Chris Raulf, founder and digital marketing expert at Boulder SEO Marketing, authored this blog post for the Online Marketing Institute. Click here to view the original post on the OMI website.
How is your website doing? Are you ranking well? Is the site healthy? Oh, sure, you check your analytics, but are you really using the data productively? Consider this: eMarketer shared an EConsultancy and Lynchpin study that reported less than half of website marketers find analytics of any use in making sound decisions about their site.
I thought so. Hey, don’t feel bad. Staying on top of analytics is a full-time job, and many web business owners already have their hands full. A fast, efficient way to make sure your site is working as hard as you do is to conduct an SEO Site Audit.
A thorough SEO Site Audit can give a “big picture” of your website’s health and clearly indicates areas you can change in order to boost rankings, sales, and profits. Site audits are extensive reports that can vary from 25 to 40 pages, and take all the guesswork out of maximizing your site for the highest return.
In other words, it’s like getting an annual physical at the doctor – without having to get on a treadmill!
Here are the areas an SEO Site Audit checks:
Have you ever become lost on a website because the navigation was confusing and counterintuitive? An SEO Site Audit makes sure that won’t happen anymore – it checks to make sure pages flow in a consistent manner that web visitors can follow easily, and navigation is simple and clear.
For example, the audit determines how many clicks it takes to get from the home page to the visitor’s final destination. If it takes too many clicks to drill down to good content, they will give up and try another site.
Your website’s health is diminished if it doesn’t use best practices to keep its insides running smoothly. Little things matter – for example, the audit makes sure a robots.txt file is present, directing robots and search engine crawlers to run in the specified manner.
A good audit also checks for a comprehensive site map for humans and an XML site map to keep bots and crawlers on the right path. It’s also critical to check for dead links. Healthy, active links are the backbone of the Internet – a thorough dead link cleaning improves your site immediately.
A healthy site is also fast, because web visitors will click away if graphics, content, themes, and scripts take too long to load. The audit will indicate any bottlenecks or slow points, with details on how to get the lead out.
On-page optimization is the process of improving the structure, content, and meta information of web pages on the site. It includes:
- Good content. Content that is helpful and valuable provides web visitors with the information they want. In addition, it is highly linkable, meaning it is both valuable and easy to link to from other sites.
- Meta tags. Meta tags tell search engines and visitors what the content is about and help improve the click-through rate (CTR) if optimized and engaging.
- URL structure and naming. Clear URLs are important because they indicate the hierarchy of the site’s content structure, so search engines know where to crawl pages rapidly. URLs should also include the target keywords.
On-page optimization also includes a variety of other tasks such as: researched keywords, ALT tags of pictures and graphics, hyperlinking, keyword placement and density, and much more.
Off-page optimization is concerned with improving all factors outside your website that influence page rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs). It includes:
- Links. The more quality links to your content, the better.
- Local citations. These are listings in directories such as Yelp, YP.com, and EZLocal. With enough quality local citations, a business has a great chance to be listed in the “7-box” of business listings on Google Maps, a highly desirable section for a local merchant.
- Social networking. Social media sites update frequently so search engines visit them often for fresh content. Also, social signals play an important role in how Google determines how high a site ranks. That’s why it is important to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and other social sites.
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