While marketers and businesses are leveraging SEO best practices to boost their reach and increase traffic, search engines are daily changing their algorithms – transforming those best practices. The tricky part is that no one really knows what those algorithms are. Businesses are left playing a game of Clue. Instead of asking if Colonel Mustard killed Mr. Body in the Library, businesses are asking if the geo-marketing in the blogs is improving their SEO.
In the early days of SEO, clunky and often exploitative tactics like link purchasing and keyword stuffing let some sites quickly climb in SERPs (search engine results pages), but these tactics no longer work.
Today, those looking to optimize their website for search engines must ensure their websites use keywords effectively, bid on keywords appropriately with paid search advertising, and generally strive to ensure all the content published to their websites is valuable, relevant, and engaging for human readers, not just search engine bots. A solid SEO strategy is essential for any brand striving for success in search engine marketing, and a yearly SEO audit can help any SEO team discover pitfalls and opportunities so they can implement impactful changes.
What Is an SEO Audit?
An SEO audit requires creating a checklist of all the goals you expect to achieve with your SEO strategy and then comparing your current SEO data to those goals. This process informs you as to what you need to change with your on-page SEO, paid ads, keyword bids, and other elements of your overall SEO strategy to meet your goals. An SEO audit is ultimately a holistic review of every element of your SEO strategy that allows you to make more informed and measured decisions in the future.
What to Expect With Your Yearly SEO Audit
New technology, shifting consumer trends, and behavioral changes among the consumers in your market all heavily influence your SEO strategy’s success. Many SEO teams that conduct yearly audits tend to expect consistent growth and improvement in areas that were shortfalls during the previous audit, but this isn’t always the case. You might find that the changes you made and expected to be most impactful showed little to no improvement, while other areas you didn’t expect to see much improvement had more impressive results.
Stay in Touch With Consumer Trends
Your target audience may not behave the same way one year from now as it does today. The way you connect and interact with your audience is not a one-time decision; your SEO and marketing teams must remain flexible and agile to respond to changes in consumer preferences, market upheavals, and behavioral changes.
For example, new search engine functionality can shift the way users find and engage with your site. The off-page link profile you’ve cultivated over the last year may draw in more traffic than you expected, but if this traffic doesn’t have the conversion rate you’d like to see, it may be time to rethink your strategy.
Ultimately, the effort you put into your SEO audit and tracking consumer trends will help you rank higher than your biggest competitors. Modern consumers want to do business with brands that resonate with them on personal levels and display ongoing commitment to helping them achieve their goals and meet their needs. Track your SEO performance over time, then you’ll have some ideas about how to respond to the trends and consumer behavioral changes you discover.
Benchmark Your SEO Analytics Monthly
Consistent metrics tracking is an essential component to any SEO strategy, and monthly benchmarks will help make your SEO audit run more smoothly and efficiently. Draft an SEO report monthly to track progress over the course of the full year. Your monthly progress can help you extract relevant trends from the year, and you may even see opportunities to implement changes before your audit. When it comes time to perform your audit, refer back to the changes you made throughout the year to measure the impact of each change for your overall SEO strategy.
Optimize On-Site SEO
Google and other search engines rank sites based on many different factors, and on-page SEO elements are some of the most important. Luckily, these are some of the elements of a SEO strategy over which you have the most control.
Some of the most important on-page SEO factors to measure in your audit include:
- Meta titles and descriptions for each page. Ensure that every page of your site has a unique meta title and description so you don’t suffer a search engine penalty for duplicate content.
- Unique URLs. Does every page on your site have its own unique URL? Format them to include keywords to rank better in search engine results and differentiate between the different pages on your site. URLs should be readable to humans, not just search engine bots.
- Text formatting and H-tagging. H-tags help search engine bots differentiate among titles, subheadings, and the text copy on your website.
- Content. The written content you publish to your website is generally the most valuable aspect of your overall SEO strategy. Do not publish mediocre content overly laden with keywords and instead strive for valuable, information-rich content with naturally placed keywords throughout the text.
- Internal linking. Use keyword anchor text for internal links, and make sure that the pages you want to rank the highest have links on your homepage. Pages with greater numbers of internal links tend to rank better, but avoid stuffing them with links; aim for two to ten per page.
Off-site SEO is a bit harder to control, but it’s still essential to keep track of the sites linking back to your own and to disavow any suspicious or harmful backlinks so they do not count against you with Google and other search engine’s algorithms.
Gain an Edge Over Your Competition
Once you have a firm grasp of what works and what needs more attention on your site, you can start comparing your SEO strategy to your competitors’. Many tools exist that allow you to see what works for your competitors when it comes to SEO. Services like SpyFu and BuzzSumo can be tremendous assets, allowing you to effectively spy on your competition and see which keywords and content formats give them the best results. Use this information to your advantage and effectively steal their thunder by leveraging those tactics with your own SEO strategy. Pay attention to how your competitors respond to new trends and the results of the changes they make in their keyword usage and content publication schedule.
Leverage Social Media Effectively
Do you track your social media engagement stats on a regular basis? If you notice a recent drop in traffic, fewer replies, comments, and shares on your social media content in recent months, or other changes, it may be time to reconsider your strategy. Did you recently launch a new social media marketing campaign that failed to generate the level of engagement you expected? Perhaps a competitor recently launched a different type of social media marketing campaign that drew traffic away from your profiles. Social media can boost linking back to your website, so make sure you are leveraging the power of social media.
Make Your Yearly SEO Audit a Functional Part of Your SEO Strategy
The insights gained from a yearly SEO audit can be an invaluable part of any brand’s marketing strategy. Modern digital marketing needs to be responsive if it is to be successful, and this means keeping a constant finger on the pulse of your target audience, consumer trends, competing strategies, and the on-page elements of your website that directly impact your search result rankings. Start tracking your SEO data and devote the appropriate resources to your annual SEO audit to see increased website traffic and conversions year after year.