I’ll be the first one to admit it:  “SEO Audit” sounds brain-numbingly boring. Audits are the whole reason that people make jokes about accountants and IRS employees. And here you are reading an article on creating an SEO audit.

Let me just say it:  An SEO audit is anything but boring. Sure, you might have to dive into some of the tech geekery of SEO, but the results that you produce are powerful, game-changing, revenue-impacting, and thoroughly actionable. An SEO audit is one of the most powerful tools. A thorough audit answers questions, solves problems, and produces an array of benefits that you may have never anticipated.

By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what we’re going to accomplish with an SEO audit. Plus, you’ll be salivating to begin your own audit.

What is the definition of “SEO Audit?”

An SEO audit is a broad evaluation of a website’s search engine performance.

Holy cow, that’s a huge definition. You could potentially spend two years creating a detailed audit based on that definition. So, having dished up that amazon of a scope, I’m going to whittle it down.

For example…

  • You don’t need to analyze every single freaking page of content on the website. You could, but you don’t have to. 
  • It’s not necessary to produce a spreadsheet of every potentially harmful backlink pointing to the site. Again, if that’s your thing, go for it. But you don’t have to.
  • I’m not going to suggest that you measure the size of every image on the site to determine compression capabilities. Not a bad idea, but not necessary.

There are all kinds of detailed audits that you could subject your website to. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to suggest an audit that gives you powerful results without draining your time and sucking your soul of its vitality and humanity.

Who needs an SEO audit?

At the risk of sounding cliche, every website does. I believe that every website could benefit from an SEO audit.

I’ll be totally transparent, though. I’ve looked at some websites, and thought, No. We’re not going to do an audit. First, we’re going to do a redesign.

You see what I mean? Some websites are so far gone that no amount of SEO auditing is going to bring them back. Use your best judgment.

What is an SEO audit good for?

The basic answer is this:  It gives you an actionable plan for improving your site’s search engine performance and visibility.

There are two groups of people who will benefit from an SEO audit:

  1. This audit is ideal for agencies who want to offer a great product.

Advertise it on your website, package it up, and start selling it. This thing is a killer product, and you can charge anywhere from $1k to $5k to run one, depending on the size of the client’s site, and the complexity of your audit.

Alternatively, you can provide the audit as a complementary product. An audit is essentially a roadmap of website improvements that you can offer at a cost.

  1.  This audit is also beneficial for any website seeking to improve its SEO.

It’s hard to simply “improve a website” without knowing where to start and what to do. Your SEO audit shows you precisely what features you should focus on when seeking to enhance your website search performance.

What skill level should I have before running this audit?

I’d like to think that this audit is easy enough for my eight-year-old to run, provided she follows the instructions. Truth be told, there are a few technical terms and concepts that you should have in place before attempting this audit.

  • You should know the major SEO terms:  URL, meta description, ALT tag, image compression, robots.txt. If these terms are Greek to you, then this audit will be challenging.
  • It will be helpful if you’ve used some basic SEO tools. The more tools you’re familiar with, the faster and better you’ll be able to perform this audit. I’ll suggest some free and paid tools below. Some of the most helpful are Majestic, SEMRush, Ahrefs, Moz, Screaming Frog, etc.
  • You should have some technical chops. I don’t consider myself a super-technical person. I studied mostly languages and literature in college, not a STEM field. However, once I found my groove in the marketing world, I developed some facility in technical activities. If tech just isn’t your thing, then this audit could be a lesson in suffering.

Don’t worry. If you’re an SEO newbie, never used an SEO tool in your life, and prefer playing Chopin on the piano to poring over sitemaps on your Macbook, don’t worry: You can still do this.

What is the goal of an SEO audit?

The goal is simple:  To improve your website’s search engine performance. This is an obvious point, but it brings up two important not-so-obvious points:

  • The audit itself is not going to change your website. The audit only shows you what you should change.
  • In order for the audit to be successful, it should provide a tactical list of things that need to be changed. It does no good to explain, “you have 289,189 backlinks.” Who cares?! The information in an audit should be tied to something actionable.

And the ultimate goal is even better:  More revenue for your business.

What is the result of an SEO audit?

A good audit will provide the following:

  • An SEO audit is an actionable plan. You instantly know what needs to be changed and how to do it.
  • An SEO audit is the big picture of a site. You can understand at a glance how competitive your website is from an SEO perspective.
  • An SEO audit displays your website’s weaknesses. And then, it shows how to improve upon them.
  • An SEO audit helps to set expectations. SEO audits are great at providing a competitive baseline for a website’s future improvements.
  • An SEO audit provides ongoing opportunities for improvement. You probably won’t be able to improve on everything on your SEO audit list right away. Instead, you have a variety of things to work on for several weeks or months.

What are some challenges of an SEO audit?

  • Getting bogged down in the weeds. I’m a fan of picking apart a website, line of code by line of code, javascript by javascript, h-tag by h-tag. I’ve got the tools. I’ve got the skills. If the client has the money, I have the time. But is this really valuable? Answer:  Probably not.
  • Not providing a helpful overview. Executives don’t really care about robots.txt optimization unless it impacts the bottom line. Rise above brushstroke detail, and create a panoramic landscape — the big picture overview.
  • Not providing actionable takeaways. I know I’m repeating it, but this is important. Listen up folks. The audit has to tell people what to do.
  • Not providing something of more value than an automated audit. I think this speaks for itself.

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