A DIY Guide to an SEO Audit for Your Website
SEO is a common thread which runs through and connects all of the elements of an effective and dynamic digital marketing campaign. It is the tool which gets your business’ social media accounts noticed, puts your content in front of the right audiences and drives traffic to your website. Despite SEO’s importance when it comes to digital marketing, many are quick to over simplify search engine optimisation and boil the entire process down to keywords.
SEO for your website is a lot more complicated than just including keywords that are relevant to your business. There is considerable skill and time investment that goes into successful SEO. In this article, we will explain how you, as a small business owner, can undertake SEO for your website and take a look at the feasibility of effectively managing your business’ SEO needs.
What Skills Do You Need for SEO?
As a business owner, you are a top expert in your niche market. You’ve done all of the work necessary to sculpt yourself and your business into authorities within your industry. While you are confident in your expertise and the work that you do, you may be less confident in the ins and outs of search engine optimisation.
When it comes to learning how to do SEO for your website, there are many new skills that you will need to cultivate as SEO is a multi-faceted industry with experts who are in possession of a unique skill set.
The skills necessary include: complex programming knowledge; web design skills; a thorough understanding Google’s Webmaster Tools and their Quality Guidelines; Copywriting skills; intimate knowledge of sales funnel creation and implementation; and experience with strategic marketing.
Where do You Start With SEO?
Now that we’ve looked at the different skills that are necessary to successfully undertake DIY SEO for you website, where do you start? The first step is to do an SEO audit of your business. This audit should be performed when you first start implementing an SEO strategy for your business, and again at every quarter.
An SEO audit consists of four main parts: a technical analysis; on-page analysis; off-page analysis; and finally a competitive analysis and keyword research.
Technical SEO Analysis: The technical analysis of your website is an important first step and this is the foundation that you will build your SEO strategy on. The technical analysis consists of two main elements: Accessibility and indexability.
Accessibility refers to both Google’s and your audience’s ability to access your website. If Google and your audience is not able to access all of the areas of your website, creating additional pages of content for your website becomes cumbersome and pointless.
There are a number of elements which come into play with regards to Google’s ability to access your website. These elements are: robot.txt, robot meta tags, and an XML sitemap. All three of these elements need to be assessed in your SEO audit in order to ensure Google is able to access the entirety of your website and visitors to your website can easily navigate your entire site without running into any dead links.
In addition to the previously mentioned elements, you will also need to consider navigation and how many clicks it takes to get from one page on your website back to your homepage. The fewer clicks, the better. However, as you relocate pages, remove pages or combine pages, redirects become an issue. When you relocate content on your website, Google’s web crawlers are no longer able to crawl that page and it becomes necessary to create a page redirect.
Indexability refers to the likelihood that Google will display your website in a search engine results page. If Google is able to access your website but is not indexing it, it is likely that you have incurred a Google Penalty.
If your website has incurred a Google Penalty, you will receive a notification in your Webmaster Tools inbox. This will help you identify the issues, rectify it and then appeal to Google to reconsider their decision.
On-Page Analysis: There are two lenses through which you can look at on-page analysis while conducting your SEO audit. These are general content-issues and individual content issues.
General content issues occur when multiple pages on your website compete against one another for searchability. This is caused by two factors: keyword cannibalisation and duplicate content.
There are four main types of content cannibalisation that could be negatively impacting web traffic to your website:
Internal Cannibalisation: This is when two or more pages on your website are optimised for the same keyword. In this instance, the two pages end up competing for the same search terms which causes both pages to experience inconsistent page ranking.
Sub-domain Conflict: This is another form of content cannibalisation and is the result of multiple pages, which are linked from your home page, sharing the same topic. With a blog, for example, the different blogs your post which comprehensively cover a topic pertinent to your small business, might compete for ranking on a search engine results page.
International Cannibalisation: This occurs when a business has different international websites which represent their business.
Semantic Flux: This type of content cannibalisation typically occurs when the same company owns two separate websites. It is common for a company to own two or more websites offering the same, or similar, products or services. If both websites are sharing similar content, websites will pick up on this and will have difficulty ranking both pages.
Duplicate Content: This is similar to content cannibalisation and refers to content which appears in more than one URL on the internet. In attempting to index duplicate content, it can be difficult for a search engine to determine which URL is more relevant. This leads to a decrease in traffic to your website. To avoid duplicate content, you want to ensure that you are not posting similar blogs on the same topic and that all of the content you post on your website is 100% original.
Individual Page Issues: This refers to the actual content that visitors to your website will see. It is important that your primary consideration, when it comes to your website and the content you post, be your online audience. Avoid creating content aimed at pleasing a search engine's web bots. Instead, focus on writing well written, well structured content for your human audience, otherwise they are likely to click off of your page without reading your content.
Off-Page Analysis: Off-page analysis is essentially a measure of the quality of the content that you post. The goal here is to be authoritative and engaging. Authoritative content positions you as an expert and a thought-leader in your industry. This will involve including industry relevant jargon that showcases your expertise.
Conversely, for your content to be engaging, you will need to write to your reader, which means you’ll have to balance out jargon with terms that the people who might be interested in purchasing your products and services will understand.
The reason you want to create engaging and authoritative content as part of your SEO strategy is to encourage other experts in your industry and other websites to link to your content. The most webpages that link to your website, the more “important” Google, and other search engines, with think your page is.
Competitive Analysis: Competitive analysis involves four main parts: keyword research, competitor identification, competitor analysis, and a social media and content audit.
Keyword research helps you establish keywords that you can realistically target in your content, on your website’s landing pages and in the wording you use in your social media profile descriptions. When it comes to REALISTICALLY targeting keywords, what we mean is ones that you could realistically be competitive with. For example, if you are a family-run jewelry store, you might think jewelry is a good keyword to target in your content. The face of the matter is, however, with this search term, you are competing against brand like Tiffany and Birks - well established brands with a massive marketing budget.
Instead of trying to compete with the giants, your goal should be to carve out a niche for yourself with keywords related to your main industry. To find a list of relevant search terms that your business could potentially rank for, try using Google AdWords’ keywords planning tool.
Competitor Identification: Now that you have a list of keywords that your business will realistically be able to rank with, you can build your list of competitors. Start typing your keywords into Google and look at the websites that appears in the first few slots on the search engine results page.
As you do this, you will find that the same websites are ranking for similar search terms. These will be your list of competitors for your target keywords. At this stage, it is important to note that, as you compile your list of competitors, it is important not to include large retailers or brands that you cannot realistically compete with.
Competitor Analysis: Now that you know who you are competing against when it comes to ranking your page for specific targeted keywords, it is time to analyze your competition. LinkResearchTools offers a number of great tools for getting necessary information on each of your competitors.
With LinkedResearchTools, you will be able to download their backlink profile, analyse their topical authority, and establish industry standards.
Social Media and Content Analysis: Also included in your competitor analysis, you should be looking at your competitors’ Social Media and content. Included in your analysis of your competitors’ Social Media and content, look at the type and amount of engagement that they receive. Make sure that you take a look at all of their Social Media platforms and crunch their numbers on engagement percentages.
Your competitors Social Media activity will give you an idea of how much and how often you will need to post to intrigue and engage audiences.
An SEO analysis is just the start of undertaking successful search engine optimisation of your website. To learn more about search engine optimisation, stay tuned to our blog, or contact us here. One of our SEO experts will be happy to answer any question you might have. We also offer content creation services to help brands and businesses with their SEO strategy. If you’d like to commission a blog or page of copy from our team of copywriting experts, you can try our content creation services for as little as $20.