SEO Audits : What are they and why are they so important?

“S.E.O”…

These are probably the three most important letters for your business.

Your website is your storefront.  It’s your contact point with customers or clients, your means of reaching new people, engaging with them, and letting them know what you have to offer.  In the digital world, your website is the focal point of your brand and the face of your operation.  They’re important to us.  We put time and effort, heart and soul into a site, and we want to make sure it actually gets out there to the people that we’d like to reach.

What is SEO?

SEO, Search Engine Optimisation, is the process of making that your site shows up in the search rankings when people enter a search related to your product or service.  It’s the key to organic traffic.  When your SEO is good, you show up higher in the search rankings for a given keyword or phrase, and people are more likely to visit your site.  More traffic – especially the right traffic – equals more potential for conversions.  To put it simply, good SEO means your site is working.

So, what is an SEO Audit?

An SEO audit is when a website is reviewed thoroughly to determine how effective its SEO is.  There are more than 200 ranking signals used by search engines to assign your site a position in a search for a given keyword or phrase.  Each ranking indicator is assigned its own weight; some have a huge impact on where you show up in the rankings, and some just a small impact, but every single indicator is factored in with every single search.  An SEO audit will show where your site is strong ad where it’s lacking.  It shines a light on what can be tweaked and refined to make sure your site is performing as well as it can.

There are basically two ways to perform an SEO audit.  You can either perform it manually, going through a comprehensive checklist of all the ranking indicators for a particular keyword.  As you can imagine, there are some challenges here.  First, Google’s ranking algorithms are shifting all the time.  If you work off of last year’s list, you’ll be getting limited results.  Second, it can be both time intensive and confusing.  You have to look into your metadata, backlinks, design elements, and other factors that you may or may not have the tech savvy to know how to get to, much less to assess.

Here’s where option 2 comes in.  You can use an advanced website tool that automates the process.  Just type in the URL of your site and you get the results in a flash.  Once you have a clear idea of what’s working and what needs attention, the rest is a straight shot.  Just make the shifts and you’re golden.

An SEO expert can take the results of your audit and go through every element of your site that needs work, adding metadata, optimising for keywords, improving interlinks and backlinks, optimising the length of meta descriptions, and basically working with a load of the behind the scenes aspects of your site.  The result – more people see your site when they search.  And, if you planned your keyword strategy right, that boost in traffic means a boost in results.

Why is an SEO Audit so Important?

As you can see, there are many aspects to an SEO audit, and to SEO in general.  Here are just a few benefits that you’ll get from regularly auditing your site:

1. Highlight Weaknesses in your SEO

It may seem like this would go without saying, but there’s more to it than there appears on the surface.  There are some pretty straightforward aspects to it, like exploring certain on page elements to see that they are optimized effectively.  You can make sure your meta descriptions are the appropriate length, review content to ensure that it is created around target keywords, that sort of thing.

The challenge is that, as the ranking algorithms continue to evolve.  Site performance is assessed on many levels, including the quality of your content and technical performance, like loading speed.  With each advance in technology or upgrade to how Google performs searches, additional elements are added.

For example, one of the most powerful elements of top notch SEO these days is the featured snippet, a short, clear answer to a specific question that’s often asked.  When your content is crafted around featured snippets, it allows your site to be featured in the answer boxes that show up directly below the ads on the first page of a search.

This is one of the reasons that it’s so important to work with an SEO professional.  Given how fast search algorithms change, it’s a full time job to keep up with the current best practice so that you can implement it effectively.  An SEO specialist makes sure that your site receives the benefit of up-to-date expertise and know how, delivered with quality ad experience.

2. Measurable Results

One of the best things about an SEO audit is that it can give you a before and after picture of the SEO work done on your site.  Whether you optimise your website yourself or work with a professional, you want to know – in quantifiable terms – how much benefit your site has received from the process.  The audit is the first step of the job.  It highlights what needs to be changed to boost performance.  It’s also the last step of the job, showing you how much that performance has improved.

3. It helps you to prioritise your efforts

Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule?  Basically it states that 80% of the effectiveness of a given project comes from 20% of the details involved.  The rest is refinement.

When you perform an SEO audit, you’ll often find many areas that need improvement.  Some of them will have more of an impact on your search ranking than others.  So, rather than going through all of the required optimisation shopping list style, you can look at what will give you the most bang for your buck and take care of those elements first.

For example, you may find that you could improve the site with favicons, customised 404 pages, and structured data markup.  However, if you address the technical bits first, like crawling and indexing issues, you’ll immediately improve your search rankings far more than if you focused on the other elements.  Plus, in taking care of technical issues, the improvements that you make later in other areas will have even more benefit.

Another element to consider is how your traffic measures up against conversions.  If you get loads of traffic but no conversions, or if people land on your site and spend little time before navigating away, then your landing pages need to be optimised for conversions.  After all, being seen is great, but the goal is to engage your customer and market your product or service.  When you prioritise the elements that have the most impact, you see more results, more quickly.

This is another huge benefit of working with an SEO consultant.  They will highlight the high priority elements so that you can plan your efforts strategically.

4. Keyword Analytics

Keywords are a huge element of SEO.  In essence, they are the search terms that your site is crafted around.  As you refine and optimize your site, the keywords will move up in the analytics.  This helps you to determine the effectiveness of these keywords and correlate it with site performance or conversion rates.  It’s important to keep an eye on this movement, as drops in the performance of keywords can suggest critical SEO issues or ranking penalties.

5. Compare your Site with Competitors

One of the great things about site audits is that you can do them on any site.  So, if you have heavy competition in your niche, for example, you can look into the site of your competitor.  If you look into their strengths and weaknesses, it will guide you in refining your site.

There are a few elements to look at in your competitor’s site.  For one, look into their keywords.  There is a degree of competition for high ranking keywords, so if you see that your competitor has dominated certain terms, you may wish to focus on other terms that they have overlooked.  You can also explore their backlinks and either target these sites to get backlinks of your own, or even replace those of your competitor.

One major element to explore is the overall strategy.  If they have a solid approach for getting backlinks or are creating content that attracts attention, it might be worth your while to include similar content on your own site.  You can also explore their social media engagement to see if you can pick up a few tips to boost your own social media presence.  Another major consideration is whether or not your site has been optimised for mobile devices.  If your competitor has and you haven’t, you’re at a disadvantage from the start.

Final Words

The SEO audit is an essential tool to monitor your site performance and keep it developing the right way.  It shows you what’s working well, what you can improve, and how you stack up against your competitors.  If you’d like to know more about SEO audits or look into an audit for your site, feel free to contact us.  Local Web is your #1 solution for Local SEO in Sydney.

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