Search Engine Optimisation has become part and parcel of running a successful digital marketing campaign. Your website's performance, the number of clicks you generate, and your Google search rank are often the difference between success online and failure in the real world.
You may feel lost and confused on the subject of SEO - and we don't blame you! SEO as a topic has grown to be quite complex over the years, with many twists and turns from powerhouses like Google each month. From content optimisation to metadata improvements, optimising your SEO can be difficult to tackle.
One of the best ways to approach improving your website is through an SEO audit. However, you could be at a loss on where to start or even misunderstand the process behind an SEO audit. That's why we've put together this blog on SEO for your use. It will provide a practical step-by-step process to help audit your site for SEO.
10 Steps to perform an SEO audit
An SEO audit takes a look at how your website is performing for search engines like Google. The better the performance, the higher your search rank for specific keywords.
However, a complete SEO audit takes multiple aspects into account. Content, on-page credibility, off-page SEO, technical aspects, and local SEO all have to be considered for optimal performance.
If this all sounds confusing to you, don't worry. We've created a simple 10 step process below that touches the most important factors from each of these elements to help you rank up with any search engine.
STEP ONE - Identify link-building opportunities
As we covered in a previous blog, authority is critical for improving your Google search ranking. Thus, you should start by taking an inventory of what inbound links currently lead to your website. From there, try to find other opportunities for reputable websites to link back to you.
Here are a few places to start:
- Business registers
- Business partner websites
- PR websites
- Review sites
STEP TWO - Seek to simplify your website architecture
Your website architecture refers to how your website is structured. For example, the fact that your blog is listed under the "resources" section while your pricing falls under solutions is due to how you've set up your website architecture.
Search engines like Google consider how each topic is referenced according to your website architecture. This ensures that websites that offer a logical, streamlined experience for viewers are ranked higher.
For your website, ensure that you have the right web pages under similar topics and that each page links to the appropriate subject.
STEP THREE - Find and improve thin content
Search engines like comprehensive, detailed content. It allows for more keyword evaluation and a better experience for visitors. However, the content should be structured in a scannable and easy-to-read way for the best results.
Go through your website and find any content that can be expanded upon. While expanding, try to find opportunities to create bullet-point lists, and insert appropriate headings with short paragraphs. If any content is too long, consider making additional pages to link to.
STEP FOUR - Delete duplicate content
You are heavily penalised for having duplicate content on your website, whether that content is taken from your own website text or elsewhere online. It is never a good idea to copy-paste content from other resources you find online.
If you have any of this content, be sure to find and delete it from your website.
STEP FIVE - Optimise your keywords
Before building your website, you should have a list of keywords or topics that you want to rank for. If you haven't yet, be sure to check out our blog on how Google ranks websites for more information.
Review these keywords and see if searching trends have changed or adapted. For example, when Google shifted from keywords to topics, many websites focused exclusively on keywords suffered. Generally, you should be OK as long you focus on your users' experience instead of trying to game the system.
Once you have your new keywords, check every H1 tag, webpage title, and other headings to insert the keywords. Then check if your copy under these titles speaks around the topic itself in an informative way.
STEP SIX - Optimise metadata
Your metadata refers to the meta title and meta description search engines use to list your website on their search result page. It's one of the more important factors engines like Google consider when determining their rank order.
Most search engines display the first 60 characters of your title before truncating it with an ellipsis. This can hurt your SEO efforts. Here are a few pointers to help optimise your meta title:
- Keep your titles under 60 characters
- Include your most valued keyword in your title
- Include your brand name in the title
For your meta descriptions, you want to keep it between 155 and 160 characters. In terms of what to include for your meta description, try to stick to the following:
- Primary keyword
- Ancillary keywords
- Call to action
- Brand name
STEP SEVEN - Update pages where you can
Making even small changes to your web pages signal to search engines that it should be re-evaluated. Due to this, regular updates will help keep your pages relevant in the eye of the search engine.
In terms of which pages to update, you want to focus on the pages that drive the most traffic for your website as well as any pages that have outdated or old information.
STEP EIGHT - Improve your website speed
Search engines also evaluate how fast your website is for visitors to determine your rank. In other words, slow websites not only scare away visitors - but also Google.
Here are a few ways you can speed up your website:
- Use faster hosts
- Minimise HTTP requests
- Use one CSS stylesheet
- Compress and optimise your image files
- Compress your web pages
- Minimize your site's code
STEP NINE - Scan for website errors
404 errors are usually caused by broken links and images within your website. Anyone who clicks that link will have a 404 error if you link to missing pages.
Despite what many may believe, 404 errors don't result in site penalties. As you cycle content in and out, 404s naturally occur. That said, they can fracture your internal linking structure and hurt your website architecture, resulting in penalties.
Certain site audit tools can identify all the 404s within your website. Once you find them, all you have to do is re-link each broken link to existing content. This chrome extension helps identify broken links on a page-by-page basis.
STEP TEN - Check your HTTP
Perhaps one of the smallest yet critical steps on this list is to switch from HTTP to HTTPS. Running on HTTP is a huge red flag for search engines in today's digital world. HTTPS is faster, more secure, and more reliable than HTTP.
To ensure your site is running on HTTPS, all you have to do is manually enter the various non-HTTPS iterations of your site domain—www.site.com; site.com; http://www.site.com—and make sure they've all been 301 redirected to the HTTPS iteration.
You'll then want to scour the search index for places where non-HTTPS URLs appear. You can use the Index Status report in Search Console to see which version of your site's URLs are canonicalised. If you have to, manually canonicalise the HTTPS versions.
Audit your way to number 1
The above steps will give you a start in auditing your website to be more SEO friendly. However, the best results come from a complete audit by industry professionals. If you would like a guide to taking your website to the next level, consider Demodia.
We understand that finding the right web development partner is a frustrating and time-consuming process, which is why we have spent the last 12 years designing, developing, and maintaining high-performing websites for dozens of B2B clients worldwide.
We give you everything you need to build a high-performing website - developers included. Start with taking our free website audit and watch as your search rankings, traffic, and online leads increase.