How well is your search engine optimisation (SEO) doing? When’s the last time you’ve checked up on your SEO campaigns? In fact, have you ever done so? Chances are you haven’t and it’s in part due to you not having a clue of how to do an SEO audit.
And that’s alright – for now. But you won’t get away with this for long. If you don’t keep an eye on your on-page and off-page SEO, then you’re going to run your campaign into the ground.
While hiring an expert who knows how to do SEO audits is ideal, it’s still a good idea to learn a thing or two yourself. This way, you can do some things on your own and ensure the professional you hire actually knows what they’re doing.
Now, let’s take a look at what an SEO audit entails.
First, What’s an SEO Audit?
If this is your first time hearing about SEO audits, it’s pretty much just as it sounds. It’s performing an audit on your optimisation efforts to see if it’s working. In many cases, during the audit, you’ll find there are missing components that can improve your rankings in search engines.
When you hire a professional to do your SEO audit, they’ll provide you with three things. A review of your site’s current state, a list of things you need to do to improve your SEO, and a report showing strategies you can implement to enhance your SEO efforts.
It’s best to check both your on-site and off-site SEO, since the two work hand-in-hand.
What’s On-Site SEO?
On-site SEO has to do with all your optimisation efforts done directly on your website. For example, placing keywords in the content of your home page and blog count as on-site SEO. But it goes a little further than this – the audit also looks at your page titles, descriptions, and meta tags.
This is the data that search engine bots review when ranking your web pages. Some of the things you want to look for is whether these are present and if they contain the right amount of keywords. It’s essential that you not overstuff them with keywords because this will hurt your SEO.
Also, your titles should be somewhere between 50 and 65 characters, and your description tag should sit between 150 and 160 characters.
Even your URL structure should be properly formatted. Ideally, it should look something like this: http://www.forexample.com/good-formation-for-url.
A bad example would look like this: http://www.forexample.com/10/incorrectformatforurl/1234556.
Your URL should contain your keyword from the page title. Next, let’s go over the other elements that work together to improve your on-site SEO.
Auditing Your Site’s Content
Content is the lifeblood of your digital marketing strategy. Your SEO relies heavily on your ability to produce quality content that’s optimised for search engines. Not only should they contain relevant keywords, but they should be written in a way that’s engaging and be 100% unique.
Duplicate content will quickly de-rank your site in search engines and will even land you with a Google penalty. This includes copying and pasting product descriptions from manufacturer websites. So make sure these are uniquely written as well.
Your backlink profile can also help or hurt your SEO. If there are sites linking back to your web pages that are low-quality, irrelevant, and low-authority, then this will hurt your SEO efforts. This is why you should have a strategy for getting links on high-authority, relevant sites.
But other than external links, you also want to include internal links in your content. These are links placed on your pages pointing to other pages on your site. This helps users to find relevant content they’re looking for. Plus, it helps your SEO.
Checking for Broken Links
Links are very important, which is why you should check through them all to ensure none are broken. If you leave broken links on your site, it’ll cause your site to lose points with Google. Thankfully, you don’t have to go through your entire site to find them manually.
There are tools you can use instead, like Xenu. It’s free and will provide a report of all the broken links throughout your site. Quickly fix or remove them.
Performing a Website Crawl
The quickest way to find out how your on-site SEO is doing is to implement tools that can crawl your site. This acts the same as Google spiders and bots and will identify shortcomings in your site. Examples of tools you can use include Beam Us Up and Screaming Frog.
Once that’s complete, it’ll show you the findings. Meanwhile, you can continue on with your SEO audit.
Testing for User-Friendliness
If you’re focusing all of your SEO on pleasing search engines, then you’re going to come up short with your human audience. Make sure you’re focusing on human engagement because this plays a big role in your ranking.
The best way to ensure your site is pleasing to humans is to focus on user-friendliness. This is why those broken backlinks must go – they kill the flow of interaction with your site. It’s also important for your site design to be responsive.
This means it’ll adapt to whatever screen size the user’s on. It’ll shrink for mobile devices and widen for desktops. The placement and sizes of buttons also change to make it easier for thumbs and fingers to press.
Aside from design, you need the flow of your site to be on point. Are users able to find what they need within three clicks? How about the navigation menus – is that easily found and understandable?
Also, if you’re monetising your site with ads, avoid making them blend in with the content. They should be easily distinguishable from the rest of your site.
Last, place a sitemap at the bottom of the page so users can quickly find what they need. And it’ll also help search engine bots find these pages and rank them.
Analyzing Your Site Speed
Google hates slow-loading sites about as much as users do. Most internet surfers today bounce away from a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
Having a Flash intro can also kill your page load speed and it slows down the user’s access to the site, which can increase bounce rates.
Reviewing Web Site Structure
The layout of your page design is critical to providing a quality experience to your users. This will appease both your robot and human visitors.
Again, your navigation menu needs to be in a place that’s easy to find. And the words for the links should act as descriptions for the pages they lead to. If there are a lot of links, then group them in relevant categories.
The content structure of each page should be clear and grouped together with other relevant content.
In other words, organisation is key.
Auditing Off-Site SEO
The majority of your SEO auditing will consist of going through your on-site optimisations. However, there are some off-site elements you want to check out as well. For instance, your external links. You’ll need to audit where they’re coming from to ensure they’re not dragging down your ranking.
This is also a good time to analyze your competition’s position in the search engine results pages (SERPs). What keywords are they ranking for and what strategies are they implementing? This can help you to compete in areas you’re lacking in and even take advantage of the areas they’re lacking in.
For instance, if they’re not targeting certain keywords that your audience is using (and that’s low-competition), then you can start pushing those phrases more. Or if they’re not covering certain topics your audience is interested in, then you can.
It’s also important to check through your social media marketing efforts. Do you have social media buttons on all of your pages? Do you already have business pages set up on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and other platforms your audience frequents?
Tying together your SEO and social media is key to driving more traffic and showing Google you’re relevant.
Now that You Understand How to Do an SEO Audit…
It’s time to start putting one in motion for your website. SEO is consistently changing, which means you need to stay on top of your SEO strategy. By conducting regular SEO audits, you can ensure your SEO meets the current standards of Google and other search engines.
At minimum, you should be doing SEO audits twice a year – every six months. And don’t just stop with learning how to do an SEO audit. Make sure you’re conducting them and then implementing solutions to the problems you find.
If you need expert help with auditing and fixing your SEO, then Optimise and Grow Online can help. We have a team of experts who can assist with auditing your SEO and building SEO strategies that work.
Contact us today to see how we can help!