Not all SEO audits are created equal. Most SEO audit tools give you tons of things to work on, but they offer little impact on your overall visibility. As an SEO freelancer, I do audits differently. Keep reading to learn how to do an SEO audit to ensure all your content efforts are working to their full potential to increase your online visibility and move the needle in your business.
What is an SEO Audit?
An SEO audit is a comprehensive process that involves analyzing various aspects of a website to evaluate its search engine friendliness and identify areas for improvement. The primary objective of an SEO audit is to identify weak spots in a site's SEO strategy that could be impeding its performance in search engine results pages (SERPs). This could range from issues with site structure and navigation, slow load times, poor mobile optimization, or lack of quality content. By bringing these problems to light, website owners can formulate a targeted action plan to rectify them and enhance their site's visibility in SERPs.
For instance, an audit might reveal that your website's pages are not properly titled or lack meta descriptions, making it difficult for search engines to understand their content. Or perhaps your website has broken links or images, creating a poor user experience and a disconnect between you and your potential customer. These are common SEO mistakes that have a significant impact on visibility, so it’s essential to address them ASAP.
How to Do an SEO Audit in 10 Steps
Conducting an SEO audit is a detailed and technical process, but it's essential for maintaining a healthy, search-engine-friendly website. Regular audits can help you stay ahead of the curve, ensuring your SEO strategy remains effective, and your website visibility stays high. Here is how to do an SEO audit.
Step 1: Crawl Your Website
A website crawl provides a bird's eye view of your site's structure and identifies potential problems like broken links or duplicate content. You’ll need to use an SEO audit tool like Ahrefs for this step.
Step 2: Evaluate Organic Traffic
Organic traffic refers to visitors who land on your website as a result of unpaid search results. Analyze your website's organic traffic over time to identify any significant drops which could indicate a problem with your SEO strategy. A good tool for this is Google Search Console.
Step 3: Check for Duplicate Content
Duplicate content can confuse search engines and hinder your SEO efforts. Many believe that internal duplicate content is a violation of Google’s best practices. It’s not. What it can do though, is dilute keyword equity. If you repeat keyword optimized text across multiple pages, Google may split equity for that keyword across a number of pages, versus giving it all to the landing page you want ranking for the keyword.
While you can manually check your website for repeated content, using Google Search Console can speed up the process.
Step 4: Ensure Mobile-Friendliness
Because 51.52% of all site traffic comes from mobile phones, it’s critical that your website is mobile-friendly. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to evaluate your site's performance on mobile devices.
Step 5: Test Website Speed
Website speed is a crucial ranking factor for search engines. Use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to measure your site's speed and get recommendations for improvement.
Step 6: Review Your Sitemap
Your sitemap acts as a roadmap for search engines, helping them understand the structure of your site. This is one of the most critical steps of an SEO audit that most people breeze over. A good audit looks at how Google is indexing the sitemap and rendering pages to ensure all content efforts are working to their full potential.
Step 7: Review Your Keyword Map and Internal Links
Another crucial step often missed or overlooked is analyzing content clusters to ensure they are properly keyword mapped and internally linked. This ensures proper keyword mapping, where each page targets a unique, relevant keyword. During your audit, you should also check for internal linking within these clusters, which helps distribute page authority and aids in site navigation.
Step 8: Examine On-Page SEO Elements
On-page SEO elements, such as title tags, meta descriptions, and header tags, play a key role in how search engines understand your content. Make sure these elements are optimized with relevant keywords.
Step 9: Analyze Your Backlinks
Backlinks are a significant ranking factor for search engines. Review your backlink profile to ensure you have high-quality, relevant links pointing to your site. You’ll also want to identify any broken links that could be hindering your website's ability to collect link juice.
Step 10: Assess User Experience
User experience (UX) is increasingly important in SEO. Factors like site navigation, readability, and design all contribute to UX. Use analytics to understand how users interact with your site and identify areas for improvement.
Arguably the most important part of doing an SEO audit is what you do with your findings. Your audit will likely identify many opportunities to improve your website, and it’s essential to prioritize these tasks and address them in a timely manner.
Your Options for Performing an SEO Audit
There are three main ways you can perform an SEO audit on your website: manually, by using SEO tools, or by hiring an SEO freelancer.
Manual SEO Audits
The first method is to manually check everything while following a detailed checklist, like the one provided in this blog post. You’ll need to thoroughly review your website’s structure, content, on-page SEO elements, mobile-friendliness, website speed, backlink profile, and much more. While this method requires a substantial amount of time and a deep understanding of SEO principles, it allows for a hands-on approach that can offer valuable insights.
Using SEO Audit Tools
The second way to perform an audit is by using specialized SEO audit tools from companies like Moz or Semrush. These tools can crawl your website and provide a comprehensive report of potential issues and areas for improvement. However, these tools can sometimes be expensive and hard to understand if you're unfamiliar with SEO. They can help identify problems such as duplicate content, broken links, and issues with site speed. However, interpreting and acting upon the data they provide often requires a certain level of SEO knowledge.
Hiring an SEO Freelancer
The third option is to hire an SEO freelancer to perform the audit. This can be particularly helpful if you're unsure about how to conduct an SEO audit yourself or lack the time to do so. As an SEO freelancer, I am well-versed in how to use the best SEO audit tools and understand the complexities of the issues that’ll arise on your website. I’ll be able to identify them and create a plan to fix them in the order of the most pressing to the least.
How Much Does an Average SEO Audit Cost?
The cost of an SEO audit can vary widely based on the website's complexity, the audit's depth, and who is conducting it. You can expect to pay anywhere from $650 to $14,000 on average. Smaller websites or those looking for a basic or single-issue audit (i.e., backlinks only) can find services at the lower end of this range. However, larger websites or those in highly competitive industries might require a more detailed audit, which can be on the higher end.
If you're hiring an SEO freelancer or agency, their experience level, reputation, and location could also affect the price. It's important to remember that while cost is a consideration, the value and return on investment from a well-conducted SEO audit can far outweigh the initial expense.
Unlock Your Website's Full Potential with an In-depth SEO Audit
As an experienced SEO freelancer, I can help you uncover hidden opportunities and areas for improvement that can significantly boost your website's performance. Together, we can transform your online presence, increase your search engine rankings, and help you achieve your digital goals. Don't let your website's true potential go untapped. Get in touch today for a personalized quote, and let's start optimizing for success with an SEO audit.