Not all SEO Audits are created equal. Let’s walk through why you need one, how often you should be doing one, and what are the hallmarks of a high-quality audit.
Why do I need an SEO Audit?
An SEO audit looks at the technical infrastructure of your website, this includes what is visible on the website but also which lives in the hardcode. Search engines use both to establish authority, credibility, and relevance for search results. Think of an SEO Audit as a yearly medical checkup, the more thorough the audit, the quicker you can get ahead of any potential issues or deteriorating health of your website.
But what we are finding more often, is that many business owners have no idea what their site health is. In this worst-case scenario, not only is your SEO affected, but also your visibility, online sales, and bottom line. An audit helps identify and exposes ALL of those things left on the table. Items that not only hurt your SEO but also your online sales include page speed, SSL certificates, poor hosting, slow or shared servers, 404’s, and awful links from bad sources. Don’t let a bad sitemap destroy the crawl of ALL that great content you have built.
Just last week we audited a multi-location medical provider who had been working with another agency for 9 months and the results – approximately 150 backlinks from gaming websites, gambling websites, and even pornography directories!
SEO audits are an important, necessary component of keeping your SEO strategy up to date. If your website isn’t properly optimized for search, you’re missing out on a significant amount of search engine traffic, as well as attention from potential customers.
How to execute your own SEO Audit
Of course, you can always complete the SEO audit yourself. There are several free scan tools available such as Screaming Frog or running your website through SEMRush’s free audit report, but where do you start? What even makes a good meta description? Google’s Webmaster Tools also provides several reports along with analyzing Google Search Console and Google Analytics. But, making value qualitative conclusions and solutions from this extensive amount of quantitative data can be overwhelming.
That’s where an agency like Buhv comes in.
We love this stuff. We obsess over it.
Example of a standard “free” SEO audit
If you were to contact most digital marketing agencies, they would likely mention that they will provide you with a complimentary SEO audit. This will likely be done in about 20 minutes by running your domain address through a few agency-level softwares.
The results would probably include a two-page report card with an ambiguous score – 34/100 – and a site speed score from Google’s developer tools. They may then discuss that you need more keywords on your website, explain that you need more blogs, then most likely finish with a long-winded address of how you need more backlinks…sound familiar?
There is a huge variety of SEO tactics and understanding where to start and what is most important is the key to a high-quality SEO campaign. Therefore, whether you are internally improving your SEO with your internal marketing team, or looking for an agency to execute, beware of audits, or strategies that are not detailed oriented enough. There’s a wide spectrum in terms of quality when it comes to SEO audits. As a foundation, you need to have a site architecture audit, a full technical crawl, keyword analysis, competitive analysis, core page analysis and much more.
What is a Comprehensive SEO Audit
At Buhv, we are obsessed with our craft. We spend most of our mornings drinking too much coffee and reading SEO blogs and trying to predict the Google algorithm. While they are not very invigorating for the everyday person, we use that information to stay ahead of the competition and take you with us. Our detailed audits will be concise and include actionable recommendations that will move the needle.
While each audit is slightly different, Buhv will start with these 11 items:
- Domain Search Authority – This is primarily how your business first appears to viewers when they search out your name. It is a combination of many factors but think of it as your online real estate and credibility.
- Google My Business – May 2020’s Google algorithm update, we saw a huge priority put on GMB accuracy and update frequency in response to changes in COVID policies.
- “People Also Ask” panels, Branded knowledge panels
- Featured Page Schema
- Review Audit – what are people saying about you
- Barnacle SEO – how are you seen by other websites (directories, social media, review sites, etc.)
- Directory/Citation Listings – One of the simplest ways to build local SEO authority is through consistent NAP (name – address – phone number) listings. Inconsistencies confuse search engines to know which information is relevant. The more consistent your listings, the more reliable Google considers you as a business.
- Technical Structural SEO – From 50X, 40X, broken redirects, sitemap issues to missing canonicals, these can cause havoc for bots crawling the website. Cleaning up these issues first is essential before we move any further.
- Technical On-Page SEO – This is the foundational SEO piece that no website should ever be missing – great page titles, unique meta descriptions, h1 classifications, schema, open graph tags and hreflang tags to just start. You could consider these your calls to action in organic search results.
- Homepage – The most important exercises you can run for your website is to ask a stranger, “what does this company offer/what do they do?” in three seconds or less. If they are not able to, I would check your bounce rate as SEO only goes so far into bringing you business.
- UX, User Journeys, CTA – What do you want the user to do? Heat mapping can be a great way to observe the behaviors of your users. Are they finding the information they need? Through bounce rates and time on page, we are able to measure if your content matches the user’s intent.
- Organic Keywords, Referring Domains & Backlinks – A quick keyword report can show what you are ranking for and what core keywords that you are just missing out on. There is no doubt that backlinks provide SEO value through relevancy, but only if those backlinks are from high domain authority and relevant sites.
- Content Strategy – “Content is King” should always have an asterisk included after it. Blog content is ideal for reaching long-form keyword phrases that ideal customers are searching. Avoid building massive submenus of pages if the content is not relevant to most users, blogs are great opportunities to address particular personas or verticals you serve. Ask yourself, is your content frequent, relevant, keyword-driven, and optimized?
- Site Speed – Not only does a slow website annoy most users, but search engine algorithms don’t like them much either. This technical side of this work ranges from imagery compression, minifying code, installing CDN, and utilizing caching. Occasionally, this can also be caused by your hosting provider.
- ADA-Compliance – This has been a quickly increasing topic of conversation over the last two years with more lawsuits each year. Through site readers and alt-tag descriptions, hitting 100% compliance can be daunting. Check out this article for more information: ADA Compliance – A 2020 Essential Web Feature
- Social channels – There is no doubt that social media can play a major influential role in your brand and credibility. Not only is it choosing the correct content, but the right platform and messaging is essential to build trust and credibility.
- Competition – Ultimately, isn’t this the benchmark of making sure you get business over someone else. An in-depth understanding of competitors’ strategies, keyword ranking, and performance can be a helpful tool for building a roadmap of what to do (and what not to do).
How long does a Comprehensive SEO Audit take?
Depending on the size and complexity of the website, a thorough SEO audit can take anywhere from a few hours up to one month. Fixing the items which are uncovered in that audit can range anywhere from 30 days – 12 months. However, we recommend getting an audit at least every 6 months. Google is constantly tweaking their algorithms so updates and adjustments may be required.
What can I do with my Comprehensive SEO Audit?
SUPPORTING YOUR MARKETING TEAM
Many larger companies will commonly have an in-house marketing department and/or digital marketing specialist, but more often than not, those individuals don’t have the technical expertise to execute this work. If you are looking to keep it in house, Buhv can put together a comprehensive roadmap of action items and priorities. This will allow your team to internalize the work without the additional cost of a monthly SEO retainer from an agency.
COLLABORATING THE BUSINESS OWNERS
Of course, if you don’t have the time in your busy day to spend updating product schema for your 4,000 SKU eCommerce website or writing keyword-driven high-value meta descriptions for your entire blog history going back to 2014, Buhv is here to help.
PARTNERSHIP FOR OTHER AGENCIES
We have worked collaboratively with many other design and digital marketing agencies who just lack the breadth, and depth, of experience in highly technical SEO or freelance designers who want to step up their work with fully-optimized websites.
How long does it take to achieve SEO goals?
The age of addiage in the industry will conservatively say that you will see results at 6 months, technical errors and cleaning up structural errors can quickly reindex a website with lots of content. Some SEO changes can see more immediate changes as fast as a few weeks, while citation aggregators can take as long as 3 months.
While there is no replacement for on-going SEO campaigns, shorter-term project-based SEO campaigns can be helpful for websites with large amounts of outstanding work. These types of projects benefit from heavy-lifting of technical issues, such as sitemap and broken links, before moving on to the most foundation work like meta descriptions and page titles.
With Google constantly adjusting the algorithm, what worked last year may not be working any longer. If you are not actively working to Optimize your website, it is likely that your competition is. Get in touch to learn more about our audit process and schedule a comprehensive audit for your website.