Seo Site Audits
Site Audits Help Determine Any Issues or Crawling Errors
An average glance at a website’s statistics can only provide a shallow understanding of which strategies are successful and which are not. When traffic is booming and conversions are strong, most webmasters stick to whatever’s working. When something goes wrong, however, you need a more accurate diagnosis to pinpoint the problem and develop the most effective solution. Whether your business is declining or simply not growing to your expectations, an SEO site audit may be able to turn it around.
What is an SEO Site Audit?
Site-monitoring applications such as Google Analytics or Webmaster Tools work well for day-to-day usage. They display traffic numbers, keywords, bounce rates, viewer activity and indexing status, along with a number of other features. By contrast, an SEO audit probes deeper, testing every aspect of the site for coding errors and weaknesses that impact optimization. An analytic service reveals issues, but an audit diagnoses them. We use a combination of complex programs and expert knowledge to conduct our audits, testing many different areas, including the following primary contributors to SEO and profitability.
Site architecture is the organization of a domain’s pages and how they relate to each other. For example, a website with a horizontal structure has many top-level pages that only link to a few others lower in the hierarchy. A vertical site, on the other hand, has a long trail of related pages building on top of each other. A mix of both styles is often best.
An audit examines a domain’s overall architecture, as well as its navigation system. Vertical structures provide greater depth on a topic, but they can make it difficult to move between subjects quickly. Crawlers also tend to get lost traveling through dense webs of pages, lowering their potential indexing rates. An intuitive menu system and some restructuring can make a site more accessible to readers and bots alike.
Crawlers are fairly sophisticated programs, but even they can’t work miracles. When a URL returns a 404 error, it reflects badly on the site, hinders SEO and could present a poor image to users. Google’s Webmaster Tools offers a comprehensive list of crawling errors, but it does not describe how to solve them. An audit explores every bad link to determine the source of the trouble, and then rectifies it by either fixing the code or redirecting the broken link to the proper location. As long as a crawler is met with a functioning page, there won’t be an SEO penalty.
The headline of a page is determined by its title element, located in the code’s head. It appears in search results as well as the top of a browser and is of major importance for crawlers trying to categorize by general topic and specific keywords. The title should be unique, short, and contain your main keyword for the page. In blogs, it is usually the post’s title. Don’t worry about dates or the title of your site; the title element is all about conveying the main point of the content, acting like a business card to crawlers and potential readers. An audit ensures that your title tags are in place and as effective as they can be.
Meta descriptions act like an extended version of a title. On a search engine results page, the meta description sometimes appears as the text underneath the main link. As your best opportunity to dictate what people see, and therefore what they click, the meta description is obviously a desirable tool. It also gives more information than the title and is treated with similar value by crawlers. Place important keywords closer to the beginning of the meta description, but make sure it’s still legible to human eyes, and don’t continue for more than approximately 150 characters.
Header tags, when used sparingly, condense the main information of content into bite-sized, SEO-friendly chunks. They range in value from h1 to h6, with h1 being the most prominent. To the reader, header tags simply change font size. To a crawler, they indicate what is most important, including keywords. Too many, however, dilutes their potency. Striking the right balance with headers and learning how to integrate them are all part of an SEO audit.
Properly Optimized URL Strings
Even URLs are a powerful SEO strategy. A keyword-rich domain name is an automatic boost, but today most of the premium websites are taken. Thankfully, there is still plenty of room within a URL string to boost your rankings. Dynamic pages, which change their URLs frequently, are a common source of crawling errors. Static pages use permalinks to maintain their location no matter where they move.
Both are helpful for SEO, but permalinks can be set to display titles, dates and other useful information that search engines love. URLs are one of the most important parts of an SEO audit, and they can be changed over to a better structure with no loss of prior back-links or reader bookmarks.
Now more than ever, Google and its competitors are emphasizing unique, valuable content, and they are penalizing anything that has been scraped or appears too often elsewhere. Even duplicate content on the same domain is grounds for a slap.
Besides checking the status of your posts and pages, and perhaps locating a few thieves, a good audit will also examine the words themselves for keyword density, relevance and internal linking.
Finally, the most perfectly optimized website in the world is still a loss if it is incapable of turning a profit. By looking at where readers enter a website, where they go and when they leave, an auditor can begin painting a picture of where you win clients and where you lose them. The results may point to poor positioning, unconvincing copy or a cumbersome checkout page, but everything short of a terrible product can be fixed.
SEO is so vital for marketers because it brings in more potential buyers, but that means nothing if it doesn’t translate into improved sales. A well-rounded and experienced SEO auditor understands this and approaches a website like a business, not just strings of code. If you are tired of lackluster performance and want to start solving problems rather than working around them, give us a call today to begin your audit.