September 9, 2019

The value of an SEO audit

By Derek Kent

First off, what is SEO? Search engine optimization (SEO) is what you do to increase traffic to your website from organic search results on search engine platforms such as Yahoo, Google, or Bing.

Website traffic is anything that visits your website. These days we say anything instead of anyone as both humans and automated systems known as bots will be visiting your site.

Organic search results appear on the search engine results page (SERP) when a person types their query into a search engine. The SERP will contain both paid and organic results.

Organic search results are matched to your search query by the search engine’s algorithm to provide the best results. Paid search results are advertisements where companies have paid to have their ad displayed when someone runs a search query matching the advertiser’s conditions.

search engine results for coffee table books

Improving your website’s ranking in organic search results will be the primary focus for the SEO improvement that an audit will help you with. In fact, a study by Search Engine Watch found organic search results are clicked 94% more often than the ads. It makes sense—ranking high due to search relevance can show expertise, whereas anyone can buy an ad. Take a look at your own searches, do you click the ads or the first few organic results?

Now that we have a broad snapshot of what SEO is and why organic search results are important, let’s get into the value of an SEO audit.

It is key to first recognize that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint, meaning it is many small improvements that advance your website’s chance at ranking high in the organic search results. There is no magic fix that will catapult your website’s content to page one of the SERP.

Search engines take five core SEO aspects into account when crawling your website. Technical, on-page, off-page, mobile, and local SEO. Without getting into the specifics of each, an SEO audit uncovers areas of improvement within these five core aspects.

An SEO audit will first present you with an overall score ranging from 0-100%. Additionally, your score will be accompanied by how many pages have been crawled on your website. A brief breakdown of the crawled pages will reflect how your score was calculated by showing how many pages are healthy, broken, have issues, are using re-directs, or have been blocked.

SEO audit score

So now you know the score of your website. Where is the value in the audit report? The value lies in the detailed breakdown of your website’s issues as errors, warnings, and notices.

Errors, warnings and notices discovered in an SEO audit

Errors are issues of the highest severity to your website’s SEO while warnings are of medium severity. Notices are technically not considered issues, however, we recommend you fix them for overall improved SEO. Remember, it’s a marathon of small improvements that matter most.

Fixing and improving issue areas will have additional benefits to your website outside of SEO, such as user experience. If the audit finds broken links within your site, not only will this help with SEO, but it will allow users to flow freely through your website without interruption. Broken links can also make your site appear untrustworthy.

Fixing issues will also help bring your site into the growing need for mobile readiness. Today, more searches are done on hand-held devices than ever before; Your website will need to be ready with compressed images and lazy-loading content. Your SEO audit will pick up where issues like these exist.

Finally, an audit will help improve your content by finding duplications, missing metadata, mixed content, poor URL structure and more. There’s no need to worry if you do not understand these terms immediately, your SEO audit will not only point out the issues but explain what they are and how to fix them.

The bottom line when it comes to the value of an SEO audit is the ability to make your site as search engine friendly as possible. Search engine’s complex algorithms are continuously crawling the internet for new and existing websites and apps, all the while ranking each to ready them for the next search query. An SEO audit points out not only where your website needs improvement, but also how to improve the found issues to make your site fully search engine optimized.

Derek Kent is a Digital Specialist and Content Analyst at AdFarm with family roots in agriculture. He is proud be part of the connection between the world’s oldest endeavour and the latest in digital marketing technology and strategy.