Transcript: You shouldn’t wait for your car to break down before visiting a mechanic. Regular inspections help you identify and fix problems before they get out of hand, and they ensure your vehicle operates at peak performance. Just like your car requires regular inspections, your search engine optimization strategy needs ongoing maintenance to continue driving the best results.
This maintenance is called an SEO audit. Want to learn more about what an SEO audit is and how it keeps your site ranking at the top of search results? Just keep watching!
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- SEO score
- Content grade
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What is an SEO audit?
SEO audits take a deep dive into your site to evaluate numerous factors that impact your ability to rank in search engine results pages or SERPs. These elements include your website’s on- and off-page SEO, as well as technical SEO performance. In this video, I’m going to explain the different parts of an SEO audit, tell you how to do an SEO audit, and identify some helpful tools to help you get started. Before I dive in, don’t forget to like this video and subscribe to our YouTube channel to get result-driving digital marketing content from our experts.
How to check your SEO for free
SEO audits contain several layers you’ll want to pay attention to when auditing your site’s SEO. A really useful tool you can use before you dive into your website is our SEO checker. Once you type in your information, our SEO checker can do a quick audit of your site, give you an SEO score, and tell you what’s working and not working. I’d suggest pausing this video and running that report so you can come back, follow along with your report, and really understand how an SEO audit can help you. It only takes a few minutes!
How to do an SEO audit
Ok! Now that you know what an SEO audit is and have checked your SEO, let’s get down to business. There are three parts of an SEO audit I mentioned earlier that I’m going to cover:
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
- Technical SEO
First, let’s discuss the on-page SEO portion of your SEO audit.
SEO audit part one: On-page SEO
Your on-page SEO audit consists of site elements you can control and optimize, and a large portion of that is the content. In other words, an on-page SEO audit focuses on optimizing elements within your website that impact your site’s SERP rankings.
What better to get your content ranking than keywords? Before you create content with keywords, you need to understand what content is currently ranking and what people really mean when they’re searching for a keyword. Go through your competitors’ websites that are ranking well on Google and see what they’re focusing on with their content. Is there anything that they rank for that you don’t? Make sure your content is meeting the users’ search intent, as well.
Search for your keyword in Google and see what comes up. What are other top-ranking sites doing that is making people click? Sometimes, a keyword can start with “what is,” but the searcher is actually looking for a “how to.” You’ll discover these subtle but important nuances with some research that will help you rank!
So, you understand why users are typing a certain keyword. Now you have to use it in your content if you aren’t already. You should be using keywords in your: headers, body content, title tag, and meta description.
I’ll break it down. You should start by using keywords in your headers where they fit naturally. So say you want to tell people why they should use your affordable home improvement services. You might want to start that section of your website with a bold header that tells them “why you should use our affordable home improvement services.” Then, you’ll want to use “affordable home improvement services” and other similar variations of this keyword where it makes sense throughout the body of your content. Don’t stuff your keyword everywhere…
That can actually hurt your SEO. Be sure it makes sense if you read it out loud. You can use related keywords in your content to help give search engines the context of your page.
Tools like KeywordsFX, LSI graph, or even related searches and Google autosuggest are great for helping you come up with related keywords. You should be looking for keywords in the title tag and meta description during your SEO audit, as well. These show up in the search results and can give users and search engine crawlers context to what your page contains. Optimizing these with keywords can help boost your pages in the SERPs.
Making it easier for search engines to find the pages on your site is very important to your SEO. A large part of that is internal linking, meaning when you’re creating new content, you should be linking to other pages on your site within that new piece of content. Internal links make it so much easier for a search engine crawler (and people!) to find pages on your site, giving you an SEO boost. If you’re writing a blog post about financial services, and you have a page on your website listing your services, you should definitely be linking to that page. You’re helping your SEO and driving traffic to another page on your site.
Another important element of on-page SEO is having sitemaps that give search engine crawlers ways to find the pages on your site. Two sitemaps you should have are HTML and XML sitemaps. HTML sitemaps have links to every page on your site and can help both people and crawlers find pages that might not have internal links pointing to them. XML sitemaps are purely for search engines. These are really great for helping search engines find new pages to crawl. If your site uses WordPress, you can use a plugin to generate your sitemap.
If you can’t use a plugin, you can create an XML sitemap online. Once you have an XML sitemap, you can submit it to Google Search Console so it can be crawled. It can get a little technical, so it might be best to partner with an SEO expert if you don’t have a lot of experience with XML sitemaps. Now that we’ve covered the on-page SEO portion of the SEO audit, let’s take a look at what you need for an off-page SEO audit.
SEO audit part two: Off-page SEO
Off-page SEO consists of SEO elements that you don’t directly control but can influence.
For example, backlinks — or links to your site from other sites — are a key component of off-page SEO. When a site with a good reputation online includes a link to your site on one of their pages, they pass on some of the value of their site to yours. Your pages gain more value, and you have the potential for people to click the link on the other page and land on your website. Backlinks can help you rank better for keywords that matter the most to your business. The higher you are in the SERPs for relevant keywords, the more valuable traffic you can get to your site.
Bringing traffic to your site for targeted keywords can result in qualified leads, and then actual sales, for your business. You should also be familiar with your backlink profile and your competitors’ backlink profiles as part of the SEO audit. Anyone linking to your competitors can potentially be linking to you. Ahrefs offers a free backlink checker and Moz also offers their Link Explorer tool to help you see where you and your competitors are getting links from—if at all.
We’re almost at the end! Time to discuss the third part of your SEO audit: technical SEO.
SEO audit part three: Technical SEO
There is a lot to consider when auditing your technical SEO, and it can get pretty complicated. It’s best to start simply. A technical SEO audit takes a deeper dive into the mechanics behind your site. You can audit many, MANY other technical SEO elements other than the ones I’ll talk about, but focusing on these things can help you get started.
Does your website load quickly? Are the pages of your website loading quickly to create a good user experience? Most websites today load within a few seconds, and searchers are used to that.
Around half of searchers won’t even wait for your site to load if it takes longer than three seconds. If your site is slow, people are going to go to one of those faster sites, increasing your bounce rate and hurting your rankings in search results. You can check your page speed during your SEO audit with Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool, which will tell you how well your page loads on mobile and desktop devices, and give you suggestions for fixing any issues.
Is your website, and all of its pages, mobile-friendly? How well does your website go from a desktop to a mobile device? In the last five years, mobile device usage has exploded, and it currently makes up for over half of all web traffic. People are spending a lot more time on their mobile devices, too. As of 2018, mobile users spend on average over three hours a day on their phones, compared to just over two hours on a desktop. Google now focuses on mobile-first when it’s crawling and indexing new sites because this is where a majority of users are viewing sites and their content. If someone on a phone sees the desktop version of your website, parts are going to be cut off, the text might be unreadable…
it’s really not a good situation. You’re going to lose that valuable web traffic to other sites that either have a mobile version or change with a user’s screen size.
Is your site secure? Believe it or not, site security is an SEO ranking factor. And it’s been confirmed by Google too. You might notice that at the top of a browser, next to the URL, there’s a message that says either secure or not secure. If your website isn’t secure, anyone who inputs their information into the site is at risk of having it stolen. A secure website encrypts and protects this site data.
It contributes to your site’s ranking and sends a signal to the user that they can trust your site. Just think, if two companies sold similar items online, and one site was secure while the other wasn’t, wouldn’t you feel better entering your credit card information into the secure site?
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Well, that’s it for my answer to your question: What is an SEO audit?
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