A simple, helpful walkthrough of why SEO audits are important, even with a good SEO foundation in place.
In short, there are enough moving pieces involved in a strong SEO campaign that it’s easy to miss something. Especially if you’ve been continuously making changes to the site, adding content or features, switching plugins, etc.
If you’re working with a team, the extra cooks in the kitchen can lead to inconsistencies in how plugins are used, how metadata is completed, how posts are organized, how links are handled, or even how schema data is (or isn’t) implemented.
When those things start to build up, even well-intentioned choices can have detrimental effects on the website.
When the term “SEO audits” gets mentioned what may pop into a lot of people’s minds is a sales piece thrown around by representatives of agencies to encourage business. While these can be useful, what I’m referring to most in this article are audits an organization runs manually and intentionally for itself.
In other words, why should you as the website and/or business owner bother with exploring an SEO audit?
SEO audits help ensure the technical aspects of your site are in-line. (Technical SEO audit.)
If you’ve built your own site with Wix or even the variety of builder tools for WordPress, the initial allure may have been how easy it was do put together without having a ton of technical knowledge. And while it may be true that your site looks very modern, inviting, and mobilizes well, it’s also possible that some aspects of the construction are off.
Have you been inconsistent with alt tags, for instance? Maybe you or someone on your team used header tags in an non-ideal way because you liked the font sizes, or didn’t include headers at all on some pages. Maybe there are some coding issues on pages causing slowdowns or failures.
Or maybe there were simply more efficient ways to accomplish some of the features your site offers.
Even if you had a professional developer build your site, it’s actually pretty common in this industry for developers to know fairly little about SEO and therefore not build a site with much of that in mind.
A lot of the SEO consulting I’ve done has shown this to be the case, and otherwise decent looking sites that never performed came down to a lot of missed opportunities.
In any of these cases, an SEO audit can give you a place to start. A to-do list for setting the proper foundation, if you will.
SEO audits don’t have to be automated reports; they can also be a more hands-on review from a professional. (Competitive SEO audit.)
Some of the automated SEO reports are useful, especially for checking for well-known and common issues involving headers, your brand’s presence on directory sites, duplicated content, broken links, etc.
But the most useful SEO audits also involve a professional getting hands-on with your site, going page by page and reviewing:
- What you’re saying and how it presents to readers (tone, rapport, is it easy to understand?)
- How information and elements are laid out (design and flow)
- The site’s structure, how pages can be navigated, and how things link to and reference each other
Often this outsider’s perspective is useful because that person is not a member of your company and doesn’t have the level of experience with your products and services that you do.
When they read your content they’ll be reading it closer to the way your customers will, and any issues with tone or the content being difficult to follow will be more obvious to them. And of course their experience in the industry will have them looking for things you may not have considered.
Very few local level SEO pros handle everything. Most of them focus on areas of SEO they are most proficient in or have found the best results with. I say that to say that even if you had an SEO pro help build your site, another set of eyes later is often useful.
Your initial SEO may have omitted some things in favor of the budget at that time as well, and circling back when things have changed gives the opportunity to address it all.
SEO standards change over time, and sometimes so must your site.
Perhaps one of the best reasons to consider an SEO audit is if you’ve had a website for many years (5+). It’s likely that the methodology used to rank your site when it was first built isn’t ideal anymore.
Even if a fair bit of your tactics are still valid, the game of SEO is competitive enough that using outdated techniques or even simply not using some of the latest alternatives may be holding you back.
It’s not to say that you can’t rank (and maybe you do for some things), but that you aren’t ranking as well as you could be. If you’re in growth mode, it’s very likely in this case that you’re simply not leveraging the number of leads your site is capable of.
One simple example is schema data. This simply wasn’t a thing a number of years ago, so an older site probably isn’t even using it. If your competition is, this is a missed opportunity for you. Even more so if your older site is relying on a large number of short pages to capitalize on title optimization only but never really covering those topics at any depth.
That’s an approach that used to work, but simply isn’t how SEO works anymore. Your site might have some clout because of being around a long time and getting a consistent and decent amount of traffic, so you’ve gotten away with missed opportunities. But some improvements here could really propel you forward.
Local SEO audits help you better engage your core audience.
If you’re a local type business like a plumber, retail store, etc. where most of your business comes from people in your city or those nearby, nailing this portion of SEO is super important.
You might have done a great job on your site itself, but if your Google Local listing isn’t dialed in well, and if you have no presence on other directories (or have an inconsistent presence) this could be another missed opportunity. Especially if your competition has done a better job of locking these things down.
If you’ve noticed your rankings and your web leads seem to have plateaued or stagnated, this could very likely be why.
Localized SEO audits are designed to give you actionable intel on what you’re missing, what your competition is up to, and how local searches people are doing near you happen.
In my experience in SEO consulting over the years I often find websites in one of two extremes as far as local SEO goes:
- Their previous SEO agency sold them an SEO package that focused entirely on local listings but didn’t optimize the actual website or go beyond a cursory depth in the Google My Business (Local) listing, which is ironic for the local focus.
- All the previous SEO work was on the site itself and maybe included building some backlinks from elsewhere, but there is no consistency in the local directories or even the brand’s social media channels.
Doing a local SEO audit can help straighten this out, whether it’s one of those extremes or somewhere in between. As I mentioned earlier, the most important piece is that it gives you a starting point.
SEO can be overwhelming, especially if it seems like your site is a mess. The simplest way to move forward is to have a list of all the major areas to address and pick one and start working through it. Often the SEO pro doing your audit can give you some insight into which areas are the most on fire or that you’d get the biggest benefits from handling first.
But even in the absence of a strong sense of priority, picking any of the areas revealed in the audit at random and resolving them, and then moving on to the others still puts you in a better position than you’re in now.