Websites are like cars: they need maintenance. That may come in the form of updating the CMS, security or plugins. The same goes for SEO.
A great SEO strategy will always need reviewing and constant scrutiny of analytics, in order to ensure that you remain on the intended path.
To garner the most success from search engine traffic, a fully-fledged campaign is the best bet, where an individual or team can dedicate the correct amount of time to deliver results.
SEO audits are a slightly different beast. Audit. A word associated with redundancies or the taxman knocking at your door. It’s a word devoid of happy connotations.
But don’t be afraid, they can be very helpful. So where do they fit into the SEO ecosystem, and how can you tell if your website needs one?
What’s involved in an SEO audit?
Carrying on with the car metaphor, not all cars are the same.
The fundamentals might be the same: cylinders, internal combustion, suspension, gears, wheels. But a Lamborghini is not the same as a Skoda.
In the same vein, not all SEO agencies are the same, and SEO audits can differ greatly between agencies in their complexity and depth. The results will therefore differ according to the content of the audit. However, let’s presume that an SEO audit will look at:
- Overall keyword strategy
- On-site optimization
- Website user flow
- Content strategy
- Backlink profiles
What’s the plan? To give an overview of the health of your website with regard to SEO. You should also get a multitude of actionable points according to the strategy, which either you or the agency should implement.
An SEO audit can be the first point of call for developing an SEO strategy if you don’t already have one, or if you do, as a valuable second opinion that potentially flags up critical issues with your existing strategy. Let’s look at how an SEO audit could benefit your business in each scenario.
Starting from scratch
You don’t feel that you’re getting much in the way of traffic or conversions via search engines on your website. You may or may not have conducted SEO work in the past, but you definitely want to be making more of the potential that search engine optimization offers.
Great! An SEO audit is the best starting point that will provide you with an initial strategy to implement.
It should be noted that the first weeks of an SEO campaign will cover a lot of what would be involved in an SEO audit, so you don’t certainly stand to lose out. The audit should include the major points of an SEO strategy, leaving you to either execute it yourself or continue the work with an agency.
Why is this a good option? Well, it means that you can test the waters. It is unfortunate that the SEO world is somewhat damaged by the presence of black hat practitioners, making the paying client somewhat cautious of hiring an agency, especially if their knowledge is limited or they have previously had their fingers burnt.
The SEO audit should let them analyze the quality of the work presented by said agency and choose whether the working relationship is worth following. In certain situations, performing thorough on-site SEO can result in a jump in rankings*, therefore, acting as something of a litmus test or a less costly alternative for the budget-conscious.
*This is not to say that an audit will produce the same results as a full campaign. It should, however, (if properly completed and implemented) demonstrate value.
Second opinion: In-house & agency
At Yellowball, we like to do the metaphor of the coal face. It is a hard task when you are at the coal face to take a step back and take a breath. We see this with really good websites. The client will look at it on a daily basis for months which inescapably results in them getting bored of the designs, regardless of whether the new business that they want to attract thinks it looks great.
On the other side of the coin, you can be so involved with something (i.e an SEO campaign) that it is very difficult to take a sense check. Confirmation bias can crawl into analytics reviews, and data-driven decisions can turn into more emotional decisions due to the time you’ve already invested into the campaign.
An audit provides a fresh set of eyes. It can bring new ideas or a slight tweak to the strategy that can refresh the campaign and deliver increased results. There are some ways you can play this out depending on whether your SEO strategy is done by an in-house team or an external agency.
Audits for in-house teams
The battle between in-house teams that know the company and industry inside out compared with agencies that have arguably more up to date SEO knowledge and techniques. Audits can upskill in-house teams or refresh an ageing strategy.
Audits for agencies
Monthly retainers put pressures on agency teams to fulfil what was laid out in the proposal. Campaigns usually roll on past the original proposal length without pause for breath. An audit will provide an agency with the time to review the campaign’s successes and failures, the original strategy and make amendments.
Depending on how long the campaign has been working this audit can give valuable insight and amendments which in turn become greater results as you move forward.
Regardless of whether your SEO campaign is run in-house or outsourced to an agency, it is worth considering an audit as a sort of half-time break. A time where you can change your formation, make substitutions, and go out into the second half to win the game… Sorry about my excessive use of metaphors.
Second opinion: Audits can solve critical issues
Let’s take a look at a situation where things are not going right. Ditch the rose tinted glasses. Not the easiest situation to be in but one that requires action and one that definitely happens:
You are a business that has been running an SEO campaign in house or with an agency. Great. Except for the fact that it ain’t working. How can an audit help you here?
Close the skills gap
Sometimes there are critical issues which are caused directly by a skills gap. The individual or the team running the campaign just don’t have what it takes. That might be in the form of writing truly awesome content. It might be their ability to approach other websites to provide value and gain links. It may even be a developer who doesn’t have the technical skillset to implement all of the onsite optimization required. Whatever it is, you know that it is holding you back.
This is where you can give very specific instructions to those conducting the audit. They should be able to provide a strategy, guidance or even the specific skillset to solve this critical issue. Solve the problem and the results from the campaign could be drastically different!
Dare we say it, get you out of an expensive contract
This point is likely to be pretty controversial, but we would be lying if we said that the SEO industry was squeaky clean. There are pirates out there. The truth is that digital marketing agencies are a dime a dozen.
As a byproduct, a portion of those businesses that instruct an agency will make the wrong choice. They will go with an agency that promises the world and under-delivers. Worse, they spam the website. The business wants to draw the ejector, but there is a 12 or 24 month contract which they themselves have signed.
Hopefully, the contract will dictate the work that was supposed to be carried out on your site, and an audit will provide the evidence to show that this work has not been completed to a pleasing standard, therefore making the contract void.
It’s not something that we like to talk about, but important nonetheless, and potentially very useful.
So there you have it. An audit can set the initial strategy, provide second opinions for in-house teams and agencies, or even help solve critical issues.
If you can see the advantage in audits, we would highly recommend scheduling one in; they should be viewed as a positive step to a more lucrative SEO campaign!
Looking for an agency with great SEO Auditing skills? Contact Top4 Marketing, an award-winning digital marketing and technology services agency providing solutions to the largest and upcoming brands across all industries and government in Australia and across APAC.