Are you still sticking to your old website that boasts ancient functionalities and poor design? It’s time to make a change! Given the current business scenario, exceeding competition,constantly changing user behavior and evolving search engine algorithms, it has become crucial that business websites are state-of-the art in terms of design, features, and UX.Redesigning your old website may even contribute to increased visitors, improved ranking, and better branding. Therefore, a website overhaul has to be planned in a very calculative way. You cannot afford to repeat any of the old mistakes with the existing site that is getting redesigned. Hence, SEO being the life of any ecommerce site to sustain and make profit, you must get a thorough SEO audit done on the website.

What is SEO audit

What is SEO audit?

Audit is the term you use when you evaluate and monitor things at a certain stage of operation. An SEO audit is about evaluating a website in terms of the amount of optimization it has received. During such an audit, you measure how much of on-page SEO is done for the site, and what the planning for the off-page SEO is for the site that’s waiting to be launched. If the site has already been launched, then the audit will also be on keyword rankings,organic traffic and overall SEO health of the website. The job of an auditor is to evaluate the mistakes and mismatches so that the faults in planning can be spotted accurately, and then corrected over a time frame. This eventually brings about improved search results and targeted traffic. Constant audits may be required for websites which are striving to get success in ecommerce.

Importance of SEO audit for a relaunching site

You would not like to repeat old mistakes. You are re-launching the website to bring on something more improved, effective, better designed, attractive, with fast loading, and overall with the best possible features to attract customers who fall under your targeted traffic. Hence, you must make sure that the site works as desired.

First and foremost, you need to hire a competent web design team to revamp your website. And while the designing and coding teams are working on the site, and tweaking images, videos, text content and designs etc, you need to monitor and evaluate their work to keep an eye on how things are moving along. If you want to change anything, you can always tell them or suggest your own ideas. Once the contract ends and the redesigned website is launched, you may have to pay extra for modifications of the design and UX features.

There is no point in spending more when you can evaluate things before the site launches.You should also perform a timely SEO audit before the re-launch of the site. This will ensure that things like meta tags, sitemap, description, on-page and off-page aspects are in the best shape.

How to plan the SEO audit

How to plan the SEO audit

The SEO audit can be done in two phases for the best results. Proper planning is necessary, but you have no way of knowing how effective the plan is unless you start executing it. With pre-launch audit, you can plan all the best and right things. And after the site is launched, you need to speculate the site traffic, conversion quality and position in the SERPs to know if your plans were right, or if you still need to make any changes. This will overall bring you the best results.

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Pre-launch SEO audit

The pre-launch audit can be divided into 5 strategic points and they are:

  1. Analytics Review- while the site is getting transferred from old domain to new one, or old pages to new ones, the Google Analytics data also has to be checked to see if the tracking is on for the new pages.
  2. Technical review- You are changing the site design to make it look better, interact better, load better, and function better. And these things are checked for in a demo run again and again when you are checking the technical aspects.
  3. Content Review- The optimum size of images, the 301 redirects, the meta tagging, title and description tags — all must be checked to be doubly sure before the launch. If you are changing the URLs to some pages, you would want Google to spot them through the proper 301 redirects.
  4. Link review- Check that your internal links are well set to tie up one page to another in a well knit mesh net, as this is one of the ladders to success.
  5. Benchmarking- While your old site is still live, you must find out the current ranking of all keywords optimized for its pages, the traffic to all its pages, and current conversion ratio. That will act as the benchmark when you will be comparing the same for the relaunched site in post-launch audit.

Post-launch SEO audit

The post-launch audit is all about finding out how the website is performing with all the on-page SEO done on it, and the off-page SEO plans which started to work on it. You must have a set of keywords, and you would want to know how the site is performing against those.

Any kind of dip in SERP, lack of traffic to any page, and loss in quality conversion rates must be noted instantly, and the cause behind it has to be identified. Here, the benchmarking you did while the pre-launch audit comes into play. You will be able to match the real time results with the benchmark results, and this will give you the target where you want to be. And this kind of monitoring has to be done everyday for the first 2-3 weeks, and then every alternative day for the next few weeks until the relaunched site stabilizes itself in the ranking for most of the high target keywords.

The role of Organic ranking

While there will be a set of chosen keywords for which you will try to rank your website and its pages, you will also have to strictly monitor the movement of the linked pages with the keyword based rankings as well as the conversion metrics. This has to be frequently noted, and any changes for the worse has to be taken as an alarm bell noting that there is some problem with your off-page SEO strategies, and improvement is required on the on-page placement of content. But another question looms large over the whole chapter. Andthat is about the effectiveness of organic keyword rankings in the current day.

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Although it’s a known fact that the pillar of SEO is made of organic keyword based rankings, with the fast changing Google search results page styles, many old beliefs are changing.Did you notice how Google displays its search results pages now? Much more importance and prominence is brought to three things, and they are:

  1. The localized search results which has overridden the old style of displaying basic keyword based search results.
  2. The snippet display style that returns search result answers in phrases from important sites, which is diminishing the requirement of users to open a particular website to find out whether or not the website offers what they are looking for.
  3. The sponsored ads which are displayed in counts of normally 3 and in important and special cases 4 in all the SERP pages, which navigates the focus to those first, and later to the organic listings lower in the page.

With these issues faced by all relaunching business sites, you will ask the question “how good and effective the keyword based organic rankings are going to be for the website?” Are they at all of any use?Social media marketing and paid ads rarely care for organic ranking. And many a times even if you get the traffic, they are not converted to customers as desired due to an expectation mismatch of the visitors. It probably happens as they did not find relevant content inside as expected,whereas the misleading Meta tags and descriptions made the search engine show them on results page.

You try so hard to rank your pages for a keyword organically, and when you finally get to the desired ranking, you still feel that the pages with more relevant content and best snippet view content are stealing the show.You are left at the mercy of the visitors who may or may not look further for information after they have read the snippets and have eyed the local and sponsored results as well.

Finally- sketching the balanced way

The fact is that, organic rankings still matter a lot.Organic Keyword Rankings will bring on Great Conversions provided the On-page elements are right and aligned the best way.You need to offer the customers the precise information by matching Meta tags and descriptions with the site’s actual content, and bringing on all that the best way into the sitemap for best readability by search engine bots.

Besides all that, you will also have to make sure that all the local keywords are projected through high quality long-tail keywords, which are also ranked with equal force, and focus on the off-page SEO side. And this is where the pre-launch SEO audit and the post-launch recurrent SEO audits are necessary to make your relaunching business site a success.

 

Written by Lalit Sharma
Lalit Sharma is an SEO consultant who runs a SEO house called Ranking By SEO. He is specialized in link building and other SEO related activities. You can also find him on Twitter, Google+ and his personal blog.

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