An Audit Is the Only Way You Can Identify All Your SEO Issues and Opportunities
Is your website getting bypassed by Google?
There could be a lot of reasons it’s not showing up on page one — or two — or three on the search engine.
Many businesses experiencing this problem take a scattershot approach to solving their search engine optimization (SEO) issues. Sometimes it pays off. Most of the time it doesn’t.
Instead of trying things on a one-off basis, it could be worth conducting an SEO audit. It’s a more systematic and complete approach to identifying search engine optimization issues and resolving them. It can help you see if you have multiple problems, rather than just one, that could be causing your search results to tank. This is the case for most sites that are performing poorly.
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know to manage an audit, which can help you earn one of those top three search result positions every business covets.
What to Know About SEO Audits
SEO Audit: The Basics
An SEO audit figures out how well your website is aligned with Google’s algorithm, and what you can do to make it more search-friendly. It will give you the information you need to take actions that will improve your search results in a measurable and sustainable way.
The purpose of an audit is to find foundational issues affecting your organic search performance. The SEO audit will identify:
Technical and on page SEO issues
Website structural problems
Off site issues
User experience challenges
Content gaps and opportunities
It can also help you figure out what your competitors are doing better than you are.
Tip: An SEO audit isn’t one and done. You should have your site audited at least once a year, even if your search results are fine. It could help find and prevent emerging problems.
SEO Audit: Don’t Go It Alone
Even if the people on your team are SEO superstars, it’s important to have your audit conducted by someone, or a group, from outside your organization. They will be able to offer a fresh perspective and see things you may be missing. Your team can support them by gathering information, collecting data, and explaining their SEO strategies and tactics. But in the end, data analysis, reporting, and recommendations should come from an outside source.
Think of it this way: Would you allow your own accounting team to audit your company’s books? The answer is NO. The same should be true for an SEO audit.
Characteristics of an Effective SEO Audit
A good audit is a comprehensive one. It should review all the structural and content components of your site, along with its performance, that could impact its visibility on Google. It must deliver a big picture view of what’s going on with your website and reveal what’s wrong with it. This should include gaps and missed opportunities, which could result in limiting its placement on the search engine.
The results of an audit must be simple to understand and act on. You should be able to clearly understand how SEO issues are impacting your online priorities, business goals, and revenue. All recommendations that come out of your audit must be actionable and clearly tied to your business objectives. Anything that doesn’t isn’t worth pursuing.
If any part of your audit is unclear, challenge the team conducting it to clarify.
Finally, work with the audit team to set priorities for post-audit fixes. Those that will have the highest impact and lowest cost should be prioritized ahead of those that are lower impact and more expensive.
Characteristics of a Bad SEO Audit
An SEO audit should never be rushed. It takes significant time and effort to uncover the root causes of the issues that are negatively impacting search results. Depending on the size and complexity of your website, a proper audit could take anywhere from two weeks to two months to complete.
You must do your due diligence before making any major changes to your website. Rushing could cause you to do things that have a negative impact on it rather than improve its performance in Google.
Bottom line: An audit should never be one size fits all. If an SEO expert seems to have a bag of tricks and doesn’t approach your audit based on the business needs of your site, you should find someone else to conduct it.
Things Typically Analyzed in an SEO Audit
As we’ve already covered, your SEO audit should be customized to meet the needs of your company. However, there are some basics that must be covered. If you don’t see them in your audit plan, it’s a sign your auditor may not be legit.
Common things an audit should review include:
Content quality and keyword use
Page load times and overall site performance
Beyond this, Google considers more than 200 factors when determining your rankings. Your audit should include the ones that impact your site’s performance and that of your business, such as:
International search performance
Legacy domain problems
Mobile search performance
On Page Issues
Image and video usage
Internal linking and site map
Meta data usage (page titles, meta descriptions, heading tags)
Site content quality
Site content structure
Server log analysis
Crawl budget analysis
User agent analysis
You should also receive a review of your competitors as a part of the audit, including information about how your site compares and what you can learn from what they’re doing.
The audit should end with clear, actionable, and prioritized recommendations on how to improve your search engine results to better support your business goals.
What to Expect from an SEO Audit
As we already covered, your audit should take between two and eight weeks, depending on the size and complexity of your site and the business it supports. You should receive a proposal from your auditor prior to work beginning that documents what you can expect from the audit, key deadlines, the types of reports you’ll receive, meeting and check-in schedule, and the kind of recommendations you’ll get and how they’ll be delivered.
If your auditor isn’t willing to put these things in writing, move on and work with someone else.
While conducting your audit, the auditors will work with the people on your team to monitor, analyze and report on your website.
During this time, your SEO auditor should check in with you and the people on your team to report on progress. This will help you know things are on track. They may also be able to offer you immediate recommendations if they find obvious issues that are easy to fix. In these cases, a website’s search performance could improve significantly even before the audit is over.
Once the audit is completed, you should receive a written report, along with a presentation and discussion of the findings and recommendations. This will give you and the people on your team a chance to ask questions and ensure they know what to do next, along with the search improvements you can expect if you invest in the changes they recommend.
Why You Must Have Your Website Audited Regularly
Your website is your online brand, and for some businesses, may be the only touchpoint customers and clients have with your company. You need to have it checked regularly to ensure it’s healthy. As you make changes to it, and Google adjusts its algorithm, it’s critical that you make sure your changes are aligned with the latest version of Google’s algorithm.
A good benchmark is to have your website audited annually, more often if it’s a highly dynamic one or one that is a primary generator of business for your company. You should also have it checked if Google announces a major algorithm update. It’s the only way you’ll know for certain your website will be served up to prospective customers by Google and other search engines. It’s a great investment in the future and the ongoing success of your company.