What Is a Search Engine Optimization Audit? | What is an SEO Audit?

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With over 1.5 billion websites on the internet, one thing is certain: you’re up against a lot of competition when trying to rank organically on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

This doesn’t mean, however, that search engine optimization (SEO) shouldn’t be a crucial part of your marketing strategy. So how do you get your website to show up on top search engine results? Do you hire an SEO expert, a marketing agency, or do you try to do it yourself?

If you’re new to the SEO game, where should you start? Do you use free tools? Or Paid ones? 

Doing a comprehensive SEO audit is where you’ll want to begin in your journey. Read below to learn what an SEO audit is and the various components that make up a thorough SEO brand audit.

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What Is a Search Engine Optimization Audit or What is an SEO Audit?

Let’s start with the basics: what exactly is an SEO audit? At its most basic level, it’s the process of analyzing how well your website is ranking in Google search results and identifying what’s causing the results you see.

The core purpose is being able to identify as many issues as possible with your organic search efforts along with being able to double down on what is working well for you. This way, you’ll know what you’re dealing with, know what you need to do to improve, and where you might need to invest more effort into developing.

A comprehensive website SEO audit looks at many different ranking factors to include a site audit covering:

  • Website structure issues, ensuring you have your robots.txt & XML sitemap setup properly and submitted for indexing
  • An optimized web User experience or usability for desktop, mobile devices & laptops
  • Identifying Duplicate content using SEO tools like screaming frog
  • Optimizing your homepage, javascript, HTML, meta descriptions, title tags, meta tags, proper canonical use, headers, paragraph formatting, image alt text, & proper website schema markup
  • Your SERP rankings based on different search engine algorithms, crawlers, indexing, webmaster tools, their website audit tools, their SEO ranking, organic traffic based on keywords they rank your website for & keyword rank tracking to see changes  
  • Setting up and using google search console for your digital marketing strategy
  • Optimizing your social media profiles for brand congruency
  • Google analytics, webpage bounce rates & webpage click-through rates (CTR)
  • Optimizing the speed of your website, speed ranking, and ensuring the site speed loads quickly across all devices—Desktops, laptops & mobile devices
  • Doing a site crawl to identify all potential on-page SEO issues including broken links, wrong 404, 410, 301′, 302’s, 303’s, 304’s, canonicals, metadata, link profiles, external links, internal links & contextual anchor text
  • User experience problems through auditing & setting up heatmap tracking
  • Gaps in your site content, doing keyword research, viewing things from your searcher’s viewpoint & intent, optimizing your site’s SEO for intent-based marketing, developing a content marketing strategy & execution plan
  • Off-site issues including your backlink profile, external link profile using tools like ahrefs, Moz, or Semrush.
  • Competitive market analysis, link building results or lack there-of, key performance metrics & whether or not you should hire marketers, SEO professionals, or help to do the work for your company or non-profit.

Also, keep in mind that an SEO audit shouldn’t be a one-time occurrence. Think of it as a health checkup. Perform them often, and you’ll be able to better control and improve your website rankings. 

What an SEO Audit Should Be

Now let’s talk about what an SEO audit service should and shouldn’t be.

To begin, it should be comprehensive. It should look at your website & brand holistically, giving you a complete picture of what’s going on.

It should also include actionable advice or strategies you can implement to start ranking or boost current SEO rankings. You’ll want a report that’s detailed and in-depth, but that also lets you know what your next steps to take are. This is a crucial part of a successful SEO audit.

These recommended actions should also be prioritized by impact and the effort needed for each idea. This will help you know where to start or invest more resources.

What an SEO Audit Shouldn’t Be

Next, there are two big things an SEO audit shouldn’t be.

First, it shouldn’t be one size fits all. Every company is different and every website or brand has different strengths and weaknesses.

Each company also uses its website in unique ways. Some prioritize lead generation, while others rely solely on e-commerce sales.

Knowing these details will help you know where to focus the core of your SEO audit.

An SEO audit should also not be rushed. A thorough audit takes time, usually between 2 and 5 days.

The 3 Core Elements of an SEO Audit

While SEO audits are incredibly complex, there are 3 essential elements to every successful effort. These are on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.

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On-Page SEO

First, you’ll look at on-page SEO. This part of your audit focuses on elements of your website that you can control. This largely focuses on the content of your site that can be optimized.

Your audit will analyze every page of your website and look at the keywords it’s ranking for and the position of these keywords.

You can then take this information and optimize your content. Each page of your website should focus on one core keyword with multiple variations. This keyword should live in the page title, the headline, and be included multiple times throughout the page.

Looking at your competitors’ sites can also help you know what keywords to focus on.

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Off-Page SEO

Next, your audit will look at off-page SEO. These are things you don’t directly control, but that you can influence. 

The core of this effort revolves around backlinks.

Backlinks are a huge part of a successful SEO strategy. This is because Google loves to see that other websites are linking to yours. This shows that your content is high quality and trustworthy.

And this is exactly the type of content Google wants to deliver to its users.

Your SEO audit will look at your backlink profile, which is information about the different sites ranking to your pages and the domain authority of these sites. In the eyes of Google, the more domain authority, the more valuable the link.

The good news is that you can do things to generate more backlinks to your site. There’s a whole area of SEO called outreach that focuses on this.

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Technical SEO

Lastly, your SEO audit tool will look at the technical side of your website. And the truth is that this can get really complicated really fast.

But there are some key elements you should focus on first that isn’t too overwhelming.

The most important is web page speed. If your website takes forever to load, people are going to be frustrated. They’re going to have a negative experience. If this happens, your bounce rates increase, click-through rates decrease, signaling to google and other search engines a bad user experience.

Google & the other Serps don’t want that. They want their users to be satisfied, and they want to direct their users to good user experiences.

So to accomplish this goal, Google & other Search engines prioritize sites that load quickly, offer a good mobile experience, and have a high engagement or click-through rate. The technical part of your SEO audit helps you know the speed of your pages and give you recommendations for speeding it up.

Some technical SEO tools you can use include Semrush, ScreamingFrog, Moz, Ubersuggest, & ahrefs.

What Is an SEO Audit Answered

Now you know what an SEO audit is and how it can help your business. What’s next? You should start working on your SEO.

While you can definitely DIY with SEO, you can really save a lot of headaches and time by relying on experts for a complete audit. We have years of experience helping our clients understand their SEO issues.

Contact us today to see how we may help!


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