And just like that, another year has gone by! Now that we have entered 2021, it is time for one of my favorite activities – conducting an SEO audit to see how I can further improve my ranking. This involves assessing various content factors.
Why do I (and probably you) need to plan an SEO audit?
Google has released its fair share of algorithm updates and rollouts in 2020. It is imperative to make sure that our websites are well aligned with the updated ranking factors.
Why do I love this activity? Well, there is a thrill you feel when you identify and overcome a shortcoming!
Coming to the subject of SEO audit, there are quite a lot of factors you must consider when assessing your website. While content is one of them, it is one of the most important elements.
Why focus on content factors?
Content is and will most likely always be a crucial ranking factor of Google, as well as other search engines.
The basic objective of any search engine is to facilitate its visitors. Most people use the platform to seek information about a given topic or business, and content is what best helps site visitors in attaining the data they need.
To quantify it, over 47 percent of customers first peruse 3-5 pieces of branded content before initiating a transaction with a business.
Hence, search engines focus immensely on content. This is why marketers find content optimization to be the key to getting a high SERP.
According to Content Marketing Institute, 57 percent of marketing executives are of the view that on-page content is among the most significant SEO tactic. So much so that, as per HubSpot, merely updating old blog posts of a website with revamped content and relevant images can help boost organic traffic by over 106 percent.
Top factors to assess for SEO audit
To make the most out of the SEO audit, here are the top five content factors you should evaluate.
The relevance and value of your content
According to Google itself, content relevance is among its ranking factors. Each piece of content on your website should be relevant and valuable to your target audience. You must also ensure that your material is not reflective of the content of your competitors. If it is, there is no uniqueness about your website.
During the SEO audit, check the relevance of your content by conducting keyword research. See if the keywords you have optimized your content on are among the top searched words within your niche. You can see keyword’s performance via solutions like Ubersuggest.
Similarly, gauge the traffic on your website and see what web pages best attract people. This will also provide insights about what content your site visitors find interesting and what they are not interested in.
As a pro-tip, when developing content, always conduct research on your target audience and identify their plights and desire. Then, draft your material around it while staying within your niche to appear trustworthy.
Take the example of BarkBox. This monthly subscription box of dog goodies has a dedicated blog about anything and everything about dogs. Safe to say, it is the ultimate resource for dog owners and lovers. The content they provide is unique and relevant within their niche.
According to Search Engine Land, over 29 percent of websites have duplicate content. You must ensure that your site isn’t one of them. An SEO audit is a perfect way to detect the presence of any duplicate content that might be flagging your website down.
After all, Google doesn’t just appreciate duplicate content; it goes as far as penalizing it by decreasing the website’s rank. There are times when duplication of content occurs by mistake. There are a lot of common sentence structures, and there is a probability of getting a few phrases here and there similar to the writing of someone else.
However, sections being copied from the web is a big no, regardless of where you are using such content. For instance, you might have used a template for the contact web page of your site, thinking it is not a big deal. But it is.
There are two steps that must be taken here. Firstly, use solutions like Copyscape to find duplicate content and rewrite your content to avoid plagiarism. Secondly, make a point of avoiding content templates. Even if you use them for inspiration, write your own version.
Contact Us Page
KoMarketing reports that 51 percent of people find comprehensive contact information to be one of the content factors missing from most websites.
Considering that in most cases, contact information acts as a way of converting visitors into customers, such a flaw can increase the bounce rate from a website.
During a site audit, see if the contact page of your website is updated with the right depth of information. Additionally, make sure that the information that is present is updated.
While you are at it, your contact page should not stand out in the wrong way from the rest of your website. If your brand follows the rule of simplicity and sophistication throughout its online presence, the same should be reflected through the contact page as well.
See how Glossier manages to get this element right. Rather than just offering one generic email, the team directs users with different intentions to different email addresses. This itself makes a user feel that there is a higher chance of being noticed by the company.
Low performing pages
Search engines don’t rank websites. They rank webpages. For instance, your homepage might have a high rank for high performing keywords, but there is still a chance that your blog does is not among the top search results.
To fix this content problem, you must first find these pages. This step is simple. All you have to do is rank your pages according to their traffic and search engine ranking. If you have a lot of webpages, I give my sympathies to you in advance!
After you detect pages that are not ranking high on a search engine, analyze them to see what is bringing them down. Here are some of the issues you may end up finding.
- No keyword optimization
- Missing H1, H2, and H3 tags
- No backlinks leading to zero referral traffic
- No text structure leading to difficulty in page crawling
- Heavy images and videos bring the page speed down
- No alt-text making the page inaccessible for some
- Thin content where you need an average of 2400 words to rank on top
In case the issue isn’t with your content, maybe you need to increase the scope of your audit to include technical elements as well.
As per Statista, globally, there are over 3.5 billion users of various social media platforms. And apart from connecting with friends and family, the platforms are now used to disburse information and give recommendations.
Any content that is shared on social media can be seen as an unstructured citation. And this helps in boosting a business’s search engine ranking.
During the SEO audit, see if your website has all the tools to make your content sharable. This includes social sharing buttons that allow a given blog post or section of a website to be shared directly on Twitter, Facebook, and Cancel Linkedin Premium on iPhone, etc.
For the long-run, conduct an analysis to see which of your content has received the most engagement via social shares and comments. Note these topics down and use them as a reference point when developing content that can go viral in the future.
Also, you can see the type of content that usually is shared immensely on social media to see how you fit in. However, note that this may not be applicable to your website if you operate within a niche. Here are the top web articles that were shared on Facebook.
Audit and Alter
SEO audit doesn’t boil down to much if it is not combined with timely and relevant action. Make sure that you take all the insights you get during your site audit to improve your content. Don’t just resolve the short-term issues.
Instead, see your weaknesses of today to develop future content strategies that don’t contain the same issues. Keep all your decisions consumer-centric. Trust me; your future self will thank you if you do this. Why? This is because you would be making his/her SEO audit easier.
I love SEO audits because it just shows how ever-changing the SEO industry is. What may seem like a job well done a few years ago might be the reason for our poor performance today. Fascinating right? It is the kind of self-reflection that all of us need to be better at our jobs.
Don’t think of SEO audit as a tedious task. Learn from it and improve your online visibility. When you see your website in a respectable position on Google, I am sure you will be happy to invest your time auditing your website. Good luck!