Your startup can’t cut through the noise without search engine optimization (SEO). But how do you know if your SEO game is strong? How do you pinpoint which elements are propelling you forward and which ones are holding you back? Enter the power of an SEO audit.
Think of it like a baker who has noticed that their bread quality – once the talk of the town – has started to fall flat. Is the rising agent expired? Did the yeast die? Does the oven need a new temperature sensor? They need to answer each question (and likely more) to get to the bottom of their crumbly conundrum. An SEO audit works the same way, by uncovering gaps, opportunities, and insights that will tweak your SEO recipe for maximum organic search performance.
Sounds like a lot of work? Well, it is, but it’s mission-critical for a strong online presence and staying competitive. Read on to learn why SEO audits are so important, exactly how they’ll benefit your business, and how to get started on yours.
What is an SEO Audit?
An SEO audit is a comprehensive analysis of a website’s performance and visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs), and it generates actionable insights for businesses to optimize their website for search engines, improve their user experience, and ultimately drive more organic traffic and conversions. Areas an SEO audit covers include technical SEO (core web vitals and indexability), on-page SEO, off-page SEO, UX, keyword analysis, competitor analysis, content analysis, and, in certain cases, local SEO.
The end result? A detailed report that outlines the findings, recommendations, and a prioritized path forward that may include technical fixes, content optimizations, backlink acquisition strategies, and more.
Why does all of this matter? The SEO audit process is aimed at boosting your entire business. Whether you’re a website owner, marketer, SEO professional, or in the C-suite, an SEO audit will give you a comprehensive understanding of how well your website is optimized for search engines, how to boost your website’s search engine visibility and organic traffic, and uplevel your entire online presence.
The Different Types of SEO Audits
The SEO audit analysis process can vary, based on your specific needs. Here are the most common:
Technical SEO Audit
True to their name, technical SEO audits assess the technical aspects of a website that influence its search engine performance — including crawlability, indexing, page load time, mobile-friendliness, URL structure, XML Sitemap, Robots.txt, canonicalization, and more.
SEO Content Audit
An SEO content audit assesses the quality, relevance, and uniqueness of the website’s content. This includes identifying duplicate content, thin content, and opportunities for creating high-quality, valuable content that can attract organic traffic.
SEO Link Audit
Also known as a backlink audit, an SEO link audit evaluates the quality, relevance, and overall health of the backlinks pointing to your website. Because backlinks point from other websites to your own, they play a crucial role inSEO by influencing your site’s authority and ranking in SERPs.
Local SEO Audit
A local SEO audit evaluates your search engine presence in a specific area, including Google My Business optimization, local citations, and location-specific content.
The Business Benefits of an SEO Audit
Let’s dive deeper to truly grasp the power of an SEO audit. Your entire business will benefit once you’re armed with a roadmap to:
- Better Search Engine Rankings
An SEO audit identifies areas where your website can be optimized to rank higher on search engines. Follow the recommendations and you can increase your visibility in SERPs and attract more organic traffic.
- More Organic Traffic
As your search engine rankings improve, you’ll see an increase in organic (non-paid) website traffic. Consider this a blend of quantity and quality because this traffic is often highly targeted, coming from users who are actively searching for products, services, or information related to your business.
- A Better User Experience
Your site speed, mobile responsiveness, and navigation all play vital roles in your website’s user experience, and an SEO audit will assess them all. It’s a valuable one-two punch — you’ll get an SEO boost because Google likes websites that run smoothly, and a better user experience leads to higher engagement and conversions.
- More Conversions
When it’s easy for website visitors to find what they’re looking for, they’re more likely to take desired actions, such as making a purchase or filling out a contact form.
- Enhanced Brand Visibility
Higher search engine rankings mean more visibility for not only your website but your brand as a whole. Plus, being present on the first page of search results for relevant keywords establishes credibility and trust with your target audience.
- Competitive Advantage
An SEO audit often involves analyzing competitors’ websites to identify their strengths and weaknesses. With this information, you’re in a prime position to build a strong competitive edge.
- Targeted Keyword Optimization
An SEO audit will show you which keywords and phrases potential customers are searching for. By optimizing your content around them, you can align your offerings with your target audience’s intent and capture the most relevant traffic.
- Solved Technical Problems
Technical issues may be lurking beneath the surface and preventing your website from maximizing its search engine performance. An SEO audit will uncover problems like broken links, duplicate content, or indexing problems, and then create a path forward to solve them — all of which leads to improved rankings and a better user experience.
- Optimized Content Strategy
An SEO audit will identify gaps in your content strategy. It’s a different analysis than a content marketing audit, though, with a focus on attracting more organic traffic through carefully keyword-optimized content and pages.
- Long-Term ROI
SEO is a long-term strategy. While there are certainly quick fixes, implementing the recommendations from an SEO audit is really about laying the groundwork for sustainable growth in your organic traffic and online visibility over time, making it a valuable investment with a strong return.
The Many Use Cases of SEO Audits
Like we discussed, the benefits of an SEO audit extend from Marketing and IT all the way up to the C-suite. Take a look at how different members of your team can use them:
Technical Analysis: SEO professionals use audits to identify technical issues that may hinder a website’s performance, such as broken links or crawl errors.
Backlink Analysis: SEO experts conduct link audits to evaluate the quality and relevance of a website’s backlinks and develop strategies to improve the backlink profile.
Strategy Development: Digital marketing teams use SEO audits to develop effective strategies for improving search engine rankings, organic traffic, and overall online presence.
Keyword Research: SEO audits provide insights into which keywords the website is ranking for and potential opportunities for targeting new keywords.
Content Planning: By analyzing content quality and relevance, marketing teams can plan new content creation and optimization efforts.
Performance Assessment: Business owners use SEO audits to identify areas where improvements can be made to increase visibility and traffic — not to mention optimizing the time and energy their team spends on SEO. Especially at a startup, every minute counts!
Product Visibility: SEO audits can boost the visibility of their products in search engine results. After all, it’s easier for customers to find optimized product pages and descriptions.
Baseline Assessment: Have a new website? An SEO audit will establish a baseline of your SEO performance, identify any necessary improvements, and develop best practices from day one.
Local SEO: Local businesses use SEO audits to ensure their online presence is optimized for local searches and nearby customers.
Who Should Perform an SEO Audit?
The thoroughness — and effectiveness — of an SEO audit varies wildly based on the expertise of the person conducting it. Without an experienced SEO professional, you’ll never get a comprehensive and accurate assessment. Understanding how to perform an SEO audit that actually yields useful, actionable insights is challenging. Even the best SEO audit tools won’t help you if they’re in inexperienced hands.
Because there is such a wide variety of SEO factors, you need an SEO audit agency or professional that is:
- Familiar with Google’s guidelines and best practices
- Up to date with this rapidly evolving field and its frequent algorithm updates
- Well-equipped to identify technical issues like page speed and crawlability
- Able to deliver a detailed and actionable audit report
- Objective in their evaluation of your website’s strengths and weaknesses
- Able to develop a customized path forward tailored to your business’s unique needs and goals
Aside from the experience factor, this is a highly time consuming process that requires weeks of data gathering, analysis, and strategizing. Outsourcing this task to professional website SEO audit services frees up your internal resources, allowing you to concentrate on other essential tasks.
Do I Need an SEO Audit?
By this point, your answer should be “Absolutely!” The road to a successful online presence entails strategic planning and meticulous execution, and the insights gained from an SEO audit pave the way for informed decision-making and a well-crafted SEO strategy. In the ever-evolving landscape of SEO, an audit is not just a one-time endeavor, but a cornerstone of your business’s growth and visibility. By making this investment, you’re ensuring that your online presence not only survives but thrives.
Not sure where to begin? Firebrand has you covered with a comprehensive SEO Audit service that dives deep into your marketing engine and charts a roadmap to success.
Alastair is Senior Vice President of Digital Marketing at Firebrand Communications. With over 15 years of both creative and analytical marketing he combines wisdom from both arenas to drive measurable and memorable marketing results for clients. Prior to joining Firebrand, Alastair has been a web designer, creative specialist, and PMM, for a tech manufacturing company, entertainment agency, and mobile gaming startup.