An audit of search engine optimization can cover any number of components — technical, content, competitive, backlinks, mobile, and analytics. Or it can be even more detailed. For example, a technical audit could include site speed, redirects, and crawl budget.
The risk of a generic SEO audit is that it scratches the surface, with little benefit. Depending on the site, several in-depth audits could take hundreds of hours. But they can be worth it for competitive organic search rankings.
The risk of a generic SEO audit is that it scratches the surface, with little benefit.
Why an Audit?
A business owner once told me he was looking for SEO services but wasn’t interested in audits. He had worked with SEO firms previously, and I suspected the engagements did not go well.
I read his prior SEO audits. The providers had touched only on the broad issues. I explained that there was much more to uncover and that we couldn’t drive organic-search performance without knowing the full picture. Yet, he was adamant that we not execute any SEO audit.
I thus passed on the engagement.
The frequency of SEO audits depends on the circumstances.
For example, I recently worked with a brand that changed its entire website code. It required new technical auditing — for the second time in a year. Costly? Yes. Important? Very. The second audit revealed that the code was a big problem for Google.
But not all audits need to be done every year. It depends on your site and your competitors. If a competitor is executing a new content strategy, you likely should perform a competitive and content-gap audit every few months to see if you are missing out.
If your developers make routine changes to code, you should audit their work to make sure they didn’t add something that turned Google away. Code errors are very common, in my experience, and sometimes devastating.
If your competitors have invested in speed upgrades, you should routinely monitor and audit your site’s speed.
There are many good SEO tools. Sitebulb helps with technical SEO, as it crawls a site and notes the changes. Run it once a month, and Sitebulb will provide “hints” towards improving. I do this monthly on my company’s site as well as competitors’. (Conductor is an enterprise platform with similar features as Sitebulb.)
SEMrush and Ahrefs help create meaningful content audits. Both tools provide insight into what your competitors are publishing and their success. That data can help develop your own competing content strategy. Ahrefs is especially helpful because it was initially a backlink data provider. It can therefore help create a competitive link-building strategy, as well.
Every audit should provide a clear and concise review of problem areas, as in:
- An explanation of the issue. Thorough, detailed, and easy to understand. The explanation should include descriptions from Google, case studies, or whatever it takes to make the point.
- How to fix. An SEO practitioner can typically offer solutions for content or backlink weaknesses, among other areas. Be he cannot always provide a fix that involves code, especially if he did not build the site. Regardless, an SEO provider should connect with developers whenever appropriate during and after the audit.
SEO tools can provide critical data, but the key is analysis by a knowledgeable human. When it comes to SEO auditing, there is not a single piece of software that comes close to replacing the human element.