Most marketing directors and small business owners can agree search engine optimization (SEO) is essential, but they struggle to explain how it directly affects their business. Lucky for you, we’re here to break it down and show you why one of the first (and arguably most important) first steps is an SEO Audit.
In simple terms, search engine optimization improves the quantity and quality of your organic search traffic. SEO is what helps “get you found” when potential customers are searching for your services. Search traffic is referred to as organic because you’re not paying for it. Instead, your presence naturally exists based on Google’s search algorithm and your website’s SEO. In fact, more than 50 percent of all website traffic is from organic search – that’s more than paid and social combined!
Where To Start With SEO
With a better understanding of SEO, where do you start when it comes to improving it? We ALWAYS recommend an SEO Audit. It’s the first step to understanding exactly where your business ranks on the internet.
Working on your SEO without knowing where to start is like going to the grocery store without a list. Standing among the aisles and aisles of products, some you need, some you want, and the rest already stocked in your pantry. Without a list, you typically get a bunch of mix-matched ingredients and the snack cakes you know you don’t need – but chocolate.
An SEO Audit provides you the “list” but in the form of a comprehensive 20-page analysis of your website. It shows you how much organic traffic you’re receiving, the keywords you’re ranking for, and, best of all, ends with an actionable list of steps for SEO improvement.
When you walk away, you have all the ingredients for the perfect SEO recipe specific to your business.
What’s Included in an SEO Audit
SEO Audits take into account four primary sectors, in addition to a recommendation summary:
- Organic Traffic Analysis – a review of your website’s current organic ranking, structure, and domain authority.
- Keyword Research – including competitor benchmarking, authority data, and extensive keyword research.
- Onsite SEO Analysis – review of coverage issues, metadata, site speed, and content opportunities.
- Offsite SEO Analysis – strategies for branded search presence, directory listings, reviews, and third-party traffic sources.
This audit is not only what we see from a search engine perspective, but also takes into account your user experience and competition. So let’s review each section in greater detail.
Organic Traffic Analysis
The first portion of the audit is like stepping on the scale. It’s those numbers you dread seeing, but know you need to acknowledge them as a benchmark if you’re going to improve. To do this, we recommend using Google Analytics to analyze the organic search performance of your actual website.
We also take an in-depth look at your landing pages, often broken down into your home page, services and blog. This gives us a strong overview of your Google page ranking, clicks, and impressions on each page. Then, using your goals compared to your analytics, we help identify pages that would make strong candidates for SEO targets.
Developing a complete set of keywords is an essential step in setting your SEO goals. Working with you, we help determine a set of high-quality keywords then make sure the website comprehensively offers content related to them.
Keyword Research starts by looking at your competition. When it comes to SEO, start local. For example, if you’re a contractor, you want to compete for a higher ranking than Tom down the road, not with Home Depot on a national level. While Google doesn’t reveal precisely how website authority is determined, tools can help estimate your overall domain and authority. This helps us understand how much your SEO needs to improve to outrank your competition.
In addition, we look at the data available from your website to build a keyword list. For well-performing sites, Google Search Console can provide a wealth of information on what queries lead people to your site. In addition to the keywords you have in mind, this can help us better understand what your users are searching. For example, GreenCup Digital is a “digital marketing agency,” but a lot of our traffic comes from search terms like “website design for home builders” and “SEO strategist near me.” Knowing this information can help you create a long-term SEO plan regarding the type of content you produce. If you’re struggling with blog topic ideas, this is a great place to look. 50% of searches use four or more words, meaning long-tail keywords could really benefit your site. Blog posts are a great way to use these types of keywords, as users are more specific in their search. An example of this would be “best IPA brewery in Grand Rapids” vs. “best IPA.”
Lastly, we provide keyword rankings. Based on the keyword research completed, we put together a group of keywords to represent the overall strength of your organic effort. Keywords play a significant role in your onsite SEO strategy, so having this information will better assist you in the next section.
Onsite SEO Analysis
The next section of our SEO audit is an onsite SEO analysis. You can think of onsite as all the work you can directly control on your website. This analysis includes site speed, metadata, user experience, coverage issues, internal links, mobile experience, URL structure, and content.
While it sounds like a lot, most of it is in how your website is built. Without a strong foundation, how can you support a two-story SEO house?
One of the most accessible areas you can improve your website is metadata, including your title tags, meta descriptions, and alt text. All GreenCup Digital websites come with the Yoast Plugin, but we highly recommend getting it installed if someone else developed WordPress website. The free version of this plugin offers the average user the ability to label your keyword for individual pages and helps you identify trouble areas you can improve for greater SEO impact.
Has your website been up and running for years? Maybe passed the hands of multiple marketing directors, in addition to the ebbs and flow of service offerings? Here is where business owners commonly run into coverage issues. Take a look at your Google Search Console to see how many 404 errors are populating. A 404 error means your server couldn’t find the requested website page. This often happens when pages get deleted, URL structures get changed, or improperly set up redirects. These errors are not uncommon, but they do impact your SEO. Adding 301 redirects to the most relevant pages on the current website will improve usability for users trying to reach those outdated pages and transfer any SEO value the old pages had acquired.
These are just a few common yet minor issues we see when it comes to Onsite SEO. However, your personalized SEO Audit will be packed full of more information about your site speed, mobile experience, and overall website SEO performance with recommendations for improvement.
Offsite SEO Analysis
Now that we’ve covered onsite, I’m sure you can guess what offsite SEO relates to. Our offsite analysis looks at external factors that influence your SEO, such as reviews, directory listings, branded search presence, backlinks, and third-party traffic sources.
As part of Google’s search algorithm, not only does it take into account your website, but other websites to help validate your presence. That means the more backlinking you can accomplish with websites that have high domain authority, the better. One way to help give your website a boost is by submitting your business to local directories. These directories take into account basic business information like your name, contact information, and website. The Chamber of Commerce, FourSquare, and Google My Business are examples of some common directories you may know. You can find a comprehensive list of local directories for small businesses here.
Another area of high impact is through your social media presence. Facebook is considered a directory with excellent domain authority. Having a business page and linking it to your website helps provide the SEO value Google wants to see. Also, be sure you’re encouraging reviews on these third-party websites. Not only will they entice users, but they also influence search rankings and lend legitimacy to your business. Google Business reviews should be a priority, then begin working on Facebook, Bing, and Yelp.
Again, these are high-level areas most businesses will see on their Offsite SEO analysis. Still, each audit is customized to your business, considering the SEO work you’ve already completed and focusing on areas of improvement that you’ll see the most benefit.
Finally, based on our research and findings, we summarize all the recommendations mentioned throughout the document. We also arrange them in terms of priority based on the impact they could have on your search results.
Our favorite part of an SEO Audit is meeting with you to review it. Search Engine Optimization sounds cumbersome, but it feels manageable when you have a partner walking you through it. Every SEO Audit from GreenCup Digital comes with a review meeting to walk you through each section and answer any questions you may have. Reading a report versus having it explained to you makes all the difference. The end of the report is the grand finale! Release the fireworks, ambition, and maybe a glass of bubbly to celebrate taking the first step towards improved SEO.
The Value of an SEO Audit
We hope this article helps illustrate the importance of Search Engine Optimization and the value an SEO Audit can provide your business. As a business owner, this audit is something you can reference at any time as you begin tackling the more manageable to-do’s. Marketing directors, take this report back to the team to discuss the next steps or finally make a case for more focus on SEO.
SEO Audits provide value through analyzing your current data, competition, and use of best search practices to provide recommendations for improvement, including the following:
- Understanding of Your Current Ranking
- Keyword Strategy
- Content Recommendations
- Website Architecture and User Experience Recommendations
- Link Building Strategies
When reviewing these strategies, don’t lose sight of SEO being a long-term game. Google’s Search Algorithm is constantly changing, and the internet is continually evolving. Using the right tools, investing in an SEO Audit, and finding a partner to help you navigate the waters are some of the best ways you can begin improving your organic rankings. Organic traffic can capture more than 40% of your company’s revenue. The benefit of a well-optimized website and improved SEO Strategies may begin with an SEO Audit but can lead to increased ROI.
If you have further questions regarding what an SEO Audit might do for your business, contact the GreenCup Digital team today! If you’re hesitant about the next step in your SEO journey, start with our Free SEO Checklist below.
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