Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most critical aspects of digital marketing. It refers to the practice of maximizing the site’s “findability.” Further, it is part of what is called “organic” or free marketing. Complex algorithms in search engines (such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing) analyze many factors when determining SEO ranking. The higher the ranking, the higher up your website will appear on search engines for relevant queries.
What do such algorithms consider? Content, page links, and engagement (of many different kinds). They also look at site metadata and structure. The best way to improve your SEO and site ranking is to do an SEO audit. We are going to cover some of the basics to get you started and point out some considerations – it is a great first step into the deep world of SEO. Before the audit, you must think about what you are looking for, what you want to improve, and how.
PREPPING FOR THE SEO AUDIT
The first thing to do when preparing to perform an SEO audit is to make sure you are familiar with the terminology of the biz. You will also need access to your website backend. This means you need to know what website package you are working with. You will also need to know who your host provider is. That information commonly rests with the webmaster. You will work closely with this individual throughout the entire process. If you have outsourced your website to another company, you will need to contact them for some of this information. They may also perform the final SEO upgrade after the analysis is done.
You must then allocate both time and resources to do an audit properly. A good SEO review and upgrade takes time. Some free SEO audit tools include Google Analytics and other Google tools like the Search Console. This helps you find broken links and indexing errors. Screaming Frog is another useful and free tool. It helps you analyze website data, links, and content.
STARTING THE SEO AUDIT
Before you begin the audit, you will also have to prepare the site.
INSTALL ANALYTICS TOOL
The first step is to install either Google Analytics or another analytics tool. This is super easy. In fact, Google and other analytics tools come as convenient plug-ins on most conventional website hosting platforms. You will also have to install some kind of tracking software. This is complicated and you might need the help of an expert. You basically have to set up “tags” on your website to allow richer customer data to be captured and analyzed.
Don’t forget to also check your page loading speed. No matter what you offer or how fancy the website, if it loads slowly, you will lose customers. A slow loading speed increases customer “bounce” rate.
The next thing to do is check SSL certification. SSL certification is important for secure transactions. If you have an SSL certification, your site will be considered more trustworthy by search engines.
You must also respond to negative reviews. Negative reviews show up in search engine results. That is why it is very important to respond to such comments, or remove them if you believe them to be malicious. Negative reviews can also be placed by competitors. You need to keep a watchful eye on this.
You will also need to keep your site information up-to-date. Business hours, location, and contact information are all important. In some jurisdictions, this information is legally required. Make sure you are in compliance with such regulations.
In addition, ensure that all your social media accounts are linked to a central analysis tool. Google My Business is one option, but there are others.
Also, be sure to check mobile responsiveness. Not all desktop layouts translate well to mobile. This is a major issue that must be fixed if you face it. There are several different options available, including mobility plug-ins that you can use. If the site does not look good or function well in mobile view, you will take a hit in SEO rankings.
AUDITING YOUR SITE STRUCTURE
This is a technical review, but it is super important. Audit your site structure. Page hierarchy matters. Pages that cannot be indexed by search engines or found by your customers are essentially invisible. Make sure your site has good and logical flow. Related to this is the addition of an XML sitemap. This allows search engines to index your entire site.
AUDITING SEO CONTENT AND INTERNAL LINKS
This process is also sometimes called “on-page” SEO. This refers to a content quality review. The first thing you need to look at is if you have enough content. Pages or posts should have at least 300 words. Product and services pages should be between 500-800 words. You also must have original content. Plagiarized content can make your site rank much lower. You should also perform content edits. Is your content well written? Does it have bullet points and headers to break it up? Does it have enough pictures? Well-structured content improves the ability of search engines to understand a page. While inserting those pictures, do not forget to add text and descriptions for images. These too can be indexed by search engines and can boost overall SEO rank.
Your on-page SEO audit will, of course, include an analysis of keywords, per page. Good keyword strategy means they appear regularly throughout the page. But don’t use too many. A “stuffed” keyword page not only reads poorly, but will drop your SEO rank. SEO rich content needs to have an organic flow to it – if it seems odd to a customer, it will likely seem odd to a search engine (they are smarter than most people think). Metadata, descriptions, and tags all have to analyzed in this process too. Meta descriptions must be unique. Title tags must also be optimized in coordination with keyword strategy. Tags should be short but informative. If your tags or titles are too long, they will be cut off in search results.
Checking internal links is also important. If links are broken or not present, your overall customer experience will suffer, as will your SEO. Make sure that your “anchor text,” the text you link to, also uses keywords. Make sure to fix all broken links with redirects. When you do this correctly, search engines understand that this is a redirected page. A ‘301’ redirect is a permanent, recognized, and legitimate redirect link code.
AUDIT YOUR BACKLINKS
Backlink auditing is also known as “off-site” SEO. Your backlink profile measures the overall strength of links pointing to your site. If those links come from reputable sources, you are in good shape. Otherwise, you will need to remove low-quality links. You can set up alerts to understand what good or low-quality links are. To identify low-quality links, use services like Majestic, Moz, and SEMrush to check the quality and traffic volumes from each domain. Spammy links should be removed as soon as they are identified. You should also update your website’s disavowed links list.
IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS FOR MULTILINGUAL SITES
In today’s global business environment, a website is an instant, international sales tool. Offering multiple languages on your site will obviously increase your traffic. But you will need to have proper translations. This includes all of the tags and links you would think about in your source language. It also includes ideas like creating a sub-website structure. Why? Page links in English will not show up as high for searches in another language. As you create your bilingual/multilingual content, you must be constantly aware that you are not just “translating” content. You must localize your campaigns to fit the cultures of your target audiences.
REACH OUT TO AN SEO CONSULTANT
The more you optimize all of these features, the better your SEO score will be. It is a time-consuming and technical process. If you do not have the expertise in-house to perform such audits on a regular basis, think about outsourcing. An SEO consultant can help you with all aspects of this process. And in this area, you get what you pay for. The more you know, however, the better you can pinpoint the right firm or consultant to help you achieve success.