If you rely on your website to generate leads and sales and are concerned about your search engine optimization (SEO) results, it might be time for an SEO audit. According to SEO experts at GotchSEO, “SEO audits are the single best way to figure out why you’re not getting SEO results.”
It’s a Good Kind of Audit
Many people have an aversion to the term “audit.” In conjures up frightening images of surly government agents determined to find expensive flaws in your taxes. But an SEO audit is a not something to be afraid of, especially if your search rankings and/or web traffic have stalled or plateaued.
To learn more about what an SEO audit involves and how much it might cost, visit our SEO Audit service page.
Brian Hughes writes in Entrepreneur, “In fact, an SEO audit is a good thing. It’s an absolutely essential process that will empower your business with real, actionable insights,” he says. “When done correctly, an SEO audit will tell you what’s working on your current website, what’s falling short and how you can improve your site to rank higher and generate more leads.
Avoid SEO Penalties
Hughes points out that one of the most important reasons to review your SEO is to see if you are being penalized by Google for some inadvertent mistake or obsolete practices. For example, a common reason that a search engine will downgrade a site is for slow page loading times. It’s easy for sites to get bloated with large images or sloppy code that slows down loading speeds. Most users abandon pages that don’t load in 2 seconds or faster.
“SEO best practices change rapidly and what made sense from a ranking statement just a few years ago could be landing you in hot water today,” Hughes says. If you have old press releases from the days when keyword-stuffed announcements boosted SEO, for example, you’ll want to remove them as that tactic is now a red flag and will be penalized by search engines.
Some Ranking Factors are Easy to Measure
It’s relatively easy to measure your page speed using free tools from GTMetrix, Pingdom or the Google PageSpeed Insights tool. Google will even tell you what to do to fix your loading speeds, though some of the recommendations–code minification, enabling browser caching, or compressing images–may require expert help. You can also take Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to assess the speed and quality of your site’s performance on mobile devices–another key ranking factor that is becoming more and more important to Google.
It’s also a good idea to assess your SEO in relation to your top competitors. Why? Because if your SEO is great, but a competitor’s is better, that company will rank higher than yours for the searches you compete for. “What are competitors doing that your website is not?,” Hughes asks. “For example, the competition may have a better site map and search system in place. Maybe they’ve optimized product listings with long-tail keywords, and you have not.”
GotchSEO recommends a competitive analysis to see if the keywords you are targeting are too competitive, reducing the odds of ever ranking highly for them; to see what types of content is ranking for the competitors, and to look at competitors’ backlinks for possible opportunities.
Some of these audit tactics are easier to implement than others. Competitive analysis can be labor-intensive as it involves testing keywords and documenting results manually. There are lots of free tools such as monitorbacklinks.com to assess things like backlinks, and the free Mozbar to monitor page and domain authority. But to really get serious about finding what needs fixing and to fix it, you’ll need the paid versions of these tools, and someone to use them. You’ll probably save time and money by outsourcing the SEO audit to someone that can use the right tools and get the information and remediation strategy you need faster and more efficiently than you can do it yourself.