“The Secret of Getting Ahead is Getting Started”
– Mark Twain
These words by Mark Twain could not have been more accurate for today’s changing times when a single step in the right direction could result in mammoth future gains. From necessities to luxuries, all we could need and more are just a click away.
Digital Marketing Strategies – The ‘WHY’ & ‘HOW’ of SEO Audit
In the 21st century digital era, where accessibility barriers have been obliterated — the right online presence could make or break a business. Hence, a thorough understanding of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how we can tap the true potential of a virtual presence extends precedence over outmoded, conforming marketing strategies.
SEO can help increase the online presence of a business or create organic traffic for the designated websites. This is completely possible by using organic or paid strategies and tools in the realm of a search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing). SEO ensures a higher website ranking among the data searched by an individual and establishes credibility and accessibility.
Now, let us quickly understand the facts and statistics concerning SEO:
- Whenever an individual seeks information online, the chances are that 68% of the time, a search engine is their first and sometimes only approach. During such times, SEO is your most effective strategic tool.
- Organic traffic on a website generates 61% more leads than any other marketing tactic.
- Among the plethora of people online this very second, less than a quarter of them carry forward their research to the second page of their favoured search engine.
- More than half of the traffic on a website at any given point of the day is generated solely by organic searches.
- Upon comparing PPC marketing with the cost-effective SEO means, a conclusion was reached that over 70% of businesses found the latter more effective and adaptable to their business models.
And lastly, to put things into perspective, over 99,000 searches are done globally every second. How do we ensure that our business or organization ranks top tier as often as possible and manages to make a statement?
The answer is extremely simple, and we wonder why you haven’t thought of it yet. A complete and thorough SEO audit of the website of interest.
What is an SEO Audit of the Website?
Think of a fisherman in 2022 trying to catch fish for his livelihood with a single spear. It is quite evident that the resources accessible to him are not being utilized. Now imagine the same fisherman shifts to a fishing net. This is wider and hence covers a larger surface area. The cost has not been changed by a lot, but the profits will considerably increase. Similarly, SEO tools can be utilized effectively to ensure maximum profit with little to no cost. The first step in this journey towards an impressionable online reach would be to perform an audit of the already existing strategies and content framework of the website.
An SEO audit is an organized process of analyzing the structure of a site to find gaps, errors, and areas of development to add value that results in creating and maintaining an impenetrable online ranking and presence. Audits can be further categorized based on purpose, procedures involved, and associated time-bound progress like Off-Page audits, Content Audits, Competitor Audits, Legal code audits etc.
Why is SEO Important For an eCommerce Business?
Regardless of their specifications, SEO audit serves the following general purpose:
- Technical efficiency – With so much depending on virtual targets and accessibility, E-Commerce businesses need to review their existing SEO frameworks to ensure high-speed functioning, ease of access, and safe and secure information exchange between the users and sites.
- An SEO audit would help improve the user Interface to ensure that the target audience experiences smooth access and is at ease while navigating the website.
- Since this is a highly dynamic discipline, it is crucial to ensure the implementation of updated policies and guidelines to propel the website to outperform its competitors.
- An analysis/audit of the market competitors could function as a baseline to facilitate the identification of errors, loopholes, and developmental areas of your website.
- An audit would filter out the creme-de-la-Now that we have discussed what SEO is and why it is essential to perform SEO audits on a regular basis. The next thing to understand is the procedures and steps involved.
- Creme of content could help regenerate a successful formula to ensure the flow of increasingly consistent organic traffic, thereby establishing credibility.
Any complicated procedure can be broken down into concise steps to facilitate better understanding and equip ourselves with the appropriate tools. Hence, the procedure for an SEO audit can be understood through 7 essential steps:
7 Easy Steps for SEO Audit to Follow!
There are 7 easy steps for the SEO website audit – Check out Below!
- Scope and Objective of the Audit
- Performing the Technical/Off-Page Audit
- Performing the Content/On-Page Audit
- Market Research to Assess the Performance of the Competition
- Compiling and Organizing the Data And Findings of the Audit
- Devising Effective Plans and Solutions
- Implementing the Best Strategies for Organic and Measurable Progress
Let’s discuss each step in-depth to understand better the processes involved.
Step 1 – Objective & Scope of the Audit
It is advised to start by listing the intended goals and improvements expected from the audit for the website. Those goals might be better bounce rates, organic traffic, higher ranking, quality of content and keywords, or even a user-friendly UI.
Once the needs have been analyzed, it facilitates the recruitment of the most qualified and well-seasoned team of professionals to tackle the challenges ahead. There are two possible ways of approaching the audit, either through an ‘in-house’ team of technicians and web developers or by outsourcing the audit to an external team of professionals who are credible and prioritize the delivery of accurate, data-driven, and result-bound investigations. Either way, it is in your best interest to ensure that the audit team is well versed and updated on the latest policies, strategies and tools, guidelines, and market trends associated with SEO.
Several paid and unpaid tools can be used to make an initial assessment to help conclude the best route to perform the actual audit. This extra step will ensure the best possible strategy is put into motion and prevent you from implementing generalized frameworks or formulas expecting bandwagon results. Tools like Google Analytics, Google Optimize, Ubersuggest, GTMetrix, ScreamingFrog, and Google Search Console, to name a few, are some of the most commonly used tools to assess the performance of a website. These SEO tools are equipped to analyze and extract a detailed, accurate statistical report on several different performance metrics like the density of organic traffic for the website, bounce rates, clicks-to conversion rates, speed, security, engagement on the website, and other crucial data to track and understand the areas of improvement for the website.
Based on these reports, an in-house audit or an outsourced audit team can be designated to perform the procedure at your earliest convenience.
Step 2 – Technical / Off-Page Audit
Technical SEO refers to optimizing the back-end mechanisms of a website, the structure, and the framework of the website. This would enable a search engine like Google or Bing to crawl, evaluate and rank the website among a magnitude of similar data already existing online.
This would comprise evaluating the website’s loading speed, security measures in place, the approach to UI, and whether prescribed guidelines are being implemented. A technical SEO audit can be extremely beneficial for the success of a website. It would identify integral gaps and holes in the code and ensure that the content reaches maximum users in the fastest time.
It would also ensure high clicks-per conversions and generate more organic traffic. This can help push the website’s ranking to hire tiers transparently and credibly. Several areas of the technical framework need to be analyzed to generate a cohesive report on which area of the website needs some fine-tuning.
These may include but are not restricted to:-
- Crawling and Indexing – Crawling refers to accessing the links embedded in the website and continuing to access further links embedded in the associated websites. It is an extended process that only exhausts post the fulfilment of the allocated size for the website or if the quality of links depreciates. Indexing refers to collecting and categorizing all the data available on the website’s pages, including links, metadata, and all sorts of content, to facilitate the search engine to retrieve and rank the data faster and more effectively.
- Adaptability With a Mobile Interface – It becomes crucial to ensure that the website functions smoothly, irrespective of whether it is being accessed and processed through a desktop or a mobile device. This will ensure a carefree user engagement which will generate more organic traffic.
- Speed of Processing & Security Measures – The website is expected to have a high loading speed and state-of-the-art security walls to ensure a pleasant user experience which will confirm revisits and possible conversions in the future.
- Metadata and Descriptions – Metadata refers to reports of data organized and formatted in a simplified way to ensure quick crawling and access of this data to be quoted in other related discussions.
- Identification and Analysis of HTTPS Error Codes and XML Sitemaps – HTTPS or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure are responses sent by the server for the requests generated by the user. On conducting a technical audit, several error codes could pop up throughout the process, indicating gaps in different aspects of the website’s skeleton. Some commonly seen errors are 301, 302, and 404, indicating Permanent Redirect, temporary Redirect, and No requested data, respectively. Other codes include 4xxs pointing to client errors, 5xxs indicating server errors, and so on. An XML site map is a guide to accessing and navigating the search engine through different URLs on your website. More often used by structure-rich and more prominent, more complicated websites, they increase your chances of getting deemed as a quality website, thereby increasing visibility. Hence, it becomes crucial to take this extra cautionary step to maximize and capitalize on all the tools and tactics available to ensure greater reach and to fish in more audiences.
- Identification of Duplicate Content and Pages – The existence of duplicate content may decrease the website’s credibility and access in the search engine’s eyes. This would result in the search engine prioritizing other, more credible, and well-structured websites over yours, resulting in a lower ranking.
- Assessment of Quality Backlinks Embedded– backlinks ensure safe and secure access to your website through links embedded in other, more quality, and often enhanced articles or websites; hence it becomes vital to the performance of your website to crawl through all the backlinks to check for any gaps or irregular activity resulting from those backlinks which may contribute towards depreciation in the ranking and visibility of your website.
Step 3 – A Content Audit/ On-page Audit
A website’s content will allow revisits and frequent engagement from the users assuming that the content is of the best quality, updated and relevant to the users, further accelerated by SEO. This helps generate organic traffic and optimize your website’s ranking in any search engine. Therefore, it becomes essential to analyze and audit the content being shared on your website with your users to ensure maximum engagement.
Analysis of meta descriptions and keywords being implemented with those pieces of content which have garnered the most clicks and engagement would be the best place to start. Updating yourselves with market trends and relevancy of topics would facilitate the output of higher quality pieces that will sell to a much wider audience. This is possible through the analysis of every piece of content – images, texts, blog posts, social media, headlines, and keywords. The idea is to basically scrutinize every single bone in the content skeleton to ensure that quality is prioritized over quantity. Although this is time-consuming, it is a great investment with guaranteed returns that’ll provide a higher ranking both in the eyes of the search engine as well as the users.
Step 4 – Market Competitor Analysis
When to analyze a competitor’s website to ensure accurate findings and strategies that could be implemented in your SEO model? Well, performing this kind of analysis is best if you are just putting out your website, applying a new model for SEO, and have made some changes to the already existing strategies with updates or every few months for general upkeep.
The first step would be to identify your competitors or those businesses with a similar approach. Make a compiled list of possible competitors and what you wish to learn from them to get started with each website’s technical and content audit. Although this may sound and feel deceptively tedious, that is not the case, as many tools are available to extract essential data about the performance of the websites. For example, tools like SEMRUSH or Mozbar would provide detailed reports on their ranking, performance, and other traffic-related information. Next is to analyze their content. This is not limited to assessing the type and quality of the content but also their branding, logo, pricing, customer care, and several other domains that would fall under the purview of providing the best service to the users. The execution of this would enable the insights gained to be more holistic and inclusive, which would contribute to creating a better model for SEO implementation.
P.S.: Free tools like Buzzsumo can be perfect for this.
Step 5 – Compiling the Findings of the Audit.
Organizing the data collected during the audit into spreadsheets or other convenient forms of reports can be a great idea. This would enable a better and clear understanding of what were the issues or gaps detected in the website, different areas of the domain and their performance, sections of the website which are generating good traffic and so on.
A clear picture can help you devise better measures and solutions for performance improvement. Ensuring all the parties involved in the audit are clear about the findings and gaps detected would ensure a smooth and hassle-free creation and implementation of measurable goals and plans. This would generate realistic and quantifiable plans of action to be created and thus enabling predictable progress and possible future gains from the website to the business.
Step 6 – Plans & Solutions
Precise and actionable plans must be devised by setting realistic goals to measure their successful implementation. This is the most crucial step to ensure the proper implementation of the audit. Separate yet cohesive plans to target the individual gaps and loopholes detected while performing the SEO audit would be the most effective. Looking to the report’s findings from the market research would facilitate a starting point and provide a sense of direction while formulating these plans. A unique yet simple and straightforward approach would be the way to go.
Step 7 – Time for Action!
Now that you know all the steps give equal importance to all aspects of the audit. This is to ensure quality output but also, please remember to be patient while expecting results. Implement the devised plans at appropriate times using appropriate strategies to provide the best outcome. Every step of the audit is equally essential, and hence do not be in a rush to quickly implement the plans. It might take days, weeks, months, or even years to see the desired results, but a consistent and strategic audit would yield more than satisfactory results.
Also Read: 11 Simple Tips – How To Improve your SEO Ranking in 2022
The steps mentioned above provide an organized and simplified tactic and strategic framework primarily involved in SEO. The dynamic nature of this discipline results in a wide variety of areas that need to be explored and mastered both technically and contextually.
With ever-increasing and constantly evolving needs, it seems only fit to embrace this digital tectonic shift rather than combat it. Identifying and adequately utilizing these digital tools can only pave the way to success.
SEO is a guaranteed mechanism to ensure profits for a business in terms of marketing and increasing the target pool. A little investment of time, energy, and resources in auditing the search engine to optimize it will foster humongous returns in the possible future. Start investing in these practical digital marketing tools and tactics to guarantee the best possible outcome for your businesses.