An SEO strategy helps to optimize your website for search engines. With a good SEO strategy, your website is more visible to people online. This helps to bring more traffic to your site and convert the traffic into sales if you are selling a product or service. The benefits of higher traffic on a website are numerous: You get advertisers who pay for the space to showcase their product or service and get to boost your website ranking with every additional visit from an online user among others.
Anyone who has dabbled in search engine optimization knows that search engines such as Google often change their algorithms. These changes might include new factors, drop old ones or have new provisions for elements that were already considered. You, therefore, need to keep up with these changes to ensure that your site is optimized. It is, therefore, important to periodically conduct an SEO audit.
What are the Benefits of an SEO Audit?
Search engine optimization audits are critical. They should be carried out at least once a year. These audits are not preserved for new sites only but are also beneficial for older sites. One of the benefits of conducting an SEO audit is that you get to find out the weaknesses of your website. Once you have this information, you can come up with a strategy that helps you to improve or completely eliminate these weak points. Additionally, an audit will help to pinpoint the strengths of your website. This is helpful because it shows you the areas that you should still include in your Search engine optimization strategy. Ultimately, these audits help to show you whether or not your site is up to date and optimized. Optimization strategies that worked a year ago may not hold in the present.
The first step is to perform a website crawl. A site crawl can be left to run in the background as you perform some manual checks on the site first. For the web crawl, you will need an SEO crawler, which is one of the tools that you need before starting your SEO audit. You can use Beam Us Up, which is free or Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider, which is free for the first 500 URIs and costs about $130 per year afterwards. These two tools crawl your site for all information. Another tool that is available for free is Xenu’s Link Sleuth, but the crawler is only designed to crawl your website for broken links only. It, therefore, is not the best tool for this particular analysis.
Analysis in SEO Audit
Analysis bears the weight of the SEO audit. It is the central part of the process and is expected to give concrete results that will be used in coming up with audit strategies for your website. It can be subdivided into five main sections: the ease of accessing your site, how easy or difficult it is to index your site, on-page ranking factors, off-page ranking factors and competitive analysis. Each of these is important and should be considered extensively.
How Accessible Is Your Website?
Robots.txt files are useful for every website. Their work is to restrict search engine crawlers from accessing some parts of your site. The problem with this is that some files end up blocking access to some crucial parts of your website. You need to check that this is not the case by using webmaster tools to check the URLs that are blocked by the file. If you find an anomaly, part of your SEO strategy will involve you tweaking the robot.txt file to block only the sections that you do not want the search engine to access. In addition to this, you also need to check your robot Meta tags. They disallow search engines from indexing individual pages and following the links contained therein. As part of your SEO audit, you must establish which pages are blocking search engine crawlers and rectify any anomalies.
Another aspect to consider in your SEO audit is the performance of your site. This ideally deals with how fast your site loads. Search engines have a minimal amount of time to allocate to each website. If your site loads slowly, the search engines will barely access your site.
How Easy Is It to Index Your Website?
Using the search engine “site” command, you can view the number of pages from your website that are being indexed by the search engine. The name is not a hundred per cent accurate, but it gives a rough estimate which you can consider alongside the total page count that you got through the website crawl performed in the first step. With this information, you then find either one of these three scenarios. The first is that the actual and the index count is roughly the same, which means that the search engine is crawling and indexing your site optimally. The second is that the search engine is indexing less than the total count. This could be due to several reasons as covered inaccessibility of the site. You should be able to correct this and improve the strategies you use for SEO optimization. The third and final scenario is that the search engine is indexing more than the total count. This should be a sign that you have duplicate content or that some of your pages are accessible through different points.
Once you detect that a search engine has penalized your site or page, all is not lost. The SEO audit serves to help you improve your optimization strategies. You can, therefore, rectify this problem by going through the following process. The first step might seem obvious, but it is crucial. Ensure that you have actually been penalized before you go any further. Sometimes, your site might lose traffic because of an algorithm update. It is, therefore, essential to be thorough in establishing whether or not your site or page has been penalized. De-indexing is the most obvious sign that you have been punished. In addition to this, you will receive a message about any penalties on your webmaster tools. The next step in the process is to identify the reason behind a sentence. If you got a notification through the webmaster tool, then you already know why. However, it is also essential to deal with loss in website traffic in the same way that you deal with a penalty. For this, you need to read through any updates on sites that have SEO news. This will inform you of any new update in the algorithm that could be causing your loss in search engine ranking. Read up on what it takes to fix the reason for your penalty and then request for reconsideration by the search engine.
Competitive Analysis and Report Findings in an SEO Audit
The last part of your SEO audit involves gauging your competition. Now that you have run an analysis on your website, what about your competitors? You need to know more about what they offer that you do not as you find out about what you offer that they do not. It might seem unnecessarily painful, but you can only supersede something that you know about. If they have better rankings than you do, do not get discouraged. Instead, use this information to your advantage by applying it on your website as well.
After running through the analysis, the final step is to have an audit report. Just like accounting, you have to present your findings coherently and consistently. If you were doing the SEO audit for another website, you have to consider the audience or reader of the report. While you cannot be vague, try not to use overly technical terms which are not familiar to the layman. Ensure that you also prioritize the information. While the report needs to be comprehensive, it must not include every little detail. Finally, provide actionable suggestions to resolve the problems that have been uncovered.
Conducting an SEO audit is a long process. It has to be very detailed if you are going to use the results to come up with a good SEO strategy that will work for your website. Most people assume that only new sites need an audit. However, even older sites need to go through an SEO audit periodically to ensure that they are complying with the most recent search engine algorithms. You cannot afford to get too comfortable running a website. The detailed process above is just a snippet of some of the factors that you need to consider. There are other factors that you need to consider in each of the five main categories. You can only understand them as you conduct the audit in practice as you refer to the initial results from the web crawler. However, the above process is sufficient enough to ensure that your website is optimized for search engines.