Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a crucial part of any successful marketing strategy but some businesses are overwhelmed by the time it takes to effectively optimise a website.
However, effective SEO will improve the visibility of your website on search engines such as Google, resulting in more traffic and more opportunities to convert prospects into clients.
As SEO consists of many elements, an administrator should conduct regular audits of a website before making any changes to the site’s structure and on-site or off-site activity to ensure search rankings are not being negatively affected.
What is an SEO audit?
An SEO audit is a thorough evaluation of a website’s presence and performance on search engine result pages (SERPs).
The purpose of an SEO audit is to identify whether there are any issues affecting organic search performance – it is essentially a health check for your website.
If the auditor finds that the website is performing poorly, they can take the necessary action to repair and overcome those obstacles.
A full audit will reveal whether there are:
- Content gaps and opportunities
- Competitive marketplace insights
- Off-site issues such as a lack of inbound links
- On-page SEO issues such as broken links and poorly optimised headers
- Potential flaws in user experience such as slow page loading speed
- Structural problems, including duplicate content
- Technical SEO issues such as no XML sitemaps
Problems identified in SEO audits can be reviewed and broken down into the following categories:
Have you performed keyword research and created some relevant content for your site but found that you’ve got little or no traffic to your site? The issue might be to do with crawlability rather than the content itself.
Crawlability issues can ruin any SEO effort, and as search engine spiders aren’t “perfectly intelligent”, they need web administrators to structure website paths that they can follow.
Crawlability and indexing issues fall under the umbrella of technical and structural SEO issues. Running an SEO audit will help you diagnose crawl issues and examine the technical integrity of your site.
Crawling spiders often bypass pages that are inundated with redirects, broken links or an inadequate amount of internal links, resulting in poor page performance.
Slow page speeds can also impact rankings as it reduces the amount of time that the robots can crawl pages within their allocated crawl budget. Pages with longer load times also tend to affect user experience, resulting in higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates.
Web administrators could also improve web page structure by removing broken links, ensuring there are several internal links on the page and establishing whether canonical tags and redirections are set up correctly.
Optimised content and search snippets
Correctly optimised content adds value to a page by making it more attractive to users and search engines. Signs of unoptimised content include:
- Content with a low word count
- Outdated content
- Unoptimised page titles and tags
- Short or lengthy metadata
- Images without ALT tags or titles
- Poorly constructed URLs
As good practice, one should seek to incorporate keywords into the text that will influence your site’s ability to rank well in SERPs.
However, it’s important not to have too many of the same or similar keywords spread throughout the content on your site as you run the risk of keyword cannibalisation.
Why is an SEO audit essential for businesses?
SEO audits are essential for businesses as they expose errors within the website that prevent you from ranking and allow the administrator to recover lost traffic.
They offer detailed insight into the current health of your website, allowing administrators to identify key gaps in the content, learn about competitors and maximise on opportunities to help achieve the broader SEO strategy.
If you are regularly performing SEO audits, you should find that traffic to your website has increased over time, along with the number of leads and inquiries generated for the business.
Businesses that rank on the first page of Google are easily found and accessed by website users and search engines. If you have an online business, conducting regular SEO audits will help you identify the shortcomings of your SEO strategy and identify trends to improve your website’s performance.
However, given that SEO tasks are time-consuming and encompass a plethora of elements, many companies are often overwhelmed and struggle to apply SEO best practices.
According to a recent analysis from SEO firm Serpstat, 70% of websites with the top-level “.com” domain suffered from the most common SEO issues. In addition, Serpstat identified metadata issues among nearly 40% of sites analysed, while 20% had markup errors and 10% contained issues with links.
Conducting SEO audits will also help business owners understand how their marketing spend translates into results as it allows administrators to measure, adjust and produce reports effectively.
If the current strategy is successful, this provides a stronger argument for further investment into company marketing efforts.
What are the benefits of an SEO audit?
Conducting an SEO audit is beneficial as it allows administrators to diagnose traffic issues and highlight actionable tasks that will help boost search ranking performance.
An effective SEO audit can help:
- The digital marketing team devise a strategy that will improve key metrics
- Resolve on-page SEO issues to improve page performance
- Create a positive user experience
- Reveal weaknesses in your SEO strategy
- Learn about competitors and identify critical gaps in content
Most importantly, it brings new focus to your broader marketing efforts by identifying more effective ways to help your website rank higher, drive organic traffic and improve conversions.
What are the best SEO auditing tools in 2021?
There are several search engine optimisation tools out there, some free and others paid – all of which can help improve the way Google and other search engines view your website.
If you’re looking for a free auditing tool, consider using Hubspot’s Website Grader, which delivers actionable insights about your sites desktop and mobile performance, SEO and security in the form of a report card.
Another helpful tool available for free is Google Search Console (GSC), which includes several features to help you improve your SEO and boost your listing in SERPs. For example, GSC offers keywords recommendations, identifies crawl issues and provides insight into your website’s most important metrics such as impressions, average position and clickthrough rate (CTR).
One of the most effective and advanced SEO tools is SEMRush, which has a comprehensive dashboard. With SEMRush, you can examine competitor metrics, view detailed keyword reports, analyse backlinks and access the performance of all the domains you manage.
Although SEM Rush wins in terms of features, Ahrefs, best known as a backlink analysis tool, is an excellent alternative to SEM Rush if you’re after a product with a smaller price point.
Ahrefs boasts an abundance of keyword research features and technical tools while also allowing you to see how competitors are ranking for keywords your website is targeting.
What is the difference between SEO tests and SEO audits?
SEO testing and SEO audits are often thought to be the same and are often used interchangeably by optimisation platforms, but SEO testing is a relatively new concept.
SEO testing involves applying the scientific method of verifying the influences SEO variables have on search rankings rather than performing audits to assess the performance of a businesses’ marketing efforts.
Although both are evaluation methods, SEO testing focuses on discovering how variables – such as internal linking, meta data and titles – that are often assessed in audits can be altered to boost website performance.
SEO variables that administrators test
Several SEO variables can be isolated when it comes to testing, but practitioners usually focus on:
- Titles: Optimising keyword-heavy headers to support the content’s narrative
- Meta tags: Optimising to increase click-through-rate
- Content: Improving content by adding more image, video or descriptive content
- Internal linking: Improving density to create content that could answer themes related to the overall topic
- Readability: Breaking up the content on the page to improve readability
- Conversion: Improving conversion rates by modifying calls-to-action and developing the most engaged pages
Using SEO testing could help administrators improve a range of key metrics, including search performance, bounce rate, conversion rate, time spent on a page, scroll depth and overall web traffic.
Image sharing and social media platform Pinterest, which recently experienced a massive site-wide optimisation, said: “Without SEO testing, you’d struggle to know whether doing X wait variable Y will produce a desirable or undesirable result.”
Given that Google’s search algorithm is complex and variables are weighted differently depending on a webpage’s industry and subject matter, knowing how to manipulate the variables that impact SERPs to improve search rankings is almost impossible without SEO tools.
Data drawn from search engine optimisation tools provide valuable insight into techniques that will grow traffic and convert leads into sales while also pointing out variables that aren’t worth your time to avoid wasting resources.
In a field where best practices rely on the undependable foundation of educated guesses, considering SEO at the earliest instance could help you avoid an SEO calamity.
After Pinterest completed its site-wide optimisation, traffic increased by 30%. Meanwhile, Hubspot’s optimisation of archived blogs increased lead generation by 200% and organic search by 106% on average.
Although users can land on a website via paid search, it is crucial to capitalise on the organic market, as research shows that 93% of users arrive at websites via search engines.
What are the best SEO testing tools?
While specialist tools are needed to perform a site audit, as SEO testing is not technically sophisticated, you might find that you already have the tools at your disposal.
A tool that allows you to analyse data, perform keyword research and enhance your link building is all that is required when it comes to SEO testing.
However, if you are performing tests regularly, it might be worth investing in a dedicated SEO tool as this will generate a more in-depth report of performance.
Get a FREE SEO audit today
Soar Online are providing all business and website owners the opportunity to have their website audited for free. In our review, we will include:
- A full website health check – including the basic on-page checklist of headers and descriptions
- Technical SEO – how your sitemaps and crawl directives are performing
- Core web vitals – site speed, mobile optimisation, page experience etc
- Competitor Analysis
- User experience and journey
- Link Building strategies.
Get a free website review today in video format and benefit from an expert analysis of how your website can perform better online.