The most dangerous phrase in marketing is “I assume.”
Assuming involves a leap of faith, a guesstimate unsupported by careful research or relevant facts, and that’s one thing smart marketers can’t afford to do.
If you assume your website is effectively optimized for search engines, you could be forgetting that Google pushes out about 9 algorithm updates every day, or that you haven’t tested your site’s speed in ages, or that consumer behavior has changed, but your keywords haven’t.
To truly understand how effectively your website is optimized according to Google’s criteria, you’ll want to perform an SEO audit with a tool built by Google themselves.
WHAT IS AN SEO AUDIT?
If you want to ensure your website is doing all the things it’s supposed to do, then an SEO audit should be high on your marketing priority list.
Effectively leveraged, an SEO audit will tell you if your content and keywords are search engine friendly and whether your backlinks are as strong as your major competitors’. An audit will tell you if your website, the backbone of your business and marketing strategy, works.
As the Digital Marketing Institute points out, the insights you derive from an SEO audit will measurably enhance every aspect of your marketing strategy:
“An SEO audit checks the health of your website…and makes suggestions on how to optimize. SEO audits are important for a number of reasons, not the least of which because Google changes their algorithm frequently in accordance with new technology and new search patterns. Conducting a thorough SEO audit is an essential starting point for any digital marketer, whether you do so in-house or outsource the task. This is because it allows you to analyze your current SEO efforts…and take immediate action off the back of those insights.”
WHAT DOES AN SEO AUDIT LOOK AT?
An SEO audit will help you understand how to increase site traffic, improve organic rankings, outperform your competitors and identify back end issues that could be compromising site speed.
An SEO audit will cover (at minimum) the following 10 critically important topics:
- Keywords: are you using the right keywords to drive organic traffic to your website?
- Search intent: are you effectively monitoring keywords and landing pages to ensure they capture the intent of searchers?
- Search rankings: is your site ranking as high as it could be in keyword searches?
- Competitors: do you know how well your site performs compared to those of your top competitors?
- Site speed: have you tested and benchmarked your site’s speed and identified bugs that could be slowing it down?
- Content: is your content comprehensive, authoritative and effectively formatted?
- Links: do you have relevant inbound and outbound links, and do they all work?
- Navigation: is site navigation easy, intuitive and effective?
- Meta descriptions: are they an appropriate length, unique, and targeted?
- URLs: are they clean—and do they work?
WHAT IS LIGHTHOUSE?
An SEO audit, if you do it right, can be a game-changer for your business—so it’s not surprising there are many SEO audit tools on the market.
Some of the more popular are HubSpot’s Website Grader, SEMrush, Woorank, BuzzStream, Moz’s Pro Tools and Linkody. But Google’s own open-source, Chrome-based audit tool deserves mention and a closer look.
Lighthouse is an automated tool from Chrome for auditing website performance, includes a basic SEO audit feature that checks how well your site works with Google crawls, descriptive anchor text, user experience, titles and descriptions, and HTTP status code.
As Search Engine Land notes, Lighthouse is not a substitute for a comprehensive SEO audit, but it’s a good start, providing detailed information about basic SEO issues and making recommendations for needed actions.
WHAT DOES LIGHTHOUSE TEST?
As noted above, Lighthouse won’t give you the comprehensive results you’d get from some other SEO audit tools, but it will nevertheless provide several valuable insights. Lighthouse will test the following 3 SEO features:
1. SITE SPEED PERFORMANCE
Speed is becoming increasingly important as an SEO ranking factor. Google is focused on delivering positive user experiences, part of which is a fast website load time. Lighthouse will test several aspects of speed performance, such as how quickly content throughout your site appears to visitors. You’ll also learn how quickly interactive content allows visitors to use it—and how long it takes for your site to respond to visitor input.
The accessibility feature of Lighthouse looks at things like how well website headings work. It will also check how easy it is to view site content, for example, based on the use of contrasting colors, document title tags and names assigned to links on your site. Finally, you’ll get a list of additional accessibility problems that you might need to check.
3. SEO AUDIT
Again, it’s important to note that Lighthouse’s SEO audit tool provides limited SEO data and shouldn’t be viewed as a substitute for the more robust tools noted above.
The bottom line is that SEO isn’t easy—neither is auditing your site to identify critical SEO issues. If you’ve worked with Lighthouse (or for that matter any other SEO auditing tool) and feel overwhelmed, it’s probably prudent to get help from web design experts who can give you the advice and guidance you need to succeed.
To learn more about the ways our custom software, digital marketing, and web design services can help you achieve your top marketing goals and transform your business, contact us today.