Why is an SEO Audit Important?
By: Michael Johnson
An SEO audit is a complete review of your website. It ensures your site can rank in search engines such as Google for the keywords your audience is using. The audit will also check technical aspects of your site to find any issues that may be hurting rankings. All told, an audit examines every factor contributing to your site’s performance in search. This type of analysis is a cornerstone of search engine optimization today.
Your company’s website is perhaps your number one tool in our current digital landscape. Since your business can’t thrive unless people can find it online, you need an SEO audit to ensure they’re able to do so. Find out what you can learn about your site from an audit, the role an audit plays in your strategy, and which tools you can use to assist the audit process.
An SEO Audit Can Teach You a Lot About Your Website
There are many factors that play into a website’s performance in search. Because Google’s algorithm is complex, you might not be aware of issues that are contributing to where your pages land in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for any given query. That’s where an SEO audit comes in — a quality audit gives you insights on how your site is interacting with Google’s site-ranking algorithm.
Let’s take a closer look at what an SEO audit can tell you about your site.
Technical Site Errors / Crawling Issues
An SEO audit examines a website for technical errors and issues a search engine bot will run into when crawling the site. Technical errors on a website make it so users can’t access pages. Pages with technical problems such as 404 errors and server certificate (SSL) issues may be de-indexed by Google, meaning searchers can’t find the page in Google searches.
Or, search engines may categorize your website as low quality if your pages have too many broken links — links to 404 pages — meaning the site will have low rankings in Google. We’ll cover some options for crawling your site for technical errors in the site crawling tools section below.
Core Web Vitals / Site Speed
Core web vitals are metrics established by Google that indicate the quality of a page’s user experience. An SEO audit checks these essentials, including
- Page loading time, or site speed;
- Visual stability.
In particular, the speed at which a site loads pages is a ranking factor. If your pages don’t load fast enough, it disrupts the user’s experience. Use Google’s site speed testing tool to test whether a page loads as fast as it should.
Current Organic Traffic & Keyword Rankings
An SEO audit scans your site to glean key information about its visitors. You’ll learn where traffic is coming from, whether it’s organic traffic from search engines and referring domains, or ads. On the search engine side, you’ll know which keywords the site’s pages are ranking for and therefore, which ones you need to optimize for.
Ultimately, a good SEO audit tells you where your site is performing well or underperforming when it comes to attracting visitors. This helps you know what to improve.
Keyword Opportunities, Content, & On-Page SEO Factors
An SEO audit provides valuable keyword information, including which keywords your content should be targeting. If you’re not ranking well for certain keywords, but your competitors are, an SEO audit reveals which keywords your content should cover. Similarly, if there’s an important keyword in your niche and your competitors aren’t covering it, you’ll know to build content around it.
You’ll get actionable takeaways regarding content — whether it’s structured and worded properly, with meta elements — headings, descriptions, alt tags — that send the right signals to search engines. The audit can tell you if content is helping you establish topical authority in your niche through ample, high-quality coverage of essential subjects. Finally, on the technical side, you’ll find out whether the site’s URL structure is as it should be.
The SEO audit will identify how many backlinks your site has. Backlinks are links from other websites, known as “referring domains,” to your site’s pages. These links are essential for ranking in Google.
Because you’ll know which keywords your pages are optimized for, you’ll know where there are opportunities to build backlinks to these pages (more on that in the strategy section below). Moreover, you’ll know which pages have earned the most links and why, which will help you create a link building strategy.
An SEO audit identifies the top competitors in your niche, tells you which keywords they’re ranking for, and where their pages are in the SERPs. You’ll pinpoint the topics they’re covering and how well this content is performing. That way, you can take a look at both their high-ranking pages and their poor performers to inform your strategy.
The audit also reveals how many backlinks your competitors’ sites have compared to your site, and where those links are coming from, which is information you can use to compete.
When people are searching for goods and services in your area, you want your business to show up. An audit checks the status of factors that affect your local SEO, including how well your Google My Business listing is performing. It will ensure your NAP (name, address, phone number) information and local business schema markup are up to snuff, alongside examining other signals that are essential to local SEO.
An SEO Audit Helps You Develop a Strategy
Content strategy development is one of the top reasons your site needs an SEO audit. By understanding which keywords your site needs to optimize for, you can develop content that addresses these keywords. Once you know which pages have the potential to rank for certain keywords, you can craft a link building campaign that boosts rankings by attracting organic links to those pages.
An SEO Audit Helps You Figure Out What to Prioritize
Furthermore, you’ll know where to focus your efforts. You could have a steady, high-quality content creation strategy in place, but there are major technical issues hurting your site’s chances of ranking. You’ll find out which changes are easy to make and will yield a quick turnaround.
The SEO audit can tell you which type of content to put on the top of the list. Maybe you have plenty of keyword-focused content, but need articles other sites will link to — or vice versa. Getting your priorities straight is perhaps the number one way to develop a winning SEO strategy.
An SEO Audit Can Be Repeated Anytime It’s Needed
If your current strategy hits a wall or you see an unexplained change in your site’s search engine performance, you can quickly do another SEO audit. This isn’t a one-time tool. It’s even a good idea to run an audit when your site is doing well but you want to make changes and take its performance to the next level.
You Can Use Site Crawling Tools for Help
Here are some handy tools you can use to crawl your site. These are the types of tools an SEO audit employs.
With SEMRush, you can see which keywords your site is ranking for organically and which ones your competitors are ranking for. You can view:
- Keyword volume: Approximate number of searches the keyword gets per month;
- Keyword difficulty: How hard it is to rank for a keyword;
- Ranking position: Where a specific page or domain is in the SERP.
You can also see how much traffic a site is getting over time. If there are any sudden drops in traffic, it’s a sign something’s wrong.
Ahrefs includes a site audit feature that it claims can show you any technical and on-page issues. You’ll get an SEO health score along with charts of key data, plus recommendations. You can also use Ahrefs to get the same sort of keyword data as SEMRush. Meanwhile, the content explorer feature shows you top-performing content in your niche.
Screaming Frog calls itself an “SEO spider tool.” You can use it to crawl and audit 500 pages for free — more than that will require a license. A technical tool of choice for many SEO experts, it shows you broken links, duplicate content, metadata issues, and a host of other tech specs so you can drill down and fix problems.
Sitebulb bills itself as an auditing tool for SEO consultants and agencies. You can crawl a huge website with it and check for over 300 issues. Prioritization and understandable recommendations are primary parts of Sitebulb’s mix, and you can even use it to crawl an entire cloud server.
Ultimately, an SEO audit is a mandatory starting point for boosting your site’s search engine rankings. Once you know what the issues are, you can fix them and develop a plan for content and link building. After implementation, measure key performance indicators such as traffic and rankings to see how well the plan is working. With this comprehensive approach to search engine optimization, you’re set for success.