How to perform an SEO audit to improve valuable traffic?

By Roman Berezhnoi September 21, 2022 293 views

How to perform an SEO audit to improve valuable traffic?

An SEO audit is the first step in any search optimization job because you should know the issues to fix.  

The SEO audit is a snapshot of the state of health of a website and the used SEO practices at the time of the audit. SEOs use their own methods and approaches to provide an SEO audit, and there is F5 Studio’s SEO audit “checklist” that website owners can use.

Define the website’s purpose

If it is your website, ask yourself what the purpose of the website is. If you are an SEO, you need to ask your client (it is a challenging task). Without that initial statement of the website’s purpose, everything that follows is a waste of time.

Explain the website’s purpose in 1-3 clear sentences. You don’t have the website’s purpose if you use sentences such as making money, creating business visibility, or building brand value. In this case, you should figure out what the site is really trying to accomplish for your business.

Also, you have to know that each website page should have a purpose.

Tech SEO audit

Use Google Search Console and/or Bing Webmaster Tools to conduct a tech SEO audit. The Index and Experience tools of Google Search Console can help you to know how friendly your site is to search engines. 

Analyze search terms

What keywords do you think should draw traffic for? Forget about rankings. Ask yourself to justify each keyword with a 1-sentence explanation of why people should be using that keyword to find your site, products, or services. Analyze what value your site offers through those search queries. You should know what clients want and why they sign up through the site.

This audit step helps you know about the actual client’s search terms, not chosen ones because your competitors use these keywords or SEO tools recommended for your site. 

Also, search terms analysis will provide you with invaluable insight into how close (or far from) the mark the site’s keyword targeting is.

Analyze the site’s informational architecture

Look at the keywords you are using in URLs, the folder structures, the relationships between leaf nodes and the root URL, navigation (menu), the rate at which content is added, modified, or deleted, who creates the content, and how unique the content is, what the site looks like visually, etc.

A website’s informational architecture is vital for SEO. Toponymy defines how things are named and tells you what keywords are used for category and page names. Taxonomy defines how information is organized, and how the folders are sorted and arranged in the site’s hierarchy. 

If the site is too big, you can document the general pattern of a website’s architecture and focus on important parts of it.

You need to determine how clear the website’s informational architecture is for visitors and search engines.

Analyze the content

What sort of content is the site publishing? Is it keyword-overoptimized? Is it rambling? What does the grammar look like? How well does it match the actual search terms? Does the content relate to the business purpose of the site?

Where does the content come from? Who creates the content? What is the process for publishing the content? Who updates and deletes content, and what is the process?

On the one hand, this part of the SEO audit helps you determine the value of content for searchers. On the other hand, you will know the risks of the current website content management process.

Keyword analysis

Now that you have looked at the content, you need to look at the hard data to see what keywords are actually bringing traffic in from search and to which pages that traffic is flowing. This usually won’t be easy because most web tracking tools are not designed to provide you with this kind of information. But Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools are quite helpful for this part of the SEO audit.

The ultimate goal of this SEO audit step is to benchmark how well the content-driven keyword goals match the keyword used in search traffic.

Now you have the list of keywords and can use Google Trends to get more insights into the interest in these search terms. Are these search terms dying or still growing? If your business goals are aligned with a search query, the interest to which is decreased, you should note this.

If you want to add new or relevant keywords, you will find the keyword research practice for business owners in this article.

Review the KPIs and reporting process

Surprisingly, many SEOs and business owners do not review the reporting process and website performance KPIs.  

What key performance indicators are you using? Are these KPIs helpful for business? Who collects data and produces the reports? 

If an SEO agency sends reports, you should review these reports. Are these reports useful? Can you improve your site via these reports?

The reporting process should identify which keywords are bringing in the most traffic, the most conversions, etc. It should also identify which pages and/or sections of a site are performing best and least.

This part of the audit should identify any major weaknesses in your SEO practices.

The lack of reporting leads to all sorts of incorrect application of SEO techniques and practices.

Should you review the site’s backlinks?

Usually, a website’s backlinks audit wastes time (and money) because SEO tools can only tell you what is in their databases, not in any search engine’s database. Search engines do not share backlink data with website owners (I think you can see why).

But if you buy backlinks or hire “the best linkbuilding service provider in the World,” this step makes sense. Analyze some websites where backlinks were put to determine “spammy” ones. If you have no notifications from Google’s spam team now, there is the risk you will get them later. However, Google ignores such backlinks in many cases.

Make recommendations and create the roadmap

This final section of the SEO audit report is important because you didn’t conduct the SEO audit for just the audit. You need to fix issues and improve your site. 

But sometimes improvements can cost big money. In some cases, it is worth it to implement improvements, but in other cases is not.

Conclusions

As you can see, an SEO audit is a challenging task. Can you conduct it without an experience in SEO? No, you can’t. But you can try to make it. Can you use “SEO tools” to conduct an SEO audit? You should know that SEO tools have no access to search engines database, and these tools can’t replicate Google or any search engine. Most SEO tools are primitive parsers that use primitive methods and unhelpful KPIs. This is why it would be better to order professional SEO services to get a helpful SEO audit report.

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