Doing an SEO Audit is an excellent way to gauge where your website does well and where it could be improved. At Market My Market, we use SEO Audits frequently as an important first step in establishing both short-term and long-term SEO strategies. After all, it’s difficult to decide what to focus on when you don’t know what needs the most work. Additionally, because websites change over time and search engines update their algorithms frequently, SEO strategies should be able to adapt. We recommend yearly audits regardless of your site’s past performance in order to keep up with the changing landscape.
When we do an SEO Audit, we like to break it up into the two big areas which most contribute to rankings. Broadly speaking, these areas are on-site optimization and off-site optimization. On the one hand, on-site optimization deals with how what’s on your website contributes to how it ranks. On-site optimization most commonly includes factors such as internal and external linking, quality and quantity of relevant website content, use of headings and subheadings, keyword relevance and frequency of use, site speed, page titles and meta descriptions, and so on. On the other hand, off-site optimization deals with external factors from throughout the web which influence your site’s rankings. This area includes factors like backlinks, citations, and social indicators.
Among the many on-site factors one should look at when conducting an SEO Audit, the most important are probably page titles and descriptions, website content, and internal or external linking. Many other factors could play a role; however, for the sake of brevity, we’ll stick to those three.
Page titles are what show up as the website link on a search engine’s results page. Meta descriptions are the short descriptions that appear under each result. If you are doing an audit, look at the source code for each page of your website by right clicking on the page and clicking “view source” from the drop down (see image #1). Locate the page title and description in the source code by scrolling through (see image #2).
Once, you’ve found the page title and description, here are some things to consider when auditing them:
- Titles and meta descriptions should all be unique.
- Titles and descriptions should contain keywords for which individuals are likely to search.
- The maximum length for a page title is 60 characters.
- The maximum length for a meta description is 160 characters.
- Anything exceeding its max length will get cut off.
Go through all your pages and make sure all the titles and descriptions are the best they can be.
Content is one of the most important factors to SEO. When auditing your website’s content think about whether there are any additional pages you could add to your site which would contain useful information about your business. For example, maybe you’ve recently added new services/products to your line – did you remember to create new pages for them? Take a look at your competitors’ websites. Are there any pages that your competitors have that you don’t? Is your website as informative as theirs? Do you have a page dedicated to each of the major geographic areas in which you do business? Look for areas of content you’ve missed; We call these “content opportunities” (and they’re everywhere). Here are some more quick tips for auditing your content:
- All pages should contain at least 350 words of unique content. Otherwise, they run the risk of being ignored by search engines.
- Make sure your content is unique. When we’re doing an audit, We like to run all the site’s pages through a tool which automatically checks for plagiarism like Copyscape (Pro Tip: use “Batch Search” to check your entire site in one go and save time).
- Try to come up with a content strategy for the next year.
- If you have a blog, make sure you are posting often. If you don’t have a blog, start one.
Go through all your website’s pages and make sure your content follows these guidelines.
Finally, internal and external linking. Linking is probably the simplest part of good SEO – making sure you include links to relevant content (both to other pages on your website and to other websites). When doing an SEO Audit, keep this popular rule-of-thumb in mind: aim for one link per 150 words of content. Falling short of this recommendation or going over from time to time is fine. Just be sure that on average your pages fall in the right ballpark. Some more tips:
- Make sure your links go to content which is directly relevant to the content from which you are linking.
- When linking to another website, make sure it’s authoritative (.gov and .edu sites work well for this).
- Try clicking on all your links to make sure none of them are broken.
Again, this means going through all your website’s pages and making sure your links adhere to these guidelines.
Again, there are an enormous number of off-site factors one could look at when doing an SEO Audit. But, for the sake of brevity, we’ll stick to what we think is the most important: backlinks.
Backlinks are inbound links from other websites to yours. Links are one of the biggest factors search engines use to determine rankings. One of the best ways to increase search engine rankings is by having many links from many different reputable websites to your website. Backlinks make your site appear more authoritative to search engines. After all, if everyone is linking to your website, then it must be good – right?
How authoritative a search engine thinks one’s website is can best be estimated by two numbers: citation flow (CF) and trust flow (TF). Don’t worry about how precisely these two numbers are calculated for now. Just know that a higher number means your website appears more authoritative.
When auditing backlinks, we like to use a handy analyzer tool from Majestic. All you have to do is paste in your URL, and it will create a backlink report for you (see image #3). There is a lot to parse in this report, and frankly, much of the language it uses can seem esoteric at first. Even some SEOs have at best a tenuous grasp of what it all means. But, if you understand what a few key indicators suggest, you’ll be off to a good start. Here’s a quick SEO lexicon lesson:
- External Backlinks – The number of actual links that go to your website from other sites.
- Referring Domains – The number of different websites with links to your site.
- Trust Flow & Citation Flow (TF & CF) – The two numbers search engines calculate to determine how authoritative a site is (based largely on backlinks and their quality – see image #4).
When doing an SEO Audit, take note of these numbers for your website and compare them to the figures it gives you for your competitor’s websites. If your website does not quite stack up, it may be time to renew your focus on link-building.
Need More Help?
Much more can go into an SEO Audit than was discussed in this blog post. However, this post should help you get started on the right track when doing your own. If you need more guidance, feel free to give us a call. Alternatively, if you simply can’t afford to dedicate the time needed to do your own comprehensive website audit, fill out our SEO Audit request and one of our SEO experts will conduct a thorough audit of your website for you. Afterwards, we’ll send you a detailed report of our findings.