Editor’s Note: This was originally posted in 2018, but has been updated to match current SEO standards, providing recent information.
Keeping your finger on the pulse of the SEO of your online presence is vital. Yet, if an SEO audit is mentioned, the first question is often, “Why do I need an audit of my website? I’ve optimized it already.” In the context of marketing, there are specific indicators that a strategy is working well. Examples are the presence of organic visitors and the effective use of links. One of the ways to ensure that the site is on track is to implement an SEO audit.
What is a Site Audit?
A site audit, or SEO audit, is a comprehensive assessment of a website’s ranking and visibility. Visibility, when it comes to the Internet, is how a website is discovered. The audit should contain an appraisal of performance when it comes to searches. It should identify the strengths of the website as well as the areas for improvement.
Just as important as identifying the current state of the website is the portion for recommendations. When you get an SEO audit, you should also get an actionable plan for improvement.
Will a Site Audit Help?
The quick answer to the question of whether or not an site audit will help is: of course. But, you need to meet specific objectives with the reports. Otherwise, the audit will fall the way of being all bark with no bite. Here are some of the key elements that should exist in a helpful audit:
A fleshed-out objective.
Before beginning any assessment, it is important to set specific goals for why an audit is being done in the first place. For example, if the audit is being done because of an upcoming website redesign, then this objective influences the timeline of the project. More importantly, the report can provide insight on the kind of items that are recommended for the new site.
Comments on the technical aspect.
A helpful site audit first focuses on whether or not the site is working the way it should by noting pages that are broken or outdated. A website with broken pages suffers from an image problem. It appears unprofessional and low-quality. The consequence of this is that the site often ranks lower.
Details on specific areas.
An audit should not stop at giving a broad picture of the website. It should contain details. For example, even a 404 page is included in the study. It should note whether the error page is keeping readers interested, as well as include recommendations on how to improve it. It looks at things such as information architecture, and whether your site is structured in a way that makes sense.
An actionable recommendation.
The ideal format of a site audit is an assessment followed by a recommendation. These recommendations need to be specific and a call to action. It should answer the question, “what should I do?” The recommendations should contain verbs like, “review”, “change”, or “update”. It is pointless to figure out weaknesses if no steps will be taken to address them.
Comments on content.
Content is king when it comes to the Internet. SEO optimization and other online marketing tactics are meaningless if they direct you to information that is obsolete or useless. An audit can help if it delves into the content of the site. For example, it should contain recommendations on how blog titles are written. The use of tags in posts is also examined.
The report also goes beyond the technical aspects of writing. An effective audit also comments on the substance of the website. It can make recommendations on writing styles, such as suggesting more descriptive language to draw in readers. It can suggest the use of bulleted lists or headings to make the content readable. Often it pinpoints possible content strategies to strengthen the linkability and marketability of the site.
Performance outside the site itself.
The main character of the Internet is how connected it is. A helpful website audit puts the site into context with the rest of the information available online. Thus, you should also get recommendations on how to establish a presence using social media, other sites, and similar instances.
For example, the audit should contain a do’s and don’ts list for social media use. It can recommend that the company use social media pages that are on-brand as well as always respond to negative feedback professionally. The details are usually up to you because it is an internal matter, but the audit should pinpoint the general guidelines.
The importance of data.
The site audit should note the importance of tracking the performance of the website, especially as changes are implemented. The competition for space on the Internet is fierce, so you need to be aware of any changes in strategy necessary to stay at the top of the rankings. The audit should contain recommended tracking tools and templates.
Think of website auditing as an investment. It can take a lot of resources, such as time and costs, but you can expect at a return. At the end of the audit, you have a clear picture and a set of objectives you can attain to ensure that your site is performing as well as it should.