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  • SEO Audit: The Complete Guide to Running an SEO Audit

    SEO Audit Guide: The Complete Guide to Running an SEO Audit

    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.

    A full SEO audit is a service that can help you obtain the first spot on Google’s search engine (google search results). The site audit looks at your entire web page and measures different aspects such as your domain name, links, tags, content, images, navigation, keyword optimization, CSS codes and social network sharing icons. The auditor will check your page load time to see if slow page loads might be preventing visitors from sticking around. He or she will search for malware and spam, which is another huge deterrent.

    Local SEO with third-party review sites, guest posts on external blogs, ongoing content marketing, and social media community building get all the attention, but make no mistake—onsite optimization is still crucial if you want your site to rank in Google.

    Appealing to search engines and the users thereof is more important than it was in years prior. More people rely on popular search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing to find information, products and services than ever before.

    This places a greater importance upon ensuring that your website takes and maintains key positions in search results vital to achieving success for the digital part of your business.

    Without it, you’ll see fewer customers each day until your digital business puts you in the red.

    Ensuring that your website stays as near to the first search result as possible is as simple as ensuring that you have the proper SEO. The first step in doing that is to have someone perform an SEO audit of your website. visit – Best SEO audit Tools

    Why Your Website Needs an Audit

    If you’re new to SEO, or it’s been a while since you’ve thought about it, your website may benefit from an site audit and competitor analysis to see where things stand and to identify opportunities for positive change.

    Full SEO audits should be conducted regularly – ideally according to a documented schedule. But if you’ve never conducted a site 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:

    1. Your Website Doesn’t Get as Many Visitors as It Once Did

    2. A Search Engine Algorithm Change

    3. Only a Small Portion of Your Traffic Comes from Search Engines

    4. Pay-Per-Click is Horrendously Expensive

    5. Your Visitors Aren’t Converting to Customers

    6. Your Website Is Not Listed on the First Page of Google

    7. Your Visitors Aren’t Staying

    8. Website Traffic Seems to Have Reached a Maximum

    9. You Have a Number of Long-Tail Keyword Hits

    10. Your Traffic Originates Mainly from No-Follow Websites

     

    Title Tag Audit

    Technical factors, like your site navigation, mobile optimization, design, and speed, all play into how authoritative your site is seen, but don’t neglect the basics; how you present your site through title tags and meta descriptions plays a huge role in how Google views your site.

    In case you weren’t aware, “title tags” are short titles you give to the individual pages on your site, while “meta descriptions” are short sentences you use to describe them. These aren’t publicly visible on your site itself (for the most part), but instead are written into your site’s code to feed information to search bots. When users see your web page in search results, the title will appear in blue at the top and the description will be in black text underneath. Additionally, Google uses this information to interpret the pages of your site, and if it likes what it sees, it will increase your authority and categorize you as it deems appropriate.

    What Makes for a Good Title Tag or Description?

    site search

    The requirements for a good title or description have changed significantly following Google’s many quality updates. Back when Google used keywords almost exclusively, optimizing your title tags was a glorified method of keyword stuffing. You would identify a dozen target keywords or so, and use them on a rotating basis in all your titles and descriptions, sometimes using two or more in a single entry. Today, Google’s search algorithm is much more sophisticated, and stuffing your titles with keywords is a surefire way to get a penalty.

    If you want to ensure your titles and descriptions lend you the best possible domain authority, make sure they follow these rules:

    • First, make sure your titles and descriptions are well-written in a way that makes sense. Including ten random words in a row will not earn you any authority. You’ll also need to make sure titles and descriptions are present for every page on your website.
    • Google only reads a limited amount of text in your titles and descriptions, so keep them concise. Titles should be no more than 100 characters, including spaces, while descriptions should be no more than 170.
    • Titles and descriptions should both be accurate to whatever it is they’re describing. This is important not only because it tells Google exactly what your page is doing, but also because it forms a user’s first impression of your site, and can dictate whether a user clicks through. Remember, Google is pretty good at understanding the semantics of your page titling, so as long as you keep it accurate, you should face no categorization problems.
    • Titles should be in title case, while descriptions should be in sentence case.
    • Avoid salesy language in either the title or description. Adjectives like “best,” “great,” or “awesome” will be red flags to Google that you’re trying to sell a product.
    • Speak concisely; you’re working with a limited amount of space in both titles and descriptions, so you want your words to count.
    • In titles, focus on introducing the concept and avoid any overly descriptive language.
    • In descriptions, focus on describing the product concisely, and include any and all technical specifications you can.
    • Any duplicates are taboo. No titles or descriptions on your site should be verbatim matches to any other title or description.

    Now that you know what to look for in your title tags and descriptions, you can audit your site to ensure your full compliance.

    Where to Find Your Title Tags and Descriptions

    perform an seo audit

    Different backend systems offer title tags and descriptions in different ways. In a WordPress CMS, these should be easily editable on the page level for each of your web pages. In other CMS systems, they may be consolidated in their own area. You may need to work with a developer if you cannot find a way to easily edit them.

    Beyond that, you can and should rely on Google Webmaster Tools to run reports on your title tags and meta descriptions. Once installed, head to the Search Appearance tab and click on HTML Improvements. Here, Google will give you a handy list of any problems it detects with your titles or descriptions. Overly long, overly short, non-descriptive, and duplicate titles and descriptions are listed, as well as any pages that are missing these entirely. Depending on the number of these that are present, you can open and export a report to show you the full list. This makes it easy for you to learn which ones need changed and then change them one by one.

    How Often to Run the Audit

    off page seo audit

    Chances are, unless you have a full team of people making regular edits to your website, you won’t need to run this audit often. Your titles and descriptions are static, not dynamic, so once you make a change, that change will likely stay.

    However, if you have a habit of adding new pages or deleting old ones, or if you’re launching a new site, it’s imperative that you run a new  site audit to make sure that your new site layout is still in compliance with best practices.

    Generally, running this once every two or three months is ample.

    Content Marketing Audit

    Whether you’re not getting the results you were anticipating or you’re just trying to reevaluate your brand’s direction, a content marketing audit is invaluable in helping you find key areas for change and improvement. While each written post is unique, requiring in-depth research in addition to drafting and revision, most content strategies, on the whole, run on autopilot. The general direction is set, and the individual moving parts that carry out the work simply repeat the same tasks over and over.

    This type of consistency is a strength for content marketing; with the right strategy, repetition breeds familiarity and eventually, a greater impact. But when that strategy is lacking or imprecise, your consistency can be doing more harm than good. Performing a content audit can help you determine whether or not your consistency is beneficial, and if not, how you can drive meaningful change to restore it.

    Link Quality Audit

    Link building is still a viable and necessary strategy for SEO. External links pointing to a domain pass authority to that domain, and the more authority a domain has, the easier it will be able to rank for specific keywords.

    Unfortunately, the link-building process is more complex than just posting links on external sites; Google’s Penguin update, which was originally released in 2012, has made the link-identifying components of Google’s search algorithm incredibly sophisticated. Its most recent iteration, 3.0 in October of this year, pushed those changes even further. Under Penguin, your external links need to be diverse, authoritative, and of high quality. Otherwise, you could face a penalty and suffer a ranking drop instead of a boost.

    As a result, it’s important to perform an occasional link quality site audit to review your overall strategy, identify possible weaknesses, and prevent the possibility of getting hit with a sudden ranking fall. Many search marketers know this information, but still, fail to perform a site audit regularly. This guide will help you understand not only when—but also how—to perform a link quality site audit for your campaign.

    Reaction to a Penalty

    search engine crawlers

    Unfortunately, most search marketers only implement a link quality site audit after they’ve already been hit with a penalty. It’s easy to spot a penalty when it happens, especially if you keep a tight watch over the progress of your campaign. Your rankings will start to diminish for some or all of your keywords, and your organic traffic numbers will start to dip.

    These penalties are usually not “penalties” per say. Instead, they’re the result of a new update or data refresh rolling out, such as Penguin 3.0. When this happens, Google refines what links it sees and how it sees them, and automatically recalculates the rank for every business on the web. A decline of rank after a rollout is just an unfortunate and automatic drop in perceived significance.

    Manual penalties also exist, but these are very rare. In these cases, if a website has committed a particularly atrocious offense, a Google analyst may submit a manual penalty and greatly reduce that website’s visibility across the web. You will receive a formal notification if this happens, and the road to recovery is long and difficult.

    Nevertheless, if you have already suffered an automatic penalty, your first step is to respond immediately by performing a formal link quality site audit and finding the root of your problem.

    Ongoing Maintenance

    index pages

    Obviously, the better way to solve a problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place. If you can identify your bad links before Google can get to them with a data refresh or an update, you’ll never have to experience a ranking drop at all.

    The first step, of course, is to build exclusively high-quality links in your profile. If you only submit the best links, it makes sense that you’d never have to worry about a penalty, and a link quality audit would seem redundant. However, it’s still a good idea to go through your link profile occasionally and clear up any inconsistencies. Old links and negative SEO attacks are just two possible liabilities a link quality audit can catch.

    You don’t need to perform a link quality audit every day, or even every week (unless you’re running a very high-profile campaign). Bi-weekly or monthly link quality audits are suitable for most businesses.

    Step One: Identify the Culprits

    The first step to any link quality audit is to find any questionable links pointing to your domain. It’s not enough to simply review what links you personally posted and where; you’ll want to take a look at every link on the web pointing back to your site. You can do this using a free tool like Moz’s Open Site Explorer, or some other external link-based search system.

    Once you have a list of all the links pointing back to you, start going through them one by one. If you’ve already experienced a penalty, you can be pretty sure there’s at least one bad link hiding in the others. Keep an eye out for links that exhibit any of the following questionable qualities:

    • Links stuffed with keywords as anchor text
    • Backlinks on questionable sources, such as article mills or local directories that have nothing to do with your industry
    • Links that are unhelpful to readers or irrelevant to the conversation
    • Links you’ve paid for (other than affiliate links)
    • Links on guest blogging networks or other link building schemes

    You don’t necessarily have to remove every link that seems questionable. Unless you’re facing a harsh penalty, only remove a link if it truly stands out as suspicious.

    If you haven’t found any questionable links in your link profile, then congratulations! Your link profile has passed the audit, and you can relax until your next regular check.

    Step Two: Reach Out to the google search console

    Google search console – Now that you know the worst offenders in your link profile, you need to work on removing them from the web. Otherwise, they could damage your reputation and make your ranking situation worse. Your first step is to try removing the links yourself through a login and manual removal. If you are unable to do so, you’ll have to go straight to the google search console.

    If you remember building the link in the first place, you should still have the webmaster’s (google search console) contact information. If not, you can usually find it listed on the site itself under the contact page.

    If you’re still having trouble finding the (google search console)webmaster, do a Whois search in Google by typing “Whois” followed by the domain. This will give you all the publicly available information on a given domain such as the contact information and the hosting company. You can also contact the hosting company directly to try and get closer to the google search console webmaster.

    Once you have the information, write a polite email to the webmaster and formally ask that the link be removed. In most cases, they’ll be happy to help.

    Step Three: Escalate the Removal

    Asking the webmaster for help removing the link is the easiest and most reliable way to go. However, there may be rare instances when they refuse to help or ignore your request. In these instances, there is a last-ditch effort option available through Google Webmaster Tools.

    You can find the tool here, but only use it as a last resort. Google rejects a vast majority of link disavowal requests.

    Step Four: Repair Your Ongoing Strategy

    Finally, take a look at the links you removed and determine the fault point that led to their creation. Where was the flaw in your strategy? Make any corrections that you need to make, and get your team up to speed on the adjustments. The more you refine your strategy, the better your link profile will be, and your link audits will be much easier as a result.

    Commit to performing a link quality audit at least once a month for your campaign, even if your link building strategy is only a small component of your overall direction. Finding and removing one bad link can save you the pain of dealing with a ranking drop, and proactively keep your site’s domain authority rising over time.

    SEO Audit GUIDE Checklist

    Even the best-laid content plans can go awry, especially if you haven’t touched base with your original vision from the beginning of the year, but it’s not a problem unless you allow it to keep getting worse. This is your chance to evaluate your performance, take note of possibilities for improvement, and start the new year off with a bold new approach.

    The problem for most people is scale—“content marketing” refers to a lot of different moving parts, so how can you run an audit of everything all at once? That’s why I came up with this checklist. It’s not perfect, but it will help you touch on the most important points of your campaign and figure out exactly what you need to do to improve in the coming year:

    Recall the Big Picture

    pages rank

    First, you’ll want to get a good idea of where you were at the start of the year, as a basis for comparison.

    • What were your main goals? Were you trying to build more traffic alone or were you hoping for more engagements onsite?
    • What were your secondary goals? Were you interested in building more relationships with influencers? Achieving a higher ranking in search engines? The more specific you are here, the better, but if your goals started vague, they’ll have to remain vague.
    • What changed this year over last year? Where were you at the end of last year, and what made you choose those goals? What strategic changes did you make?

    Evaluate Your Overall Efforts

    seo issues

    Next, take a look at the efforts you made to achieve those goals.

    • How often did you publish content?
    • What types of content did you publish? For most goals, the more variety you have the better.
    • Where did you publish content? Make a list of your primary and secondary syndication channels, and whether you syndicated older material in addition to new features.
    • Were there any gaps or missteps in your strategy?
    • Did your strategy align with your objectives?
    • Did you adjust your strategy throughout the year? This is crucial; if your strategy remained stagnant, you could have missed out on some serious opportunities for growth.
    • What could you have done better? This is a broad question, and one we’ll answer in more detail with the other sections, but make a preliminary list.

    Evaluate Your Overall Performance

    google rankings

    With the efforts behind you, take a look at how well your campaign performed overall.

    • How did traffic change over the course of the last year? Look at organic, social, and even direct traffic. Obviously, more is better, regardless of your other goals.
    • How did engagement change over the course of the last year? Consider comments, user behavior, social shares, links, and meaningful site engagements.
    • How did conversions change over the course of the last year? Again, more is always better, and can be a good indication of how much users trust your brand.
    • Did you meet your main goals? Why or why not?
    • Did you meet your secondary goals? Why or why not?

    Evaluate a Sample

    Now, take out the microscope. Take a piece—or several pieces—of content you’ve written recently, and evaluate them for quality.

    • Is your content useful? All your content should be valuable, if not practical, to your audience.
    • Is your content unique? Do a quick search—did anyone do this before you did?
    • Is your content timely? Evergreen content is always good, but what about your news articles?
    • Is your content accurate and well-researched? How many sources do you cite? Can you verify every fact you claim?
    • Is your content logically organized and coherent?
    • Is your content supplemented with visual material? Visuals are becoming more important than ever. Images and video can make any piece of content more engaging.
    • Does your content feature any filler? These include “fluff” content or unnecessary tangents.
    • Is your content written for people or search engines? This is subjective, but you should be able to tell almost immediately.
    • Does your content adhere to a consistent brand voice? You’ll have to look at multiple pieces to determine the answer.
    • Does your content sell too hard, not at all, or a respectable amount? This is somewhat subjective, but it should stand out to you if you have no calls to action of if you’re too salesy.
    • Is your content scannable? Readers should be able to get the gist of your content at a glance.

    Redefine Your Goals

    Redefine Your Goals

    You now have a solid understanding of what you wanted to do, the effort you put forth, and the results of those efforts. Hopefully, you’ve uncovered some weaknesses to improve and some successful areas to replicate, so let’s formalize those with some questions:

    • What new main goals do you want to achieve? Are you updating your older goals or heading in a new direction in google analytics?
    • What new secondary goals do you want to achieve? What short-term and lower-priority goals are going to lead you to your main vision?
    • How are you going to do it? Think about all the strategic changes you’ll need to make to produce better content and achieve your goals.

    Now that you’ve answered every question in this list and come up with at least a few new conclusions about your content marketing campaign, you should be in a good position to start the new year off right. Remember, year-end audits are nice, but if you want to enjoy continually growing success in any way, you’ll need to monitor your performance and make adjustments throughout the year. Trends, technologies, and user behaviors change too quickly to be ignored, so prioritize your attention to detail and flexibility.

    Why are Broken Links Important for SEO?

    Broken links are important for SEO audit because they can negatively impact a website’s ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). Broken links can also cause website visitors to leave a site prematurely, which can lead to a loss of potential customers or sales. In order to avoid these negative consequences, it is important to regularly check for and fix any broken links on your website.

    How to find Broken Links

    One of the most frustrating things when browsing the web is encountering broken links. Not only do they prevent you from accessing the content you’re trying to find, but they can also be a sign that a website is not well-maintained.

    There are a few different ways to check for broken links on a website. One method is to use a tool like the small SEO tool Link Sleuth, which will scan a site and report any broken links it finds. Another option is to use your web browser’s built-in developer tools; both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox have options for checking for broken links.

    Once you’ve found some broken links, there are a few different ways to fix them. If the link is on your own website, you can simply update the URL to point to the correct page. If the link is on someone else’s website, you’ll need to reach out to them and let them know so they can update it. In some cases, you may be able to find an alternative link that goes to the same content; if so, you can add that as a replacement.

    Major Benefits Of The SEO Audit

    An SEO audit is an important task that should be carried out regularly in order to maintain a good ranking in search engines. There are many benefits of SEO audits, including improved website visibility, increased traffic, and higher conversion rates.

    1. SEO audits to ensure that your website is visible to the search engines. If your website is not visible to the search engines, then it will not be able to attract any organic traffic. An SEO audit can help to identify any issues that are preventing your website from being indexed by search engines. Once these issues have been fixed, your website will start to appear in the search results, which will in turn lead to more traffic.

    2. SEO audits can help to increase your website’s traffic. By making your website more visible in the search results, an SEO audit can help to increase the amount of traffic that your website receives. This can lead to more sales and conversions, as well as improved brand awareness.

    3. SEO audits can improve your website’s conversion rate. If more people are visiting your website, then there is a greater chance that some of them will take the desired action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter. By improving your website’s visibility and traffic levels, an on page SEO audit can help to increase your conversion rate.

    4. SEO audits can help to improve your website’s overall performance. An on page SEO audit can help to improve your website’s overall performance. This can lead to a better user experience and improved search engine results.

     

     

    Conclusion

    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:

    • Look for glaring issues. The very first phase of an SEO audit is to look for any major issues that are causing significant problems for your website. For example, verify that there’s only one version of your website that’s able to be browsed. You must also verify that your website is in fact indexed by Google.
    • Uncover the easy fixes. Once you’ve identified and dealt with any glaring issues, you can go after the easy fixes – the low-hanging fruit, per se. Do all of your pages have meta descriptions? Does each page only have one H1 tag with proper subheaders? Is there any duplicate content holding your site back?
    • Analyze your traffic with google analytics. Review your google analytics and dig deep into your traffic reports. Which landing pages are responsible for bringing in the most search traffic? Are there one or two pages responsible for a huge chunk of traffic, or are there even distribution?
    • Conduct a backlink analysis. Are your backlinks using the correct version of your website’s domain? Is the anchor text spelled correctly? Are there any spammy websites that you’d prefer not to be associated with? A thorough backlink analysis will help you uncover answers to all of these questions.
    • Research the competition. Competitor research is a major part of any SEO audit. Take the time to develop a list of your biggest competitors and then use some competitor analysis tools to see what keywords they rank for, how their pages are performing, etc.
    • Audit your content. Once you have an idea of what keywords the competition is ranking for and how they’re performing on the SEO front, revisit your own content and conduct an audit. More specifically, look for content gaps. These are keywords that your competitors rank for, but that you don’t. Consider revising your current content to include these keywords, as well as creating fresh content around relevant topics in these niches.

    SEO.co: Your Source for Quality Content and Link Building

    At SEO.co, we specialize in supplying businesses with high-quality content marketing and white-label link-building for agencies. 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!

    Chief Revenue Officer at SEO Company
    Industry veteran Timothy Carter is SEO.co’s Chief Revenue Officer. Tim leads all revenue for the company and oversees all customer-facing teams for SEO (search engine optimization) services - including sales, marketing & customer success. He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO & Digital Marketing, assisting in everything from SEO for lawyers to complex technical SEO for Fortune 500 clients like Wiley, Box.com, Qualtrics and HP.

    Tim holds expertise in building and scaling sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive growth from websites and sales teams.

    When he's not working, Tim enjoys playing a few rounds of disc golf, running, and spending time with his wife and family on the beach...preferably in Hawaii.

    Over the years he's written for publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Marketing Land, Search Engine Journal, ReadWrite and other highly respected online publications. Connect with Tim on Linkedin & Twitter.
    Timothy Carter