An SEO audit is the first fundamental phase of SEO optimization for any website. In short, this is checking the current health status of the site.
To achieve success online, you need to put more effort into SEO. If you don’t, your site may fall behind in rankings, and potential customers won’t be able to find you. If you neglect your SEO, it means that you are ignoring your sales.
Understanding the Basics of SEO Audits
An SEO audit involves a detailed examination of various on-page and off-page elements that affect a website’s ranking in search engines. The purpose is to identify issues that need to be addressed immediately. These issues include, but are not limited to, improper indexing of the object, low-quality content, or toxic links. All of this results in less organic traffic to your website.
Setting up the SEO Audit Process
The SEO audit process is a complex set of steps and actions, as each one is important and interconnected with the others. Underestimating and omitting any of them is inadvisable and would lead to unrealistic audit results. Ensure your website is ready to compete online by going through all the steps you need to take.
Here is how to set up the SEO audit process:
Conducting keyword research and analysis
Even when equipped with the right tools, such as Ahrefs or Semrush, finding the right target keywords is not an easy task. Let’s assume that six months ago, you uncovered the perfect keywords: low competition, high search volume, and great business potential. Now, when you examine your website, you notice it has failed to reach your desired goals in terms of traffic and visibility. So, it’s time for thorough keyword research and analysis from scratch. What’s more, take a look at your competitors and see what they’re doing that puts them higher in the rankings.
Bonus tip: Your not-so-good SEO performance may be due to keyword cannibalization. Consider whether you have pages or articles that target similar keywords.
Analyzing website structure and URL optimization
A well-organized website structure and optimized URLs contribute significantly to SEO success. If your URLs sound generic, it might be difficult for search engines to crawl and index them.
Include keywords in every URL, separate the words with hyphens instead of underscores, and refrain from using special characters. Lastly, use 301 redirects to ensure that search engine bots find and index your website’s pages properly.
Evaluating site speed and mobile-friendliness
Search engines are currently prioritizing user experience (UX), and optimal site speed is an essential factor in enhancing it. So, it’s mandatory to re-evaluate your website’s loading time using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights.
Moreover, ensure your site is mobile-friendly, as mobile optimization is also a key ranking factor. SEO statistics for 2023 show that over 3 seconds of loading time is likely to make 53% of mobile website visitors leave a website.
Assessing website architecture and navigation
A clear and intuitive website architecture not only makes browsing easier for users but also helps search engine crawlers understand your content. Think of it as a network. It must be possible to get from point A to point B, from point C to point D, etc., until the letters of the alphabet are finished, figuratively speaking.
Nevertheless, internal links must somehow be relevant to one another. Evaluate the hierarchy of your website, ensuring a logical and user-friendly navigation flow.
Assessing On-Page SEO Factors
Optimizing on-page SEO elements is an integral part of every SEO audit. Your website’s content must be unique and compelling for readers and must contain strategically placed keywords. Additionally, make sure your content is well-structured and optimized in terms of length, freshness, and relevance.
This applies to every piece of content you have, including the seemingly minor ones, such as meta titles, meta descriptions, header tags, and image alt texts.
Reviewing Technical SEO Elements
Technical SEO, as the name suggests, is about optimizing the technical aspects of your website. These work backstage and serve as the backbone of any website. When doing an SEO audit, a thorough review of XML sitemaps, robots.txt files, and canonical tags is required. Identify and rectify any issues related to duplicate content, broken links, or crawling errors. Finally, check once again if any website changes are implemented correctly.
Duplicate content can lead to a decrease in your website’s ranking and organic traffic. Broken links and crawling errors can affect how search engines index a website, and any changes that were not implemented correctly can cause the website to be inaccessible.
Analyzing Off-Page SEO Factors
Off-page SEO is all about the external factors that influence your website’s authority and credibility. Here, you must evaluate the quality and quantity of backlinks pointing to your site. Remove or disavow any low-quality, spammy, or non-relevant backlinks you have.
Focus on improving your backlink profile by securing top-tier backlinks. Common link-building strategies include guest posting, influencer collaborations, and social media promotion. Another way to naturally attract backlinks to your website is to create linkable assets: outstanding articles and blog posts that people would love to link to.
Checking Website Content and User Experience
Content is king, and that’s not an understatement. Read through all your publications to assess whether they meet the user’s search intent. Check for errors and inaccuracies. If necessary, restructure your texts for better readability and include visual elements to make them more appealing. Improving your content for readers and search engines will reward you for that.
Optimize your digital product’s user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) to provide your users with smooth interaction with your website. Designing accessible UI/UX is a great way to meet the needs of diverse audiences, including those with disabilities.
If your website “lives” on the WordPress platform, then incorporating SEO plugins is a must-do. In fact, the sheer number of highly useful plugins — not just for SEO but countless other functions — is what makes WordPress so popular and compels brands big and small to migrate from other CMS platforms like Sitecore to WordPress. They can give you helpful insights and recommendations for every part of your SEO audit process, such as content analysis and keyword optimization, to name a few.
Two of the most recognized and user-friendly SEO plugins for WordPress are YoastSEO and Rank Math.
Using Google Analytics and Google Search Console is the bare minimum for an effective SEO audit. They can provide you with valuable data, such as your website’s overall performance, user behavior, and popular search queries.
These tools are a must-have for tracking key metrics. With this information at your fingertips, you can easily identify areas for improvement and measure the effectiveness of your SEO efforts.
Monitoring and Iterating SEO Efforts
Once you’ve done your SEO audit, you shouldn’t stop here. SEO is a subject matter that is prone to constantly changing and evolving. Keep yourself informed about industry trends and search engine algorithms.
As a rule of thumb, every website should be audited at least once a year. If it’s a newly launched site, you should perform SEO audits even more frequently. The same goes for every time your website undergoes any changes, such as a re-design, a change of domain name, migration to another content management system (CMS), and more.
Periodic SEO audits are necessary to identify problems with your site in time so they don’t negatively affect your rankings in search engines. By understanding the basics of SEO audits, setting up a systematic audit process, and focusing on key elements, you can significantly improve your SEO strategy.
Embrace the iterative nature of SEO, leverage tools and analytics, and stay committed to refining your approach for long-term success.