Conducting an SEO audit on your business might just be best way to help you determine the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in your online presence and marketing campaigns. When I start working with a new client, evaluating and taking stock of their overall web presence the first thing I do with them, and a thorough SEO audit is the underpinning of it all. You can have the best product with the best content and best funnels in the world, but if your customers can’t find you none of that matters.
I’m frequently asked what goes into my audits. Even when I’m not being asked directly, I see both fellow marketers and small business owners struggling trying to do it themselves. That’s why I compiled this list to teach you the tools you need and how exactly to run an SEO audit for yoursef!
So, what exactly is an SEO audit?
We conduct SEO audits to determine and understand why a site, business, campaign, or other digital property or initiative performs the way it does. I might audit a client to see why they’re performing poorly, but I also might audit a competitor to figure out why they’re performing so well and potentially find weak areas where we can compete. I also like to run lightweight audits on a regular basis so we can monitor and analyze actions vs. results over time.
The audit is just one half of the equation; once we’ve taken our analysis of the target we assemble and execute an action plan to adress and fix weak areas, strengthen established ones, and agressively take advantage of found opportunities.
I’ll address these follow-on steps in future articles.
An SEO Audit is not an SEO Strategy
But it is the foundation of an effective SEO strategy, and must be first step. Once we’ve triaged the SEO situation, we can build a roadmap, assemble a plan, and put it into action. Look at your audit as writing your own recipe for success; it will let you know what you already have that you can use, and what you need to go out and get, and most importantly it will help you understand how to put it all together.
The biggest problem will always be between the chair and the keyboard
Yup, I mean you! And me!
Really, I mean it. Computers and websites are dumb, and by dumb I mean they’re as smart as what we tell them to do. So when we tell them to do dumb stuff, they will like a faithful servant without any question. So keep that in mind when we get into some of the technical aspects of SEO. If you aren’t careful you could break your website, or you could even take it offline entirely, so if you aren’t sure about something, do a quick google search, or reach out to me directly!
Before we start, it’s important to remember two things, and to do one:
- The time investment and required effort for any audit depends on how large your site is.
- The quality and success of any audit - especially one for SEO - depends on asking the right questions with the right intent and context
- Check when your last backup was. (What do you mean you don’t have any backups?!) Okay, go MAKE a full backup of your website, database, and assets, and record all your current DNS settings. You know, just in case.
To give you a preview of what to look forward to here’s what our SEO audit checklist will cover:
- Business First: Define Your Strategic Objectives
- Current Content: Analyze Your Keywords
- Know Thy Enemy: Audit Your Competitors
- Technical Factors: The Invisible Side of SEO
- Get Specific: Page-Level Analysis
- Is This Thing On?: Content Strategy Evaluation
- Data-Dump: Analytics & User Behavior
- Who Sent You?: Link Analysis
- Wrong Number: Citation Review
It’s a long process with a lot of information, so I’m breaking this up into separate posts focusing on one topic each over a few weeks.
Hopefully, this makes it easier to digest and implement.
When Is It Necessary To Conduct An SEO Audit?
As I mentioned earlier, one of the first things I do with a new client with an existing web property is an SEO audit. Most people have little to no experience with SEO aside from hearing it as a buzzword, and there are countless misconceptions and misunderstandings about the subject. I always remind everyone of two important facts:
- SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t generate results overnight because of how the search engines and their crawlers and algorithms work. There are certain black-hat tactics that can be exploited, but even if these are successful in generating more immediate results, in the long-term, it will hurt your SEO performance more than it helps it, and recovering from that can take many months, if not years.
- SEO is an ongoing process. Monitoring, analyzing, and adjusting your SEO campaigns to align with and support your business objectives is vital for continued success. Your SEO campaigns need nurturing and attention just like any other part of your business.
So, while I usually conduct an audit when onboarding a client, I’ll also audit their SEO campaigns every quarter. This ensures they’re performing as expected, lets us identify weak points, and adjust as necessary.
It also allows us to discuss any new or changing business or strategy objectives with the client and ensure their SEO performance is supporting those.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to conduct an SEO audit under two conditions:
- The start a new campaign
- The end of every quarter
My aim is that by following this guide, you’ll be able to cover at least 95% of the factors that will help you improve your rankings. Always remember that an SEO campaign that results in success is the result of countless factors, along with a healthy dose of persistence and patience. This is why it’s absolutely vital you’re thorough - and objective - when reviewing your campaign.
Stay tuned for the next in the series!