What Is a Website Audit
For the same reasons an electrician wouldn’t start cutting wires without assessing a broken light switch, a digital marketer shouldn’t begin tinkering with meta data, content, and site architecture without conducting a website audit.
A comprehensive website audit helps digital marketers (SEO specialists or otherwise) assess and analyze before resolving and remediating.
Specifically, a site audit helps digital marketers isolate site errors, identify areas of opportunity, understand competitor strengths and weaknesses, conduct keyword research, and create a realistic workback schedule based on priority sequence.
A comprehensive website audit should be carried out by any business interested in improving the quantity and quality of online traffic.
At Pedestal Search, our SEO audits focus on three primary areas: on-page, off-page, and technical SEO. If you’d like more information on how we conduct SEO audits, including a downloadable SEO audit checklist, read our recent blog post, How to Conduct an eCommerce SEO Audit.
Why Website Audits Are Necessary in 2022
Google’s algorithm has evolved dramatically. Gone are the days when ‘keyword relevancy’ was the only variable that affected rank.
Today, Google’s algorithm is significantly more complex and balances a website’s quality with its relevance to search queries. In fact, we’d argue it actually prioritizes quality over relevancy.
In order to organically rank well in Google, a website now needs to be relevant to the search query, demonstrate significant E-A-T (Experience, Authority, and Trustworthiness), and meet all of today’s technical and UX best practices.
To better serve the rising demand for high-quality mobile websites, in 2022 Google will also penalize (or at the very least disregard) websites with poor mobile performance indicators.
With so many new variables included in Google’s evolving algorithm, a website audit is more necessary than ever.
The Website Auditing Process
While every digital marketing agency conducts audits differently, we use the following steps to ensure a thorough audit is conducted each and every time.
Step 1: Assess Site Health
The first step in conducting a website audit is to review the website’s overall “health”, aka the number of issues a website has. Some of the most common (and highest priority issues) we assess are 4XX errors, 5XX errors, broken links, URL structure, duplicate content and page speed (especially mobile page speed).
When we audit a website, we create a comprehensive list of errors and then formulate a workback schedule to tackle the issues in priority sequence.
Step 2: Assess Technical SEO
There is significant overlap between our Site Health and Technical SEO Assessments. However, when conducting an audit we differentiate the two slightly. Technical SEO in this context refers to a website’s crawlability and indexability.
Step 3: Assess Website Security
In 2022, having HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is critical to ranking well in Google. HTTPS encrypts user data, an increasingly important privacy element Google’s algorithm puts significant emphasis on.
Step 4: Assess Keyword Performance & Conduct Fresh Keyword Research
After reviewing all of the aforementioned technical elements, a site audit will review the keywords and search queries the website is already performing for.
Once the auditor understands the site’s current performance, they will conduct fresh keyword research to understand new areas of opportunities. Specifically, they’re looking for keywords that are relevant to the website, have a significant monthly search volume, and have a relatively low keyword difficulty score.
Step 5: Assess Off-Site Presence: Backlinks, Reviews, & Social Media Presence
At this stage, the auditor will assess the site’s off-site presence. Specifically, they will assess the quantity and quality of backlinks and reviews on third-party sites like the BBB.
During the off-page SEO assessment, the auditor will also review the brand’s corresponding social media accounts. Social media marketing has become a keystone tactic in most digital marketing strategies. In 2022, Google’s algorithm considers social media performance when ranking websites.
Step 6: Assess Conversions & Conversion Rate
Up to this step, most of our audit has focused on variables that affect digital visibility and traffic. However, the final stage of the digital growth cycle is conversion rate optimization. An auditor will spend significant time reviewing the website’s desired conversion, assessing the quality of CTAs, lead forms, checkout flow etc.
Step 7: Competitor Analysis
The final step in our website audit process is to conduct a SWOT analysis of digital competitors. The auditor will focus on websites competing for the same target market and the same search queries. Depending on the site, these may or may not be known business competitors.
A complete website audit discovers discrepancies that may result in Google penalties. Penalties affect ranking on Google’s search engine rankings page (SERP). The audit also assesses how vulnerable the website is to security breaches.
SEO Audits Make Large Enterprises More Profitable
A website audit is especially important for enterprises. An audit is an integral part of creating an Enterprise SEO plan.
For a large company, audits offer a lot more than discovering errors. Enterprises become more profitable through SEO audits. They allow companies to backout search to discover new revenue opportunities. They also help uncover the most profitable areas of search. As well as how their online presence affects profitability both online and offline.
A large business that does not run an SEO audit is leaving money on the table.
What can a business expect after completing a website audit?
After a website audit is completed by us, businesses can expect to receive a summary report including any discrepancies discovered. The report will also provide the most effective way to correct said discrepancies.
In 2022, we’ve come to expect approximately 3-4 major algorithm updates per year, with numerous smaller updates in between. Regular website audits keep businesses agile and aligned with Google’s ever-changing best practices.
Website audits are an essential measure to improve the efficiency and visibility of a website. Audits improve Google search ranking while increasing site traffic and performance. A website audit presents a business with an exceptional opportunity for growth online.