As more consumers begin their purchase process by searching online, search engine optimization (SEO) will continue to play a vital role in any content marketing strategy. When potential customers search for your product or service, you want to be the first result that they see.
If your website is not showing up in the search results, conducting an SEO audit is the first step in determining the cause. Armed with the audit results, you can make intelligent decisions about what needs to be done to ensure that your potential customers can find you online.
What Is an SEO Audit?
An SEO audit is a comprehensive inspection of your website through the eyes of the search engines. This allows you to analyze how well your site is targeting potential customers, and identify what needs to be done to generate more organic traffic.
Each audit is unique and should be tied back to your original marketing objectives. However, there are certain elements of an audit that are typically used to provide a baseline assessment of your current optimization status. Below are a few of these common elements and brief descriptions of each.
The xml sitemap is a file that should be located in the primary directory of your website. This file serves as a map to help search engines quickly understand how the pages of your site work together. While search engines will eventually find all of the pages on your site, it’s important to make that process easier for them by uploading this file and directing the crawler to the pages you would have them see as most important.
Below are questions that we typically ask:
- Does an XML sitemap exist?
- Is it formatted correctly?
- Has it been submitted to Google Webmaster Tools?
- Does the sitemap contain pages excluded in Robots.txt?
- Does the sitemap include improperly formatted URLs?
- Do the pages included in the sitemap deserve to be included?
Site Load Speed – Page Timings
The page load speed of a site can often influence the way search engines look at a page or site. If it takes too long to load, they will assume that it provides a worse user experience than if it were to load faster, and they most certainly take that into consideration when ranking websites.
Page URLs should be structured in a way that makes sense with the content on the site and that makes sense to the user if they were to simply read it. This usually involves including a topical category level in the URL if applicable and using targeted keywords in the URL where possible.
It’s also important to note that if you change any of these page URLs, you will also need to implement 301 redirects for the old URLs. This prevents users from getting 404 error messages and preserves any SEO value the old URLs may have built.
Meta titles are supposed to be coded into the head of the HTML on every page on your website. This element generates the title that you probably see in the top tab of your web browser, and more importantly, the title snippet is shown in the search engine results for pages on your website. It is also one of the most important elements that Google looks at when trying to understand what a page on your site is about and its relevance.
Taking control and writing an effective meta description allows you to draw more searchers through to the site, increasing your click through rate, ultimately making your organic reach more effective.
Hopefully the items that we outlined above give you a better understanding of the various elements that can affect your ranking in Google’s search results. To learn more about SEO audits and how they can help your business, contact UNION.