Furthermore, poor SEO usage and maintenance can interrupt or curtail the growth of an already established company. The primary SEO objective is for the potential customer to be quickly directed to a website, whether using Google, Bing or any other online search engine. Additionally, strong search engine optimization will keep a company’s name at, or near, the top of the listings page(s) opened by the search engine. There is only one chance to make a memorable first impression, which is why it’s important for a company to conduct SEO audits of its website.
A company has two options for an SEO audit: 1) bring in an expert analyst for its website review or 2) DIY (Do It Yourself). The second option is not as daunting as it may sound, and is usually very cost-effective for smaller businesses. There may be a bit of stumbling in the first DIY audit but, as a rule, practice tends to make future SEO assessments flow more smoothly, consuming 30 minutes or less. Not surprisingly, DIY audits tend to be significantly less in-depth detailed than those 35 to 70 hour professional reviews but they do provide a basic analysis and help to identify rough spots. At some point, however, it’s a good idea to take the plunge and schedule one of the “biggies.”
Before beginning, make notes of the audit’s basic objectives, which may be different for different companies. Generally, the goals will include traffic overview of the number of site visitors, how much searching is being done on the site, what are the most popular areas or topics, is traffic increasing or decreasing, what time of day (or night)/what day of the week receives the most traffic. Most companies want to identify their main competition and gauge the location of their domain within that group of competitors. In other words, where is the name of “Cee Company” located within a group of 40 competitors offering the same, or similar, products? Is it higher or is it lower? The objective is to be at the top, or as close to the top as possible, of the page. It’s also very helpful to take note of the effectiveness of the keywords being used and, again, their ranking positions.
Chances are very good that none of the foregoing information has decreased the nervousness of the first-time audit do-it-yourselfer! Perhaps knowing there are websites to help with every step will make things better.
First, begin by identifying the company’s:
• Domain Name. This is the company’s Internet address for its website. It should be shorter than 15 characters, easy to remember and to type, easy to pass along via word-of-mouth. Root domains have extensions such as .com, .net, .org, etc.
• Brand Name. This can be a word, initials (IBM, Apple), etc. to identify a product and/or its manufacturer.
Some companies may include location in their audits if local searches are important.
Those three pieces of information, especially the first two, clear the way for the second step, which is the Traffic Overview assessment.
Go to SEMRush.com and locate the earlier mentioned root domain. The dialog instruction box will request the name of the company’s primary competitor. Eg: IBM.com. An analytical graph appears, addressing rank, keywords, traffic and traffic costs.
Next, click on the Competition Graph link to graphically compare the audit subject company to its competition. This is where the location of the company’s domain is found, showing if it’s higher, lower or mid-way in the list of competitive companies.
The next step involves searching for the subject company via the major search engines such as Google and Bing. First search by brand and name and then search by brand + name + location. EG: IBM computers; IBM computers in Little Rock, AR; or IBM computers Amazon. These searches will return SERPs, which are Search Engine Results Pages resulting from a keyword search.
Study the SERPs. Where is the company name on the page? High? Low? Middle? Is the listed information correct? Should anything be added? Is there a positive tone to the listing? Are the descriptions good? Do they invite people to click them? This is an excellent opportunity to assess the strength of the company’s web positioning.
The next step is to address technical factors, including canonical issues. Actually, that sounds scarier than it really is! Here’s the simplified version: sometimes a search engine does not realize that http://www.company.com and http://company.com are one and the same. If this happens, the search engine may decide these are duplicates and one of them is not needed. Allowing a search engine to make such a critical decision could cost a company a lot of customers. To check, enter the company domain both ways to see what happens.
Then, go to the company’s Homepage and assess its general appearance. The keywords are vital for Search Engine Optimization. One of the best ways to determine keyword strength is to go to MOZ SEO Toolbar (free) and check the company’s title and description. Another handy (free) site to use in this step is the Web Developer Toolbar.
The depth of a DIY audit depends entirely on how much time and effort a company wants to invest, and on whether or not there is a company employee who feels comfortable tackling the project. The reference sites mentioned in this article are, for the most part, self-explanatory and relatively easy to follow. For those who wish to dig deeper, check additional sites such as Open Site Explorer, Majestic SEO and ahrefs.com.
Not only will the company’s familiarity with its site’s effectiveness be increased through a DIY, but it will also allow the company to deal much more intelligently when the time for that big SEO arrives.