October 23, 2017
“Social may be sexy, but search still pays the bills.”
— Tom Pick, B2B digital marketing consultant
SEO audits can be tedious, mind-numbing excursions into the inner-workings of one’s website. This procedure, however, is crucial because it holds immense potential to boost a site’s rankings and revenue.
Through conducting such an audit, site owners can develop actionable solutions to resolve any onsite issues and challenge competitor’s rankings.
SEO audits are vital to the health and wellbeing of a site because Google is constantly updating its algorithms and SEO rule changes are always in flux. This means that to remain up-to-date, audits are an essential tool.
Conducting regular audits enables site owners to ensure all elements are working properly, performing optimally, and providing an opportunity to introduce fresh design elements and SEO-optimized content offerings.
If your site is due to go under review, check out these six steps to conducting a thorough SEO site audit.
1. Start with a Crawl
Every SEO audit should begin with a comprehensive crawl to determine the situation overall and identify any specific issues; this will be the foundation for all other actions.
Tools like Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider are perfect for small business owners because the free version provides a fair number of features, while the paid version is reasonably priced.
With this tool, entrepreneurs simply need to enter their site’s URL and the tool will begin the analyzation process. When the crawl has run its course, users will be able to identify any broken links, duplicate content and other on-page flaws.
Since this tool integrates with Google Analytics, users can compare various data points such as bounce rates to get a better idea of what is happening on their website.
2. Research Your Speed
Website speed impacts SEO as a ranking factor, and through user experience. Slow sites increase bounce rates which lowers rankings. This means that determining and lowering your site’s load time is vital.
Business owners can determine the health of their site’s speed by utilizing Google’s PageSpeed Insights to establish how quickly page’s render on desktop and mobile.
Alternatively, YSlow is another free tool for checking your site’s speed; it also provides suggestions for improvements.
If neither of these tools seem suitable, Pingdom Website Speed Test is another choice for gaining a detailed list of on-page elements, along with individual load times.
Understanding which areas need improvement will enable you to optimize your site’s speed and performance.
3. Study Your Site Structure
Good site structure is another pertinent element to excelling in SEO because this affects user experience and how bots perceive the site. Therefore, possessing (and submitting) an accurate sitemap is vital.
One obvious necessity of good site structure is including all your site’s main pages in the navigation menu of your site; this enables users and bots to easily find what they are searching for.
Similarly, internal links should be implemented to send users (and bots) from one webpage to another internal destination.
Another commonly overlooked but critical structural element is strong URLs. These should be composed in a uniform way that features clear and simple naming conventions. Be sure to avoid using any symbols or numbers, if you can.
4. Review Your Content
Content is likely to be one of the most influential factors to your site’s SEO.
It is well known that Google favors long-form, valuable, unique and regularly updated pieces that meet the needs of the searcher. This is what all your site’s content should accomplish; meeting the user’s needs.
Leveraging tools like Moz Pro’s Page Optimization enables entrepreneurs to establish how their pages rank for various keywords. This information provides a guide for enhancing rankings for specific phrases.
When optimizing for keywords, however, be sure that the content works in these words in a natural manner, and above all, addresses the intent associated with the article.
As far as length is concerned, articles should be comprehensive enough to provide value to searchers, while not so long as to deter them from reading. Generally, 1,000 to 2,500 words tends to be the ideal length for SEO.
5. Test Your Tags
An assortment of website tags are vital to maintaining healthy standings with search engines.
Creating concise title tags that relay the purpose of various webpages is a necessity because longer titles will be cut off by search engines. Additionally, it is good practice to include relevant keywords in these titles, but always avoid stuffing.
Meta-tags describe webpages to users from the search engine. These don’t directly impact SEO, but they do help searchers determine if they want to visit your page, so be sure to use this space wisely.
Image alt-tags provide search engine bots what they need to know about the images used on your site. Leverage relevant keywords here to help bots understand what they are looking at.
Additionally, be sure to include canonical tags on each page of your HTML code to prevent duplicate content from becoming an issue.
6. Correct Broken Links
Backlinks are an essential element of a healthy SEO portfolio. Using the quality of these links, search engines make assessments of the quality of your site.
In today’s online landscape, quality dominates quantity. This means that if any scrupulous sites are pointing to your pages, it could be bringing your site down.
Using tools like Majestic, users can identify any undesirably sites associating themselves with your business, uncover broken links, and gain other valuable SEO-related insights to help increase your website’s overall health.
A SEO audit can be a challenging and time-consuming endeavor. By putting in the necessary time and effort, however, you can ensure that your site is operating at optimal performance levels needed to outrank the competition. If you focus on just one marketing tactic, SEO is arguably the most critical component. So don’t let your errors go unnoticed.
Is your site overdue for an audit? Which part of the process do you find most frustrating?
Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach. Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.