What Is An SEO Audit And Why Your Business Needs One

SEO starts with knowing where you’re at. That’s why an SEO audit is valuable — they pave the path forward to higher rankings and more organic search traffic.

SEO is an important digital marketing strategy but it’s tough to know where and how to invest those SEO dollars.

That’s where the SEO audit comes in.

An SEO audit takes a cold, hard look at your website and figures out how well it measures up. It’s often the first step towards healthier SEO (and it’s a useful ongoing SEO maintenance tool, too). So let’s get into SEO audits and uncover why it’s time your business needs one.

What is an SEO audit?

An SEO audit is the process of analyzing how well your web presence relates to best practices – it is the first step to creating an implementation plan that will have measurable results.

An SEO audit analyzes your website’s online presence in two major ways. The first is how well your website stacks up against SEO best practices. The second is how well your website stacks up against your competitors’ presence.

In other words, an audit answers this question:

  • How “good” is my website’s SEO?
  • And an effective audit takes it a step further by answering this question:
  • How do I make my website’s SEO “better”?

SEO audit pro tip:

Yes, you can technically run your own SEO audit. Plenty of small businesses rely on Google Analytics and Google Search Console to keep an eye on things.

However, you won’t get the full picture. That’s because even the most basic SEO tools can show you how many 404 errors your website has. But only an experienced agency can turn cold data into an action plan that delivers results.

Why does my business need an SEO audit?

If you want your business to survive and thrive in the future, SEO needs to start NOW. That’s because SEO doesn’t (usually) happen overnight.

Google needs a minute or two to recognize and appreciate the website changes you make. And while bots crawl your website, your competitors are improving their SEO, too.

SEO is an ongoing process and the only way to get it started is with an audit. After all, how can you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you are?

SEO audit pro tip:

Here’s an SEO secret … a lot of businesses only invest in ONE audit. But it’s not a “one and done” process. Instead, SEO audits should be ongoing and regular. This helps businesses adjust quickly when there’s a major algorithm update and stay ahead of competitors.

What does an SEO audit include?

Quality SEO audits are:

  • Comprehensive
  • Easy to understand
  • Actionable

Your audit should include a status report that clearly identifies where your business is at AND a plan for the future. So it’s less “wow that’s a lot of broken links” and more “here’s what’s going on, that’s where to go, and here’s how to get there.”

That’s why effective SEO audits should include these six key components:

#1: Technical audit

A technical SEO audit finds … well … technical problems. This includes critical issues like 404 error pages, broken links, and duplicate content. Technical issues directly impact ranking factors that search engines like Google consider. And that’s because technical issues provide “less than optimal” user experiences.

#2: Competitive audit

Next up, an SEO audit should consider your competitors. This is also known as a competitive audit and it analyzes competing websites. Doing so highlights what you’re doing right and what you could improve upon compared to similar websites.

For example, let’s say you own a barber shop. A competing shop’s website has a robust blog with lots of high ranking content (but yours doesn’t). The competitive audit can identify actionable ways to improve.

#3: Content audit

Content audits analyze your website’s content and how it’s structured — all the way from individual landing pages to blog posts. These audits also check out the details like page titles, meta data, and image ALT tags.

Content audits are effective because even “small” things like missing ALT tags or titles that are too short can impact rankings. And as we all know, poor rankings mean less traffic.

#4: Keyword research

SEO audits (should) also include keyword research. Often this entails analyzing your website to find out which phrases and words (i.e. keywords) you currently rank for, and which ones you need to rank for.

This process usually includes competitor research, too. The audit looks at direct competitors, and identifies their high-ranking keywords. You can then develop content around those keywords as well in an effort to outrank your competition.

#5: Link audit

Every website has a link profile. Now whether that profile is strong or not is a different story. But the short version is that the quantity and quality of links that point back to your website matters … a lot.

Websites with rich backlink profiles often have links from high-ranking websites that are relevant to their niche. So, for example, let’s go back to the barber shop. In that case, you want to earn backlinks from quality websites that post content about hair, styling, salon trends, and so on.

The link audit assesses the strength of your current profile so you can then “fill in the gaps” with stronger external links (or internal links!).

#6: Core Web Vitals

SEO isn’t just content and keywords nowadays. In fact, Core Web Vitals are an increasingly more important part of SEO that’s important to consider. In short, Core Web Vitals include stats like page speed, how fast content loads, and how fast a website responds to user input (like filling in a form).

The healthier your Core Web Vitals are, the more usable your website is, and the higher you rank on search engines. In which case, it’s important to know where those blind spots are — and a Core Web Vitals check does the trick.

Final thoughts on SEO audits

An effective SEO audit should give you more than just a thumbs up or thumbs down. IN reality, SEO audits are the first big push towards strengthening a business’ online presence. But they’re also an important SEO maintenance tool. Here’s a quick recap of everything this guide covered:

  • SEO audits should show strengths and weaknesses, and offer actionable advice on how to improve
  • Businesses should invest in regular SEO audits because SEO doesn’t “happen overnight”
  • SEO audits should include six key components: technical, competitive, content, keyword, link, and Core Web Vitals analyses

Check out the Clutch Creative blog to learn more about SEO and why it’s so important for long-term success.

Ready to invest in an SEO audit now? Schedule a consultation with an SEO expert now.