If you or your business need a better understanding of how your website is performing from a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) standpoint, then a website audit should be the first thing to consider. In general terms, a website audit is an analysis of all the contributing factors to a website’s search engine visibility. Those factors determine a website’s ranking performance, which, in turn, drives organic traffic, and fall into three areas: Technical, SEO (both on and off-page), and Content.
The work required to conduct a website audit will vary depending on the size of the website, and will likely produce a list of actions that, when implemented, will improve website presence and search engine performance.
The Benefits of a Website Audit
Search engines like Google feature websites that have flawless functionality, are fast to load, and have properly setup pages higher rankings and visibility for relevant keywords and topics. Google claims to use over 200 ranking “signals” to determine where a particular site will appear in the organic listings for a particular keyword. Exactly what those signals are, and how they are weighted, is a trade secret.
While no person or SEO company has been able to crack the exact code, the steps referenced below will guide you through a website audit and provide insight on areas to focus on to improve your site’s visibility.
- Review Technical Performance
The technical review portion of the website audit is often seen as the most challenging part to understand. Given that businesses often hire outside help to maintain the website, it’s understandable how this might be an overlooked area inside the company.
However, SEO is not the same thing as website development, and a great website developer may not be completely savvy about SEO. Giving your developer the following guidance to help focus their efforts on things like website speed and link structure may help.
Review the Website Speed
Websites that don’t run fast or that have extraneous features can often lead to slow loading times, which has been proven to effect overall site engagement and therefore website rankings. In fact, Google conducted a study in 2018 that suggested 53% of mobile users will leave your website if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds. That confirms that the need for speed on a website is very important for search engine rankings and for user experience. Google’s free PageSpeed Insights is one of several tools available that will test and report on your website’s performance in this area.
Perform a Site Crawl
Using a tool like Moz or Screaming Frog SEO Spider will allow you to crawl your website and review the technical accuracy and link structure. Problems in this area, such as circular linking and broken links (404 errors) can trip up search engine crawlers and users alike, resulting in lower search rankings. In addition, using tools like Lighthouse, a Chrome development plugin, will allow you to see the speed at which the site operates and better understand improvements that can be made.
- Review SEO Ranking Signals
Once you have taken care of the more technical elements of website structure, you can step in and take a closer look atSEO performance. When reviewing the website from an SEO perspective, there are two main components involved: On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO.
The purpose of reviewing on-page SEO is to identify all pages on the website for proper keyword use with things like the H tags, using the keyword within the page slug, content matches the keyword, and much more. The foundation for this work is a comprehensive and recent keyword research spreadsheet. While this portion of the SEO process may seem tedious, also it does provide a great opportunity or improvement. One of the tools we like to use to conduct this portion of the audit is Moz.
Whereas the on-page SEO review will focus on the content, the off-page SEO portion will look outside of the website for backlinks to the site, anchor text, brand authority and perception from outside sources, etc. This will require using tools like Google Search Console and Google Analytics to review referral data and linking domains to understand who links to your site. The overall goal is to increase the number of high quality, authoritative external pages that link to your website. Obviously, if someone has engaged in overly aggressive linking schemes in the past, resulting in a penalty from the search engines, that’s got to be dealt with first. Check the messages in your Google Search Console account to confirm this.
Related Post: Three Essential SEO Actions When Updating Your Website
- Review Content Performance
Your best indicators of content effectiveness include visitor metrics like time on site, average pages viewed, and interactions such as clicks and form-fills. Focusing on quality, relevant content will cause those metrics to trend higher. This is important because user engagement provides an important set of ranking signals.
Take a long and critical look at the content on your website and your blog. Can visitors quickly see from your site how you can solve an important problem, improve a situation or save them money?
Next, take a look at your social media accounts. Are you gathering new followers and likes? Are people engaging and commenting on your posts? Do your posts bring visitors to your website? The goal is for your audience to like the content, find it valuable, and engage with it further.
Some of the following questions will help guide you on what to look for when reviewing content on the website and on social media platforms:
Review each social platform for:
· # of posts
· What’s the avg. post frequency per day/week/month?
· What’s the avg. post engagement? What posts performed the best?
· What posts performed the worst?
· Any trends emerge from those posts?
· What’s the tone/voice used for postings and blogs posts?
· Are there unique standpoints / positions taken by the posts?
· Were direct comments left on the blog post or social posts?
· If so, what was the sentiment? Positive or negative?
With the steps referenced above, you will be able to conduct a website audit that will provide plenty of information to ensure your website is optimized for search engines. If you’re looking for more information, you can contact us to get a consultation.