Do you know what makes your website tick? Do you know its greatest assets and greatest shortfalls? Do you know what attracts customers to your site at first glance and what makes them stick around?
If you’re not using website analysis services as part of your regular SEO effort, we’ve got bad news. You probably don’t understand your site as well as you think you do.
The good news is that website analysis services, also known as SEO audits, can help your site get on track and primed for success. Instead of guessing what works, you can figure out the perfect recipe for success. Here’s what SEO audits are and why your site can’t afford to ignore them any longer.
What are Website Analysis Services?
Website analysis services, more commonly known as SEO audits, check the health of your website. But unlike a regular audit, which is done to check things like accounting or safety or workplace practices, SEO audits are done for one reason: marketing.
The idea is to identify where you are in terms of search engine optimization relative to where you want to be and to develop an implementation plan with actionable, measurable results.
What It Should Be
With that in mind, let’s talk about what an audit should be.
Audits should cover any foundational issues related to your SEO, including:
- On-page SEO
- Potential off-site problems
- Technical SEO
- Website structure
- Content gaps
- User experience
- Marketplace insights
In case you couldn’t guess from the list, website analysis should be one thing above all else: comprehensive.
It should cover all structural and content-related issues that make your site tick. Since your site is both your digital storefront and your primary online marketing tool, awareness of what makes it work will allow you to create a site that’s more effective.
What It Shouldn’t Be
If you run an online business, website analytics is more than just a good idea: it’s a necessity. You have to run it frequently in order to fully understand what you’re seeing and make adjustments as needed.
If you’re like many business owners, however, you may not have the patience to conduct a site audit every month or so. You may be tempted to rush through it, thinking that last month’s good results are a positive indicator for this month.
But SEO audits should never be rushed.
The whole point of these audits is to give you a big-picture view of what’s going on with your website so that you can generate actionable recommendations to fix it. If you’re skipping through parts of the audit, you may be missing critical information that would change your understanding of what to do next.
That said, your audit should be easy to understand. You don’t need to be an SEO expert, but you should be able to connect the dots and form a clear picture of what your audit is telling you about your site without breaking out a dictionary.
Going deeper than that, an audit should make it clear how your site’s SEO challenges directly play into your business’s goals. That way, when you get actionable recommendations, you have a clear idea of how they’re going to affect your business health.
Benefits of Website Analysis
Taken together, an SEO audit is, quite simply, the best way to figure out why your business isn’t getting results (and what to do about it).
Any time you bring on a new client, start a new quarter, or even start a new project, website analytics should be your first port of call to make sure that all of your marketing is on-message and targeting the right audience.
Still not convinced? Here are a few key benefits to website analytics that your business can’t afford to disregard.
Determine Your SEO Strengths (and Weaknesses)
First and foremost, website analysis allows you to identify your greatest SEO strengths.
If you think you’re knocking it out of the park with a certain SEO element, website analytics can determine whether your estimate was correct. Or, if you think certain elements weren’t performing as well as others, you may be surprised to find that they did better than expected.
It also helps identify your weaknesses, which is almost more important than your strengths.
Let’s say you’ve written weak or irrelevant meta descriptions–if you’re not an SEO expert, you might not know whether your meta descriptions are working without a backup tool.
Alternately, you might have duplicate webpages you didn’t even notice. No worries–website analysis can point them out easily.
Determine Your Competitors’ Strengths and Weaknesses
Of course, the game of business isn’t just about knowing your own company. It’s also about knowing your competitors.
SEO audits aren’t quite like spying on your competitors, but it’s almost as good. By incorporating a competitive audit, you can see what keywords they rank for, where they get their backlinks, or how fast their site is.
By knowing where your competitors are performing well and where they lag, you can position your business to take advantage of their weaknesses and gain the customers they’re losing.
End Penalties for Outdated Practices
Google updates its algorithm as often as most people change their socks. Here’s the problem: unlike changing your socks, changing Google’s algorithm has significant consequences for how your site performs. When Google changes its ranking factors, sites relying on the old rulebook fall by the wayside.
However, even if you’ve recovered from traffic losses due to initial updates, your site isn’t truly competitive if you’re still using outdated SEO practices. In fact, if you’re still using outdated practices, you’re probably being penalized for it.
Here’s the good news: there’s time to fix it. Even better news: an SEO audit pinpoints exactly what practices you’re being penalized for so that you can remedy them and make up your SEO mileage.
Understand Your Keywords
You know your primary and secondary keywords, but do you understand your keywords? Or, put another way, do you understand which keywords you’re actually ranking for?
Many site owners are surprised to see the keywords they’re actually ranking for when they run an audit. Hint: it might not be the words you think you’re optimized. And that gives you critical information about how your site is optimized and targeted–and what you can do to get your message on track.
If you’re a small business owner, you might think you’re closer to the customers and understand what keywords they’re using. But even if you know your customers by name, you can’t predict what keywords they’re using without the data to back it up.
Website analytics provides data. Plus, it tells you how often people visit for that keyword and whether they’re new or returning customers.
Know Your Visitors
More than that, website analytics allows you to go one step deeper than keywords. It allows you to understand your customers from a data-driven perspective.
If you understand what customers are looking for when they visit your site, you can get a better understanding of why they behave in certain ways when they arrive at your site. If you have visitors coming in for a seemingly irrelevant keyword, a high bounce rate and few returning customers, that tells you that you’re targeting the wrong audience altogether.
You can also get a better idea of who your customers are. Website analytics can tell you an astonishing amount of information about your customers, such as:
- Geographic location
- Topics of interest
- The tech they use to browse
By understanding this (and a lot more data available through analytics) you can get a stunningly precise portrait of who your customers are. And if you know who your customers are, you can target them more effectively.
Bringing Fresh Focus to Your Strategy
In case you couldn’t tell yet, SEO audits grant you a wonderful marketing gift: focus.
When you understand your site, your strengths and weaknesses, your tactics, your customers, and your successes, you can focus your marketing efforts to fix your mistakes, strengthen your best qualities, and target the right pressure points.
For example, you can improve your bounce rate just by boosting your page speed. You can go through your blog posts and optimize them based on the keywords and audience you actually want to target.
Basically, instead of playing whack-a-mole, you can focus your efforts on marketing improvements that will actually work. And if you already have SEO overhaul efforts in motion, you can monitor their progress to make sure everything is unfolding according to plan (and if it isn’t, you can course-correct).
Putting Analytics into Action
Think of it this way: website analysis services allow your site to be the best version of itself. And really, isn’t that the ultimate goal of all your marketing efforts?
But the real difference between those who use website analysis and those who succeed with website analysis is incorporating that data with other top-notch SEO services to generate real, measurable results. That’s where we come in.