I was prompted to write today’s blog because of a client I have that has been completely taken advantage of by their previous website designer. This client came to me requesting a new website, and when we really started talking about the current website, it became clear pretty quickly that something just wasn’t right. I took a look “under the hood” of the current website, and was somewhat stunned… and not in a good way.
Unfortunately, the person who built the website either knew nothing about SEO, or simply failed to implement any optimization at all. When I explained to my client that the website is essentially being 100% ignored by Google (due to “no follow, no index” html coding), he wasn’t very happy. Years of effort trying to get the site to be recognized by Google have been wasted.
SEO, short for Search Engine Optimization, is one of those topics that is vast and scary to a lot of folks, and for good reason. Unfortunately, that fear of the unknown leads a lot of business owners to simply ignore it, or leave it to the professionals that they hired. Leaving a complex chore like SEO up to the pros is a great idea, but just like with any professional you hire, you should be doing your own due diligence to ensure that they know what they’re doing, and that your site’s SEO is doing well.
Don’t worry though. I’m going to try to make this as easy and painless as possible, because doing an SEO audit on your website should be something you can do yourself in about an hour. Let’s get started!
How to Audit Your Website’s SEO in 6 (kinda) Easy Steps
What You’ll Need:
- Computer with Internet Connection
- Pen and Paper
- Username and Password for Your Google Analytics Account
- About 1 Hour
1. Write Down Keywords/Key Phrases
This step sounds silly, but it’s important. Before you even get started with the rest of these instructions, get your notepad and jot down the keywords or key phrases that you think you should be ranking for. It’s easy! This list should have at least 10 different items on it, but it could have as many as 50!
For example, a real estate website is going to want to rank for key phrases with their target city/neighborhood in it, so you might write down “discount real estate broker in Acworth” or “Northwest Atlanta home buying tips“. These are just suggestions from one of my own clients.
This list of your “targets” will help you and give you a frame of reference for the rest of these SEO audit steps.
2. Check Your Mobile Compatibility
Did you know that your website’s mobile-friendliness now affects SEO? This change, brought about earlier this year by Google, stirred up a lot business owners who had websites that were doing fine until Google launched this little nugget, and now their website traffic has fallen off by over 60% in some cases!
Google has set up this nifty tool for you to check your website’s mobile-friendliness, so it’s easy to see if your website passes or fails this important test. If it passes, you’re good to go! If Google fails your site, however, you’re going to want to call your website company or hire a new one as quickly as possible.
3. Evaluate Your Google Analytics Stats
Hopefully your website developer gave you access to your website’s Google Analytics, so that you can log in and take a look at your traffic anytime. For the purpose of this SEO audit, we’re going to be looking at your site’s “Acquisition”, which is a breakdown of how your site’s visitors are actually finding you.
Log into Google Analytics, and from your “Home” screen, just click “All Website Data” for the site you wish to audit. On the left, there are many tools that you can click on to see all kinds of interesting data about your website traffic, but for now, we’re going to scroll down to the section that says, “Acquisition” and click on “Overview”.
It’s important to note that you can change the date range for the data you’re looking at up in the top right corner of the screen. You can create your own custom date range if you like (I like to view the last 3 months of data, personally), or easily select from some pre-set date ranges, such as today, yesterday, the last 7 days, the last 30 days, etc.
On the left side of the screen, you’ll see a colorful pie chart. It represents all the methods (“channels”) that people use to come to your site. If you mouse over the pie chart, you’ll be able to see each section’s data. The one you want to pay attention to is “Organic Search” which is the red color pie slice.
Organic search traffic usually means the visitor searched for something on any internet search engine, your website came up in the search engine results, and they clicked on it. This acquisition channel is a good representation of your site’s SEO performance.
Don’t be alarmed if it’s not a huge slice of the pie; look at the actual number of “sessions” associated with it instead. If your site is less than a year old, your percentage may be 3% or lower; but if even one person found your site via organic search, then you’ll know that your site is at least being indexed by Google. It’s important to consider the other traffic sources also; if you put more of your resources into social media, or paid search advertising, then obviously those pieces of the pie should be larger.
However, if your site is older than 6 months and you have ZERO organic search traffic, then you should be concerned. In very general terms, if your site is 3+ years old, your organic search traffic should be at least 5%.
4. Evaluate Your Site’s URLs
A URL is the actual “address” of any web page on the Internet. It usually starts with “http://” or “www” and it has periods, slashes, dashes, and sometimes other characters also, but it never has any spaces. URLs can be VERY long, or very short. A URL is just like a fingerprint; every single web page has a different URL.
Believe it or not, your site’s URLs can benefit your SEO if they’re done properly. This is something your website company should have done for you, and it’s very easy to take a look. Here’s a little chart to show you good and bad URLs, and why each example is good or bad: