How to do SEO Audit without Help (Part 1)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a major digital marketing initiative to amplify the online visibility of a company, and its brands, products, or services.
SEO strategies are directed to increase your website traffic to boost customer conversion. We do a lot of different things to optimize the website to show up on top of the SERPs.
This has extraordinary relevance for small businesses to stand out and be found on this vast web of dynamic information. And it will translate into more business and revenue if you are serving a global market.
If you are a local business serving the neighborhood, your scope of SEO is limited and probably I can teach you how to do it all on your own. But today, that is not what this post is about.
Some of the elements of an SEO strategy are fairly easy but many others require time and technical chops to execute. You will need an SEO expert or agency to help your website rank higher by optimizing all the possible SEO elements.
In this post, I will teach you and other small business owners how to do a basic SEO audit of your website before you invest in the big guns – an SEO expert or agency. I have divided this post into 2-parts to help you quickly grasp the concepts and try them.
The thing is if your basics are not in place then there is not much that the experts can do. Instead, they will put in efforts to fix the fundamentals before they get into the finer stuff.
Which means it is going to cost you a lot more.
How do we cut down this cost?
Having read all this, you might be wondering –
And what is this SEO audit?
If I am going to do this then what am I going to pay the SEO expert or agency for?
Let us get few things straight.
The business is yours and so is the website. The SEO expert/ agency is the service provider.
YOU must tell them your business goals, the purpose of your website and SEO objectives. Then it is their job to help you attain the objectives and advice you.
Being the owner, YOU must be in control and spell out your expectations.
Question is – how you will state your SEO objectives so that the expert/ agency get you the results? Or understand what the experts are charging you for and choose a good SEO partner? How will you calculate your ROI?
At the outset, you must be conversant with the common SEO elements. The knowledge and the current (as-is) state of your SEO preparedness will help you engage fruitfully with the external entity.
You will negotiate a better deal for your business if you know what you are asking for and the SEO specialist jumps into action without investing time in educating you.
Have you ever seen any of the awesome cake shows on TLC or the home remodeling shows? The customers know what & why (occasion) they want, and how they want it to look at the end.
That is why you should read this post.
To do a basic SEO audit of your website absolutely free and as a reward you become conversant with the whole SEO landscape – at least the exteriors.
And you can state your SEO objectives pointedly also prioritize them for best results.
Before we go ahead, let me answer a question of yours.
WHAT IS AN SEO AUDIT?
It is an analysis of the current performance of your SEO initiatives (whether done intentionally or otherwise), the objectives of your SEO strategy and the gap between the two.
The output of your SEO audit should give you a list of actions that you must perform to bridge the gap between “as-is” and “to-be”.
For an average small business, this audit must be performed at least twice a year if not more.
When you perform an SEO Audit, the first question you need to ask is –
WHAT IS MY SEO OBJECTIVE?
Every action of ours must be driven by some objective or set of objectives. In business, there is a purpose of doing anything. Because it costs money and uses resources. None of which is available in abundance.
Pro Tip: Ask yourself why are you doing SEO? You might want to read Simon Sinek's book - Start with Why to give you clarity not only for SEO but for your business too.
What is the objective of having your website?
Creating awareness of your brand/ product/ service’s existence
Engaging and educating your prospects to convert them into paying customers
To sell your products or service online locally, within the country or anywhere on the planet
To provide post-sales service and support to your customers and connect with them for repeat sales
Or is it something other than the ones I have listed above?
Make it a point to actually write down your objective(s).
Seeing it in front of you will give clarity and guide your further steps. It will tell your expert what are your expectations from the website.
Now that you know your objective, you must audit your website to review its SEO-preparedness.
SEO strategy can be divided into 3 segments.
1. On-page SEO
2. Off-page SEO
3. Technical SEO
Each segment has multiple elements to it. I will walk you through some of them which are fundamental to SEO success.
Because, if you are not carrying out these fundamental SEO actions then maybe you need to take a step back.
You need to get those walls, floors, roofs, windows, and doors in place before you invest in an external agency to spruce up your website and drive “motivated and primed-to-pay” traffic.
There is another way too.
You can turn back now and stop reading this post.
Hire the SEO expert/ agency and let them do “everything” for you but then be prepared to pay a bomb. It will also require your active intervention at every single stage.
If you choose to stay with me then let us check the condition of your house (aka website) and get it in order.
In this 1st part of the 2-part blog post, we have the introduction, the why, and on-page SEO.
In the 2nd part, I will walk you through off-page and technical SEO.
One small piece of advice before we go ahead.
Do not be overwhelmed by this audit.
What I have written in the post is not supposed to be done in a single sitting. You can do it in stages over days and weeks but don’t take too long. That is the reason why I have split the post into 2 parts.
At the end of it, you will be amazed at the new level of competence and knowledge of SEO.
Before you start with the audit, open a Google Sheet to store your audit findings. Put a date to the sheet to keep track and compare in the future.
1. ON-PAGE SEO AUDIT
On-page SEO is everything that you or anyone else can see on our website or social.
Quality of content
Does your website have good quality content relevant to your prospects and customers? I have used the word quality and not quantity.
Having a ton of content and pages is meaningless from a SEO perspective if they are not informative or drive traffic.
What is the average length of your content? Are they scannable?
Remember good quality content helps improve the authority of your website as it attracts important backlinks from other websites.
Take an inventory of your content pages. You can use XML Sitemaps to generate a sitemap which will show you all the pages of your website.
Maybe this is the time to cull unnecessary content and spruce up the site. This audit is an opportunity. Unload some deadweight. Get agile.
But removing old, irrelevant content from your site can create another kind of problem. As we go forward, we will go over this again and figure out how to resolve them.
Choice of keywords
Have you done any keyword research?
Do you have a list of keywords that you want to rank for? Are there words that your prospects might use to search for your kind of product or service?
If you don’t know which keywords are relevant to you; then you must do a quick and intense keyword research. You can use Ubersuggest to choose your focus keywords. The tool will also help identify your competitor’s choice of keywords.
Keywords are important for content. Do you have content built around these keywords? If your answer is no, you have work cut out for you. Are you using long-tail keywords too?
URL of each page
When you post your blogs or create any webpage; the name of the URL is within your control. Do you have a specific template for naming the pages?
Is the URL descriptive? Can someone figure out the content from the URL?
Have you used your targeted keyword in the URL?
If the answer to any of the above questions is No, then you must plan to work on them. But do remember to read about duplicate pages and broken links in the Technical SEO section to avoid other issues while renaming or changing your URL.
Title tags and Headlines on the page
Let’s get one thing out of the way. Title tags and headline of your page are two different things.
Your title tag is supposed to be shorter than the headline. Why? Because only 60 – 65 characters can be seen in the SERP. Anything longer than that will show up like the image below. See how the word is truncated after "B". (The word was Breakfast).
The idea of the title tag is to motivate the viewer to click and reach your content page. It should be complete and meaningful when it is displayed. The headline is can be longer, more descriptive.
Quick question – Have you used your target keywords in the title tag and the headline? If not, then you know what you have to do. But modifying them will not cause issues like broken links. So that is one concern out of the way.
You might want to use this tool from Moz to check the output of your chosen title tag and modify to make them “search engine friendly”.
Header Tags and Headings
Do you know what is TL;DR? Too long, didn’t read. This is typically what can happen to good quality content if it is not reader-friendly.
Remember in the content section above, I had asked you about the average length of your content and whether it is scannable. A reader must be able to scroll from top to bottom, see the header tags; that convinces them to read.
How do you make the content scannable? By using different header tags like H1, H2, H3 to differentiate between main and sub-sections of your content. Something like what I have done in this post or better than this.
After you remove all pointless content from your site, you can go about updating the remaining ones with smart header tags. And promote them.
Title tags and meta-description are both displayed on the SERPs.
A good meta-description should include your targeted keywords and must be only 150 – 160 characters long.
This is a significant part of your content after the title tag. Because your target audience sees this before reaching your website.
Keep it sharp, informative, and persuasive with the single goal of driving traffic to your page. You can modify the meta-tags of your pages and see the difference in traffic.
Fonts and Colors
If you have good and informative content on your website but the choice of fonts and colors is not suitable, you might not gain enough viewers. Review your competitor’s website and see what kind of fonts and color scheme are on display.
This is a big concern now as 51% of viewers use mobiles to access websites. This makes readability of your site a critical success factor. Check this blog post on your mobile and see if it is effortlessly readable.
The color scheme and fonts should be in line with your brand image but it should enhance your customer experience too. If too many visitors bounce off your site due to insane reasons like fonts and colors then your search engine ranking will drop. And no one wants that. Right?
We all use images on our website. There are products and process images, pictures, videos, infographics, etc. Blog posts have screenshots and relevant images too. The size and resolution of the images can affect your page speed which we will be discussing in the Technical SEO section.
You must check the filesize of your images and even the positioning and its height and width. You don’t want to use huge pictures everywhere which might turn-off your audience.
The ideal size should be 500 X 500 pixels. However, size also depends on the type of content.
Inserting smart alt text is often overlooked. It is a valuable action. The alt text is loaded first and you can see what the image is about even before you see the actual image. Isn’t it better than no text at all?
Alt text also tells Google what is the image about since it cannot really read a picture. Thus, if someone is trying to search for a particular image using Google; an image with similar alt text will get ranked. Therefore, creating an incredible user experience.
Do not forget to cleverly include your keyword in the image but don’t go overboard and stuff it in.
On-page internal and external links
We use two kinds of links on any webpage. Let’s take this one. I have linked to pages within my website and to other external sources whichever is relevant.
Have you linked your content to your internal pages? Do you pass on the link juice to your more important and higher traffic pages? If not, you must do it.
The quality of the links is important for SEO. It tells Google that they are valuable and must get a higher ranking. It builds traffic for your website.
The backlinks also send similar signals to Google and improve your domain authority. But to earn strong backlinks, you must improve your SEO activities and get the basics in order.
Here is a quick recap.
I hope you are convinced why you need to do a basic SEO audit on your own. And this post helps you to do a good on-page SEO of your website.
If you have any queries or doubts, please feel free to reach me. Let's try to work on your website and attract traffic.
Are you ready to do an on-page SEO audit of your website? I will be eager to know how it goes.
In the next and concluding part of this post, we will discuss off-page and technical SEO. I will also have a bonus material for you to ease up the task. See you soon.
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