Website Audits for Search Engine Optimization
An SEO audit for your website is recommended on a regular basis to ensure that best practices are being applied and that changes to the search engine algorithms are being addressed. Whether you work on your own online marketing or have a team within your company, a third party review is often the best way to evaluate the quality of the work that has been done.
There are a lot of technical aspects to a website that can improve the ability for it to rank in search engines. Since Google has over two hundred ranking factors. With each factor having hundreds of variations, it is impossible to have everything perfect. Even then, there are opinions from all over the industry debating what aspects are more important and discussions on the best way to organize a site.
When approaching an SEO audit for a domain, we are usually looking to review more than just the website. We want to evaluate the entire online presence. This means fix what is done wrong and look at opportunities for improvement. In other words we will examine technical details to see what is not in line with best practices and may be causing the website harm in the SERP’s and look for opportunities to improve the overall quality so that Google and the other Search Engines will place you higher in the rankings.
A thorough website audit usually consists of these three parts
- Onsite Optimization
- Offsite Optimization
- Competive Analysis
There is a lot of detail that goes into these three categories.
Onsite Optimization is just like it sounds. It is your actual website and everything that you have control over. The written content and images, the actual coding of the website itself, speed of the site, site structure and all of the little details that together help the search engines to better understand what your website is about and how it performs so that it can be indexed and categorized properly in the search engine algorithms.
Offsite Optimization has everything to do with your online presence that is not on your website. From Wikipedia to comments on blogs, directory listings and the list goes on. These elements are very important for search engine optimization and since they are not 100% under your control, the way Onsite Optimization is, this is often the more difficult part of SEO to manage.
A Competitive Analysis is as simple is seeing the actual positioning of your website in the rankings for main keyword searches that you want your website to rank for and evaluating the strength of your competitors. This can be extremely important in determining what work will be required to improve your positioning.
What to do after you perform an SEO Audit
Once an SEO audit is completed, there should be a plan of action put into place on how to implement the recommendations. This should be thought through in steps. Prioritization should be given to the list items that can be addressed easily and have the most impact. Further in the steps should be more complex changes that require additional research and work.
Consideration should be given to the resources that your business or organization have available. For example, if you are a three person company and the main recommendations is for hundreds of new pages of content, this may be a very long term plan.
Some of the things usually needed to conduct an SEO Audit
- A user login (preferably with admin rights)
- Access to Google Search Console and Analytics
- Domain registrar login
- Keyword terms that are most important to your organization
- A brief history of site revisions and timeline of outside resources that have been utilized
An in depth audit is not just a review of the state of your website at the moment. It is piecing together a puzzle that has been put together as long as the domain itself has been active. Perhaps even from the previous owner that you have never even met. The more information available to the one doing the audit, the more thorough the review.
What not to expect from an Audit
An audit is a review that produces a report. Some fixes are easy while others are much more involved. When engaging an SEO expert and their services, it is useful to know what the analysis will yield.
An audit may recommend improvements and additions to the content with overall suggestions, but will not usually include an entire content strategy. An auditor may uncover an opportunity for many redirects to be created, but this does not mean they will do them.
This is not to say you cannot hire them to implement these changes. Many companies will even hire them to do the technical aspects of SEO and leave the remainder for their own team. The idea of an audit is that the evaluation be conducted as a third party representative that is making an evaluation based upon their knowledge and expertise and providing you with this review. There is no reason that you can’t ask the auditor to provide a quote after the fact to implement the recommendations.