Think of an SEO Audit as a Search Engine health check for your website…
Unfortunately, not all websites are as Search Engine-friendly as they should be. An SEO Audit identifies any issues and unexplored opportunities for your website to achieve the most growth possible. We examine technical fundamentals, on-page elements and off-page essentials so as to determine the likely success of any planned SEO activities.
There are typically three types of SEO Audit for you to consider:
- SEO Basics Audit – a checklist of your current website, rankings and competition
- SEO Strategic Audit – includes a complete step by step review plus recommendations and strategies to resolve any issues and maximize opportunities that will increase your web site’s performance
- SEO Forensic Audit – usually requested in emergency situations when there has been a major fall in traffic and search engine rankings impacting on ecommerce revenues or lead generation
An effective SEO Audit sets a benchmark and identifies, any issues and opportunities which are used to plan your SEO strategies. Each should be undertaken by a highly experienced SEO expert and then tailored to the unique circumstances surrounding your particular web site.
SEO Basics Audit
An SEO Basics Audit is suitable for e-commerce or more complex web sites, usually completed prior to any Custom SEO Program or SEO Package, and usually follows a fifty-ish point checklist aimed at identifying any issues or unexplored opportunities that may be impacting the success of your web site.
Below, we review some of the specific areas that are analyzed in a typical SEO Basics Audit.
Google Analytics & Search Console Setup, Review
The first step will be to verify that Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Bing Webmaster Tools accounts have been created and are tracking user behavior and interactions on your website correctly. Your SEO company will normally assist with the setup of accounts and implementation of tracking codes if they currently don’t exist.
Google Analytics provides a detailed look at traffic and user behavior. An SEO firm uses this data to understand how your site is performing – including whether users are reaching the correct landing page and taking the desired actions once they are on your site.
Google Search Console, helps the experts understand how Google sees your site. They then can provide recommendations for improvements that could help your site index and rank better. Some of the tools available include an index and crawl analysis function, mobile friendliness scoring, suggested HTML improvements, 404 “page not found” errors, and more. Bing Webmaster Tools offers many of these same functions from Bing’s perspective, so it’s important that they take a look there as well.
Content & Indexing
Using Google Search Console and other tools, your SEO company should perform an analysis of your existing content to effectively assess if Google is indexing your site properly. They will identify how many pages of your content are indexed in Google and in cases where some or all of your content is not being effectively indexed we can provide the insight as to why. Their subsequent recommendations will address content and setting updates that are necessary to make it easier for Google to crawl and index your site.
They will check your sitemap and robots.txt files to ensure that they are set up properly and not creating issues.
Your content management system (CMS) can be a great asset in making your site easy to update. However, if you’re using a sub-optimal CMS, it can have a negative impact on your web site’s visibility. They will examine CMS’ front end, back end, and page source code to find infrastructure issues created by your CMS that might be holding your search visibility back.
Metadata and Content Optimization Review
Metatitles, meta descriptions, H1 tags, alt tags, keyword density, schema are important components that effect your search engine rankings. They will review the structure of these meta tags and on-page signals, providing recommendations that put your web site in the best position possible to grow your visibility.
Keyword Ranking Report
As part of an SEO Audit, your SEO company should also provide a preliminary keyword ranking report for the top 25 keyword phrases relevant to your search visibility. This report will identify current strengths, weaknesses, unexplored opportunities and threats to your site’s search engine visibility.
Inbound Link Review
They will conduct a comprehensive offsite analysis of links pointing at your domain, as well as the anchor text (the text displayed as the hyperlink) of those links. This will help you understand how much authority your domain has in the eyes of search engines. A report will show you the makeup of your backlink profile, so you can identify especially important links, as well as the anchor text, providing insight as to whether your backlinks look natural and target the correct search terms.
Your SEO experts will benchmark your search visibility data and backlink profile against the competitors in your online space. A report will show you where you stand in your industry for the terms you’re targeting.
What to Expect
An SEO Basics Audit usually takes about sixteen to twenty consulting hours to complete over about a week. You should receive a detailed report including their recommendations and they will walk you through the entire report via meeting or conference call so as to ensure that you are fully briefed on your website’s complete SEO potential.
SEO Strategic Audit
An SEO Strategic Audit gets into the nitty gritty details of your website infrastructure. In addition to the checklist review undertaken in an SEO Basics Audit, an SEO Strategic Audit examines the following:
Website Infrastructure Check
They perform a detailed examination of your site’s coding and functionality to identify problems that may be impacting your search visibility. This can include analyzing how the site generates pages, database issues, site speed and page loading issues, mobile friendliness problems and how to resolve, and more. Following the completion of this analysis, your SEO analyst will provide specific and actionable recommendations for resolution.
An important part of the SEO Strategic Audit is taking a detailed look at your site’s link profile. This includes internal links that create a silo structure on your site, and external links which pass authority to your site from other sites. Their findings will show the pages that are currently receiving the most attention from your internal content linking and external linking. They should then provide strategic recommendations to increase your link profile to focus link authority on the most important pages.
Advanced Competitor Analysis
They will compare your site’s visibility with your competitors’ sites, identifying the specific advantages and disadvantages each site has in search visibility. This will give you an edge on your competitors in the search landscape.
Detailed Problem Resolution
They should also include a generous allowance of time for their analysts to explore specific and vital issues or opportunities unique to your website that result from the discovery process.
What to Expect
The resulting SEO Strategic Audit Report not only identifies the issues and opportunities discovered but also includes recommendations as to how to resolve any problems. You will also receive advice on new initiatives that will improve your site’s overall Search Engine visibility, rankings and traffic.
An SEO Strategic Audit usually takes about forty consulting hours to complete over a four week period. Your SEO expert will walk you through your comprehensive report via meeting or conference call with on-screen demonstrations, to ensure that you are fully briefed on your website’s complete SEO potential.
SEO Forensic Audit
Usually executed as the result of a “911” emergency call to an SEO company, an SEO Forensic Audit addresses situations where there has been a significant and immediate drop in traffic and rankings. Sometimes a well-meaning SEO resource may have pushed the boundaries too far with Google…at other times the cause of the issue may be more sinister.
In response to these calls, a good SEO company will immediately assemble a response team to review on-site, off-site and potential third party issues. The analysts allocated to this task approach an SEO Forensic Audit with urgency and immediacy across multiple layers at the same time. Their experts will identify the cause of the issue and the course of action needed to remedy the problem. They will draw on their extensive SEO experience, expertise, connections and industry network in order to promptly resolve the problem.
An SEO Forensic audit reviews technical issues and “human” issues from simple errors in coding through to the more serious issues such as site hacking and denial of service attacks.
Time is always of the essence so, although they will concurrently run through all their checklists, an SEO Forensic Audit requires interrogation and investigation of all available data, web activities and competitor activity, looking for signs and indicators that will point the way to a solution.
As you can imagine, when a 50,000 page website with $1 million revenue per month “disappears” there can be a myriad of potential causes, so determining a cost for an SEO Forensic Audit is difficult. A typical fee for an SEO Forensic Audit is $10,000 and a cost estimate is provided at the commencement. You should then receive daily SEO Forensic Audit Progress Reports and continuous briefings from your SEO firm throughout the assignment.
Following the completion of your SEO Audit, you will have a set of strategic recommendations that you can implement in-house with their experts, or with your web developer. Naturally, they would be happy to assist you in monitoring the implementation of their recommendations, usually on a simple hourly-rate basis or for a foxed fee for larger projects.
Can we help you with your own SEO, you ask?
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