Across industries, 2020 has been a year of change. Marketing leaders have been called to pivot and adapt—often faster than they expected—to meet the challenges of abrupt shifts in markets and access to their goods and services. Some companies were already well prepared for the move to an all-digital market. For others, 2020 has made it imperative to tackle digital transformations in their organizations.
Regardless of where they started, every organization has had to evaluate their website as the core of all customer interactions. The first place to start? SEO.
Why Do an SEO Audit?
Search engine optimization underscores all digital marketing and content efforts; optimizing your website for targeted keywords is fundamental to any successful marketing program. But SEO has never been simple. The pandemic has put a spotlight on online purchasing journeys, but marketers have long understood that buyers consistently use websites for research, sidestepping sales contacts until almost the point of purchase.
That means your website must provide a high-quality user experience, deliver relevant content, load quickly, and render well on mobile. And Google and other search engines agree; the elements that are important for users are also essential to secure visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs).
An SEO audit is an essential step for understanding how your website stacks up in the competitive landscape and what improvements are needed to:
• Make your site more visible to search engines
• Increase organic traffic (traffic you don’t have to pay for)
• Drive qualified traffic to your website (customers already looking for your products and services)
• Reduce bounces
• Increase time on page
• Generate leads that convert to opportunities
Most marketing leaders understand that SEO is a long game—it take time to build, but with persistence its value increases. Over time, you’ll see the dividends multiply as the value of your organic traffic increases—reducing your paid spend.
However, an SEO audit also delivers actionable information that you can use immediately for quick time to value.
What Happens in an SEO Audit?
Software tools are available for analyzing everything from traffic to keyword rankings to competitors’ standings. But for most organizations, a full SEO audit is not a DIY project.
When you work with an expert provider like Refactored, you should expect a thorough and relevant analysis of elements that actually matter to your business—and practical, actionable recommendations for improvements.
An SEO audit from Refactored includes:
A technical audit—Technical issues can dramatically affect your SEO rankings. An audit will reveal your overall site health; help you understand how behind-the-scenes problems are affecting your standing with Google, Bing, and other engines; and help you determine the steps and time needed to clean up your technical SEO.
Position tracking—Your audit includes a baseline analysis of your keyword position in SERPs. With this understanding, you can compare your position to your competitors’ to create a content strategy that will enable steady growth of both position and traffic.
Keyword traffic—Refactored analyzes your site’s traffic history, detailing rises and drops in volume and performance for your top keywords. This information will help inform the timing of optimization and marketing efforts.
SEO Audit Checklist: What Should You Get?
When your SEO audit is complete, you’ll receive a detailed report of findings and recommendations. The goal of a good site audit is to walk away with a clear understanding of your website priorities: what’s working, what actions are needed to improve your organic traffic, and where you have opportunities for meaningful improvements.
Your SEO audit report includes several sections of vital information.
After crawling your website, Refactored will present a snapshot of your site health. This graphical information is accompanied by a clear explanation and reveals any specific issues that may be preventing your site from ranking higher in search results.
How can you tell how your site performance compares to your competition? One way is by measuring position tracking. This metric compares your search rankings and top industry keywords against your competitors. If your competition has optimized for keywords that you have not, they will get that keyword traffic—and those leads—before you do. Position tracking also provides a baseline for measuring future improvements as you optimize your website for targeted keywords.
Because keywords are the terms that people use in browsers to find information online, understanding your keyword performance is essential to optimizing your website. Keyword targeting is the foundation for improving search results and traffic; keyword research helps you see how to reach your audience and drive qualified leads. And used properly, this information can help you improve ad campaign performance, reveal topics of high interest, and inform content marketing strategy.
Knowing where your site shows up on search engine results pages (SERPs) is an important first step in gaining a better understanding of the user experience and improving your SEO. SERPs can show organic results, paid results, featured snippets that showcase videos and site links, and the knowledge panel, usually found to the right of the search results.
To truly benefit from SEO and optimize your website, you’ll want to know how to improve the relationship of your on-page content and html source code to your target keywords. You’ll get recommendations for how to improve keyword visibility and relevance in page titles, meta descriptions, alt text, internal links, headers, text, and more.
What’s Next? 4 Ways to Use Your Audit Now
The information you get from an SEO audit is highly actionable. Many recommended improvements can be accomplished in a relatively short time—from a few weeks to a few months. Start with the immediate needs of your site—and projects that can yield a quick return on investment.
1. Fix Technical Issues
Checking technical SEO fixes off your list can be low effort and provides a fast improvement in your overall site visibility. Search engines penalize websites that have too many errors or can’t be crawled. The issues vary but typically include missing HTML tags, duplicate content, broken links, format errors, sitemap issues, canonical tags, certificates, redirects, slow load speed, missing alt attributes, and other coding errors. For an experienced website development provider, this is typically a one-time project that addresses issues negatively impacting your site health and search rankings.
2. Optimize On-Page Content
Once your site health is improved, optimizing your on-page content is the next logical step. On-page content optimization can be a standalone optimization project—and can expand to an ongoing practice. To start, focus on examining your top performing pages, improving tags, links, and text content. Besides improving your user experience and ranking against competitors, great on-page content will also allow you to improve your SERP rankings and possibly gain a featured snippet on search result pages.
3. Create Content Pillars
Content Pillars are topical sets of website pages that are keyword and information rich. Refactored can aid you in producing these pages. Through intensive keyword research, we help you develop 8-10 pages of fresh content that are designed to tell a powerful and connected story. Content Pillars create a natural, organic draw to users who are searching for your defined keywords and brand terms by providing high-quality information that isn’t available elsewhere.
4. Refine and Improve Paid Search
While pay-per-click (PPC) and digital ads are not technically SEO programs, they rely on strong optimization. Keyword research, relevant content, and strong organic traffic underpin and complement paid media programs. You can drive high volumes of paid traffic to your site, but if they don’t have a great experience when they get there or can’t find the information they are looking for, they won’t convert.
Stick with It
Remember, SEO is not a one-time effort. Continue your SEO program with regular analytics reviews, ongoing page updates, and regular optimization. Most important, continually refresh content, redate and repost your top-performing pieces, and add blogs, articles, videos, and other resources that give both users and search engines a reason to keep coming back to you.
An SEO audit is a great way to kickstart an ongoing SEO program that that improves your ranking on search engines, user experience, and conversions. As a bonus, you’ll bring your sales team leads that are more informed—and further along the buying cycle.
Ready to Get Started?
At Refactored, we take a practical and performance-based approach to SEO. Our SEO audits are guided by data and years of experience in digital and content marketing. We know what works—and only apply tactics that fit with your business goals and website needs.
And you can start now—at no cost. Contact us to arrange your free SEO audit.