An SEO audit can be defined as, 'a process for evaluating the search engine friendliness of a website in a number of areas,' and while it's important to conduct an SEO audit on your website for many reasons, here is one major one in particular;
Doing even a basic SEO audit can make you a lot of money.
This is because SEO is one of the best ways to grow a business, and SEO audits can allow you to identify a number of 'quick win' problems on your website which, if resolved, can help you to rank higher in Google with a minimum of effort, thereby giving you the chance to get a significant amount more traffic to your website, which can then convert into sales leads or customers.
In this article, I'll explain how to conduct a basic SEO audit to identify and fix these 'quick wins' so you can give your website a boost up the Google rankings for valuable keywords, without expending much time and energy at all.
How To Conduct An SEO Audit To Identify SEO Quick Wins
Firstly, when seeking 'quick wins' on a website through a basic SEO audit, I'll attempt to answer the following questions;
In order to answer this first question of which valuable keywords the website is ranking at the bottom of page 1, or the top of page 2, for, we can do one of two things:
If available, we can look in Google Search Console within our client's Google Webmaster Tools account, or, if this isn't an option, we can use software to find these keywords instead.
There are a few different pieces of software which allow us to do this. A popular one is Semrush, although I use Serpstat, as its database of UK Google search data is bigger.
When doing a recent audit for a client, Serpstat returned the following results (keywords redacted for confidentiality reasons);
What this graph shows, is that my client was ranking between positions 8 and 20 in the Google search results for keywords which were being searched for over 1000 times every month.
If they were ranking just a few positions higher for each of these keywords, it's very likely their website traffic would receive a sizeable boost, as 95% of search engine traffic goes to webpages on the first page of Google search results, with almost 70% of the traffic going to the webpages in positions 1-4 of the search results.
Clearly then, if we could get my client ranking near the top of page 1 for just a few of these keywords (which all showed some 'buying intent' on behalf of the searchers, and were highly relevant to my client's business), then they'd likely see a spike in valuable website traffic which could convert into cold, hard currency.
If you have a website with even a moderate amount of content on it (even just a few pages will do), then it's likely that you too will already have some webpages which are ranking on the bottom of page 1/top of page 2 for valuable, highly searched for keywords, which will make you money if you can just move them up a few positions. And, if you don't already have some webpages of these type, then first of all, you should think about creating more content, while perhaps conducting some keyword research.
Once we've found which of our client's webpages are ranking in these positions at the bottom of page 1/top of page 2 for specific valuable keywords, we then analyse these webpages individually to determine the state of their on-page SEO.
On-page SEO can be defined as 'the practice of optimising individual web pages to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines' and it specifically refers to, 'both the content and HTML source code of a page.'
Optimising on-page SEO usually involves checking things such as how quickly a webpage loads, whether the major keywords are used in page titles, sub-headings and within the content, whether the images use keywords in their alt-text, whether the page's url is short and keyword friendly, and several other factors.
As mentioned, we use Serpstat to do on-page SEO audits, but there are several other excellent online tools you can use, and many of them are totally free! Such as this one, this one and this one.
When your on-page SEO audit is complete, you should get some kind of report which tells you what needs to be improved. For example, here's what the one provided by Serpstat looks like:
You can then work to fix the high priority errors, while the middle priority ones should be addressed at some point as well. The low priority ones, in our experience, provide only marginal gains to a website's on-page SEO, but they too should be fixed if you have the time.
In truth, optimising the on-page SEO of a few webpages should not take too long, and this is a great way to get the webpages in better shape to force their way up the rankings to nearer the top of page 1.
Nowadays, a major factor in how high a webpage ranks in Google, is how much content the webpage contains which is relevant to the terms being searched for.
What this means, is that webpages which have a large amount of text content on them will tend to rank higher than webpages which do not.
In fact, a very large, very detailed study of over 1 million Google search results produced the following graph:
And while you may not need 2000+ words of content on every webpage you want to rank highly in Google (the study quoted analysed some pretty competitive search terms), the general rule these days is that 'length is strength,' so you should ensure that your webpages which rank at the bottom of page 1/top of page 2 for particular keywords, each have at least 1000+ words of content which is highly relevant to the keywords you're seeking to improve your rankings for.
For example, if you have a legal website which features a webpage with the main keyword of 'best lawyer in london' and this webpage is inadvertently ranking somewhere near the bottom of page 1/top of page 2 for the related keyword of 'best law firms in london' then simply by adding 1000+ words of content to the page, which is related to the topic of the best law firms in London, all the while ensuring that you're following the on-page SEO best practices which I mentioned in step 2, then this webpage should soon begin to rank higher in the search results for this valuable keyword of 'best law firms in london,' with the consequence that more people will visit your website, where they can then become sales leads or customers.
If you're not sure how many words your webpage has on it in total, then you can use this tool or this tool to find out.
Of all the many factors which determine how high a website ranks in Google's search results for a particular search term, the most influential one is the number of backlinks to that website from other, authoritative websites.
In fact, the same study of a million search results which I quoted earlier found that, 'the number of domains linking to a page correlated with rankings more than any other factor.'
There are many tools you can use to find out how many other websites are linking to yours, such as Serpstat, Ahrefs, Majestic, Open Link Profiler (totally free!) and many others.
For example, a backlink report from Serpstat will look something like this:
And one from Open Link Profiler will resemble this:
Some of you may now be wondering whether or not your website has enough backlinks, and the truth is that it doesn't, because a website can NEVER have too many high quality backlinks from other authoritative, deeply relevant websites in the same industry!
And since backlinks like these are the single biggest factor in determining where your website ranks in Google, you'll never go wrong in seeking to get more of them.
But how can you get these backlinks? Well, one of the best ways is through guest posts.
The topic of how to get guest posts on industry-relevant websites is one which requires a whole series of articles in itself, but here's a very good one to start you off.
The end goal of guest posting is to get as many quality backlinks as you can to the pages of your website which are ranking at the bottom of page 1/top of page 2 for valuable keywords, because doing this will help to push them close to the top of page 1, which, as discussed, is where the money is really made.
Once you've completed all four of the previous steps, your website will be in fine shape to start moving up the rankings for these 'quick win' keywords, which will then in turn bring an increase in traffic to your website.
But it's always worth remembering that just increasing your website traffic is NOT the end goal; getting more clients is, and, to this end, you should ensure that your website is designed in a way that maximises the number of people who convert from being a website visitor into a sales lead or customer.
Designing and redesigning your website so that it maximises the number of conversions is a discipline called conversion rate optimisation (CRO).
Conversion rate optimisation is another topic which can occupy a great many articles all on its own, so I'm not going to go into it in any great depth here.
I will however, list the main CRO questions I ask whenever I conduct an initial assessment of a client's website.
These questions are:
Does the website have the company phone number and email address in a fixed header, which is shown on every page of the website, so potential customers always have these contact details available if they want to get in touch?
Is the company email address an @companydomain.com email address, which builds trust and conveys professionalism, or a generic @gmail/@hotmail etc. one, which doesn't?
Does the website utilise testimonials, social proof, accreditation badges and details of any awards won, to build trust in the business?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, then there is work to be done!
I'll also point you towards the following very in-depth articles which should provide provide you with quite a bit of food for thought:
In this guide, I've shown you how to conduct a short, sharp and highly efficient SEO audit which is specifically designed to allow you to identify your SEO 'quick wins.'
The steps contained here will help you to find lucrative keywords which you're already ranking on the bottom of page 1 or top of page 2 for, and to get your webpages ranking higher for these keywords in the short to medium term, thereby bringing you a larger amount of targeted, highly valuable website traffic.
I've also raised the issue of conversion rate optimisation, which is a subject well worth exploring further, as it can help you to convert substantially more of your website visitors into potential customers.
I've tried to make this guide as straightforward as I can, but please do get in touch with me if you have any questions.
Thanks for reading!