I was talking with an entrepreneur friend about accelerating the SEO performance of his site.What I felt was basic advice I suggested: get your SEO site audited (opens in new tab) Understanding what is currently working and where there are benefits.
About the author
Eli Schwartz (opens in new tab) SEO expert and consultant with over 10 years of experience in leading B2B and B2C companies.
He quickly rejected the idea, saying, “We already have SEO software tools. (opens in new tab)so we’re fine.
I was surprised. The fact that he didn’t understand the difference between a tool and an audit made me realize that many people are probably just as oblivious.
Auditing is a great way to start your SEO strategy.
Let’s take a look at the difference between software tools and audits, why humans are the best auditors, and what audits are looking for.
An audit is a careful review of an entire SEO effort by an experienced practitioner. Software tools are not people. My point is that tools like Moz, Ahrefs, SEMrush, Conductor, Clarity, Searchmetrics are all great for tracking progress, but they have the necessary It’s that they don’t have human intelligence. why or why not Behind the indicators.
A better way to understand this is with the analogy of health. Basic wearables like Fitbits can help you keep track of general health stats like activity, heart rate, and sleep. However, numbers are not a substitute for a full physical examination by a medical professional. Heart rate monitors do not detect arterial occlusions.
Similarly, a daily SEO stats tracker like the tool above will report activity metrics well, but it won’t catch an impending site-wide SEO “heart attack.” A creeping URL change or a misconfigured canonical link can explode suddenly, neither of which is detected by the software.
If your website is experiencing organic problems, have an experienced professional take a look at it and conduct an audit to find out what’s wrong.
What do audits check?
Once you’ve decided to conduct a site audit, what can you expect to find? Each audit eventually branches as the auditor follows the site’s architecture. However, all audits include investigation of at least these high-level areas.
penalty analysis: Are there unexplained drops in metrics in line with Google’s manual actions or known algorithmic updates?
URL structure: Are the URLs well-structured and clean to make it clear to both users and search engines what each page contains?
Content duplication and legitimate use: Due to duplicate content issues, Google needs to decide which URLs to index. This may not be the desired URL, so canonical helps declare the preferred URL. Improper use of canonicals can negatively impact your site.
internal link: Are internal links working properly for proper crawling and indexing? (This step is important because in many ways internal links can be more important than external links. )
back link: Which sites link to our site? For large sites, understanding your backlink mix is itself an audit.
indexing: Is your site indexed properly in search? What’s stopping it? In my opinion this is the most important part of the audit.
Use of keywords: What keywords are being used and what gaps exist? Keywords are the bulwark of any SEO campaign and mapping them often leads to opportunities.
On-page SEO: What title tags (title, description, H1, H2, etc.) are used? A good title tag is the foundation of all efforts, and spending time using it reveals many opportunities. I am always amazed by
content quality: What content and quality is used? SEO is driven by content, but poor quality content can actually be harmful. An outsider’s perspective can accurately assess quality.
robot.txt: How effective are you in telling search engines about which pages of your site can be crawled? Too much and important pages won’t get traffic, too little and useless pages will be crawled.
site map: How effective are your current XML and HTML sitemaps? They are useful and necessary for page discovery, and this analysis points out opportunities to improve your current setup.
site speed: How fast do pages and sites load? Page and site speed are built into Google’s algorithm for very slow sites, but even without algorithmic issues, very slow loading can affect the user experience. and lower conversion rates.
spam:do you have? Even the most authoritative and secure websites have spam problems. This is unlikely to lead to search performance issues, but it certainly isn’t a good user experience.
Schema markup: Where is your current markup and available markup that helps you find new opportunities for growth? In the world of voice assistants, schema markup helps search engines understand context, so becoming more and more important.
mobile vs desktop: How does the mobile search experience interact with your site? Mobile devices often approach search in radically different ways, so mobile SEO can be different as well.
International: How do all the above areas work in different countries?
Audit will be your best friend
The most important thing in an SEO audit is “So what?” I’ve seen the audit run over his 100 pages, but the action items are few. Neither the author nor the recipient gains anything from creating a useless book.
For this purpose, the audit should be conducted by a person who can clarify action items. The best-case scenario is employees. Audits help employees understand your website as they work.
It’s never fun to see where your SEO strategy is failing, but digital marketing is by nature a very fast-moving industry, so to work towards a more effective strategy, there are a lot of tools out there. A real human audit is essential.