Wednesday, May 22, 2024

How to Conduct an SEO Site Audit: Steps to Identify and Fix Issues

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Before we get started with the site audit, let’s take a look at an SEO site audit in a nutshell. The purpose of the site audit is to identify issues on your website that are affecting your search engine ranking. It is a process to check all the elements on your website and to analyze if these are search engine friendly. When you find the problems or issues on your website, the next step is to understand how you can fix or make the elements search engine friendly. Now, make no mistake, an SEO site audit can be a complex and daunting task, what with there being over 100 elements on a webpage and hundreds of webpages to check. But the results are definitely worth it. After spending all the time and effort to find what are the things preventing your website from reaching that coveted page 1 of the search results, you can start to see improvements in your search ranking. This means more traffic. More traffic means more business in the case of ecommerce websites or if you are a blogger, this means more readers and perhaps even some side income. So, with this in mind, let’s get to work on that site audit.

Google is at war. You may not notice it, but it is their silent battle to protect and defend the rules and keep the World Wide Web clean from spam. Every year, Google has been releasing updates that aim to get rid of the spam on the web. The problem is, sometimes we may be caught in this crossfire, losing traffic and ranking on the search engines. But fear not! If you were penalized by a Google update or perhaps you are going to conduct some preventative maintenance, this universal and timeless guide to conducting an SEO site audit is for you.

Preparing for the Audit

“I can think of no better preparation for a site audit than a historical overview of both the website and the competition,” says Samuel Scott, head of search marketing at The Cline Group. Before you can understand what needs to be fixed or improved, you need to know how it got to where it is now. Read the websites’ and companies’ About Us sections and any other information that might give insight as to the history and underlying philosophies. Contrary to what they say, press releases are also good for this. Take notes on both the strengths and weaknesses that you observe. An Excel spreadsheet is a good tool to use so that you can keep this information structured. The next step in the preparation process is to understand the target keywords. A good tool to analyze the keyword structure of a website is SEMRush. It will generate a list of the keywords that the site is currently ranking for. Compare this with the list of keywords that you compiled from the About Us information and any notes from the client. The idea here is to be sure that the site is speaking the same language as the keywords that are relevant to the brand. If there is a mismatch, it will affect the site’s performance in the SERPs. Make notes of what URLs need to be edited and what needs to be edited on them. This information will be useful during the audit.

Conducting the Audit

Rick’s advice to use a spreadsheet to track data is well-documented. She is right – this information is invaluable to prioritizing issues and benchmarking your performance to eventually determine whether the recommended fixes were successful; however, the method of data collection can vary. Rick’s approach is the most appropriate for agencies or site owners with large amounts of content and/or multiple stakeholders involved in site changes. It mixes manual and automated collection, providing for qualitative assessment and adding a layer of human intelligence to what can be an automated, one-dimensional process. This will be time consuming, and it requires some knowledge of the site at hand so you know where to check and what to look for – this approach would not be efficient without solid understanding of the site and server log files. In contrast, those conducting SEO on smaller sites should only perform a log file analysis and use tools like Google Analytics to export entry page data and landing page data. This should provide the necessary ranking and traffic information; choosing from there what data to track over time in a spreadsheet. Depending on the bandwidth of data collection and changes made to the site, it should take 2-4 weeks to aggregate enough information to begin analysis.

Fixing the Identified Issues

A site audit without any follow up is as good as not doing one at all. The website has issues and you know about them. You can fix them now, or continue to let them hinder your site. The issues found in the above audit will be the base for fixing the site in the future. With this in mind, changes made to the website can have unintended impacts on SEO. It is advised to monitor changes using analytics and tools to see their impact and make relevant adjustments to ensure further problems are not created. I hope this guide has proved useful in showing you how to carry out a website audit and begin to understand and resolve the issues hindering your site. As search engines develop, site audit tactics and tools will change, however the process of understanding and fixing a website’s issues will remain the same. The key to the success of a website audit is thoroughness and patience. Take your time to investigate all aspects of your site and remember that resolving issues is a continual process.

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