This series walks through the components of an SEO audit. In the first post, we walked through the questions you should ask to find out whether or not you need an audit; in the second post, we covered on-site components. Today, we discuss search aspects.
One of the first things we think of when we hear the term ‘SEO’ is, well, search. After all, it all leads back to that. So it’s no surprise that a key part of an SEO audit is taking a deeper look at search aspects – including your traffic and how people are finding you. Your goal should be to be appearing in all results tied to search terms relevant to your business.
Here are some of the major search components you should take a look at when undergoing an SEO audit:
Current Traffic Sources
Let’s talk traffic, shall we? By looking at where your search traffic is coming from, you can get a better sense of what areas need improvement. Fortunately, Google Analytics makes this extremely easy and will provide a breakdown that looks just like this:
If the focus of your audit is to look at organic SEO, the main area you want to pay attention to is Organic Search. This tells you what percentage of your traffic is composed of people who are searching organically via keywords and phrases relevant to your business. In other words, they’re not coming to your site via paid ads or from a social media site, etc.
(Note: It’s also not a bad idea to take a look at direct traffic, which sometimes includes organic search. Mobile devices often obscure their search data which can cause it to appear as a direct search.)
If a large amount of your website visitors are finding you organically, that means your SEO is in pretty good shape. If your organic search volume is low, it’s an indicator that you should think about optimizing your site a bit better so that you’re appearing in results for relevant terms.
Search Queries & Keywords
The next question you should explore is, ‘What are people searching to find us?’ Google Analytics and Google Search Console make this very easy to answer by providing the top queries and terms people searched for when they found your site.
It’s a no brainer why this is useful in your SEO audit. If your site is in good shape, these queries and keywords should reflect that. They should be relevant to your business and what you want to be known for. As an example, here’s a look at SHIFT’s top queries:
Examining search queries and keywords not only is a great way to find out where your site content is successful but also as an indicator of what people are interested in learning more about. (Hint: This is where the content marketers come in. Time for a blog post or eBook!)
On the flip side, if you’re finding that major keywords you want to be known for aren’t among your top queries, it’s time to start building more copy and content around that topic.
Branded vs. Unbranded Search
As you take a deep dive into queries and keywords, you should also analyze how many terms are branded vs. unbranded. “Branded” means they include some form of your brand name (“SHIFT Pr firm”) vs. unbranded which is more general (“public relations firm”). A blend of both branded and unbranded is ideal. Branded terms indicate people have heard of you and are interested enough to explore what you have to offer. Unbranded helps gauge whether or not your site content is aligned well with general industry terms people are searching for.
If 80% of your organic search is branded, it may mean it’s time to place more focus on improving your website to appear more regularly in general industry searches. If the opposite is true, it could mean it’s time for a PR push.
These are just some of the core search aspects you should take into account within your audit. Stay tuned for our final installment of this series where we examine how competitor research can boost your SEO efforts.