It's a good idea to lay down solid foundations before embarking on a new project. In this post, find out how to conduct a simple SEO audit for your small business.
Having a solid SEO plan means you can reap 80% of the benefits while doing 20% of the effort. Performing an SEO audit can help boost your business, increase traffic, and stay ahead of your competition.
Small Business SEO Audit
Over 60% of marketers say that search engine optimization (SEO) is their top priority when it comes to their sites. They’re diligent about conducting regular SEO audits to keep their sites in optimal condition.
SEO audits determine your site’s current situation. An audit helps to evaluate your site for technical SEO issues, potential optimizations, and how well it’s doing on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
These audits should be done quarterly to ensure your website is healthy and up-to-date. One option for small businesses is to outsource auditing and optimization efforts to an SEO professional, SEO company, or digital marketing agency.
However, with a little know-how, you can perform a basic SEO audit yourself. Simply follow the 10 SEO audit steps for small businesses below.
1. Check Google Search Status
Check the health of your website and its visibility in Google Search using Google's free SEO tool. Go to Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools). Make sure you have a property connected to your site. If not, follow the instructions to add a tag and verify your site. Next, select the website you’re auditing. Then, select “Manual actions” in the left-hand sidebar.
Do you see a green tick followed by the message “No issues detected?” Then, you’re in the clear of any critical issues that could prevent your site from appearing in Google Search.
If not, there should be some possible reasons provided why your site was penalized. Adjust the site’s SEO strategies to fix it and remove any penalties.
Next, check the “Coverage” and “Sitemaps” sections in the left-hand sidebar to make sure the site pages that you want visible in Google are crawlable and indexable by Google.
Additional sections to audit in Google Search Console include:
- Performance – Check this section to see clicks, impressions, and average ranking position of your site pages over time.
- URL Inspection – You can optionally inspect a page of your site to check its Google status.
- Mobile Usability – Verify your pages are detected as being mobile-friendly in this section.
- Page Experience – Discover potential issues with page experience in this section.
- Core Web Vitals – Additional user experience data may appear here over time.
2. Do an Online Search
It's a good idea to see what the current status of your business's search visibility is like.
Type the name of your business into Google Search to see what comes up. As of June 2021, Google dominates a massive 92.47% of the search engine global market share. So, it makes sense to prioritize Google. Afterward, it can be worth checking your visibility in lesser-used, but growing search engines like Bing and DuckDuckGo.
Check out the following when searching for your business name:
- Does your Google Business Profile information appear? If not, you might need to create and verify a new business profile or update its information.
- Does your homepage appear as one of the top results? This might not be the case if your site is brand new. Otherwise, there could be some potential SEO issues at play.
- Do your site title and description make sense for someone who would search your business name? If not, adjust the site title and meta description of your homepage to align better with the search. Note: Google doesn't always use your meta descriptions and often pulls content from the page, but it's a good idea to set one for all of your pages.
- Ensure any local business listings that appear for your business include updated information, including accurate NAP data (name, address, phone).
- To maintain a good online reputation, check and potentially respond to online reviews about your business.
After auditing the search results for your business name, take a look at the search results for relevant product or service keywords in your area as well, to see if you rank for these local keywords and to better understand the type of content that does rank for these terms.
3. Crawl Your Site
To ‘crawl’ your site means to use a software tool that mimics a web crawler such as Googlebot. These bots’ main job is to crawl through and collect data about each page URL and their connections with each other.
While there are a variety of web crawlers with different capabilities, examples of crawled data include page titles, meta tags, images, and other resources found on the page. Crawlers also check for internal and external links, broken links, link redirect paths, the number of words on a page, and the content used.
Recommendations for crawling a business site as part of an SEO audit:
- Some all-in-one SEO software tools, particularly Semrush or SE Ranking, include user-friendly auditing features with helpful how-to guides.
- Screaming Frog SEO Spider is an effective option for crawling a site to find potential optimization issues and opportunities, however, it can take some SEO understanding to use compared to the more user-friendly audit features included in all-in-one SEO software.
Check out the best software tools for SEO audits here for a complete list.
4. Measure Site Speed
To find out how long it takes your site to load, use Google’s PageSpeed Insights. It’ll give you the information you’re looking for right from the source.
See this list of free SEO tools for other helpful page speed and site audit tools.
The best thing is that it doesn’t just give you speed information. Google will also give you tips on how you can optimize the page to achieve a faster loading time.
Faster loading pages can improve user page engagement and improve rankings. Slow pages, however, can result in the opposite effect.
5. Do a Keyword Analysis
While keywords aren’t Google’s main focus today, they still play an important role in providing Google and other search engines with clear signals about what your site and page content are all about, which can help boost rankings when optimized.
For example, if your content is using more phrases that are being searched in Google than not, such as the locations you serve for local SEO, chances are your page content will eventually rank higher up in the search engine result pages (SERPs) over time.
Aligning your content topics with relevant in-demand keywords that are being searched will help you achieve more first-page rankings. See these keyword research tips for ways to find relevant keywords to target based on your site and content.
6. Perform Competitor Analysis
Competitor analysis is a vital part of a successful SEO audit and strategy.
The next step is to examine the status of competing sites in regard to:
- Competitor keyword rankings that are relevant to your site.
- Page content that's ranking and being created by your competitors.
- Site navigation and internal linking being used by top-ranking sites.
- The backlink sources of competing sites.
Use this information to plan out how you can improve your site content and acquire backlinks based on what's been working for your competitors.
SEO software tools are extremely useful for being able to quickly research all these aspects of competitor analysis.
Check these small business SEO tools for more helpful free and paid tools.
7. Eliminate Duplicate Content
While Google has stated that there isn't a penalty for duplicate content, it sure doesn't help and can suppress your site's ranking potential and confuse search engines on which pages of your site should rank for which keywords.
Also, you'll want to make sure your content isn't being copied by other sites. You can use free tools like Copyscape to detect duplicate content online and Siteliner to check for duplicate content across your website pages.
If you notice someone using your original work without permission, reach out to the site admin. They may not even realize they’re using your original work.
8. Monitor Social Media
Does your business have social media accounts on sites such as Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn? If so, sharing content on these social media sites can help increase the exposure of your business and website, and potentially lead to more backlinks and site traffic.
For example, let’s say people are liking your content. They share it and it keeps getting posted and reposted with included links to your website. These links are considered inbound links or backlinks, which can give your site pages a boost in rankings over time.
9. Check for Spam
Earning backlinks to your website is one of the strongest signals related to increasing rankings alongside creating quality content and internal links between your pages. Also known as inbound links, backlinks can help increase referral web traffic to your site. So, having more pays off, right? Not always.
The problem is sometimes these sites have bad standing with Google and publish spammy, low-quality, or irrelevant content. These types of sites can reflect negatively on your site's search visibility. The best thing you can do is try and earn links from reputable or content-relevant sites. See these link building tips for ideas.
10. Analyze Site Traffic
Google Analytics will inform you about where site visits are coming from, the pages visited, which pages visitors exit your site on, how long visitors are on your site, the physical location of visitors, and more. Use this information to improve your content.
According to BrightEdge, 68% of online usage begins with a search engine. Once people type in their search, 0.78% of them make it to the second page of SERPs. They either find what they need on the first page or they try a new keyword search.
If your site content isn’t on the first page for relevant keyword searches, chances are it won't generate much traffic. That’s why it's critical to perform a search engine optimization audit and understand the type of actions you can take to resolve any issues and improve your site's search presence.
To give your site a boost, follow the SEO audit steps for small businesses above. These steps will help you gain an understanding of your site's health, and online presence, and equip you with the knowledge to improve your SEO strategy, your site rankings, search traffic, and gain new business
Looking for SEO services? Check out these leading affordable SEO packages.
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