Many hear the words “SEO audit” and are already overwhelmed. However, an SEO audit helps companies develop a strategy to beat out the competition, and who doesn’t like to win? It’s time to know where your site appears on the search engine results page (SERP) and implement a strategy to improve your ranking. Use GROWL’s guide to get started with your SEO audit and rank against competitors.

What is an SEO audit?

An SEO audit is a complete evaluation of your website from a search perspective. A better grade from Google helps you to appear more prominently in the SERP. The audit will reveal areas of improvement and enable your brand to reach top SERP positioning.

An SEO audit should be conducted on a monthly or quarterly basis, depending on the brand's goals.

Conduct a competitive SEO audit

A robust SEO audit starts with researching competitors and potential buyers. Take time to dig into data and understand how competitors are capitalizing on the SERP. With this data, determine where you rank compared to competitors to strategize how to improve SEO. GROWL’s audit process always includes an in-depth, thorough investigation into the competition and buyer personas. Use these three tips to get you started with an initial competitive SEO audit.

1 Understand buyer personas and pain points

The goal of SEO is to get noticed in the SERP and drive traffic to your site. Thus, the first step should be considering your buyer personas and their pain points. In other words, consider what they’re searching for, their knowledge of your product or industry, and keyword trends. By understanding your target audience and their search behavior, you can identify competitors.

2 Identify competition

Most companies already have insight into who their competition is. Beyond your top, toe-to-toe competitors, it’s vital to consider what pages your brand is competing within search. A competitor SEO audit will expose what keywords your pages are competing against, how it rank, and cross-competitor authority scores. This secondary list allows you to discover hidden competitors or revamp site messaging.

3 Test user experience (UX)

User experience (UX) is often overlooked in an SEO audit; however, UX defines functionality and bounce rates and is a powerful foundation behind rankings. Often, a site’s path from the homepage to the end conversion is not as intuitive as you would think. Consider if your pages have consistent messaging and design to match your brand and a fluid structure. Remember to account for mobile visitors (this ties into SEO) along with CTAs.

By leveraging areas of improvement based on the competitor review, your site will stand out against the rest. Remember to think like a user who knows nothing about your industry and easily guide them to their answer. Google will reward you for it!

Get technical with SEO

Everyone wants to be number one when it comes to ranking on a search page. To be number one, you need to optimize several different elements within your site. Beyond defining the foundation – personas, competition, and UX – it’s time to take a look at the technical side of SEO and improve your SERP ranking.

When it comes to SERP ranking, it’s critical to follow Google’s guidelines. Google continuously updates its algorithm to promote valuable, search-friendly information. While auditing content, use these tips to rank highly within the Google algorithm:

1 Clean up your pages

Examine your full site and determine if pages are overwhelming viewers. By conducting a Panda Check or instituting heat maps, you can evaluate how users are interacting on your pages. On the backend, review backlinks and evaluate the sites that are linking to your content. If junk sites are too often linking to your pages, Google takes note.

2 Audit your page titles

Across your pages and content pieces, it’s crucial to gauge if your titles are helping your ranking. During this phase of the audit, you must check title length and keywords and build robust meta descriptions. Remember to strategically construct a single H1 title.

3 Crawl your site

A site crawl gives you an aerial view of your website and a Google perspective into what might be keeping your site from performing well on the SERP. The crawl will discover issues, including 404 errors and nonindexed pages, which, in turn, help identify why a site is not performing.

4 Leverage Google Analytics

Never discredit Google Analytics as a tool. From finding top pages and page views to keywords and CTRs, Google will give insight into your SEO. For example, when looking at organic traffic, you can see your site’s performance over time by looking at the data trends. You can identify a problem from the spike in a downward trend.

Google also examines how your data is structured. The structure of the content on your page will determine if a user can find the information they are looking for with little hassle. Need help navigating Google Analytics? Contact GROWL today!

Amp up your keywords for improved SEO

Keywords are the bread and butter of SEO success. While GROWL recommends in-depth keyword auditing and research, a few easy tips can be implemented.

1 Search your business name and see where you rank. Do the same for your top industry keywords.

2 Search industry trends and competitor keywords. Then, add them across your site. Remember to keep keyword distribution even, or it will hurt your ranking.

3 Use keywords across social media, including Google My Business. Need help getting set up on GMB? This GROWL guide has you covered.

4 Build up keyword ranking organically, then launch PPC keyword ads.

Auditing and optimizing SEO can be a beast. Ready to level up and beat out your competition? Contact the GROWL Team for your SEO needs today!

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