As we near the end of another year, you probably have plenty on your plate. But make sure the end-of-year SEO audit doesn’t slide off your to-do list. This small but powerful tool allows you to assess your website’s performance, identify potential issues, and ensure your content strategy is on track in the new year.
What is an end-of-year SEO audit?
You may have heard that your website is like your business brochure or calling card. But what if I told you that your car and website have much more in common? They’re both designed to drive you towards a destination (or business goals). Both can keep running even if something “small” is broken. Still, if you ignore that minor issue, it can turn into something a whole lot bigger (and more expensive). Finally, both require regular maintenance for optimal performance.
An end-of-year SEO audit is a lot like your car’s annual maintenance. It’s a chance to look under the hood, fix anything that needs fixing, and ensure you’re still on track to get where you need to go. More specifically, an SEO audit is the process of identifying problems or errors that might prevent your site from ranking on Google and other search engines. It looks at technical SEO elements, like mobile-first optimization and site load speed, your keyword strategy, and how you’re stacking up against competitors.
Benefits of an end-of-year SEO audit
An SEO audit gives you a big-picture view of your website’s performance. It also provides valuable insights into how well your content and marketing efforts are performing. Plus, if you run an annual audit, you’ll collect valuable data points to form a long-term view of your brand’s digital presence.
Finally, this audit is a chance to make sure your site is indexed correctly and that you’re not losing traffic (AKA potential business) due to simple fix problems. Like they say, knowing is half the battle. But! It’s more accurate to say that knowing is only half the battle. Knowing that your website has SEO issues won’t help if you don’t take the necessary steps to fix them.
Put our end-of-year SEO audit checklist to work
Savy’s SEO audit checklist includes three broad categories: technical or off-page SEO and on-page SEO. By taking a holistic approach, we can improve overall rankings.
Checking your site’s technical SEO is one of the most critical aspects of your end-of-year SEO audit. Technical SEO refers to the non-content website and server optimizations that help search engines crawl and index your website more efficiently. It includes your site’s architecture, user experience (UX), security, and speed. Improving your site’s technical SEO often includes making it faster, easier to crawl, and easier for search engines to understand.
✓ Check for indexing and crawlability issues
Crawl errors can prevent search engine bots from reading your content and indexing your pages. And proper indexing matters because only indexed pages can actually appear in search engine results pages. You can check for crawlability and indexing issues using this site audit tool from Semrush. We appreciate this tool because it provides easy-to-follow instructions for improving your site’s crawlability once the audit is complete.
✓ Test your website load speeds
Websites need to load quickly because people are in a hurry. In fact, research from 2022 suggests ecommerce conversion rates drop by roughly 0.3% for every extra second it takes for a page to load. As a result, search engines treat page speed as a significant factor in ranking. Tools like Pingdom and Google’s PageSpeed tools can check your site’s speed and recommend improvements.
Site speed is a complex topic with many moving parts. Common fixes include switching to a speed-optimized hosting provider, reducing redirects, and compressing images and videos. Get in touch if you’re looking for guidance on improving your site’s performance! Savy’s team of in-house design and development experts specialize in speed-improving optimizations.
✓ Make sure your website is mobile friendly
Considering 60% of Google searches come from mobile devices, making sure your site loads fast and looks good on a mobile device is crucial. In fact, it’s so important that Google rolled out a mobile-first algorithm back in 2018. This means that Google now uses the mobile version of your site for mobile and desktop searches. Use Google’s simple Mobile-Friendly Testing tool to check whether or not your website is mobile-friendly. Common fixes to make your site more mobile-friendly include simplified navigation, static content, and images that display smaller to suit the smaller screen size.
Also known as on-site SEO, on-page SEO refers to optimizing the actual content on your web pages. It includes tweaking your page’s copy, tags, internal links, and meta content to improve your site’s visibility. Ultimately, on-page SEO makes it easy for search engines and users to identify what your website is about, demonstrates search-term-specific relevance, and provides helpful content to the reader. For your end-of-year SEO audit, you’ll want to consider the following:
✓ Check your content for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness
You’ve likely heard that “content is king,” but what does that mean in practice? These days, anybody can create a website and publish whatever they want on it. To help combat this, search engines attempt to prioritize content that seems to offer true value to the user. Google weights your site using the E-A-T criteria: expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
Of course, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness look different in different industries. For example, a recipe blog requires less formal expertise than a medical article. Still, your website copy must offer as much accurate, useful information as possible.
✓ Make sure your keywords are relevant and easy to identify
If you read through your website content and can’t tell what it’s about, how will your visitors know? An SEO audit ensures that valuable keywords are easy to identify and that all page content is relevant to those search terms. For example, placing keywords in headers makes them easier to spot for the casual reader and tells search engines to weigh them more heavily.
✓ Check for thin content
It’s important that your content provides enough information and context for your website to be relevant. “Thin” content refers to pages that offer little to no value to users or search engines. For example, category, tag, or author pages tend to contain thin content. Identifying thin content can be done manually, but it’s a time consuming process. Instead, we recommend using a tool like Google Search Console.
✓ Don’t neglect your meta content
Your site’s SEO titles and meta descriptions are arguably just as important as your on-site content. These behind-the-scenes pieces of content (AKA meta content) tell search engines what your page is about. They’ll also appear on the search engine results page (SERP) when somebody searches a relevant term.
If your main goal is to increase click-thru-rates (CTRs) on specific keywords, SEO title best practices are a good place to start. And, while meta descriptions don’t necessarily impact your SEO directly, they can have an enormous impact on the user experience and CTR.
Don’t forget to audit your SEO strategy for next year!
Completing your SEO audit at the end of the year allows you to look back at the last 12 months while turning a critical eye to the year ahead. Auditing this year’s SEO performance gives you a roadmap for creating your 2023 SEO strategy. Things like strategic keyword research, making a blogging topics calendar, and creating a comprehensive link-building plan can help you prepare for the coming year.
Not sure where to start? Savy can help. With our in-house team of SEO, content, and development experts, we can take immediate steps to get your website on-track in time for the new year. Contact us to start discussing your project’s SEO needs.