An SEO audit is something that you need to prepare for even during the early stages of your new SEO strategy. The sooner you start the easier an audit will be in the future, but many Webmasters continue to put it off. When they finally do get around to an audit, it’s years before another one happens, which causes even more involved problems as a company grows.
The truth is that SEO audits are usually avoided because A). A company owner doesn’t realize what they are or why they matter, or B). SEO audit’s reputation of being “annoying” or “tedious” has gotten the best of a company owner’s better judgment. Fortunately, both can be solved with just a little bit of basic information and best practice tips.
How an SEO Audit Works
An SEO audit is essentially just a check-up on your site. You go through your website and look closely at your current SEO initiatives and the subsequent data to see what is working, what isn’t, and what needs to be fixed. It’s as simple as that.
Most companies will use a Google Doc spreadsheet in order to keep track of what needs to be checked, who needs to check it, and when it’s due. Then in that spreadsheet you can document all different kinds of data that might be useful to improving your SEO strategy including:
This includes the overall look of your site, your internal links, website navigation, your H1 title tags and description, and the use of keywords throughout the site.
Look at your Google Analytics or use a tool to see your organic and PPC traffic as well as your competitors. Is anything, such as search volume, CTR, or rankings, increasing your decreasing? Is your competition beating you in any aspect of your website?
This basically refers to making sure that your robots.txt file exists and is still working properly. This is how Google is going to crawl and index your site, so this is incredibly important. Making sure you don’t have any 301 redirects or broken pages is also a must. Finally, this is also where you can think about hackers and any security breaches you could improve.
Make sure your content is still relevant, all statistics, facts, and quotes are up to date, and you’re still publishing unique content frequently. You can learn more about completing a content audit specifically in an article I wrote here.
Do you have all of the major social media accounts? Are they all being monitored and updated in a timely manner? Is all of the information correct? Social media is one of those things where who is managing the accounts could change frequently, and this will affect your SEO.
Why You Should Perform an SEO Audit Regularly
This is where many company owners start to slip up. One SEO audit is better than nothing, but after a certain amount of time all of the hard work you did will need to be reevaluated. This happens for several reasons:
- Algorithm updates. You will probably hear about the major algorithm updates, but even minor updates can slightly affect your site. It’s better to be prepared before an update hits than scrambling to recover after you’re rankings fall off the map.
- Content becomes outdated. This refers to the topic of a piece of content as well as things like statistics or quotes that become outdated. Chances are if your content is outdated readers won’t appreciate it, but from an SEO standpoint, that may also mean that your links are outdated.
- A link portfolio will always be changing. As discussed in the last point, internal links can certainly become outdated; however, it’s the external links that are the real trouble. New links pointing to your website can pop up at any time, and sometimes these links are from spammy sites that you don’t want associated with your company for SEO reasons. The sooner you can audit and then find and remove these links, the better.
- Website errors can happen at any time. This refers to broken links, 404 pages, social button issues, etc. These errors can be easily eliminated if you know they’re there.
- You need a marker for change. If your rankings dropped or something happened, you will want something to look back on to help you identify the problem and eliminate possible causes. Without an audit, fixing any sort of problem would be much more difficult.
A good recommendation for SEO audits is once every six months. If you have a larger site then more might be necessary, but usually not less. Twice per year will help keep your site’s SEO fresh without taking away all of your resources and time.
Tools to Help You with an SEO Audit
Of course, there are a lot of different ways you can perform an SEO audit. It’s important to understand what you should be recording and who should have access, which was discussed a little bit above. I highly recommend visiting this article for a step-by-step instruction to getting started with an SEO audit on your own.
In the meantime, below are some of the best tools to help you get started and get organized:
- Open Site Explorer. Powered by Moz, this is probably the most popular SEO audit tool, particularly for help with links.
- My Site Auditor. You can embed this tool into your site to help you generate more leads. Audit specific web or landing pages for key phrases for futrher optimization.
- Screaming Frog. This tool will crawl your site to produce a list of SEO issues for you. Download this tool to your computer and use it to double-check your own work.
- SEMrush. One of my personal favorites, this tool is up-and-coming in the SEO audit world and offers great customer service.
- WooRank. This is great for small businesses looking for a lot of data and something free.
Do you have any tips for completing an SEO audit? Any personal experiences with completing your own or using one of the tools listed? Let us know your tips in the comment section below.