Table of contents
- SEO Audit – What Is It?
- When should you decide on a SEO site audit?
- A site launch of redesign
- A sudden drop in visibility and a lack of search engine traffic
- Unsatisfactory results from previously completed work
- ATTENTION: SEO audits as a tool for intercepting clients
- How much does a SEO audit cost?
- What a SEO audit entails
- Meta tag analysis
- Elimination of duplicate content
- Page content analysis
- <head> section analysis
- Evaluation of correct subpage structure
- Verification of code on all sub-pages
- Analysis of a page’s indexability
- Analysis of mobile functionality
- Speed measurement
- Google Search Console analysis
- Standard backlink profile analysis
- Detailed backlink profile analysis
- Detailed analysis of keyword potential
- Substantive content analysis
- Crawl Budget
- Detailed analysis of the competition
- Detailed site visibility analysis
- Suggested changes
- BEWARE: Automatic and free SEO audits
- To know is better than not to know
Thanks to SEO auditing we can find out at what stage in the positioning process our site currently is and establish a roadmap for further activity — in terms of both time and budget. Why, you ask? For better visibility and to spread our wings, so to speak. Obviously!
The positioning of websites is probably the best-known marketing activity on the internet. In terms of awareness of its existence, only social media advertising comes close. At the same time, the mere recognizability of SEO has little impact on familiarity with its techniques and methodologies. The average marketer may want to have their website rank higher in Google, but has no idea how much work is involved, nor how many factors influence the final outcome.
SEO Audit – What Is It?
There are roughly 300 ranking factors alone, which influence the position or rank of a website in search results for a specific phrase. Additionally, each industry has its own specific quirks and nature, its own unique clientele, certain ways in which the competition behaves, budgetary constraints, and even the intention behind its audience’s online searches — all this gives us an enormous amount of potential to make a mistake along the way. And then, on a white horse… the SEO audit arrives!
When should you decide on a SEO site audit?
In a company’s life cycle, auditing happens at several strategic points in time. Same with SEO site audits. A few moments are particularly suited for one:
A site launch of redesign
Especially one that involves a change in functionality — a site change or revamp often causes a disturbance in a brand’s visibility, especially if it is not conducted under the watchful eye of a specialist. Changes in URLs, site layout, changes or reductions in content… an experienced eye can make sense of the chaos and indicate areas that could potentially interfere with ranking. In case of a site launch (and not just a launch from scratch; refreshing a site or relaunching it with a new CMS also counts), it’s a good idea to hand it over to a SEO specialist before the public can access it. An evaluation of the solutions involved and implementing any modifications during the site development process will make not only the positioner’s job easier, but also the developer’s.
A sudden drop in visibility and a lack of search engine traffic
When a dramatic change like this occurs, it is absolutely necessary to determine its cause(s). So long as these fluctuations aren’t caused by a change in the algorithm for that industry, which is easier to detect (such as the well-publicized changes in the medical branch which destabilized traffic on even the biggest health-related sites), issues affecting a single domain will require a more thorough analysis and observation.
Unsatisfactory results from previously completed work
Or the desire to check the work of an agency of freelancer — another reason for conducting an audit is often the lingering question “are we sure we can’t do better?” There’s nothing unusual there. Positioning is a long-term process, but it’s human nature that we can get impatient after just a few months.
If a few months have passed since work began, this is a perfect time to verify if things are headed in the right direction, and if our chosen strategy is likely to succeed. From a technical SEO point of view, the first problems to tackle should be ones that can be remedied by making changes to the site itself.
Working with content or backlinking requires a long-term perspective, but technical SEO issues can be diagnosed and optimized beforehand. If work has been ongoing for four months, and nothing much has happened, it might be a good time to say: “Let’s check this out!”. Of course, in some cases it could be 6 months without seeing any results from what our SEO agency or freelancer is doing. At that point, it’s worth conducting an audit in order to learn how certain tasks have been completed and, in fact, whether they have been completed at all.
It could turn out that your SEO partner is incompetent, at which point its best to say goodbye as quickly as possible. Other times, an audit is conducted even if the SEO specialist’s work is satisfactory, and provides a fresh, external perspective. An external audit is sent to your agency or freelancer along with a request to implement or comply with its contents, with the intent not to undermine the authority of the SEO positioner but for the good of the project.
A comprehensive review of all these activities, performed at a strategic moment by an independent observer is an excellent basis for planning further work. Thanks to the information in an audit, the planning of subsequent tasks, budgets and timelines will be much easier.
ATTENTION: SEO audits as a tool for intercepting clients
Many companies out there use SEO audits as a tool for taking over someone else’s clients. What this means in practice is that they start the audit with the thesis that “things are bad” and then attempt to prove it. There are many techniques. You can exaggerate issues that have a marginal meaning when it comes to increasing visibility. You can also cherry pick only those elements to be audited that do in fact need to changed, thus building a catastrophic narrative. It can also happen that that the person conducting the audit is unfamiliar with your SEO strategy.
This is why you must always remember: When commissioning or analyzing a SEO audit, don’t be steered by your emotions. If a business is conducting your SEO audit and want to verify their work, consult the audit findings with your own specialist. There is nothing wrong with this, and your current SEO partner may also gain valuable knowledge from the audit.
How much does a SEO audit cost?
The cost of a SEO site audit depends, of course, on the scope of the work. The more extensive the information we seek, and the larger our site is, naturally, the more work and analysis is involved.
A basic site audit costs in the neighbourhood of €250. An audit like this should contain the most important information about how well prepared our site is for the SEO process. It takes into account key factors in terms of technical optimization of the site, as well as its content and backlink profile.
An enhanced SEO audit comes in at around €450-500. This option combines the basic audit with detailed information about links and an evaluation of the potential effectiveness of your keywords/phrases. An This type of audit will not only tell you what stage you are at in the process, but will also point to strategies to use in deciding your site’s future trajectory.
An advanced and exhaustive audit will run upwards of €500. This deluxe version includes everything that is in the two lower tiers, adding detailed analyses of the competition, keywords, visibility, keyword potential and a list of recommendations for changes to the site.
What a SEO audit entails
Below is a quick explanation what actually goes into a SEO audit. 🙂
Meta tag analysis
An evaluation of the elements contained in the section of a page that show up in Google’s search results. Correctly set up TITLE tag and META DESCRIPTION tag will set up precisely chosen keywords and entice users to visit your site. An audit will also contain information about whether these elements are saturated with keywords or not, whether the keywords are the correct length and appear throughout the domain. Duplicates will also be indicated.
Meta descriptions do not affect SEO directly. However, done properly, they attract users and increase organic traffic that can be appreciated by search engines.
Elimination of duplicate content
The audit will also indicate every instance of duplicated pages, whether they are unredirected http and https variants, copies in subdomains or duplicates created during site development that are now being picked up by web crawlers.
Page content analysis
Extensive analysis of your content to gauge its effectiveness – how useful it is to users, how many keywords and phrases it contains, and a comparison against the competition.
<head> section analysis
Beyond the TITLE & META DESCRIPTION tags, contains other important elements for SEO – META ROBOTS or canonical links, for example.
Evaluation of correct subpage structure
Verification of access to pages, ease of use and finding information as well as internal linking — elements that are important not only for web crawlers, but also for the comfort of your users.
Verification of code on all sub-pages
Finding errors in code, improper use of HTML or CSS elements, JS bugs that can slower site speed, impede page loads or limit their functionality.
Analysis of a page’s indexability
An evaluation of exclusions and restrictions for web crawlers that could prevent data gathering.
Analysis of mobile functionality
Not just an evaluation of a page’s responsiveness, but whether site speed and functionality allow it to function correctly on the smaller screens of mobile devices, and with slower internet connections.
Page rendering speed also affects the desktop version of your site; these tests allow you to identify elements that slow down page loading and to find solutions to eliminate these problems with site speed.
Google Search Console analysis
Data gathered in the Google Search Console lets you assess the status of your site in the Google index. Auditing older domains without a GSC analysis will be incomplete — the console provides detailed data on indexing by crawlers, which is how Google really sees sites and any errors it encounters.
Standard backlink profile analysis
Conducted similarly to GSC analysis, in the case of a domain with a history. This analysis will determine which pages contain links to your domain, which and what kind of pages they are.
Detailed backlink profile analysis
A more detailed evaluation of backlinks lets you determine the dominant sources of links to your domain and an assessment of their value. It also includes broken links analysis.
Detailed analysis of keyword potential
An evaluation of the keywords you have selected, based on the number of searches, clickability as well as Google search trends for your particular industry. The analysis is conducted with the usage of various advanced keyword research tools.
Substantive content analysis
In the expanded audit, we also provide information about whether your page contains essential data that allows users to easily find key information they are looking for. We will indicate any deficiencies in descriptions of products or services, as well as any necessary additions of technical data.
Important for larger sites, this element provides information about how many pages in a given domain can be crawled by Google’s bots.
Detailed analysis of the competition
What do they do better that results in them being ranked higher or being more visible? Analyzing your competition lets you observe solutions that are effective for your particular industry.
Detailed site visibility analysis
In the course of an audit, a comprehensive assessment of your site’s visibility is conducted, which requires the use of several independent tools. An analysis of the resultant data gives a complete overview of your pages’ visibility.
The expanded audit also includes a set of guidelines dedicated to your domain designed to improve your pages’ Google ranking. These suggestions pertain to all of the elements mentioned above — choosing keywords and phrases, distributing them throughout the page, the amount and quality of text, your site’s loading times. The audit also includes suggestions for places that will allow you to diversify your backlinks sources, as well as places to link to that are key to your particular industry.
BEWARE: Automatic and free SEO audits
A free or automatic SEO audit will NOT give you the same results as a paid audit. In order for free audits to be free, they use a generator which only requires your site’s URL. The document it will generate can be sent to anyone interested in the results. It’s quick, problem-free and free. So, what’s the catch?
These audits are heavily standardized. They don’t take into account any of the specificities of a given site — for example, an architect ir interior designer’s portfolio page can be assessed as “too graphics heavy” because of the imagery contained on the site. Neither do they take into account the technologies used to create the site and their limitations. It would more correct and fair to state that automated audits primarily evaluate your homepage and not the entire site. This is visible from meta tag analysis, which only refers to the start page.
Free audits are also often used to bait clients… that means you! You receive a few “free” pages full of colorful charts and text and feel obliged to pay for further services. Nu-uh! Remember that this really didn’t take them all day, and that there is a long road between saying “thank you” and possibly hiring this company for any potential work. 🙂
You can try our advanced automatic auditor for free here: Verseo SEO Audit tool. It provides you with basic information and can be a good start to technical SEO audit conducted by… a human.
To know is better than not to know
SEO audits are crucial to understand what can be improved on a website when it comes to visibility in search engines and subsequently increased organic traffic in Google Analytics.
That can be a small step for experienced specialist and one giant leap for a website. Get a free quote and let Verseo skyrocket your website traffic from organic search!
This is a chapter from Adbook 2022 – the ultimate Digital Marketing Guide from Verseo. Check the full Guide in Verseo Academy!