As CEO, I focus on many factors of my business, including shaping our marketing strategy. With the help of our marketing director, we embark on what we call a “marketing cleanse” every year. Part of the cleanse involves evaluating our SEO efforts and auditing our website for the year ahead. SEO is important due to the impact it has on both the research and decision phases of a customer journey. In other words, SEO increases our lead flow from customers researching our business and can contribute to a lower cost per acquisition.
The SEO audit process is well known for being time-consuming, which leaves many companies hesitant to start the process. In my experience, however, conducting a proper annual SEO audit is one of the best ways to keep up with Google’s algorithm updates. The way that Google evaluates and ranks websites changes frequently, and in order to adapt, it is important that you know how to audit your quarter-four (Q4) 2019 SEO and your SEO in the years ahead.
While getting started may feel overwhelming, these tips will help you simplify the process and return valuable data that helps you stay in Google’s good graces.
Monitor Analytics For Traffic Changes
When you’re auditing your website, it’s important that you understand the importance of monitoring your analytics. Google Analytics is a treasure trove of information. Observing the data that your analytics software provides can give you insight into the overall performance of your site. While analytics can act as a first clue that your site may be experiencing technical issues, it’s also the best way I’ve found to see what is driving a boost in traffic.
Traffic changes are inevitable on any website, but significant boosts or dips in traffic can give you a good idea of what adjustments you need to make. Here are some of the most important things to check when you’re monitoring analytics for traffic changes:
1. Use the analytics search feature. This is a great way to identify the keywords that you should be optimizing for. Link your website’s search query to Google Analytics, and review the returned data. Keyword research is a valuable component of keyword research and SEO optimization overall. Put the analytics search feature to good use.
2. Investigate sudden drops in traffic. Are you observing data that suggests a significant drop in customer traffic to your services page? There could be a technical issue with your website. Take the necessary steps to investigate the problem by checking to see if the webpage is down, if your contact form is still accessible to customers or if your website’s tracking code is having issues.
3. Follow your traffic to the source. Identifying the source of traffic is a great way to identify where you should be focusing your efforts. By checking your website’s traffic and comparing it to your target analytics, you can gain insight into the effects of efforts like your social media marketing strategies.
Reverse Engineering Competition Backlinks
When you’re conducting a proper audit for your Q4 SEO, make sure to keep an eye on your competitors. While I’m certainly not suggesting the use of harmful black hat techniques, there are a number of ways that you can “spy” on your competitors to identify which backlinks you are missing.
Use SEO competitor analysis tools, like those found in tools such as SEMrush or Moz, to find backlink opportunities at your disposal. Focus on your biggest competitors, and scan their backlinks for editorial opportunities or industry blogs that you can add to your brand. Adding topical references to your business can be useful in boosting SEO.
If your industry doesn’t follow SEO practices, there are still plenty of opportunities to improve your web presence. At my company, we prefer to focus on what manufacturers and topical opportunities we can utilize. Ask yourself what your brand has to offer. How can you contribute to your industry? Can you offer a new tool or an information guide? Answer these questions to quickly boost your opportunities to get links (mentions) in topical publications. The key is to focus on what your competitors are not doing and multiply those processes. A great example of this is my company’s scholarship program. The more we give back, the more we see industry magazines talk about us.
Paid Marketing And SEO Integration
Designing a marketing strategy that is focused on the journey of your customer is useful when you integrate it with your SEO efforts. While SEO ranking factors can change, paid marketing efforts can fill the gap — when you integrate them properly.
Use your SEO efforts to create a map of your customer journey, and identify the areas where your paid marketing efforts fit in. This is incredibly important when you’re conducting an annual SEO audit, as it shows you which keywords are driving your primary traffic. Use this data to focus your efforts and create valuable content that delivers what your audience is looking for.
Review The Technical Side
When you leave technical issues unaddressed, they can create a negative impact on your SEO strategy. Some technical issues are easier to spot than others, so it is of the utmost importance that you scan your website for even the smallest problems.
Conduct a full diagnostic scan on your site to generate a report detailing every technical issue that you need to fix. You should monitor this closely, as technical issues can arise at any time. Here are some of the most common issues you should be looking for:
1. Slow website speeds.
2. Broken links.
3. Bad mobile user experience.
4. Rich snippet issues.
5. Title tag and description optimization.
Don’t overlook this aspect of your marketing strategy. Great SEO can enable your company to increase leads with a lower cost per customer acquisition. As an entrepreneur, it is important you know the basics of search engine optimization, and Q4 is a great time to start learning before 2020. Happy auditing.