An SEO audit is an essential part of any digital marketing strategy. You want to your website to attract as many visitors from search engines as possible. But to improve, you need to know where your website stands today. What are its strengths? What are the weaknesses? The data provides the perspective that we need to help you use an effective strategy to:
- Improve your search engine positions (top rankings)
- Increase your website traffic
- Generate more leads and sales
- Support your brand with more visibility
At the end, you should come up with initial findings and highlight with something like:
- Refine the keywords; create a priority set you can track
- Focus on one H1 per page (visible content headline with more keywords)
- Add content to some specific pages
- Create new content to support keywords
- Improve internal cross-linking
- Improve image naming and the image alternative text
- Consider gated content for lead generation (more brief forms for unique how-to guides)
- Add unique meta descriptions
- Pursue more inbound links (blogs, other websites)
- Review blog structure, categories
- Update robots.txt file
- Monitor website performance with Google’s Search Engine Console (formerly called Webmaster Tools).
Websites perform better with search engines when they include a keyword.
Time helps a website become more credible and the longevity is rewarded by search engines that factor age when calculating rankings.
Websites rank higher when they have strong backlink profiles based on the number, relevancy and quality of the backlinks from other websites. A link from a trade association directory is much more valuable than a link from your friend’s small website in a different industry.
Websites earn an authority score between 1-100 from Moz, a well-known inbound marketing company that specializes in SEO data. The score, primarily based on the volume and quality of inbound links, corresponds to a website’s ability to rank.
It’s not likely that all of your content pages will have extensive text (over 500 words). But you should have long-form content on some pages and blog posts.
Content Headers with H1 Tags
Marketers and website developers debate whether a website must have an H1 for the page content headers (like headlines). You should use them because they help search engines understand what part of your content is the most important. But you shouldn’t have more than one H1 per page (defeats the purpose of singling out the most valuable content). It’s OK to have multiple H2, H3 tags, etc.
SEO Page Titles
The keywords are behind the scenes in the page title, often called the SEO page title. It becomes the blue link among the search engine results.
Keywords in the Navigation
If you have text-based navigation and some keywords, you will have a better opportunity to rank well.
Keywords in Page URLs
The words in your URLs are another indicator about the context of your content. Page URLs should include keywords.
WWW vs. non-WWW
Some websites render whether someone enters www or skips the www before the domain name. You don’t want that to happen because it will look like you’re trying to game search engines with two identical websites. In effect, it would be like trying to rank multiple times for each page. It’s best to go with one and have the other one redirect to the preferred version (like the non-www redirecting to the www).
Pages Indexed Pages
You want search engines to crawl (index) as many pages as possible.
Search engines evaluate your internal links (beyond the navigation). They want to get an idea of similar content you’re publishing. In other words, a single page may rank on its own merits. But it may rank even better if you’ve included links from related pages on your website.
It’s a simple file that serves as a welcome mat of sorts for search engines. Instructions on the file tell search engines what part of the website they can visit. Typically, marketers block administrative files and some PDFs (available only when someone completes a form) with this file.
You should include keywords when naming images.
Image Alt Attributes
The image descriptions can help influence search engine rankings.
Although they don’t affect search engine rankings, they do appear with search engine results (bellow the blue links)
Websites should include a separate version for mobile users or at least a design that is responsive (adjusts to devices like tablets and mobile phones).
Page Load Time
Image sizes and programming choices affect load time.
It’s not uncommon for websites that feature very little content in their footers beyond a copyright notice. But the footer can be used to highlight general navigation, keywords and featured content.
Social Media Profiles
Many social media websites offer links to websites, which is always helpful. But they usually have “nofollow” in the source code. Basically, it means that you get the traffic but won’t benefit of the social media website’s own authority (reputation with search engines). However, you will want the links because social media profiles and some content (like YouTube videos and Tweets) can appear among social engine results. You should welcome new and repeat visitors because website traffic can affect search engine rankings.
Google is leading the way to push websites to be secure. A slight bump in rankings may be possible if a website switches to HTTPS.
Although search engines can find websites by working through the navigation and links, they also look for an XML sitemap that serves as a technical guide to your website pages.
You should look at as much data as possible. Here is one example:
Google Keyword Rankings
For an SEO audit, you don’t need an exhaustive set of keyword phrases. But you should create a good cross section and compare rankings to competitors.
Special note: your true competition will include websites that rank above you (i.e. magazines and even websites that are smaller than yours). For any given keyword phrase, it may not be your primary competitors that rank higher than you.
The ranking report could include:
- Keyword Phrases
- Google Avg. Monthly Search Volume
- Google Rankings