Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is important. Anyone in the digital marketing world will happily tell you that. It’s a long process that doesn’t occur overnight, but it’s well worth it when it works. While you can just make changes willy-nilly and fix whatever you think needs fixing, it’s much more beneficial to your business and SEO to fix what you know needs fixing. But how do you determine what is and isn’t optimized? This is where the SEO audit comes in.
An SEO audit is an audit that you can do to check how optimized your website is for search engines. In an SEO audit, you check for errors that may be preventing your website from being indexed and crawled and areas where you can improve both your on-page and off-page SEO. SEO audits are just as important as SEO itself to keep your website traffic up. But how do you perform an SEO audit?
Ranking and Your Competition
The first things you need to know when starting an SEO audit are your website’s rankings and your competition. Seeing where you’re ranked on certain keywords is important to know where to start. Knowing which keywords to focus your SEO efforts on will eliminate a lot of the work you would do if you were to optimize for all of your targeted keywords. You can check your rankings using Google Search Console, or you can use software such as SEMRush’s Position Tracking Tool.
This tool not only tells you your own rankings but gives you a breakdown of your competitors. If someone is ranking above you for certain keywords, check out their website and look at what they’re doing differently from you. Learning from your competition is one of the best methods for SEO research.
Check Your Indexing
Indexing your website can be confusing. It isn’t always a straightforward process: you can accidentally have your website index duplicated, or you can miss a page or two along the way. While these kinds of issues are easy to come by, cleaning them up can make a huge difference in your SEO efforts. A super easy way to check for duplicate sites is by going to Google and typing “site:yoursite.com” into the search bar.
The picture above is what you want to see: your different pages on your website. If you see a duplicate homepage, your site is indexed under multiple domains. It could be that you’ve indexed it under “https://domain.com” and “https://www.domain.com”. Something as small as this can create a second indexing of your website, which pollutes your keywords and reduces your SEO. An easy way to get rid of these extra indexed domains is to go to Google Search Console and block or remove these extra indexes, as long as the URLs are registered with GSC. You can also use this Google Search method to see what pages of your website are indexed on Google.
Test Your Site Speed
The next factor for you to test in your SEO audit is your site speed. If your website takes longer to load, that impacts your SEO rankings. Therefore, site speed is essential to test, both because it’s extremely easy to test and because it’s relatively easy to fix. Google’s PageSpeed Insights page tests your website speed on both desktop and mobile. To see how to improve your site speed, check out this post about technical SEO.
Make Sure You Use HTTPS
One of the unknown gems of SEO is making sure your site is HTTPS. You might think this is no different than HTTP, but that S can make a world of difference. The S means that your site is certified and secure. When you try to access a website without the safety certification, Google will alert you that the site is not safe, and recommend that you leave the site. If this happens to your website, or if the URL says “Not Secure” next to it, then you need to encrypt your website and have it secured. Let’s Encrypt can help you with it’s free and easy-to-use software.
Test Your Mobile-Friendliness
Your website works on desktop, but does it work on mobile? A lot of searches happen on mobile devices these days, and your website should work on mobile to reflect that. You can test the mobile-friendliness of your website with Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test. If you’re using a web builder or hiring out a designer, then this should be covered. But it’s still worth checking to make sure that you have all your bases covered.
Now that the technical SEO is done, the next step on our SEO audit is to look at on-page SEO. SEMRush has a useful tool that can audit your on-page SEO for you and show you what needs improvement. If you want to run your audit fully in-house, you can just check on each of the elements of on-page SEO to make sure everything it optimized properly.
The aspects of on-page SEO that you’ll want to check in your SEO audit are pretty easy to optmize once you find a need. Title and meta tags are some of the biggest changes you’ll want to make if they’re not already optimized for your targeted keywords. If the copy on your website is outdated, you can also refresh that or just take a look to check how many keywords appear. Getting the right keywords and synonyms on your website is the biggest battle with SEO, so make sure that you have the presence you want. There are multiple elements that can be duplicates (sitemaps, content pages, etc). Going in and cleaning those up will help improve your SEO as well.
The last thing you’ll want to check in your SEO audit is your off-page SEO. Off-page SEO includes backlinks, local SEO, and other links to your website that can be found around the internet. This is a little more difficult to check, but SEMRush once again has a great Backlinks Audit Tool for you to use.
When Should You Run An SEO Audit?
SEO audit’s aren’t something that you should do just once. While you don’t need to be running audits all the time, it’s suggested that you run an SEO audit every 6 months to a year. This way, the content on your website is constantly being refreshed and you can clear out broken links that have developed and check in on your content. We tend not to think about our website or its content once it’s live, but it’s very important to keep it updated.
Learn more about how Ascent Digital can improve your SEO efforts today!