The Site Audit: No Longer the Way to Start Your SEO EngagementNathan Stenberg • April 11, 2023 • 7 minutes to read
When it comes to starting an SEO engagement, the site audit used to be the go-to method for many agencies and consultants. However, with changes in the search landscape and the evolution of SEO practices and tools, the site audit is not necessarily the best way to start an SEO engagement. In this article, we'll explore why the site audit is no longer effective and what you should do instead to start your SEO engagement.
The Site Audit: What It is & the Business Impact
Before we dive into the nuts and bolts of the article, a quick, high-level reminder of what a site audit is and the impact it can have on a business.
What is a Site Audit?
A Technical Site Audit is a process of examining a website's technical infrastructure to identify and address any issues that may affect its performance, usability, and search engine optimization (SEO). The audit involves analyzing various elements of a website such as its server, coding, and content to ensure that they are optimized for both users and search engines.
During a technical site audit, a website is evaluated based on various factors including page speed, mobile responsiveness, URL structure, meta tags, internal linking, broken links, duplicate content, XML sitemaps, and robots.txt files. The audit is usually conducted by SEO experts and web developers who have the knowledge and expertise to identify and fix technical issues that may be hindering a website's performance.
What Impact can a Site Audit Deliver for a Business?
A site audit can have a significant impact on a business in several ways:
- Improved Website Performance: A site audit can identify technical issues that may be hindering the performance of a website, such as slow loading times, broken links, or poor mobile responsiveness. By fixing these issues, the website's overall performance can improve, resulting in better user engagement, increased conversions, and ultimately, more revenue for the business.
- Better User Experience: A site audit can also identify user experience (UX) issues that may be causing frustration or confusion for website visitors. By improving the UX of a website, businesses can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, leading to higher retention rates and repeat business.
- Increased Search Engine Visibility: A site audit can help a business to identify SEO issues that may be impacting their website's visibility in search engines. By optimizing the website's content, structure, and technical elements, businesses can increase their search engine rankings and attract more organic traffic to their website.
- Improved Website Security: A site audit can also identify security vulnerabilities on a website, such as outdated software or weak passwords. By addressing these issues, businesses can prevent data breaches and other security incidents that could damage their reputation and lead to financial losses.
- Competitive Advantage: Finally, a site audit can give a business a competitive advantage by identifying areas for improvement that their competitors may be overlooking. By addressing these issues, businesses can differentiate themselves from their competitors and attract more customers.
As you can see, the Site Audit is a key piece of the optimization and improvement of a website. However, we’re here to talk about why this is not necessarily the best place to kick-off a new SEO engagement, so let’s dive in!
The Limitations of the Site Audit
While site audits can provide valuable insights into a website's technical SEO health, they have several limitations. For one, site audits are often focused solely on technical issues, neglecting other important aspects of SEO such as content and off-page factors. Additionally, site audits can be time-consuming and expensive, taking weeks or even months to complete and costing thousands of dollars.
The Shift Towards Holistic & Strategic SEO
Another reason why site audits are no longer the best way to start an SEO engagement is the shift towards holistic SEO. Holistic SEO takes into account all aspects of SEO, from technical issues to content, user experience, and off-page factors. By taking a holistic approach to SEO, you can better understand the needs of your target audience and create a comprehensive SEO strategy that drives long-term results.
The Importance of Data Analysis
Data analysis has become increasingly important in SEO, and the site audit is not the best way to gather the data you need to make informed decisions. Instead, you should use a combination of tools and techniques to gather data about your website, your competitors, and your target audience. By analyzing this data, you can gain a deeper understanding of your website's strengths and weaknesses and develop a data-driven SEO strategy that drives results.
The Need for Flexibility
Finally, the site audit is no longer effective because SEO is an ever-changing landscape. As search algorithms evolve and user behavior changes, your SEO strategy needs to be flexible and adaptable. By focusing too much on the site audit, you may miss out on opportunities to improve your website's performance and stay ahead of the competition.
The New Approach to Starting Your SEO Engagement
So, what should you do instead of starting with a site audit? Here are some steps to take:
Define your goals and objectives
Before you start any SEO engagement, it's essential to define your goals and objectives. What do you want to achieve with your SEO strategy? Who is your target audience? What are their needs and pain points?
Analyze your website's data
Use a combination of tools and techniques to gather data about your website, your competitors, and your target audience. This data will help you understand your website's strengths and weaknesses and identify areas for improvement.
Examples of Website Analysis Tools
Here are some examples of tools that can be used to analyze a website's data:
- Google Analytics: This is a free tool offered by Google that provides valuable information about a website's traffic, including how many visitors it receives, where they are coming from, and what pages they are visiting.
- SEMrush: This is a comprehensive SEO tool that can be used to analyze a website's traffic, as well as its search engine rankings, backlinks, and more. It also provides recommendations for improving a website's overall SEO performance.
- Moz Pro: This is another SEO tool that can be used to analyze a website's traffic and search engine rankings, as well as identify and fix technical SEO issues.
- Ahrefs: This is a powerful SEO tool that can be used to analyze a website's backlink profile, as well as identify new link-building opportunities.
- Hotjar: This is a user behavior analysis tool that can be used to track how visitors interact with a website, including how they navigate through pages, where they click, and how long they spend on each page.
Examples of Website Analysis Techniques
There are many different techniques that can be used to analyze a website's data, including:
- Traffic analysis: This involves examining a website's traffic data to determine how many visitors it receives, where they are coming from, and what pages they are visiting.
- Search engine optimization (SEO) analysis: This involves examining a website's search engine rankings, backlinks, and other SEO factors to determine how well it is optimized for search engines.
- User behavior analysis: This involves tracking how visitors interact with a website, including how they navigate through pages, where they click, and how long they spend on each page.
- Conversion rate optimization (CRO) analysis: This involves examining a website's conversion rate (i.e., the percentage of visitors who take a desired action, such as making a purchase or filling out a form) and identifying ways to improve it.
- Heat mapping: This involves using software to create a visual representation of where users are clicking on a website, which can help identify areas of the site that are most engaging and where users may be encountering usability issues.
Conduct a content audit
Content is a critical aspect of SEO, and a content audit can help you identify gaps in your content strategy and opportunities to improve your website's content.
Develop a comprehensive SEO strategy
Based on your goals, objectives, and data analysis, develop a comprehensive SEO strategy that takes into account all aspects of SEO, from technical issues to content, user experience, and off-page factors.
Monitor and adapt
As with any SEO strategy, it's essential to monitor your website's performance and adapt your strategy as needed. Use data analysis to track your progress and identify opportunities for improvement.
While the site audit used to be the go-to method for starting an SEO engagement, it's no longer the best approach. Instead, take a holistic approach to SEO, gather data about your website, your competitors, and your target audience, conduct a content audit, and develop a comprehensive SEO strategy that takes into account all aspects of SEO. By doing so, you can drive long-term results and success for your business.
Are you ready to take a holistic and strategic approach to the optimization of your website? If so, we’d be happy to help. Click here to Book a Discovery Call and get started today!