SEO is a slippery beast. With Google et all constantly changing their search algorithms and ranking criteria, maximising your web presence and maintaining your organic search rankings, can be tough.
Now, it may be that you have the luxury of an in-house SEO guru, who keeps your site bang-up-to-date with the latest developments and best practice.
Then again, maybe you’ve just got Brian, who ‘knows about the internet’, and smugly states: “Well, our site was only re-designed two years ago. So I think you’ll find we’re pretty up to date.”
Or maybe you’ve got an ancient, unloved site, that lurches along and no one can remember the last time its search performance was reviewed.
Worse still, maybe you are Brian…
If this sounds familiar, or you would simply like to rank higher, improve your traffic and increase business, you will definitely benefit from a site-wide SEO audit.
Sounds good, but what does an SEO audit involve?
Broadly speaking, the audit analysis should cover the following five areas:
- On-page ranking factors
- Off-page ranking factors
- Competitor analysis
Within each of these five headline areas, there are of course a huge number of sub-categories – from robots.txt identification and canonicalization, to URL structure, backlinks and site architecture, to name but a few. It will also identify any overlooked basics, such as has an XML sitemap been submitted to your webmaster tools/search console account?
Before you reach this stage of the process, it’s vital your SEO agency spends time understanding your key priorities, concerns and questions regarding your site’s current performance and architecture.
As a result, an audit is the perfect opportunity to re-asses your site’s key priorities, identify areas of both strength and weakness, and to create a clear strategy to tackle the most pressing issues, as well as flying through the easy wins.
In a recent audit undertaken for one of our major clients, the issues identified ranged from critical importance (thin, or empty pages, and index duplication), right down to low (404 error pages would benefit from being more user friendly). Naturally changes requiring the most urgent attention will often require the most work to correct – but of course bring the biggest benefits. Whereas less urgent issues, such as missing meta descriptions or broken links, for example, can often be remedied without the need to pay for developer time.
All in the detail
Indeed, often it’s not a big, scary issue, at the heart of an underperforming site. Instead it’s the aggregate effect of several smaller issues, which build up over time.
To give this some context, the 10 most common on-site SEO issues are:
- Duplicate Content
- Missing Alt Tags and Broken Images
- Title Tag Issues
- Meta Descriptions
- Broken Internal and External Links
- Low Text-to-HTML Ratio
- H1 Tag Issues
- Low Word Count
- Too Many On-page Links
- Incorrect Language Declaration
DIY, or go pro?
There are a range of great online resources that offer stacks of information and even guidance on conducting your own SEO audit. Arguably, if you take the time to read just one of these, it should be moz.com’s How to Perform the World’s Greatest SEO Audit.
As good as these guides are, there’s going to be a time when only an SEO professional will do. So, if you’re looking for SEO advice, an audit, or need some serious dev clout to solve your SEO woes, get in touch with Everest Media today, to see how we can help.