How to Know When You Need an SEO Audit
Just like your keyword tracker, SEO crawler and analytics software, an SEO audit is a powerful tool in attracting organic search traffic to your website. The benefits of an SEO audit are apparent:
Uncover hidden technical errors
Find duplicate unintentional duplicate content
Fix old links and recover link juice
Determine mobile friendliness
But how do you know it’s time for to audit your website?
When you’ve spent a while in the SEO world, the signs can be easy to spot. But what about those of us who are new to search marketing? Or the many, many business owners who have to do SEO on top of their day jobs?
Well, don’t worry about it. We’ve put together the top warning signs that you can spot easily that will tell you it’s time to run an SEO audit.
1. Google Releases a New Algorithm
Google is constantly adjusting and tweaking its various search algorithms on a daily basis. They will also occasionally come out with bigger, more substantial updates. These updates often have a particular goal they are trying to achieve - like [fighting link spam, filtering duplicate content or improving mobile results - while others represent an overhaul of the search engine’s query processing capabilities.
Regardless of what the algorithm update does, any major change to Google’s ranking formulas is the number one sign you should conduct an SEO audit. Pay special attention to duplicate or thin pages, broken internal links and your backlink profile
2. Website Traffic is Decreasing
This is probably the most obvious sign that it’s time for an SEO audit. A decrease in the total number of visitors to your website is a symptom of something going wrong.
However, the exact nature of what’s wrong will depend on how suddenly or gradually your traffic drops:
A sudden, dramatic drop can be a sign of issues with broken links or pages, server downtime, incurring a manual penalty
A slow, gradual decline over a matter of weeks or months could be caused by a loss of links, old content falling losing relevancy or keyword research falling out of date.
Once you’ve seen how much traffic has gone down over time, you can target your SEO audit to the most likely suspect areas.
3. Conversions and/or Conversion Rate is Decreasing
Conversions are the goal action you want users on your website to complete. They can be purchases, email signups, form submissions or even just visiting contact information for physical store locations.
Basically, conversions are the whole reason you have a website.
So falling conversions (or conversion rate) means there’s either a technical problem with your website or a mismatch between what your audience wants and what you’re offering.
An on-page or technical SEO audit will uncover accessibility or optimization problems that are preventing your users from converting
A full SEO audit also has the benefit of functioning as a CRO audit as well, helping you to uncover and repair the exit points in your funnel.
4. You’ve Hit a Plateau
Since SEO, and digital marketing in general, is an ongoing process, your website should be seeing continuous benefits. That means your website traffic should be going up by at least a few percentage points per month.
So even if your traffic isn’t going down, finding yourself just treading water isn’t good either.
This could be caused by all sorts of issues such as losing backlinks, declining keyword popularity and lack of content freshness. Your SEO audit will help you uncover issues with keywords, backlinks or technical site issues.
5. Your Share of Organic Traffic is Going Down
Maybe your traffic isn’t going down. Or even staying the same. Maybe your website traffic is going up.
But if all that traffic is coming from PPC, Facebook and referral links, you’ve got an SEO problem. This sounds obvious (no search traffic = bad SEO), but many website owners will only look at the total number of visitors and don’t dig into traffic sources.
This rule still applies even if your organic traffic is still increasing. If it’s not keeping pace with the growth of your other channels, run an SEO audit.
6. Your Users Don’t Engage
User behavior is a very important set of metrics, both for overall marketing effectiveness as well as SEO. In fact, user behavior for users arriving from SERPs is a very strong ranking factor for search engines. Google doesn’t want to send users to pages they don’t get any benefit from.
Engagement metrics to measure include:
Time on page
Falling engagement numbers indicate that you might be targeting the wrong keywords, or that your content doesn’t match the user’s search intent.
7. You’re Only Building NoFollow Links
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are great for engaging with audiences, promoting yourself and driving traffic to your website. They’re also completely under your control, which is great for managing your brand.
One thing they’re not good for is link juice. That’s because these types of websites, along with many or most forums and content aggregators, use nofollow links. The same goes for many news websites.
If you find that you struggle to rank despite having a high number of links, a link audit is what you need.
Auditing your site’s links will show you if you’ve got mostly nofollow links, other unnatural-looking links, or no links at all.
8. Your CPCs are out of Control
You might think of them as completely separate, but your on-page and technical SEO will impact your PPC campaigns, especially if you’re using AdWords. Optimizing your website for your target keywords and better user experience is a big part of Quality Score (AdWords’ "secret sauce" in determining ad cost).
If you find that your PPC campaigns have huge CPCs and low Quality Scores, an SEO audit is actually just what you need. A technical audit will uncover site quality problems while an on-page audit can uncover just how relevant your landing page is to your target keyword.
When to Act
If you find yourself in one of the situations we discussed above, you should probably run an SEO audit. If you find yourself in more than one you should absolutely run an audit of your website.
Don’t feel like making a commitment. Don’t worry, You can always use the free instant audit if you find yourself in need of an SEO audit after a Google update or a particularly hard month.