Successful SEO (search engine optimization) strategies change regularly, whenever Google’s algorithms are updated, new technology emerges, or consumer behavior shifts.
SEO audits are necessary components of creating and maintaining informative, useful, usable websites. Changes are significant aspects of SEO marketing: Google’s optimization, industry evolutions, and even the preferences of your current or potential customers change over time.
SEO audits help ensure that your website is optimized for best or “white hat” SEO practices. And, bereft of “black hat” strategies that will get you blacklisted online.
Audits make sure you’re ranking for relevant keywords—both on your own and in comparison to your competitors.
SEO audits can also help you determine whether you’re maximizing inbound content. This content includes web copy and blogs for upcoming product releases and bringing customers to your digital door.
Use this post to help you understand SEO audits, how to perform them, and strategies to correct your website with the results. Here’s how to make it happen.
hy Do You Need an SEO Audit?
Just like your body, your website needs to stay healthy. Various technical metrics can benefit or detract from the health of your site. Just like with your anatomy, some of these are under your control.
Scheduled SEO audits are kind of like regular check-ups with your doctor. Now and then, you need an office visit to get that blood work, and see how your health looks compared to other people your age.
Some health problems need a simple course correction. Other times, your doctor recommends some preventative measures to help you mitigate upcoming challenges or reverse disturbing trends.
Website health and the SEO audit process functions much the same way. An SEO “check-up” may let you know you’re doing everything well.
It may suggest a few tweaks that could make it work better, or it may reveal a more significant problem that needs attention immediately.
Let’s be real: most marketing and IT professionals view SEO audits as a necessary evil. Again, with the doctor thing, who really wants to go?
But as your website goes unchecked, bad habits and old mistakes can pile up without correction. We all know what happens when we go years without check-ups. It’s not pretty.
An SEO audit is website wellness that keeps you in control of your online brand. Schedule that appointment and take care of it.
What is an SEO Audit?
An SEO audit is a regular evaluation of the health of your website and how well it performs in search engines. Nowadays, that means you should have user-focused, informative content, and your technical SEO details, like metadata, should still be on point.
SEO audits include the content on your site, and can also help you catch other information. Outdated product listings and pricing, old addresses, and essential, industry-standard information may need periodic updating.
Most of your SEO audit tweaks won’t be immediately apparent to the front-end user (or the person reading your site). But, if you apply them to quality content, they will likely make a substantial difference in how well your site gets ranked on Google.
How Often Should You Perform an SEO Audit?
The frequency of your audit may vary depending on how much content you have already. Here are some suggestions, whether you’re prepping a new product or service launch, are on a tight budget, or assessing your business size.
- Quarterly: Why? It’s frequent enough for most industries, easy to budget (since you’re budget-minded anyway during each fiscal quarter), and it’s a convenient calendar time. People expect you to shift your business operations activities a bit each quarter.
- If you produce a phenomenal amount of content, however, you may need to audit more often, like monthly or weekly.
- Before product launch: You should evaluate your current search engine rankings before releasing a new product or service.
- The best inbound content is pre-emptive. Let’s say you’re about to sell a new wireless vacuum cleaner, but all the vacuum cleaners you sold before have wires and plugs.
- Are you already ranking for “wireless vacuum cleaner” on the SERP (search engine results page)? Maybe not. An audit can help you there—you should do your best to rank for that key phrase before you announce and market your product.
- Competitor or market shifts: If you’re in a rapidly changing field like medical equipment, technology, or marketing, you understand the importance of keeping up with the market as it shifts.
- Giants like Amazon and eBay perform SEO audits (and make alterations and additions to their sites) in advance of major market changes.
- Before announced Google algorithm updates: Google usually gives advanced warning for significant changes.
- They did this during the “Mobilegeddon” update, which enforces mobile-friendliness for websites. Sites that were not mobile-friendly ranked significantly lower, but Google gave companies time to get their sites ready for the change.
Tools and Software for SEO Audits
So how do you manage all of this information, anyway? There are a few tools of the trade that can help you do a technical SEO audit along with a content audit.
We recommend performing these together as part of an overall SEO audit. You can use:
- Yoast SEO:
- If you have a WordPress-based site, Yoast SEO is a must. This handy tool (which has a free version) will let you know when you’re hitting the mark with SEO.
- The free version will even score your pages and posts and give you a list of improvements you need to make. This version is a great way to hit the easy, technical SEO issues, like lack of metadata, duplicate titles, and more.
- It’s also the easiest report to hand over to a trusted SEO copywriter.
- This software is your large-scale dashboard option, and it’s a necessity. SEMrush will help you identify the keywords you rank for, your competitors, and the gaps in your content in one fell swoop.
- It’ll also find errors on your pages, which heavily impact your SEO. SEMrush takes Google’s ranking factors into serious consideration. We recommend doing a website audit here as soon as you repair those technical issues Yoast SEO identifies.
- SEMrush also spits out lots of handy reports, which you can email to your colleagues as well. It’ll even make some content suggestions for you.
What Do You Do With an SEO Audit?
Once you have your audit results, what do you do with it? There are three main actions you should take:
Fix the Details of Your Existing Content
Your existing content needs fixing! Yoast SEO will identify some necessary fixes on your site—for example, a page with no meta tag, or no identifiable keyword.
You can go in and update each of these pages to correct. If you have a lot to fix, you can divvy up the work to your team.
If you’re into outsourcing, this is also something you can hire an SEO agency or a freelancer to fix. We recommend our friends at Romain Berg, a full-service marketing agency.
Rewrite and Overhaul Existing Content
You may also find some significant problems with your existing content. Maybe it’s out-of-date, not ranking high enough to your liking, or poorly written.
That’s okay—most folks with older content have those spooky spammy skeletons in their closet. It’s all about what you do with them.
Put some meat on those bones by rewriting the content, or put them to rest altogether. If you hire someone else to do this, make sure you’re investing in an expert who will use the best SEO practices, such as:
- Relevant backlinks
- Short paragraphs
- Optimized metadata
- Images or video
- Writing in your brand voice (yes, Google can analyze this now)
Re-investing in your content can yield high results, and Google really likes it when you update your content.
Plan More Content
Your more extensive audit will also reveal what keywords you aren’t currently ranking for. This kind of audit moves into gap analysis territory, and those gaps can help you create a more robust content plan moving forward.
Remember: you can integrate re-optimization and rewrites into your existing content plan. Just be consistent about how often you improve your inventory and produce new content.
There’s nothing wrong with scaling back to new content every other week as long as you’re regular about it and work on shoring up your existing pieces on your off weeks.
In the long term, Google will appreciate it and hopefully reward you with a higher SERP ranking.
Comparative SEO Audits: Dominate Your Competition
Related to the gap analysis: you should run comparative SEO audits to compete with—and dominate—your competition. We recommend using SEMrush for this process.
SEMrush allows you to input up to five websites for comparative purposes, helping you identify how you stack up against your competition.
Not sure about your competition? Want to discover more competitors? SEMrush can handle that, too.
SEO Audits for Newer Websites
Do you have a new website or a site with ten pages or less? Take a manual look at those pages first:
- Is the content high-quality? Has it been professionally edited? The quality of the content matters for your ranking and first impressions of customers make huge differences.
- Do you use your keywords in the title, first paragraphs, subheadings, URL/slug line, and meta description? If not, you’re only hurting yourself.
- Is it clear what your site is about? If you can’t tell, Google can’t tell.
- Is your site easily navigable? User-friendliness is part of Google’s ranking algorithm now.
- Is it mobile friendly? As mentioned, if your site is not mobile-friendly, you’ll be penalized heavily.
Start with these basics so you can get the hang of producing and evaluating SEO content in the future.
Once you’ve finished, toss your URL into the analysis tools we recommend to see how it stacks up and make sure to install Yoast SEO if you’re running on WordPress.
If you want to make a big change, post-audit is an excellent time to make that decision. Ensure your site architecture and content plan support the direction of your business—and use the SEO audit to determine which keywords you should be focusing on.
SEO Audits for Established Websites
You need an organized plan for a massive SEO audit, and you may even need to assemble an SEO audit team to handle the changes and future content plan based on the audit. We recommend dividing these tasks up:
- Technical SEO fixes, like metadata corrections
- Content quality and content restructuring: editing existing content, expanding on and rewriting weak content; deleting and 301-redirecting poor content
- Non-SEO, identifiable changes, such as website redesign
From here, check:
- Website crawl—has Google crawled your site recently? Search Console can tell you.
- Google’s indexation—Note: flipping all pages to ‘do index’ is something you should only do after evaluating the content itself. If you have a substantial amount of syndicated content or you haven’t fully audited your backlinks, this could hurt you. Instead, hold off and flip this switch down the road (but do the evaluation up front).
- Brand keyword ranking—do you rank for your brand name?
- Find and fix on-page SEO issues.
- Identify thin content and send it to your team for improvement.
- Site speed: Is your site loading fast enough? If not, consider CloudFlare.
- Analyze data structure and schema.
- Look at your ranking history—your results should be improving over time.
- Check out your backlink profile. See anything bad in there? Kill it—or better, replace it with a high-quality backlink. If you need to keep specific bad backlinks for whatever reason, no-index those specific pages.
- Fix broken links to your site, and disavow if necessary. Do this if a ‘shady site’ is linking to you for whatever reason; a competitor might play dirty to harm your ranking.
- Identify your content gaps and send to your team to construct a content plan.
- Analyze your current content.
It’s a hefty process. Want a quick overview? You can check your SEO score. Yes, it’s okay to cringe.
Like checking your credit score after a year of bad behavior, it’s something you have to do before you can improve.
Don’t worry, though: you don’t have to head into the scary, spooky SEO woods alone. We’re here to help.
Need SEO Audit Help? Contact Romain Berg
Romain Berg is our go-to agency for tools and expertise to help you audit your website, set your new site up for success, repair existing content assets, and more.
You should talk to an agency like Romain Berg when you’re ready to establish your business as an expert in your niche with inbound content that helps you crush the competition.
Ready to talk? Fill out their contact form, and they’ll be in touch with you soon.