Published on July 27th, 2018 | by Howard Bell0
How to Audit Your Website for Improved SEO and Conversions
While the saying “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” does make some superficial sense, if we had blindly adhered to it, we would never have progressed as far as we have. Even if you are relatively pleased with how your site is working, the organic traffic it attracts and the conversion rates it achieves, if you haven’t audited it recently, it might be time to do so.
Market circumstances, customer demands, available solutions and general trends are changing all the time, and you need to keep up. By addressing everything from adapting your content to engage your audience better, to upgrading the site’s technical aspects, a detailed audit can boost a site’s visibility, performance and conversion rates, regardless of how well you are already doing.
Start with a Scrape
Tools like Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider allow you to easily scrape your website and notice a bunch of potential issues, including:
- Missing/suboptimal meta elements. Page and H1 titles as well as meta descriptions inform crawlers and potential visitors what your page is about, there is no excuse for not having them optimized.
- 404’s and faulty redirects. By giving you a comprehensive list of your pages along with their status codes, scrapers allow you to easily detect pages that aren’t working. Since these pages not only drain the link equity from the rest of the site but also tend to drive visitors away, dealing with them promptly is imperative.
- Inner linking structure. The abovementioned list of the pages you have allows you to follow both the link equity flow through your website, and the customer journey. For instance, you won’t place a lot of internal (or external, for that matter) do-follow links on your landing pages or your homepage, as you want the link juice flowing towards them, not away from them. Naturally, your primary concern when organizing your site’s architecture are visitors. You need to make it easy for them to navigate the website and find what they need, while giving them a chance to convert as often as you can without being intrusive and bothersome.
Scraping your website is also a great opportunity to re-examine your keyword mapping choices and decide if you might want to change the keyword focus of certain pages, or the target pages of certain keywords.
Other Technical Aspects
While scraping your site helps you identify a range of issues or opportunities for improvement, it is by no means sufficient when it comes to on-site optimization. There are a number of other things you need to consider.
- Page speed. Valued both by visitors and search engine crawlers, faster loading pages have lower bounce rates and rank better than ones which leave users waiting. Luckily, performing a page speed test and making the necessary changes is usually relatively straightforward and simple.
- Responsiveness. Each day you spend without ensuring that your site is as mobile-friendly as possible is another day you are missing out on a significant portion of potential customers. Since the percentage of people primarily using mobile devices for web browsing is growing each day, you cannot afford to be lax when it comes to your site’s responsiveness.
- Robots.txt and sitemap. Which of your pages do you want to be indexed, and which do you want to keep hidden? Which spiders will you allow, and which should be forbidden from crawling your website? All of that and more is handled by your robots.txt file, so make sure that it is in complete order. Likewise, if you don’t have an XML sitemap to guide the crawlers or help your visitors find their way, make sure to create one.
- Canonicalization. Even if you don’t have dynamically created pages on your website or any of the other possible causes for content duplication, ensuring that your important pages are labeled as canonical ones can save you a lot of headache in the future.
Once you go through all of the listed steps and fix the issues you may have come across, make sure to check how Google sees your website.
It doesn’t matter how well your site is performing if it fails to offer anything interesting to its visitors. Performing a detailed content inventory, along with engagement metrics and keyword rankings for every individual page will inform you which pages you might want to update to offer current information; which might benefit from a meticulous proofreading; which might be easier to rank for a different, perhaps even more lucrative keyword; which should be livened up with an image or a video, etc.
Aside from ensuring that your visitors have the latest, most accurate information, significant modifications of the existing content could make it trigger the freshness update, bringing new prominence to the page in the search results.
Hopefully, we have managed to illustrate why periodical site audits are an absolute necessity if you want your site to act as a lead magnet. From making the site faster, easier to navigate and more informative for users, to giving search engines everything they need to index, evaluate and recommend your site in SERPs, these audits are the only way to stay competitive and keep attracting new customers through organic search.