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Getting Started with an SEO Audit for Your Website

Getting Started with an SEO Audit for Your Website

An SEO audit is one of the most important steps any business can take to boost their organic search rankings and drive more qualified traffic to their website. Through a careful SEO audit, you can uncover opportunities, squish bugs, and gain valuable insights into how search engines currently view your online presence.

This guide will walk through everything you need to know about SEO audits, from what they are, what to expect from the process, and how to leverage the results for long-term SEO success. By the end, you’ll have a clear roadmap for optimizing your website and improving your search visibility.

Let’s get started!

What is an SEO Audit?

An SEO audit is a comprehensive evaluation of a website’s on-page elements, off-page links, technical setup, and content, with the goal of identifying any issues that could be hindering its search performance. Experienced SEO professionals use specialized tools and techniques to uncover:

  • On-page SEO issues like slow page speeds, broken links, missing metatags, etc. could create technical or user experience problems
  • Content gaps like lacking target keyword pages, thin content pages, or outdated content
  • Link profile weaknesses, like opportunities to build more backlinks from authoritative sites
  • Technical issues like redirects, crawl errors, and indexing problems affect how search engines view the site
  • Keyword research opportunities by analyzing traffic-driving keywords for domains in the same industry/niche

The audit provides a personalized report highlighting specific recommendations for improvement. This allows websites to fix problems that search engines may be punishing and start guiding traffic in the right direction.

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How Does an SEO Audit Work?

Most SEO audits follow a similar process:

  1. Site mapping and indexing: Auditors use tools like Screaming Frog to crawl the entire site and identify all pages. This forms the basis for analysis.
  2. On-page SEO evaluation: Things like page titles, meta descriptions, headings, image alt-text, and internal linking are scrutinized. Problems hampering discoverability are flagged.
  3. Technical SEO check: page speeds, redirects, SSL, mobile friendliness, and other technical aspects are tested. Any weaknesses are documented.
  4. Content analysis: content quality, word count, and targeting of relevant keywords are gauged page-by-page. Gaps are identified.
  5. Link profile analysis – The site’s backlink profile is analyzed using tools like Ahrefs. Opportunities for outreach are uncovered.
  6. Keyword research: competitor and high-traffic keywords relevant to the client’s industry/niche are identified for targeting.
  7. Report Generation – All findings are compiled into a clear, visually appealing report, highlighting actionable recommendations.
  8. Discovery Call – The results are discussed on a video call, with strategies for executing optimizations.

This process gifts the client with specific knowledge of their on-site and off-site SEO health, as well as a roadmap for improvements.

Should you get an SEO audit?

An SEO audit can provide immense value, but it may not be right for every business or budget. Some signs it could be useful include:

  • Lack of organic traffic growth – If search traffic has stalled or started declining, an audit identifies roadblocks.
  • Website redesign or relaunch: – Auditing post-launch ensures a strategic SEO implementation.
  • Entering new markets – Targeting different locations or industry verticals requires audit-guided optimization.
  • New management/ownership – Auditing brings new leadership up to speed on SEO strengths/weaknesses.
  • Competitive analysis opportunities – Understanding competitors’ strategies is invaluable for outranking them.
  • Desire to optimize existing SEO efforts – Audits reveal new tactics or areas previously overlooked.
  • Budget/time for SEM but not SEO – SEO provides sustainable traffic for the long run versus paid search volatility.

An audit may not make sense if only looking to make minor improvements or a site receives little organic traffic. But for strategic optimization, it’s a highly effective first step.

What to Expect From an SEO Audit Report

Every SEO audit report will be slightly different based on how in-depth the auditor dives and their reporting style preferences. However, most credible audits include the following types of information:

Site Overview

  • Key metrics like page count, backlink profile, and traffic sources overview

On-Page SEO Evaluation

  • Tables listing specific on-page issues by page and their impact

Technical SEO Checkup

  • Performance, uptime, redirects, and mobile issues clearly outlined

Content Analysis

  • Gaps in target topics or keyword targeting opportunities

Link Profile Breakdown

  • Top referring domains, opportunities to build more authority links

Keyword Research

  • High-value keywords in the client’s niche for targeting content around

Competitive Analysis

  • How the site compares to top competitors in SERPs for target keywords

Recommendations

  • Prioritized list of changes with expected impact on search visibility

Conclusion

  • Summary of overall SEO health and opportunities if recommendations followed

Reputable auditors also provide screenshots, data visualizations and other supporting context to optimize understanding and inform next steps.

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Putting Audit Results to Work

Once armed with an audit report, it’s crucial to take action on the opportunities uncovered. Here are some best practices:

Prioritize fixes: categorize issues as critical, important, and nice-to-have. Focus energy on high impact changes first.

Set deadlines: Give each recommendation an estimated completion date to stay accountable.

Assign responsibilities: Delegate fixes to appropriate teams to fast-track progress.

Iterate content strategy: refine topic/keyword targeting plans based on new research.

Measure impact: Test monitoring keywords on Search Console for movements as fixes roll out.

Stay updated: Consider periodic audits (annually at minimum) to keep optimizing as search algorithms evolve.

Review in 6–12 months: See progress made against the original report for continuous improvement.

Consult the auditor: Reach out for help implementing complex changes or interpreting new feedback.

By implementing audit results as a dynamic roadmap rather than a one-time report, businesses can significantly boost organic traffic over the long run.

Key Takeaways

To summarize, an SEO audit provides invaluable visibility into how search engines perceive your website. By addressing the opportunities uncovered, you can systematically optimize your online presence, content, and technical structure. Some key takeaways include:

  • Audits identify technical issues, content gaps, and link profile weaknesses hampering search performance.
  • The process involves an in-depth site crawl, competitive analysis, and the creation of a customized report.
  • Reports outline specific recommendations along with expected impacts to guide optimization efforts.
  • It’s most useful for sites seeking traffic growth, entering new markets, or having undergone significant changes.
  • Implement fixes systematically by priority, delegate responsibilities, and stay updated on progress.
  • Continuous refinement keeps sites optimized as search algorithms evolve over time.

By committing to regular SEO audits and addressing the actionable items uncovered, any business can significantly boost organic traffic and visibility in the search results.

FAQs

How long does an SEO audit take?

The time required varies depending on the auditor and the size of the website being audited. Most standard audits for sites under 100 pages take 8–10 hours to fully complete. Larger, more complex sites may take 2-3 weeks.

How much does an SEO audit cost?

Pricing ranges greatly based on the experience of the auditor and the scope of work. Basic audits start around $500-1000, while more in-depth enterprise-level audits can be $3,000–10,000+. Some firms also offer monthly retainer packages, including periodic audits.

What tools do SEO auditors use?

Common tools include Screaming Frog and Xenu for site crawling/indexing, Ahrefs and Moz for technical issues/backlink profiles, Google Search Console/Analytics for traffic data, and SEMRush for competitor analysis. Auditors may use others like Lighthouse, GTMetrix and Mobile-Friendly Test as needed.

How detailed should an audit report be?

High-quality reports clearly outline all findings in an organized, visually engaging format. Look for granular on-page and technical issue listings, screenshots, data visualizations and detailed keyword research/competitive analyses. Key metrics should be compared over time as needed.

Can I do an SEO audit myself?

It’s definitely possible for experienced SEOs or website owners familiar with analytics and technical aspects to complete basic self-audits. However, third party auditors bring vendor-neutral perspectives plus more sophisticated tools and techniques for truly comprehensive assessments. Consider both options.

How often should SEO audits be done?

At minimum, aim to audit your website annually to stay on top of search algorithm changes and new improvements needed. But some experts recommend biannual or quarterly “refresh” audits as well – especially for fast-changing sites – to continuously optimize efforts as opportunities arise.​

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