Why is an annual SEO audit important? Because your small business’s website is one of its most important assets and, like any other asset, it needs to be properly maintained. If you are not constantly tracking your search engine optimisation (SEO) performance, refining your website and looking for ways to attract more visitors, you risk losing out on valuable traffic.
The end of a year is the perfect opportunity to find an hour or two to conduct your SEO audit. It will help you identify any issues with your site and enable you to improve your user experience. It’s also a lot easier to do your own SEO audit than many small business owners think. We have broken it down into five steps and recommended some useful tools to help, many of them free.
Review site performance for the year
What better place to start with an annual SEO audit than with a review of how your website has performed during the year? If you use Google Analytics, you can pull up a range of reports that will give you insights into how much traffic passes through your site, the demographics of your audience, how they found your site, and your success in driving goals such as newsletter signups.
If you use a good website builder, it will also offer basic insights into website performance and your audience. GoDaddy InSight, part of our Websites + Marketing solution, offers tailored recommendations draw from insights across more than a million GoDaddy customers worldwide. It provides you with performance metrics and advice on how to improve them.
Some questions to ask yourself as you review the data include:
- Are people staying to read my content or are they ‘bouncing’ straight away?
- Which social media posts and search terms are bringing customers to my site?
- Is my traffic growing or declining?
- How many new users am I attracting and how many repeat visitors?
- How many clicks does it take for someone to get the info they need from my site?
- Are users doing what I’d like them to, for example, signing up for email newsletter or booking an appointment?
Re-evaluate navigation and design
Web design trends move relatively quickly, and so should your business. As you conduct your annual website review, it’s worth evaluating whether the design is up to date with the times and with your evolving brand image. Does it look attractive on all devices, including small mobile screens? Are all fonts legible? Do the colours align with your image? Are there any intrusive popups or other distractions?
You may also want to look at your website structure and navigation. Can users easily jump to any part of the site they want to visit from your navigation section? Are you page headings user friendly and easy to understand? Can people get to key information, such as your email address or phone number without needing to click through multiple pages or scrolling down for ages? Fixing user experience issues will help with SEO – Google tends to penalise sites that are not optimised for mobile or that have high bounce rates.
During your SEO audit, you should also check on a few technical issues that are important to the search engines and to the user experience. For example, you’ll want to ensure that your webpages are loading fast. Google’s PageSpeed Insights will measure the loading speed of the pages on your site and help you fix any issues.
If you do not have SSL for your website, consider adding it. SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, encrypts your users’ data as it moves between their browsers and your servers, meaning that hackers can’t intercept and steal it. Search engines rank https-encrypted websites higher in their search results. Getting a certificate is simple. GoDaddy provides them as a yearly subscription. Once you have a certificate, you’ll need to link it to your site.
Clean your content house
As much as website owners and SEO agencies try to ‘game’ search engine algorithms, search success ultimately comes down to the quality of your content. If you’re producing good quality content, you’ll get more referring links, better user engagement and a higher and more sustainable ranking with the search engines.
Review your content with a critical eye, especially pages that are not performing well in attracting traffic. You can then decide whether it’s best to pare back low-quality pages – especially if you have a big site – or whether to improve the quality and republish. Also, think about whether you have more than one page targeting the same keyword – could you benefit from consolidating them?
Good quality content should be written for humans, without unnatural keyword stuffing. It should be free of grammatical or spelling errors, and it should be written in plain language rather than jargon or hyperbole. Users should be able to skim a page’s headers and sub headers to get a sense of the content and to navigate to the parts that are of most interest to them.
It’s also important to strike a balance between too many and too few words. Users don’t necessarily want to see a massive wall of text, but a 50-word page might not gather much search traction. When in doubt, write for the reader rather than the search engine.
You might also want to think about whether the keywords you are targeting are still right for your business. You can use tools like Google Keyword Planner or Keywords Everywhere to find relevant keywords that online visitors enter when searching online.
Pro-tip: Think about questions people ask in your industry and put them in a FAQ page to attract some great traffic, especially from people using a voice assistant like Siri.
Identify and fix SEO issues
Finally, there are the all-important housekeeping items to consider, such as whether you’re hosting duplicate pages or have any broken links on your website. You can use a tool like Screaming Frog or SEOCrawler to ‘crawl’ your website for issues like slow page speeds, duplicate tags, duplicate content, keyword optimisation and broken links. Google Lighthouse is another tool that helps web developers improve the quality of the pages on their site.
Having done your annual SEO audit, you can make a fresh start with your website in the new year. Here are some practices to consider:
- Create a social and blog editorial calendar to plan content around target SEO terms.
- Think about writing guest posts for other websites, with links back to your website.
- Share your content on social media to encourage others to link back to it.
- Check that your website metadata consists of a page title and meta description for every page. You can look at refining it to get better SEO results.
- Master the art of local SEO with Google My Business – check out our starter guide.