friendliness and speed.
MOZ’s Crawl Test Tool: If you sign up for a pro subscription with MOZ, you'll get a lovely little tool that helps you boost your page ranking and gives you growth reports. Basically, MOZ uses its crawler to analyze your pages and then sends you a report.
It really is important to crawl your own site.
Trust me, there are a lot of reasons to crawl your own site. What it really comes down to is that you have a chance to find areas that need improvement. You can find technical gaps that might have been missed during development and match what you find to earlier audits. If you find that MOZ isn't for you, there are other options like SEMrush, Screaming Frog, DeepCrawl, and Botify.
How important is an SEO audit?
You NEED to check your website's overall health. It's really the only way to ensure its usability (both internally and externally). You should also do an internal investigation of the sitemap, anchor text, and social media platforms. Load time is a huge deal, and doing a thorough audit gives you the chance to see if there any major issues.
An SEO audit is important because you need to make sure that your site isn't getting penalized for something Google doesn't approve of. These SEO flaws could severely damage your site's ranking. Now there are A LOT of tiny details that can result from this. And if you aren't an SEO expert, you could be already doing these Google no-nos without even knowing it. Whenever you do get an external audit, you'll get detailed feedback about best practices with your content, linking, etc. Seriously, knowledge is power.
It goes without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway. The last thing you need is to be penalized for something on your site that you had no idea was hurting the rankings. Because when it comes down to it, this error could be costing you thousands of dollars. And if it's a complex issue that you don't know how to fix, you need to get a professional and stat!
I get it, doing a full SEO audit seems complicated and technical.
Yes, it really can be. And if you're that DIY-er I mentioned up above, there are a ton of technical posts on how to complete a full one. P.S. This is where Google is your best friend. But there are a lot of SEO audits that you can do on your own. Especially with the tools mentioned above. It might not be the most exhilarating activity in the world, but it really can boost your revenue in a myriad of ways.
Therefore it's worth a little time and effort when it comes to investigating the overall performance of your site. It will be less overwhelming if you do it regularly too. It's easy to become an expert. So go ahead and do a check once a month using some of those easy tools I listed up above. Then have an annual review of your site done by a specialist. It really is a great way to get information on all kinds of metrics if you stay on top of it. Besides, your clients will thank you for it.
Have you looked into doing an SEO audit before? What seems more appealing, the DIY route or hiring an expert? Let us know in the comments below, so we can discuss!