Today on Marketing in 10, I’m going to talk through the best way to get started with SEO on your site. If you’re getting ready to start taking SEO seriously, then you need to know how to do an SEO audit on your site. Let’s talk about it.
Here at Deep Field, we’ve audited over 1000 websites over the last few years. It’s the most common type of project that we’ve taken on, and I believe that’s because audits are the absolute best place to start your SEO efforts. So, what exactly is an SEO audit?
An SEO audit’s a deep snapshot look at your SEO efforts at this moment. Everything that you’re doing on your site, off of your site, that’s related to SEO should be taken into account for the SEO on it. It’s meant to be a complete look at where your site stands at this moment of time, kind of like a snapshot. It’s also like an SEO scorecard. It tells you what you’re doing well and where you need to improve. A good SEO audit will give you a long list of things that you can work on. This should help you be able to rank for more keywords, rank better for the keywords that you’re already using, etc.
An SEO audit is not keyword research. That’s a completely different thing. I typically don’t like to relate those to each other. The SEO audit should be a reflection of how well you are implementing and working with the keywords that you’ve already chosen.
Just like with SEO, there are three different areas that you should focus on with an SEO audit. You’ve got on page, off page, and technical. On page is the simplest to explain, so let’s start there. On page SEO is everything on your site’s pages that are customer facing. This includes things like website, copy images, page titles, meta descriptions, heading tags. A good SEO audit is going to take a look at each of these things on all the major pages on your site. Major pages on your site include your home page, collections pages and product pages. If you’re an eComm store, if you’re a blog, that’s going to look at your blog index page or individual blog posts and any other pages that rank well or get a decent amount of traffic. This is, of course, going to differ for every type of site, but these are definitely the kind of the most common places and definitely where you want to start.
One big thing to keep in mind about SEO audits. You don’t have to audit every single page to get a good understanding of the site. For example, if you audit one or two blog posts, or one or two different product pages, then you’re going to have a good idea of what all the rest of them are going to look like. They’re going to have the stream, same structure, same types of content, so you don’t have to go through the effort of auditing every individual page.
But you definitely want to get a good idea and make sure you’re getting a good sampling of what the rest of the pages look like. Some of the specific things you’ll want to look for with the on page SEO portion of the audit. Are you writing compelling titles and meta descriptions? This is always an important part for SEO. I actually covered these in depth back in episode eight, so make sure you listen to that if you haven’t already.
Are you writing unique content on each page? You don’t want to reuse the same content. Lots of times that’s called duplicate content and it can actually hurt your rankings. Each page on your site should largely consist of unique content. Are you using images on your pages? Search engines like images and readers do as well. You want to make sure that you use images when it’s possible. Just make sure that you write all tags for all of your images. All tags are important for usability purposes, and they’re also good for SEO because it’s a great place to put keywords.
Make sure that you’re using heading tags correctly. One of the things that I see all the time is sites that have multiple H1 tags on every page. It bugs me, and it’s one of the easiest on page SEO things to fix. Each page on a site should have exactly one H1 tag, no more, no less. Every other heading on the page should be an H2 tag or below, H3, H4.
Make sure that you’re using keywords in your heading tags and that they’re not spammy. Each heading tag should be written for your reader, should read well, and it should accurately describe the content in those sections.
The next portion of the SEO audit is a technical SEO. This is the behind the scenes portion of SEO which you don’t see. The most important technical SEO item is just simply making sure that all of your important pages are being crawled and indexed. You can see this with Google search console. Take a look at the individual pages on your site that you deem are the most important and look at the last crawl dates there. If it hasn’t been crawled recently, then that might be an issue that you want to take a look at.
I like to see important pages on sites crawled at least every two or three weeks or something like that. Smaller sites, it’ll be crawled a little bit more often larger sites. It might be a little bit longer in between crawls and that’s normal. So, if your pages aren’t listed in Google search console, then you need to really figure out what’s causing that. It could be an issue with a robots.txt file or something similar where you’re telling search engines not to index that page.
Another thing to check is that your site loads quickly. The faster your site loads, the better it is for SEO and something that’s new in Google search console, and will become more of an important part of their ranking algorithm in the future, is what’s called core web vitals. You can take a look at that in Google Search Console. One of the big portions there is how fast your site loads, so take a look at that. And Google’s Page Speed Insights tool is also a great place to spend a little time and see what you can do to speed up your site.
The last part of the SEO audit is off page. Off page is everything that’s not found on your site that impacts your SEO. This includes things like backlinks, citations, NAP consistency. Nap is name, address, phone number.
Everybody knows about backlinks. There they’re the big item, the big portion of the off page SEO audit. You want to make sure that you have backlinks coming into the site. Generally, the more backlinks you have, the better, but not all backlinks are the same. So backlinks from higher quality, more reputable sites are going to have much more impact and small sites that don’t carry much weight at all won’t help you much, but it’s still better than nothing.
I don’t think that spammy backlinks actually hurt your site anymore. It used to be the case that competitors could go out and get spammy backlinks from spammy sites, and point it to your site. That would hurt your rankings. That doesn’t happen anymore, but still I recommend doing an audit on your backlinks and then using the disavow tool. So Google search console has a disavow tool where you can tell Google to ignore backlinks to your site for certain domains. I like to disavow backlinks from the worst of the worst domains out there.
Also, if you’re a local business, then you’ll want to make sure that you have citations, which are essentially online business listings that show all of your business contact information, and you’ll want to make sure that your business name, phone number and address are accurate and consistent. This is called NAP consistency. You want to make sure that all of your information on all these various sites that are out there is as accurate as possible.
There are a few tools that you’ll want to use that help out with running a good SEO audit on your site. Something like SEMrush, or Ahrefs.com. Those are great tools. They have lots of SEO data, but they also have SEO crawlers and tools that can help audit your site. My personal favorite is actually a desktop app called Screaming Frog. So take a look at Screaming Frog and download that if you’re serious about doing an SEO audit on your site several times a year. It costs about $100 a year, I believe, for a license, but it’s well worth it if you’re doing a lot of audits.
So, great tools there, and I’ll put links to these in the show notes. That’s about it. Again, every site is different and may have different areas that you need to focus on. Some sites have received penalties or want to expand and expand into new areas. These types of things will require a little bit of additional work, but I’ve given you the basics of what a good audit is here.
If you have any questions about SEO audits or want to get an expert audit done for you, the best way to do that is through our SEO audit service. We have a dedicated service just for SEO audits and that’s at seoaudits.io. So, go take a look at that.
I’ll be back soon with another episode of Marketing In 10, where We’re going to be talking about Google Ads versus Microsoft Advertising. Take care, everyone. Talk to you soon.