An SEO audit is an assessment of your current website. It identifies current strengths and highlights current weaknesses. As mentioned above, the rules for what constitutes good Search Engine Optimisation are in constant flux. What worked last year or two years ago might not necessarily work today. This is why SEO website audits should be a regular part of your digital marketing strategy.
At anova, we have been helping companies large and small to audit their SEO for years. Sometimes it involves minimal changes, while sometimes it may require a complete overhaul of the company’s website.
In today’s digital world it is not enough simply to have an online presence – that goes without saying. Whatever your product or service, every business needs a website. More than that, every website should be optimised to get the best possible ranking in all major search engines.
So far, so good. We’re sure that any company with an existing web presence is aware of Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO, as its more commonly known). Indeed, it’s the cornerstone of generating business online.
However, what is less well known is that SEO changes from time to time. That is why regular SEO site audits are so important for continued success.
One of the key benefits of an SEO audit is identifying technical issues. This often forms the core purpose of SEO: that of helping Google and other search engines better locate and promote your website. Technical SEO changes involve any aspect of the site that isn’t actual on-page content.
A good SEO audit should identify any concerns with your website’s current technical SEO. Some of the more common elements that it should consider include the following:
Most online browsing these days takes place on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Both society as a whole and the business sector, in particular, have little patience with slow loading speeds. You’ve doubtless encountered this yourself. How many times have you given up on a site that has failed to load in what you would consider a reasonable amount of time?
Aside from creating a negative user experience, slow loading speeds also hamper your ranking with search engines. Part of Google’s SEO algorithm is how long your website takes to load. Moreover, it digs deeper into that aspect of your site and produces different results for different devices. A well-optimised site for a laptop computer can end up with a low ranking on mobile devices because it hasn’t taken their different needs into account.
Whether 301 (URL permanently moved), 302 (URL temporarily moved), or 404 (page not found), redirects will slow down the user experience. 404 errors should be avoided at all costs by removing dead links, but even redirects can cause problems for a user. Some browser/anti-virus combinations treat these redirects as interstitial advertising and do their best to block them. SEO auditing will keep these to a bare minimum.
It should be easy to browse your site through the address bar. You should utilise folders and sub-folders in order to maintain a logical progression through the site. Also, your URLs should be both descriptive and short, so that they can be easily read and understood.
With the technical SEO dealt with to improve the user experience and therefore you ranking on Google and other search engines, we turn to on-page SEO. This is the next part of an effective SEO audit. It refers to simple adjustments to your content that will improve your SEO.
When we talk about simple adjustments, we’re looking at the following items, where changes to the on-page content can see a marked improvement in your SEO.
Forming part of the header data in your website pages, meta titles and descriptions can do a lot for your site rankings. However, you need to abide by Google’s rules if you hope to see significant improvement.
Meta titles need to be between 35 and 70 characters in length and should include at least one of your SEO keywords.
Meta descriptions should also include at least one of your SEO keywords, but you have a little more room to play with. At the moment, the text limit for meta descriptions is 160 characters (around 25-30 words) and should include a call to action, if relevant.
Your headers (particularly those in the H1 tag) are the first thing a user is likely to see on your website, so be sure to optimise them for SEO, including relevant keywords, without cramming them.
In SEO, content is king, so long as it is centred around keywords. In the past it was enough to stuff keywords all over the place but, as SEO has become more sophisticated and Google more stringent, this will no longer pass muster. Stuffing your content with keywords will see you penalised by Google’s search algorithms. While you must continue to optimise for keywords, you need to include them naturally through your website copy.
We mentioned this briefly in the technical SEO section. Internal links make it easier for your users to navigate your site, and improve overall SEO. However, it is vital that all internal links actually go somewhere. Dead links and 404 errors will result in poor SEO for your company.
The key to success in any business is to be aware of your competition. This doesn’t just mean what they bring to the table in terms of products and services, but what they’re doing with their SEO. If a competitor regularly outranks you in the search engines, you need to know what they’re doing right that your current SEO set-up is failing to achieve. A good SEO audit will help identify your competition’s online strategy in order to develop a plan that will help you challenge them effectively.
Back-links form a major part of Google’s search engine algorithm, and this is not something that is likely to change. In a nutshell, to achieve SEO success you need to have high-ranking sites linking to your own content. Getting a major comparison site to link to one of your products when they compile a Top Ten list is a perfect example. Likewise, having a reputable news outlet use one of your blog entries as a source and link back to it accordingly will work wonders for your search engine rankings.
Of course, it works both ways. There are less reputable sites (spam sites, for instance) that will provide you with back-links. Unfortunately, not only will they back-link you, but every other company that pays them a requisite fee. With such sites not being dependable for their links, appearing on them can actually damage your Google ranking.
A good SEO audit will identify the number of back-links. that you have and rate them for quality. Additionally, it will identify the sorts of back-links. your competitors are receiving, and help create a plan where your own site can benefit from the same sources.
Of course, paid back-links. are never worth the money. A better investment is producing regular quality content that people want to share. Once you have that in the bag, the back-links. will occur naturally.
Now that you have completed your SEO audit, what happens next? This is the real reason you should have an SEO audit right here, right now. Spotting your existing weaknesses and removing them is a fine start, but a start is all it is. Now you have to work for the future and ensure that your site is fighting strong.
All of the data you have collated from the four steps noted above should be incorporated into your new content strategy. Use the audit as a point of focus. If you are being consistently out-ranked on your keywords, look at improving or increasing your content to scatter more of them about your site in a natural way. Regular blog entries can help here. As always, keep an eye on the competition and see where you can make gains against them by returning to your SEO fundamentals – clarity and conciseness.
Are you sick of ranking below the competition on every search result? Do you need an SEO audit right here and right now to maximises your site’s online effectiveness? If so, give anova a call today for a discussion of your requirements and see how we can help you with your SEO audit and with crafting an exciting new SEO strategy.
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