A search engine is the starting point for 68% of all internet actions, and organic searches account for 51% of all website traffic. 75% of searchers never get beyond the first page of results, but the good news is that companies that publish blogs consistently have 434% more indexed pages than companies that don’t (which will improve your chances of being in the first page – providing you have an effective SEO strategy overall.)
In addition, SEO leads are eight times more likely to convert into paying consumers than leads obtained by traditional advertising initiatives. So, investing in SEO optimisation is a necessity.
The process of optimising your site takes hard work, dedication, and consistency. There are a number of things that you need to consider – your content strategy, on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and other technical details. Combined with frequent tweaking, these tactics make for a truly effective SEO plan – and it all begins with an audit.
What is an SEO Audit?
Some important elements to keep in mind while performing an SEO audit are:
- Back End (Technical SEO) : Ensuring that Google is crawling, indexing, and rendering your site appropriately.
- On-Page: Building a valuable user experience through content, keywords, and the overall design of your website.
- Off-Page: Looking for issues that might not be directly related to your website like social media, link building, reviews, etc.
The Importance of SEO Audits
The repercussions of not doing regular audits can be serious. The rules of the digital world keep changing rapidly and falling behind might lead you to unintentionally follow practices that are considered black hat (illegal).
For example, keyword stuffing is a black hat practice that might get you in serious trouble. On the surface, it does not seem like a serious offense, but this practice might lead to your website being banned. Google has made it clear that “filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s rankings.” Web crawlers will detect if you use certain terms excessively.
Platforms to Use
There are many great tools you can use to perform a website analysis – here is a list of credible platforms:
- Audit Tools – There are a plethora of audit tools available online. I would recommend using SEMrush or Ahrefs – they are comprehensive tools that give you overall insights in on a single platform.
- Google Console – Google Search Console is a free service that allows marketers, web developers, and website administrators to track their visibility in Google search results.
- Google Analytics – I won’t go on about how horrible Google Analytics 4 is – you can read all about that here. I recommend it in this case, only because of the benefits of staying in the Google Ecosystem.
- Google Page Speed Insights – This tool evaluates your site’s performance for both mobile and desktop.
How to Perform an SEO Audit
You can go through these steps in any order, and you don’t need to do them all at once – but you need to do them often.
- Mobile-First Approach
We live in a mobile-first world, with more than 60% of Google searches coming from mobile devices. So, your website should create a positive impact on mobile users as well as those using other devices.What to do: You can check whether your website is mobile-friendly or not by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool. If your website is not mobile-friendly, you need to redesign it to suit mobile users’ needs.
all user’s needs.
- Check for Multiple Versions of Your Site
Not everyone knows this, but there can be more than one version of a website. For example, “yoursite” could have the following versions:
It’s important that Google only indexes one version of your site.What to do: If you notice a variety of site versions, you have a problem that needs to be fixed as soon as possible. Regardless of the browser you use, you should expect to be redirected to a single version – if this is not happening use a 301 redirect to point to a single version. (Also, make sure your website has an SSL certificate. Transport Layer Security (TLS) formerly known as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a mechanism through which websites secure and encrypt sensitive data. Using Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) in your in your web address gives your brand credibility.)
There is nothing more detrimental to your ranking than your website being slow. Google expressed its disdain against such websites long ago.What to do:
a) Begin by cleaning up your website’s HTML code using Google Page Speed Insights. You don’t want unnecessary code confusing Google’s bots. Do this for all your web pages – not only your landing page.
b) Run a speed test of your website to check if the changes you made in the step above were effective or not. You can use this website to do so.
c) Size down your images so that they do not increase the page load time. If you use websites like Usplash, you can always download smaller versions of the files, or compress your images using a free online tool.
4. Delete Unnecessary Pages
If you Google your website, what results come up? There is probably an abundance of search results that serve no purpose – for example, the article you wrote on “How Vine is the Best Social Media App” back in 2012 doesn’t need to be indexed as it serves no purpose for today’s audience.
What to do: Begin by deleting pages that are outdated or serve no purpose. Too many webpages can make it difficult for Google to index and rank them. Remember, putting out tons of content does not necessarily make your website better. Your content needs to be strategic and should provide value to your target audience
5. Indexation Issues
You have to keep a regular check on which pages are indexing and which are not. If you do not index a page, Google’s bots will be unable to organise it in search results. Remember the basics of SEO – without being indexed, your page cannot be ranked according to relevant searches.
What to do: In Google Search Console, go to the Index tab’s Coverage page. Here, you can examine which pages are legitimate and which contain warnings, as well as learn more about common mistakes to avoid.
6. Page Experience
User experience is now used as a legitimate metric for ranking by Google – we need to build websites based on user experience principles
What to do: Each of the Core Web Vitals represents a unique aspect of the user experience. They are a set of standardized metrics that developers may use to analyze how audiences interact with a web page. These vitals help website owners understand user’s experience on their website. The metrics are based on speed, responsiveness, and visual stability. The Largest Contentful Paint is a metric that gauges loading speed. Interactivity is measured by the First Input Delay, and the Cumulative Layout Shift is a visual stability metric. For more information, you can refer to this article by Google.
7. Content Pruning
SEO is all about consistency. There is no denying that it’s hard work. Just as we organise our closet every few months, we have to do the same with our website’s content. Pruning means removing content that’s irrelevant or outdated. From an SEO perspective, it’s a successful strategic measure for enhancing engagement, rankings, and traffic without having to invest in creating new content.
What to do: You have to prune your content regularly. To deep dive into content pruning, I would recommend you read my article explaining the process completely.
8. Schema Markup
One of the more complex strategies to increase SEO ranking is to use Schema markup, which tells the search engine exactly what your webpage’s content is trying to say. (It organises unstructured data, as shown in the image below.) This outcome is that users are given additional information about a page, improving their experience. It also aids in search engine crawling, resulting in a higher position for your website.
I hope this article helps you develop a stronger SEO strategy. Audits can assist you in developing a sound plan at the start of a new project or site launch and, when carried out regularly on your existing site, they help you fix elements that are hindering it from reaching its full potential. If you’re having difficulty with any of the steps mentioned in this article, my team and I are here to help you. Click here to get a free SEO audit for your website.