Ok it might sound a bit counter intuitive right? Hear me out. If you think having ONLY great SEO is going to be the magic bullet that gets you ahead of your competitors then you are seriously mistaken or whoever is making you that promise either doesn’t understand the way search engines work nowadays or they are trying to take your money. Either option well, sucks in the end for you. Getting the right SEO audit should make all of this clear. And a Great SEO audit will NOT be about SEO, at least only that is.
But let’s take a step back for a moment and break things down a bit so I can get to the point I am trying to make.
What Really Is SEO
If you are reading this you probably know the acronym, but let’s think about it. Search Engine Optimization. This means optimizing the website FOR the search engine. When we are talking strictly SEO this means optimizing things like title tags and meta tags, making sure all the other technical SEO is in order, page speed is in order, good citations and backlinks, good keyword placement, etc. You get the picture. If not you can get the full rundown from my FREE SEO audit template. These are all the things we think of traditionally in SEO, and these things are still very important. But, let’s briefly analyze what search engines used to be compared to now, and this will start to shed light on why the SEO audit is NOT about SEO…only.
Search engine optimization then and now
Search engines, for lack of a better word, used to be much more dumb. There was a time when you would literally tell search engines what the keywords were that you wanted to rank for (meta keywords). Web pages would be stuffed with keywords and often vacant of solid content. This is because it was incentivized to “please” the search engine and NOT the user.
Luckily search engines have matured a bit since those days, and their algorithms have become much more complex. In the end the search engine’s goal is to provide the searcher (user) with the most relevant and valuable content to whatever the searcher is searching for. Now that search engines have become so much better at finding valuable/quality content we must broaden our view of what good “SEO” even is. So where do we start?
Why the “SEO” audit is important
You may or may not have heard of the analogy that an SEO audit functions much the same as a check under the hood of your car. You probably want to check your car’s engine from time to time to make sure nothing is wrong with it. The SEO audit does the same thing for your website. If you do not maintain good SEO on your website, it will break down, it will lose authority, it will drop in rankings, and this means you lose traffic and customers/clients. You NEED to periodically check under the hood of your website so to speak. A great SEO audit will uncover all the issues currently facing your site, will offer a roadmap and strategy to move forward, and should even dive into topics outside of SEO.
What a GREAT SEO audit covers
Of course a great SEO audit must cover all the foundational SEO things like mentioned before; backlinks, pages speed, domain authority, duplicate/thin content, technical SEO, keyword usage, internal linking, etc. Now a great SEO audit will move past the traditional SEO topics. Why? 2 reasons I want to focus on.
- As I was starting to touch on earlier search engines work differently these days. They are much better at understanding what is good content and what is not. It is their main purpose to provide the most valuable results to the searcher, or else people would search elsewhere. And well that would kind of get in the way of search engines whole business model
- You want people who visit your website to stay, you want them to return, you want them to ultimately buy from you (or your affiliates). If you provide quality content then they are not only more likely to stay but engage with it. This sends signals back to search engines like Google, YouTube, Facebook, etc. that your content quality is good. Thus become more visible to people with similar search profiles and interests. So it becomes this wonderful positive feedback loop.
So what does that mean when it comes to a great SEO audit? The audit should look into the behavior of the visitors to your website. How long are they staying, where are they coming from, how are they interacting with your pages, how are they exiting, etc. If we start to look at why or why not people are sticking around then we can adjust, test, and move forward on a positive growth path.
Next it should dive into a solid content strategy based around good keyword research AND understanding what it is your market is actually looking for. What VALUE will you provide to them that is going to make them come back for more, and have a positive association with your business? Use the content as a funnel. A great SEO audit should lay out a solid content strategy that is going to help build your authority.
An audit should provide some options for an opt-in strategy. It should also analyze if the one in place is working as good as it should.
How about Click Through Rates? A lot of the time websites may be getting traffic, but their top pages aren’t doing well. This could be because they aren’t taking into consideration how actual people are finding those pages.
We need to look beyond the narrow SEO view finder. Then we start to really consider the user then the strategy to move forward becomes much more concrete. A great SEO audit should provide the plan to do exactly that.
Why the SEO audit is not (just) about SEO
The point to make here is that SEO alone is not the game winner. SEO these days has become intertwined with other forms of marketing like content marketing, blogging, SMM and for good reason. That is because any robust SEO strategy must include other elements to really be successful. If we focus on the user, look to build an audience, and authority, by providing value and quality then we can see the growth that we want. The SEO audit, just like SEO itself, is no longer a one note song.