With 2016 quickly approaching, smart businesses are starting to re-assess and refine their search marketing strategies for the new year. Because Google’s search algorithm is constantly evolving and SEO best practices are continuously adapting, there is no better time to get an SEO site audit.
So what exactly do SEO site audits offer?
In short, SEO site audits (done by legit professionals) provide a wealth intelligence that can drastically improve your SEO strategy for 2016. SEO audits assess the strengths and weaknesses of various aspects of your website (i.e. its technical makeup, structure, content/keyword use, backlinks, and other SEO-related elements.) Here four primary ways in which a SEO site audit can bring value to search-savvy businesses.
1. Identify Site Health Issues Negatively Impacting SEO
One of the first steps in the SEO site audit process is to assess a website’s overall health, or ability to be efficiently crawled and indexed by Google bots. With the help of tools like Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider Tool, W3C Validation Markup Service, and Google Webmaster Tools, HTML errors and warnings, broken links, duplicate content, and other technical issues can be identified and fixed. This will help make your site more crawler-friendly, and thus, SEO-friendly.
2. Assess Site Structure, Navigation, & Usability
Auditing a site’s overall structure, layout, navigation, and usability is a comprehensive set that is important for not only SEO, but also CRO (conversion rate optimization.) This assessment focuses on the overall blueprints of a website and how cohesively pages are linked, navigated, and designed. These usability factors, in addition to calls-to-action and page copy, will ultimately influence user experience. Additionally, how users interact with a website can actually impact SEO and the overall perceived quality of the site.
The aspect of SEO site audit will help to pinpoint weaknesses and opportunities with the front-end of your website. In essence, this information will help formulate strategies and action items to improve the conversion potential of your site, in addition to SEO potential.
3. Evaluate Keyword Usage
Establishing a proper balance of keyword usage is vital for SEO, especially with respect to Google Panda which targets sites with poor quality content. For example, content that is obviously too keyword dense (or “keyword-stuffed”) can put a site at risk of being penalized. Conversely, not using enough keywords can inhibit a site’s ranking by not being relevant enough on target terms and phrases.
By evaluating keyword use on optimized pages throughout a site, a content tune-up can be done in an effort to write better page titles, meta descriptions, and page copy. Besides, giving your optimized money pages a content refresh can help boost SEO value. Google values regularly updated content.
4. Audit a Site’s Backlinks
Because backlinks (inbound links from other websites) are perhaps the most influential variable that determines domain authority and overall rankings in Google, auditing a site’s backlink portfolio is an important aspect of SEO. Backlink scanner/crawler tools like Ahrefs.com, Majestic.com, and SEO Spyglass function to reveal a site’s backlinks for analysis.
The two primary variables to look at when in conducting a backlink audit are:
- The source of the backlink(s) – the more authoritative and topically relevant the better for SEO. In most cases, topically irrelevant links (i.e. backlinks from an automotive website pointing to a chiropractor website) actually be counter-productive for SEO.
- The anchor text of the backlink(s) – ideally, we’re trying to build a well-balance portfolio that’s comprised of link anchor text that’s optimized (uses targeted keywords), semi-optimized (uses some keywords), naked (i.e. “click here”), branded (i.e. “Captivate Search Marketing”), and domain-oriented (i.e. “captivateseo.com”). The latter three are completely natural looking to Google, while the former two more SEO-driven and thus need to be balanced.
A backlink audit can be an in-depth job depending on how large a site’s portfolio is. Using some of the latter mentioned tools is critical to make sense of the information and to formulate a solid link building strategy.
The quality spectrum of SEO site audits is vast. Some SEO companies will simple submit a domain into a tool that provides a automated/software-generated PDF report. These “audits” are mere attempts at pinpointing some technical issues with a site, but rarely do they cover all of the elements that influence a website’s SEO potential.
On the other hand, high-quality SEO site audits will be manually conducted by SEO professionals. While a number of tools are used to produce data and cultivate intelligence, these comprehensive SEO audits will often provide actionable insights and strategies on how to strengthen certain areas of site that might be weak. Further, the professional approach to SEO site auditing will help shape a cohesive SEO strategy for 2016.