Before you can improve your search engine rankings, you need to know where they currently stand. A search engine audit will help you evaluate the state of your organic traffic so you can set goals to improve it. Most SEO agencies will conduct an audit for free before working with a client, but you can develop your own audit program internally as well. Follow these steps to evaluate your search rankings.

Start with the right tools.

The first thing to do is to get started with the right tools that can evaluate your SEO performance. For example, the Google Search Console is free and you can link it to your existing Google Analytics account.

The Google Search Console will track keywords that you rank for and your landing pages. It can alert you to issues with your site speed and any broken links. This is a good tool to reference throughout the year. You can also look for paid SEO tools that report on your search traffic. These range from a few dollars per month to several hundred dollars annually.

Identify issues with your website.

Most people think an SEO audit compares their website to a few top competitors. However, your internal pages have a lot to do with your search engine rankings. A quality SEO report will evaluate the current state of your website and provide actionable items to improve it. This is actually good news. You can’t control what your competitors do, but you can set up your own site for success.

The audit will identify page titles, meta descriptions, and content pages that need to be optimized. Your SEO agency will then follow a set of best practices to improve them. The audit should also look at technical aspects like your external links and canonical URLs to see if there is potentially anything holding you back. With a thorough audit, you should have action items to improve any given page on your website.

Prioritize important keywords.

Your SEO website audit will likely provide hundreds of keywords that you can potentially rank for. However, not all of these are created equal. You don’t need to spend as much time targeted branded keywords (your business name) as your non-brand keywords (generic terms related to your products or services).

Use your audit to determine which keywords can boost your organic traffic the most. These are keywords that are on the second page or at the bottom of the first. You can focus your efforts on these key pages so they show up at the top of the SERPs. Any audit can pull a list of keywords. Make sure the one you use provides context into your opportunities and weak spots.

Consider the user experience.

Search engines are increasingly prioritizing your site’s performance in their rankings. The easiest way to watch your organic traffic drop is to have a poor mobile experience. If users can’t navigate your pages on their mobile devices then you will notice a higher bounce rate and lower organic traffic.

Google also knows that users want websites to load quickly. If you have a slow load time, then your hard work to improve your pages will go to waste. Your customer will leave before they even read your page titles.

The best way to maintain your search engine results is to keep your website running at its best, with a fast load time and good mobile experience. The SEO audit tool you use should track both of these aspects with multiple site metrics. You can also test your website with Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

Most SEO best practices are centered around keeping your website running at its best. Make sure your SEO website audit provides actional items for both internal and external improvements. This will help you grow your organic traffic and avoid future SEO errors.

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