You may have heard about SEO audits, or search engine optimization audits, and you may have even been advised to have one. However, few websites have undergone one despite the need. Unlike the traditional financial audit, an SEO audit is done entirely for marketing purposes. But what is an SEO audit? What does an SEO audit involve? And why is it important to have an SEO audit done of your website periodically?

What Happens in a SEO Audit?

An SEO auditor should perform an on-page analysis, off-page analysis, competitive analysis and keyword research. Technical analysis is a review of how well your website performs. Is it slow to load? Do internal links work? Is it well-designed for customers and search engine crawlers? Is it mobile friendly? This is something search engines now use as a ranking criterion. If you fail this part of the audit, having the ideal keyword density and quality content doesn’t matter because search engines will ignore you.

On-page analysis looks at the general content and for issues with particular web pages. The content review should include making sure all posts are relevant from an SEO perspective, considered high quality by search engines, and don’t duplicate each other. You’ll get advice on improving webpage titles, headers and images.

Off-page analysis is an analysis of the off-page ranking factors impacting your site’s search engine SEO. It includes but isn’t limited to an analysis of your backlink profile, how often people are sharing your content on social media, and how trustworthy search engines think your site is.

Competitive analysis compares how your website performs relative to the competition. It also gives you advice on how to beat them. Keyword research can tell you if you’re creating too many posts tied to the same keywords and identify keywords that you may want to create new content for in order to land those searchers. You may also learn about prospective influencers and affiliates you could partner with based on the rich proven leads that are already associated with your site.

Why SEO Audits Are So Important

A SEO audit will help you improve your organic search visibility. It will ensure that you’re capturing the traffic you want, and it gives you the hard data you need to fine tune your keyword strategy.

They’ll notify you of issues you need to correct such as the adverse impact of a bad link-building campaign. It will tell you if search engines are essentially blacklisting your site. SEO audits can help you retain your high search results rankings as search engines themselves evolve. It may also allow you to identify long tail keywords you can dominate at a fraction of the cost and effort it takes to rank well for shorter search terms.

An SEO audit can give you far more valuable, actionable information than the standard data on how many visitors you have per day. The technical analysis done as part of an SEO audit will give you metrics like time on site and bounce rates. You will learn what types of content your visitors love and how they interact with it. Then you know what type of content to create in the future, and you’ll know how to improve the other content on your website. This will lead to better organic rankings with search engines, and this reduces the need for paid online ad campaigns. Understanding the type of content that leads to the highest customer conversion rates allows you to craft content knowing it has the highest return on the investment.

A side benefit of going with an experienced SEO auditing firm is that they can do detailed analysis and A/B testing to determine what landing pages, types of content and even calls to action maximize conversion rates. This can save you months of trial and error. However, not all SEO auditors do this. Find a reputable SEO company to perform an SEO audit. If you want to know about the kinds of services they offer, you can learn more about them here.

When SEO Audits Should Be Performed

You should have an SEO audit run at the start of any new project. This ensures that the new or modified website is performing as expected. You should also have an SEO audit done every quarter if you have a large site. For small sites, a checkup every year should be the minimum. This allows you to determine how well your SEO is working, since things can shift over time.

Always run an SEO audit if you’ve experienced a drop in traffic. Discover the root of the problem and fix it instead of running the risk that things get worse. Consider having an SEO audit done if visitor data looks bad, such as when your bounce rate is increasing or social media mentions are declining.

In many cases, trying to find out what went wrong on your own, even with the use of analytics, can be extremely difficult. This is especially true if you’re not well versed in SEO yet or aren’t aware of recent changes.

In some cases, you may think you’ve done everything right, just to find out that your web hosting might be at cause here. If you weren’t aware that things like site loading speeds were crucial for SEO, you might spend tons of money on areas that have nothing to do with the real issue. But if you know exactly what went wrong, you can actively work on the problem and cut costs.

SEO audits could also allow you to determine why your social media outreach efforts aren’t working, and it can give you tips on how to improve its impact on your SEO. For example, if you invest in a social media blitz and your social engagement stats don’t budge, an SEO audit is in order.

SEO audits give advice on how to improve your engagement metrics and rankings. However, they’re best used as a proactive tool to maximize the performance and profitability of your website, and that has a direct impact on the bottom line.