57% of IT buyers cited web research as their preferred method of gathering information when selecting B2B technology, and 68% of enterprise IT buyers start their research using Google or Bing, with no prior vendor engagement.
With that in mind, the importance of a strong online presence through content, search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimisation (SEO) cannot be underestimated in 2019, but how do you know if these are at the level they need to be?
An SEO audit is the process of analysing your website’s performance in search results. It can give you a better insight into your website, content quality, crawlability and traffic sources, and can also help you identify new opportunities and areas for improvement. You can develop a better understanding of your competitors’ activity, uncover potential technical issues and discover valuable keywords, all to improve your brand’s online visibility.
What an SEO audit covers
To ensure we’re getting a complete view of performance, we split our audits into sections:
- Market trends and brand visibility
- On page and content review
- Backlink review
- Technical review
- Competitive analysis and keyword research
Marketing trends and brand visibility
Brand visibility is incredibly important for your brand’s reputation and credibility. If buyers are at the stage where they are searching for your brand name on Google, they expect it to appear first.
When auditing this, there are four areas to look at.
Here we look if the brand experiences “seasonality” and if this matches expectations. If searches for your brand dip when they should be rising, you need to uncover why.
Brand search results:
What shows when you search for your brand? Your brand's website should show first and the listing should include sitelinks.
Yet, we also need to consider if other pages relevant to your brand such as social media, Wikipedia and reviews are appearing on page one of search results, but also are there any unusual/irrelevant websites showing for your brand searches, and are your competitors appearing? (If they are they may be bidding on your brand terms).
Versions of your site:
Brands tend to have different versions of the same site, for example,
The problem is each of these versions is a separate entity, and they can end up competing against each other, with issues arising around indexation and duplicate content, so this needs careful consolidation.
If you see a sudden drop in incoming traffic, or your keyword positions have suddenly dropped, there’s a chance your site has been penalised. You need to make sure the site is compliant with Google Guidelines. However, a sudden drop can also correspond to an update in Google’s algorithm, so all this will need investigation.
The quality of your content has a huge effect on search engine ranking and needs going through with a fine-tooth comb. This will include:
Content should be up to date and optimised, with search friendly URLs. Alt tags should be on images, internal links should function properly, and much more.
Search engines don't like duplicate content; they think it may be copied, which will deliver a poor user experience and be sign of other quality issues, so they’ll penalise you for it.
Search engines weigh text for SEO purposes based on text size and position on the page. Heading tags should be larger than all other text on the page and appear prominently at the top of the page (above-the-fold). This also ensures that the searcher’s keywords are prominent on the page, which is good for user experience.
Meta Titles and descriptions:
The title tag is the first description of the page that search engine users will read and it is important to both users and search engines that it contains the keyword they are searching for. This will not only help to improve rankings but can significantly improve your click-through-rate as well.
Essentially, the easier a URL is to read for humans, the better it is for search engines as well.
For the benefit of search engines every image should have an ALT-tag. Without an image tag search engines can’t read your images and show the right results for searches.
Backlinks determine the site authority which is among the strongest ranking factors. They also generate referral traffic.
Good quality backlinks can help your website rank high. On the other hand, spammy, irrelevant backlinks can lead to a manual penalty.
A backlink audit should be done regularly. Start with editing your backlink profile. There are various tools you can use to do this and go through the links and remove/disavow spammy, irrelevant links.
Check for broken or recently lost backlinks. These could be a factor causing your rankings to drop. Broken backlinks are wasting your link equity. Fixing them would involve replacing the content or redirecting them to an alternative page.
Lastly, review the recently lost backlinks. You may have lost valuable links from high quality domains that you should try and get back by contacting webmasters. They may have recently launched a new site and forgot to re-add the links. It’s worth doing.
I guess we all have a favourite part of our jobs and technical SEO is definitely mine!
Technical analysis looks into a website’s accessibility and indexability and the aim is to help search engine spiders crawl and index your site more effectively. If search engine spiders cannot access your existing content, there is no point creating more.
When doing a technical review, you need to consider:
- Website crawl
- Google Search console
- Robots.txt file and robots meta tags
- XML sitemap
- Redirect chains
- Website speed
- Mobile usability
- Website security
- Canonical tags
- Href=lang attributes
- #404 errors
- Schema, Twitter tags and open graphs
It’s a thorough task.
Competitive analysis and keyword research
The final part of the audit looks at competitors, their activity and keywords they target. Exploring competitor’s keywords may give you new ideas and new opportunities to rank.
Competitive analysis will help you make calculated decisions as to whether targeting specific keywords and phrases is realistic.
You need to look at two factors: keyword difficulty and traffic it could generate. If search results for a specific keyword (low search volume) bring up only websites with domain authority (DA) of 90/100 (with lots of links) and your site’s DA is 50/100, it may be a waste of time trying to outrank them. It may be more realistic and quicker to target less competitive keywords with higher chances to rank.
Yet you can look at more than their keywords. Explore their content, structure, user experience, social media activity and following. Build a complete picture, write down areas of improvement and generate an action plan.
SEO audits are vital!
With IT buyers shifting more of their research habits online, a SEO audit is vital to make sure your brand's content is being brought to their attention.
By looking deep beneath the surface of your site you can identify what isn’t working so well and identify what you can do to improve your web presence. With improved visibility will come more visitors, more conversions, more chances for remarketing and nurturing into opportunities.
Did you know Kingpin now do SEO audits? Get in touch to find out more about how we can help your brand appear higher in search rankings.