Whether you’re launching a new SEO (search engine optimization) strategy or recognize it’s time to revisit the one you have, a website SEO analysis is an important piece of the process. By taking a step back to do a thorough review of where you are and clarify where you want to be, you can craft a well-informed plan for achieving better results in the year to come.
A good website SEO analysis should cover five main categories.
While Google keeps their complex list of ranking factors secret, they have shared a few technical factors that can hurt or help your website in the rankings. The first and, arguably easiest, step to good SEO is identifying technical issues that hurt SEO and correcting them.
SEO tools, like SEMRush, can simplify this process by helping you identify your technical errors quickly and easily, so you can get to work fixing them faster. These are some of the most important technical factors to focus on.
Get a free SEO assessment from Kuno and SEMRush — click here.
Identifying and fixing broken links.
When someone clicks to follow a link on your website and gets an error message, it makes you look bad and increases the chances they’ll click away to another website. Google’s crawlers recognize broken links, which is bad enough, but they can also cause an increase in bounce rates — another big ranking factor. Luckily, finding broken links is easy. A lot of SEO tools do it automatically, and free broken link checkers are also available.
Checking your page speed.
Ten percent of users will leave your website if it takes longer than 2 seconds to load, and Google has been upfront about page speed being a ranking factor. Google has a free tool that tests how fast your website loads and provides recommendations for speeding it up.
Ensuring your website is mobile friendly.
For several years now, Google has been telling businesses that websites have to be mobile friendly if you want to perform well in search. Test out now how your website works on mobile and consider if it’s time to redesign your website to be responsive.
Finding and fixing canonical errors.
If you ever re-publish your content on other websites, you risk both ranking below the other site for your own content and facing duplicate content penalties from Google. But you can avoid both those issues by employing the proper canonical tags. A good SEO tool will help you identify canonical errors so you can fix them.
Implementing schema markup
For many types of Google searches, rich snippets have become a normal part of the search engine results page (SERP). You can increase the odds of your content showing up in a rich snippet by adding schema markup to your website. Google’s structured data markup helper lets you highlight the relevant parts of each page of your website to automatically generate the code needed to add schema markup to the page.
Since Google is secretive about how its algorithm determines rankings, SEO involves a certain amount of guesswork. One of the best ways to reduce uncertainty and figure out what will work for your website is analyzing what’s working for your competitors.
An SEO competitor analysis includes:
Identify your top competitors in search.
You may think you already know who your top competitors are, but your SEO competitors may be different than your main business competitors. So Step 1 in your competitor analysis is checking the search results for relevant keywords to see which websites most consistently show up.
For example, companies that sell inventory management software will find that companies in related fields like payment processing are competing for the same keywords, even though they’re not selling the same type of product. The only way to know that is to start searching and see who shows up.
Find keywords that are driving traffic to their sites.
A good SEO tool, like SEMRush or Moz, will help you identify which keywords your competitors are ranking for, and give you an idea of how much traffic they’re getting as a result of those rankings. This can reveal keyword opportunities worth including in your strategy that you might overlook otherwise.
Find keywords that are driving traffic to their sites.
You can learn a lot by spending some time on a competitor’s website to see what kind of content they’re making, how they use keywords and how they organize the website. And SEO tools can provide insights into which pages on the site receive the best rankings and traffic, so you know which of their tactics are getting results.
Check their backlink profile.
Identifying opportunities for link building is one of the hardest parts of SEO. A competitor’s backlink profile is a handy shortcut for finding websites that link to the types of topics you cover. Opportunities revealed in your competitor research can fuel your link building strategy.
Anyone can get to Page 1 of Google for a keyword no one else is targeting. What makes SEO both difficult and valuable is the ability to get your website to rank for relevant keywords. Keywords are the cornerstone of a good SEO strategy, so your SEO analysis should include a review of your current keywords and rankings and outline new opportunities for keyword targeting.
Analyze your current rankings for your target keywords.
This is another step where having a good tool like SEMRush comes in handy. Instead of having to do dozens of searches manually to figure out where your website ranks, technology can automate the process to show you which keywords you’re ranking well for now, and which keyword rankings can be improved.
Don’t stop at checking the main, broad keywords you want to rank for. Also consider long-tail keywords related to what you do. A business selling time tracking software should consider keywords such as “how to be more productive at work” along with “time tracking software.”
This step will show you which of your web pages are accomplishing your goals now, so you can analyze why. And just as importantly, it will reveal opportunities for new ranking wins. A blog post on Google’s Page 2 can be strengthened to help you move it to Page 1. And adding internal links to a page that’s ranking well now can help spread some of its authority and traffic around.
Identify which keywords are driving traffic to your website now.
The ultimate point of rankings is to drive relevant traffic to your website. Don’t just analyze where you rank for certain keywords, also figure out which ones are getting more people to your site. The keywords you thought were the most valuable might end up being worth less if searchers aren’t regularly clicking through. Your analysis should prioritize traffic at least as much as rankings.
Identify opportunities for keywords you’d like to rank for but don’t yet.
A big part of SEO is identifying all the relevant topics your audience cares about so you know what to cover in your content. Fortunately, a lot of SEO tools have features for helping build out a list of worthwhile keyword opportunities. In addition to the keywords you’re already targeting, look for topics and terms that are missing from your current list and worth including in your strategy.
This is another step where SEO tools like SEMRush play a big role, as they’ll perform a keyword gap analysis that shows you all the keywords your competitors are targeting and ranking for that you aren’t yet.
Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors and, unfortunately, one of the hardest parts of SEO to control. When another website links to yours, Google’s algorithm sees it as akin to a recommendation — it clearly thinks your web page is offering something valuable. Good backlinks increase your authority in the eyes of Google and your chances of better rankings.
But getting website owners to link back to your website — something that benefits you in a clear way, but doesn’t usually have an obvious benefit for them — is tricky. The backlink portion of your SEO analysis can help. This should include a few main steps.
Analyze your current backlink profile.
Once again, this is a step you’ll want the right SEO tech for. SEO software can crawl the web to find all the links pointing back to your website, so you can figure out how many backlinks you have and where they’re coming from. Your current backlink profile shows you what websites are already inclined to link to you, and might be open to doing so again. It provides insights on the type of content that links to yours, and which pieces of your content have earned the most links — insights that can help you better shape a successful link building strategy moving forward. And you can analyze the authority of the different links you have now.
Identify and disavow toxic backlinks.
Because of past algorithm updates that penalized websites for having spammy backlinks, an SEO analysis must now include a review of any bad backlinks you have. When analyzing your backlink profile, look for any links from websites with a particularly low authority. Google lets you disavow these links so they no longer count against you.
Identify new backlink opportunities.
This is an ongoing process, but reviewing the backlinks you and your competitors have now should provide you with a lot of ideas for good websites to target in your link building strategy. Most SEO tools will also help you find mentions of your website around the web that don’t include a link now, and websites that link to content similar to pieces you’ve created. That information can add up to a good list of new opportunities.
Create a strategy for building new links.
Your backlink analysis will also provide good insights into the types of content to create to attract new links. It can help you spot good websites to pitch for guest posts, and link roundup pieces that your website would be a good fit for. Take what you learn here and turn it into an action plan for starting to build new links for your website.
Content marketing is an important piece of SEO because it gives you the chance to create well- optimized web pages that target a wide range of relevant keywords. The longer you’ve been doing content marketing, the more important it is to conduct a content audit to improve your content strategy and make the content you already have go further.
Some of the most important things to look for when reviewing your content during your SEO analysis are:
Which content pieces are performing the best now
Look to your top-performing content to figure out what your audience responds to. It shows you the types of topics to give more attention to and the content formats your audience likes best. Consider your content’s success in terms of traffic, rankings and conversions.
Try to identify trends in what your top-performing pieces have in common. Are they similar in length? Do they employ images in a particular way? If you can analyze why they work, you can do more of what gets results.
Your top performing pieces are also a good opportunity to better promote your other content. Look for opportunities to include links to other relevant pages on your website, or include a stronger call-to-action (CTA) to start getting more out of the content’s success.
What content is underperforming
The content you have that doesn’t get clicks, shares or rankings has something to teach you as well. Try to figure out why those pieces don’t work. Do you need to do more to optimize them for search? Try targeting a different keyword? Or flesh the content out so it provides more useful information?
In some cases, underperforming content should be discarded. In other cases, it should be updated to make it more useful. Either way, start by identifying which pieces of content aren’t accomplishing their goals and analyzing why.
Opportunities to improve the content you already have
You probably have a lot of content that could be doing more for you. Old content that’s outdated can gain a new life with an update that makes it current. Short pieces that provide good information can become long-form content that’s more comprehensive. Maybe some of your blog posts need better images, or your videos lack transcription which will help them in search.
By reviewing all the content you have, you’ll find ways to make the work you’ve done over the years go further by improving what’s already there, rather than putting all your efforts toward creating new content from scratch.
Opportunities to repurpose your content
The other smart way to make the content you’ve already created go further is to find ways to repurpose your best content. A series of high-performing blog posts on a particular topic can become an ebook or be turned into a series of useful videos. An ebook can inspire a series of related webinars. Or you can revisit your most popular topics in a new podcast.
Covering topics that have been proven to work for your audience in new ways and formats gives your ideas a chance to reach new audiences. And you’ll gain new data on the types of content your audience likes best.
Content marketing is a long-term process and everything you learn during your analysis can be put to use in your content strategy moving forward. By slowing down for a bit to do an analysis of the content you have and how it relates to your overall SEO strategy, you ensure your future content efforts will take you further.
A website SEO analysis can be a big project, but it will pay off in giving you a clear understanding of how to approach your SEO plan to get better results. Any good website SEO analysis will result in lots of valuable insights about what works and how to improve your SEO approach.
Make sure you turn those insights into action by crafting a clear plan based on what you learn. When you put your knowledge to work, the time you spent in the analysis phase will pay off in better results.