So you’ve signed up a great SEO or digital agency to help you with your online marketing initiatives – congratulations! You’ve taken the first step in leveraging all the cool 21st century technology in the service of growing your business.
What can you expect from your shiny new marketing team? At Panoptic, the on-boarding of all new clients begins with a consultation call or meeting, followed by a comprehensive SEO Audit.
The consultation needs to come first; we generally spend a few hours talking to the business owner or stakeholder about the company and its culture, its customers and their purchasing habits, its competition, recent and historical sales trends, etc. It’s important for us to have a basic understanding of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) to our clients’ businesses before attempting to assess their website. Once we’re armed with this foundational information we conduct an SEO audit.
An SEO Audit analyzes and evaluates a website based on factors that affect its ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). This includes assessing both the website’s structure and content (on-site SEO) and other external factors (off-site SEO).
Panoptic conducts an SEO Audit in two parts: on-site and off-site. The on-site audit looks at the website itself to determine its strength in all important on-site (also known as “technical”) SEO areas:
- Visibility: are all website pages visible and indexed by the search engines? That is, can customers actually find the pages through search? Sometimes bad coding can cause websites to be more or less invisible!
- Content: do all the pages contain enough useful information? Each page of your business website needs to provide something of value to the reader – not just sale pitches – and any duplicate text needs to be properly attended to so that the site won’t be penalized by Google.
- Semantic structure and meta tagging: is the on-page content structured using proper HTML headings and schema mark-up, and are all the site’s pages tagged with meta titles and descriptions that give both readers and search engines a sense of what they’re about?
- Links and images: does the site have a good distribution of hyperlinks (internal and external) and are the links and images all working and properly tagged with title and ALT text?
- Site speed and mobility usability: does the site load quickly across desktop and mobile devices? For that matter, can the site be viewed properly on smartphones and tablets.
The off-site SEO audit assesses factors that come from everywhere but the website. That is, what’s your website’s place and standing on the Internet? Here are a few of the things we might look into:
- How long has your domain been around and how long has your site been up and running?
- What share of the search results does your site garner for itself amongst its top three or four competitors (for a variety of keyword searches, both with and without geo-qualifiers)?
- How many other websites link back to your site and what’s the relative strength and authority of those websites?
- Does your website get lots of mentions on the social networks?
SEO is a big topic, with many details to consider at every step of the website’s lifecycle. Regardless of whether your site is brand new or in need of an update, it’s never too soon to start taking steps to improve your SEO.
Below is an infographic to guide you through the SEO audit process: