If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
If a website is developed, designed, and published to the internet, yet nobody ever visits it, does the website exist at all?
“It’s not enough for a business to have a website. In 2019 and beyond, visibility is one of the primary factors in online success. And if you want visibility, you must pay attention to the technical aspects of SEO and how Google, Bing, and other search engines rank websites and deliver search results to their users.
If you’re new to SEO, or it’s been a while since you’ve thought about it, your website may benefit from an SEO audit and competitor analysis to see where things stand and to identify opportunities for positive change.
It depends on who you talk to, but we consider an SEO audit to be the process of analyzing your website through the context of current SEO best practices and how it’s performing in terms of SEO rankings, traffic, conversions, and other key metrics. It also involves an in-depth analysis of your competitors’ websites and the opportunities they’re leveraging and/or missing out on.
At the end of the day, an SEO audit will give you an idea of how your website stacks up, what issues need to be addressed, and which areas can be optimized and improved upon. It’s like shining a flashlight into the shadows of your website to discover what’s in the cracks and crevices.
Full SEO audits should be conducted regularly – ideally according to a documented schedule. But if you’ve never conducted an audit before and aren’t sure if the timing is right, we’ve compiled a list of relevant symptoms that indicate it’s time. Here are a few warning signs that your website does, without a doubt, need an SEO audit and competitor analysis:
The first warning sign is that your website was developed a long time ago and hasn’t been touched in a few years. If this is the case, you’re almost certainly breaking a number of SEO rules and violating the majority of today’s best practices.
SEO has evolved a tremendous amount over the last five years. Not only have there been a couple of major Google updates, but the entire industry has shifted away from the spammy tactics of yesteryear and toward a more organic approach that prioritizes natural linking and long-tail keywords. Your old website resembles a house with shag carpet.
On the other end of the spectrum, consider whether your website has recently been redesigned. In these situations, you’ll need to conduct an audit in order to determine how the new updates and improvements impact your SEO presence.
Not all web designers and developers are SEO experts. While they can build you a site that looks good on the surface and has smooth navigation, they may not be well versed in the technical components of SEO that impact search, visibility, and traffic. This leaves you with web pages that look good, but provide minimal practical value.
Open up your website’s Google Analytics dashboard and click on the traffic tab. Here you’ll find information on where your traffic is coming from – including the top sources. You’ll find data, charts, and tables that tell you what percentage of traffic is coming from organic activities, referral sources, social media, paid search, email, and direct traffic (i.e. someone types your website into the search bar and presses enter).
It’s good to have diversity in your traffic, but it’s especially important that you see a healthy allotment in the “organic traffic” segment of the pie chart. This is the traffic that comes from search engines. It tells you whether your SEO efforts are truly paying off or not. If organic traffic is minuscule or non-existent, your website needs an audit.
As you review your traffic sources, take a peek at what percentage of your visitors land on your website as a result of paid search – like Google Ads. Whereas you want organic traffic to be high, you want paid traffic to be low.
If your paid traffic is higher than it should be, this indicates that you’re having to spend money to get people on your site. While PPC ads exist for a reason – and they hopefully deliver a positive ROI – a heavy reliance on them will inhibit your ability to cost-effectively scale up traffic. As soon as you stop paying for ad placement, your traffic numbers will plummet.
Link building strategies exist for a reason. In order to rank well in the search engines, you need a certain number of high authority websites and blogs linking back to your web pages. If nobody is linking to your website, this means something is awry. (Either you’re producing poor quality content or nobody can find your content.)
There are numerous tools and platforms you can use to determine which websites are linking back to yours. Ahrefs backlink checker is one of the best. It’ll tell you exactly where your links are coming from, what the anchor text is, information about domain authority and URL rating, and whole lot more.
Let’s say your traffic numbers are fine. You’re generating a healthy number of visitors – a lot of them coming from organic sources – and things appear to be in great shape. The next thing to consider is what your website visitors are doing once they’re on your website.
An extremely low conversion rate indicates that your site is poorly structured and/or that your content is falling flat. It may also indicate that you’re using a poor SEO strategy and reaching the wrong audience.
Finally, it’s possible that you’ve never done an SEO audit before – like ever!If this is the case, then you absolutely need to conduct an SEO audit and competitor analysis in order to see where things stand. You’ll almost certainly identify areas for improvement.
Okay, clearly you need one. The question is, how do you conduct an SEO audit and competitor analysis? Without digging too deep into the technical aspects – that’s a conversation for another day – here are some of the key steps involved in the process:
At SEO.co, we specialize in supplying business with high quality content marketing and link building service. But we’ll also be the first to admit that these services will benefit your company very little if your website doesn’t have a strong SEO foundation to support it.
Before investing in link building, we’d recommend conducting a deep SEO site audit. In doing so, you’ll uncover the issues that are holding you back and come face-to-face with promising opportunities. In the end, this will enhance your link building efforts and give your website the best chance of thriving!