An Agency Guide to SEO Audits
Why an SEO Audit Service is Essential for Your Business
24th April 2023
Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for every business, brand, and organization that wants online visibility and traffic.
However, it’s getting much harder for websites to rank for profitable search terms in the UAE and throughout the Middle East. With more and more companies heavily investing in their SEO strategy and vying for the same keywords, the organic landscape is becoming increasingly competitive. While it is not quite as competitive as London and the UK (yet!), it’s certainly getting there.
This has made website optimization more important than ever.
An optimized website drives organic traffic, bringing more visitors who might convert into paying customers or important leads to a website. SEO audits are an essential part of this as they will help you discover underlying issues that might be causing you to lose traffic and visibility.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about SEO audits, including:
What Does an SEO Audit Include?
An SEO audit can be an overall or in-depth look at the various SEO elements on your website. What it includes will differ slightly depending on the agency you use and the tools they use to perform it. Regardless, the audit results should include everything affecting your SEO and website negatively.
Some of the areas that an SEO audit will look at include:
- Organic rankings
- Page speed
- XML sitemaps
- Technical SEO issues
- On-page SEO
- Backlink profile (Off-page SEO)
- Mobile friendliness and responsiveness
Think of an SEO audit as a form of ongoing digital maintenance. Once you have the audit results, your in-house team – or the SEO agency you’ve hired – can start working on rectifying the issues negatively impacting your web ranking.
Why Is an SEO Audit Important?
After you have sorted all your issues, your website should begin to rank much higher and thus attract more visitors. With optimized content and good internal linking, visitors will spend more time on your website, giving you more time to convert them into customers, subscribers, or leads.
All search engines are looking to give their visitors the best experience, answers, and referrals when they search for something on their platforms. They do this using different algorithms that allow the best matches between search queries and search results. To improve search results and functionality, they tweak their algorithms regularly.
While some of the changes they make do not have a significant impact, some have been known to break websites and tank rankings. To ensure this does not happen to you, you should be conducting SEO audits regularly, typically at least twice a year.
You should also keep an eye on statements coming from Google and other search engines so that you know when they make changes to their algorithms.
To name just a few, here is some recent Google algorithm updates:
- Mobile-first update: This is the search engine’s move to prioritize mobile versions of websites when indexing and ranking them in search results. This means that Google will primarily crawl and index the mobile – rather than desktop – version of a website to determine its relevance and ranking in search results.
- Page Experience update: A holistic update algorithmic change that means Google prioritizes web pages with good user experience. This update takes into account factors such as page speed, mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, and HTTPS security, aiming to improve the overall quality of the web for users.
- Helpful Content update: Google now focuses on rewarding “people-first” content and devalues content written for search engines. It will prioritize content that is actually helpful to users in SERPs.
- Product Reviews update: this aims to reward high-quality product review pages that share in-depth research i.e. informative product review pages that have been designed with users in mind.
As you can see, there is a common thread that runs throughout the majority of recent Google Algorithm updates:
User experience (UX)
This means that the UX design of your website doesn’t just affect your conversion rate anymore, it also directly affects your online visibility. This continued overlap between SEO and UX is only going to strengthen as time goes on, so it’s important that you use an agency with both SEO and UI/UX expertise.
If you’re interested, we have dedicated blog which further explores why UX design matters for your business.
Identifying On-page SEO Issues
On-page SEO refers to the optimization of individual web pages to improve their ranking and visibility in search engine results, by optimizing content, HTML source code, and website architecture. When it comes to conducting an SEO audit, here are three aspects to consider:
Meta titles and descriptions provide a brief summary of a web page’s content, displayed in search engine results to entice users to click through to the page. Here are some best practices that a quality SEO audit agency will follow…
- Keep them concise and under 60 characters to ensure they display properly in search results.
- Include your target keyword at the beginning for better relevance.
- Make them unique and descriptive of the page content.
- Avoid using all caps or excessive punctuation.
- Don’t use duplicate meta titles across multiple pages on your site.
- Keep them under 155 characters to ensure they display properly in search results.
- Use persuasive language to encourage clicks from searchers.
- Include your target keyword for relevance, but avoid keyword stuffing.
- Provide a clear and concise summary of the page content.
- Avoid duplicating meta descriptions across multiple pages on your site.
- Use schema markup if applicable to enhance the appearance of the description in search results.
SEO headings refer to the HTML tags used to structure and organize content on a web page. Main headings (H1, H2) tell visitors and search engines what your content is about, while smaller headings (H3, H4, H5, H6) subdivide the content to make it more digestible. Your H1 should include your main target keyword while other headings should include secondary keywords.
An SEO audit will look for several practices when analyzing the headings of a page’s content, such as:
- Ensuring that there is only one H1 tag per page and that it contains the primary target keyword.
- Checking that the H2 and subsequent tags are used to organize the content into logical sections and are optimized for relevant secondary keywords.
- Confirming that the heading tags are used consistently throughout the content.
- Checking that the heading tags are properly nested and that the hierarchy of headings is logical and follows best practices.
- Verifying that the headings are descriptive and relevant to the content on the page, and provide a clear structure for users and search engines to understand the content.
Internal linking refers to the practice of linking pages within a website to one another, using anchor text (i.e. the visible, clickable text of a hyperlink) to create a hierarchy of content and improve the user experience.
When it comes to internal linking, an SEO expert will ensure that…
- The website has a clear and logical structure that makes it easy for users and search engines to navigate.
- There are no broken links or links to non-existent pages on the website.
- The anchor text used for internal links is descriptive and relevant to the content of the page being linked to.
- The internal linking strategy helps to establish a hierarchy of content that reflects the most important pages on the website.
- The internal linking strategy does not over-optimize or manipulate search engine rankings through the use of excessive or irrelevant internal links.
Assessing Your Backlink Profile & Discovering Backlinking Opportunities
Backlinks refer to external links that point to a website from other sites, and are a very important factor in determining a website’s authority and ranking in search engine results. They are a central part of any off-page SEO strategy, and so any SEO agency conducting an audit must:
- Identify new opportunities for building high-quality backlinks from relevant, authoritative websites in the industry.
- Analyze the backlink profile of the website to identify any low-quality or spammy links that may be harming the website’s authority and ranking in search results.
- Check that the anchor text of the backlinks is relevant and diverse, and that it does not appear over-optimized or manipulative.
- Verify that the backlinks are from diverse sources and that there is not an over-reliance on a single source of backlinks.
- Ensure that the website’s backlink profile is natural and not the result of any “black hat SEO” tactics, such as link buying or link schemes.
- Check that the website is not linking out to low-quality or spammy websites that could harm the website’s authority and ranking in search results.
Diagnosing Technical SEO Issues
Technical SEO – as its name suggests – refers to the optimization of a website’s “technical” elements. It directly affects how easily search engines can “crawl” your website more efficiently or make it difficult to do so and, in turn, any issues can seriously affect your ranking.
A technical SEO audit will, amongst many other aspects, examine:
How fast websites load is a crucial ranking metric for Google as it can affect the user experience significantly. Google does not want to send visitors to websites with bad user experience, so they rank websites that load slowly much lower.
A redirect is a technique used to forward one URL to another, typically used to redirect users from an old URL to a new one or to consolidate multiple URLs into a single destination URL. At the same time, it ensures that users do not land on empty or error (404) pages.
A technical SEO audit will assess your website’s redirects by checking for any redirect chains or loops, ensuring that they are properly implemented. Additionally, the audit will check that the correct type of redirect is being used for the specific purpose…
- 301 Redirect: A permanent redirect that signals to search engines and web browsers that the original URL has been permanently moved to a new URL.
- 302 Redirect: A temporary redirect that indicates to search engines and web browsers that the original URL has temporarily moved to a new URL and will return to the original URL in the future.
- 307 Redirect: A temporary redirect that is similar to a 302 redirect, but specifically for HTTP/1.1 requests.
- 308 Redirect: A permanent redirect that is similar to a 301 redirect, but specifically for HTTP/1.1 requests.
- Meta Refresh: A type of redirect that uses HTML meta tags to automatically redirect the user to a new page after a specified time period.
URL Structure & Crawlability
Once a search engine crawler lands on your website, it follows the various links it finds to better understand your website’s structure and how different pieces of content are related. In addition to discoverability, efficient crawling also gives search engines better context surrounding your content, increasing the chances of more of your pages ranking highly. You can ensure even better crawlability by using a detailed sitemap and an easy-to-understand structure.
It’s not enough to only do an SEO audit on your website; you should also consider doing one on your competitors’ websites. The only way to outrank your competitors is to know what they are doing.
Using SEO tools such as SEMrush, you will be able to find out the keywords they are ranking for, their backlink profile, their content strategy, and much more. The purpose of this analysis is to identify opportunities and challenges in the competitive landscape, as well as to gain insights and ideas that can be used to improve the website’s SEO strategy and tactics.
How Much Does an SEO Audit Cost?
If you’re considering investing in an SEO audit for your website, you’re probably wondering how much it’s going to cost. The truth is, it depends on the quality and scope of the audit, as well as the size and complexity of the website.
Generally speaking, a basic SEO audit that covers the essential technical and on-page SEO factors can cost anywhere from AED 3,000 to AED 8,000. However, for more comprehensive audits that cover a wider range of factors – such as content strategy, link building, and competitor analysis – the cost can range from AED 10,000 to AED 20,000 or more.
Our SEO audits start from AED 10,000 and will provide an in-depth examination of your on-page, off-page, and technical SEO strategies. Most importantly, our solutions will revolve around industry best practices, uniquely applied to your brand and your competitive landscape.
Trafiki Digital London & Dubai: SEO Audit Services
We are a digital marketing agency based in Dubai and London that offers SEO services to ambitious businesses looking to grow. If you’re thinking about investing in an SEO audit or simply want to discover more about the process, book a consultation with one of our SEO experts today.