You wouldn’t dream of running a car for years without an MOT, right?
Like a car that isn't regularly checked over, your website may also have problems lurking under the bonnet that you aren't aware of.
That is until something breaks or your organic rankings drop.
Having an SEO audit at intervals and key milestones is essential for keeping your website performing well and staying ahead of the competition online.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CARRY OUT AN SEO AUDIT?
We recommend having an audit every 3-5 years at an absolute minimum.
However the chances are your website will have had a lot of work done to it during that sort of time period and possibly even a complete re-launch.
If you've made significant changes to your website, you should carry out an audit or even a mini-audit to check the effect of those changes and ensure you keep moving forward.
The 2016 Search Engine Journal (SEJ) report revealed that whilst over three-quarters (77%) of industry experts believe that businesses should perform a full SEO audit every six months, over half (56%) stated they never perform SEO audits for new clients.
Clearly, the detailed process of carrying out a full audit, combined with confusing technical wizardry and a lack of clarification regarding the mysterious ins and outs of those all-important search engine algorithms, can lead to many business owners putting an audit on the back-burner in favour of more pressing issues.
PUTTING IT OFF CAN LEAD TO PROBLEMS
The fact remains: not bothering to conduct an SEO audit on a regular basis will not only affect your organic search traffic, it will affect your bottom line.
The longer you leave it to tackle, the more complex it can become to uncover any gaps – and the longer it can take to plug them.
Additionally, the world of SEO is forever changing and evolving; strategies that worked last year may well soon be obsolete.
Regular audits will help your website move with the times (which in digital marketing, as we know, is incredibly fast).
SO, WHAT EXACTLY DOES AN SEO AUDIT DO?
Essentially, it is an analysis of a website’s overall health, checking a wide range of technical and on-page elements to measure how well it is performing and, importantly, highlight any strengths and weaknesses or gaps that need to be addressed in order to gain maximum exposure from search engines.
A thorough SEO audit will analyse much more than just keyword usage – often the first element people think of when they consider SEO.
External factors such as the sources of your traffic, social profiles, domain quality, backlinks and brand mentions will be taken into account, as well as a range of internal factors like meta data, page hierarchy, internal linking and URL structure.
Additionally, the website structure should be examined, taking into account key considerations like loading speed, meta data and coding.
An SEO audit should look at your site from the user’s point of view as well as the search engine’s. It should also take into account what your competitors are up to as well.
SHOULD I CARRY OUT MY OWN AUDIT, OR GET THE EXPERTS IN?
A certain amount of technical knowledge is necessary to conduct an SEO audit, so that you are equipped to deal with any issues that crop up.
You also need to have a broad understanding of SEO and the wide variety of factors that should be checked as part of an audit.
There are a number of free, basic SEO audit tools that can help make this task a little easier.
These tools are free in their most basic version, but use can be limited unless you are willing to invest in a license for the additional features that allow you to carry out a more comprehensive analysis of your site.
If a DIY audit doesn’t sound like something you are able to make time for, perhaps consider outsourcing to those specialising in this area – this way you can be sure your website’s SEO is in good hands while you focus on other priorities.