With the prevalence and reliance on the internet that society now holds, SEO is very much a critical business practice in order to gain competitive advantage as well as the necessary visibility and exposure required to gain brand awareness and positive brand perception.
At Woya Digital, we plan and operate SEO campaigns for businesses of all types, shapes and sizes – and one of the first steps in doing this is to carry out a full website audit. But what is a website audit and how does it contribute to a brand’s SEO? Let us explain…
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What is SEO?
SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimisation; the practice in which a business aims to improve their organic (not paid-for) ranking on search engines. This is done through the improvement of sources from which search engine algorithms judge the relevancy, accuracy and quality of the data on any website and therefore determines when and where it is appropriate to position it in search engine results.
For the most part, SEO guidance and practice focuses on appealing to Google’s algorithm but there are slightly different approaches to be taken in order to meet the needs of smaller search engines too.
In order to improve organic search ranking on search engines, there are several practices businesses can undertake. This includes:
- ‘On-Page SEO’ – the creation and publication of relevant and shareable content that helps demonstrate to search engines what the brand is about and who its appropriate for
- ‘Off-Page SEO’ – mentions of and links from high-authority websites or channels to reiterate the authenticity and reliability of the brand to search engines
- Technical SEO – the user experience and safety of a website to ensure that’s easy to access and safe for users
- Local SEO – the marking of a physical business with a geographical location so that it ranks higher in results to those looking for a brand/product/service in that area or in the language used in that area
- App Store Optimisation – the practice of ensuring that the brand is ranked highly in the results pages of app stores when a potential user searches for a related term.
An SEO strategy is a plan of ongoing effort to boost the rankings of a business’ digital presence above that of its competitors and to keep it as high as possible. It is not a ‘one-and-done’ job but rather something a brand must work at continuously to meet the ever-developing needs of consumers and of changing algorithms.
It is not known exactly how often search engines update their algorithms and programming but it’s estimated that Google do so almost daily; and so it is not enough for businesses to update everything and then sit on their laurels as the ranking will only deteriorate over time.
Why is a Website Audit carried out?
Carrying out a website audit is the first stage in any SEO strategy planning. This audit analyses the existing site for any initial areas for concern or improvement, providing a baseline foundation from which SEO work can be planned and implemented. Should there be any areas on the website that are believed to be hindering SEO efforts, these can be tackled as a priority before further work begins.
If a business website has been created professionally and in line with best practice SEO standards, it may be that the work to be done may not be too comprehensive or complex.
Regardless of the status of the website, an SEO website audit allows for a picture to be built up of what work needs to be done; avoiding any unnecessary work or duplication of work carried out.
A content audit may be carried out as part of a wider website audit and this looks to analyse the types of content on the site and how well it performs for and is received by its audience. This is enacted in order to influence the future direction of relevant content to improve its chances of success.
What is a Website Audit?
A website audit is a general analysis of a business website to review its performance, areas for concern and/or improvement, and user experience. All businesses should have a website audit in order to continuously improve their online presence. Every page is analysed alongside the full navigation and overall experience the site delivers.
There are several software programs and online services offering automated website audits, we even have a free instant audit on our home page, check it out.
But for in depth analysis we would recommend that an audit is done manually by a professional with expertise in both user experience and SEO. At Woya Digital, our staff carry out comprehensive website audits routinely and regularly on sites of all types, sizes and functionality.
What is analysed as part of a Website Audit?
An extensive and complete website audit should begin with a general overview of first-hand site experience, before the following areas are analysed:
- Website Performance Assessment – a brief navigation assessment of the function users experience as they attempt to navigate the website. How fast do pages load? Do all internal links work? Is it easy to find what you’re looking for? Does navigation appear intuitive; are things where you’d expect them to be? Is the site up when you try to access it?
This will identify areas that could be laid out more easily and increase the navigation of the site in order to increase conversion rates.
- Content Assessment – an analysis of the content that’s on the site to judge its relevancy and appropriateness for the target audience.
Is the content relevant to the brand’s niche or theme? Is it easily shareable? Is it easy to consume with relevant headings and sub-headings? Does it load fast enough? What are the bounce rates from the site on content pages – and where do users go to afterward? Is the content tailored to the buyer personas/target audience? Does it contain call to actions related to the brand? Is the keyword performance as expected?
This will help focus the types and direction of future content published by the brand to ensure its maximum efficiency and optimisation.
- Conversion Rate Assessment – websites should function not just to inform and educate customers on the brand and its product/s and service/s but also to drive users to complete a desired action – be that make a purchase, give details or get in contact with a business representative.
Does every page have easy-to-find contact details or direction for where to find further information? Where specific calls to action exist are they being used? Is the language used on calls to action clear and concise? Is there a variety of calls to action available to appeal to different buyer personas?
This will help improve conversion rates and ideally, overall sales volumes.
- Technical Assessment – a developer, IT expert or SEO consultant should undertake a technical assessment. This does overlap with some previously analysed areas – performance, SEO and conversion rates – but takes into account the technical input and performance of these elements to assess where they can be improved from a development angle.
Has the site been built with responsive design to allow for it to adapt to the device on which it’s been viewed? Is the site free of error messages? Do additional accessibility tools work on the site where they may be needed? Are URLs optimised? Is there unnecessary code? Is the route for web page crawling and indexing well defined? Are public and XML sitemaps in place? Has the canonicalisation of content been defined?
This will identify technical improvements that can be made to better raise the site’s visibility in search engines that may go unnoticed by those without specific technical knowhow.
The Benefits of Competitor Analysis
It is prudent for businesses to undertake a basic SEO website audit of their competitors sites as well as their own. There are various benefits to this, including:
- Understanding where and how competitors may rank above the business in order to optimise their site to feature alongside, if not above, them.
- To understand key words and phrases which may be relevant for the business that they too could produce content to cater for.
- To understand how competitive key words and phrases may be better utilised to gain competitive advantage organically – and reduce the need for spending on key word targeting.
- To understand what kind of content the target audience is sharing, engaging with and benefiting from – and replicating such an approach.
Although not all aspects of a competitor’s website can be easily analysed, it is worth gaining an overview to best position the brand against them and learn from them.
Where to Begin with a Website Audit
Woya Digital offer a full SEO website audit as the very first element of all our SEO packages, with expert SEO consultants carrying out work to the highest possible standard before making recommendations for tangible improvement.
Sounds like something your business would benefit from? Get in touch!