Ranking on search engines is impossible if you do not have a way to track the issues on your site. Since search engines use over two hundred metrics to determine your position on search engine result pages (SERPs), you must first identify the flaws before you begin fixing them. Some of the most common ranking factors include site structure, load time, title tags, image optimization, and so on.
If you are wondering how to identify problems in the first place, one of the ways is to do a site audit also known as a search engine optimization (SEO) audit. Audits can be performed manually or automatically using tools.
What is an SEO Audit?
An SEO audit is a procedure that helps you determine how well your website performs on the Internet and whether it follows the best SEO practices. It also assists you in determining whether your site complies with search engine updates. An SEO audit is the first step in developing a marketing strategy. It reveals the different flaws in your website. Among them are:
- On-page SEO issues
- Content gaps
- Non-performing keywords
- Issues with page layout
- Possible off-site problems
Why is an SEO audit important?
Your website reflects your company’s image. SEO audits reveal underlying issues that prevent your site from receiving organic clicks or conversions. For instance, suppose a visitor to your website wants to order a product but is frustrated by the amount of time the site takes to load, chances are that the product will be ordered from another website.
You can use an SEO audit report to improve page load time, optimize your content and title tags, and plan a strategy to increase your visibility on Google search.
Difference between Manual Audit vs Automated SEO Audit
An automatic SEO audit follows a set of predefined rules. The approach is the same regardless of industry. This type of audit is carried out using the SEO tools available in the market. An automated audit can evaluate multiple SEO metrics at the same time and generate reports accordingly.
On the flip side, manual SEO audits necessitate the hiring of SEO experts. The actions performed here are more detailed and are accompanied by explanations. Manual auditing allows you to choose the order in which the tasks should be completed and also provides you with a plethora of digital marketing opportunities that are not limited to SEO.
Advantages of Manual SEO
Manual SEO auditing, though time consuming, allows you complete control over your SEO strategy. You can carry out tasks as you see fit. You can easily understand and certify whether or not your SEO team handled the strategy as planned.
You can manually select backlinks for off-page purposes. This is a significant advantage. Furthermore, there are numerous instances when SEO tools block various sites that appear to be spammy but are not and are a great source for acquiring links. With a manual SEO audit, you do not have to deal with this issue.
Disadvantages of Manual SEO
Manual SEO is extremely time-consuming. If you own multiple websites, performing SEO for all of them at the same time is impossible. It will take you several days just to prepare a report for a few flaws. Many website owners believe that manual SEO is inexpensive. However, hiring SEO experts who can work on the various algorithms used by Google to determine rank can be expensive. Apart from that, search engine policies change regularly. Automated tools incorporate these changes into their software and perform accordingly. But, if you do it manually, you may miss out on updates and attract penalties.
Advantages of Automated SEO
Automated SEO refers to the use of digital methods to perform SEO audit services entirely or partially. This type of audit is far less expensive, and there are numerous free tools in the market with basic features. Even if you use a paid tool, the monthly subscription fee is much lower than what you would pay an inexperienced SEO executive.
Automation allows you to handle various sites at once. You can use automated tools to identify broken links, carry out in-depth competitors’ analysis, identify keywords density, meta content, and different tags of large websites. Moreover, automation can provide you with real-time data on various crucial metrics.
Disadvantages of Automated SEO
Automated SEO is based on tools and performs functions based on data fed into it. If you feed incorrect information to the tool, you run the risk of creating low-quality backlinks. Furthermore, there is a chance that your tool will be unable to detect and block spam sites. All of this will eventually result in a search engine penalty.
Also, many of the links generated by automation have no chance of driving traffic to your site. As a result, saying that automated SEO focuses on quantity rather than quality is not incorrect.
How often should you rely on an automated SEO audit?
Automated SEO audits are helpful if you own multiple sites. The reports generated by them provide insights into various common problems that most websites face. Integrating automated and manual audits saves you time and money because their audit reports are delivered to your inbox on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis depending on what you choose.
In a nutshell, while automation may not be as good as manual auditing, the insights it provides can help you identify issues that accumulate over time. And, if you are aware of those issues ahead of time, you can more effectively prepare the groundwork for manual SEO.
When do you need to perform a manual SEO audit?
As an SEO expert, you should conduct a manual audit before preparing an SEO strategy for any site to better its position on SERPs. This audit provides insight into the site’s user-friendliness, device compatibility, optimization issues with content, visuals, titles, broken links, and so on. You can devise a strategy to troubleshoot it once you have a detailed explanation of why these flaws exist in the site and the changes it has undergone over time.
Always conduct a manual audit whenever the site owner plans to redesign the overall site structure or migrate to a new site. Keep track of the content that assisted the site in gaining traffic and leads.
Advantages of Manual Audit over Automated Audit
1) Meet Industry Standards
Manual auditing informs you about the current state of your industry. The way website development was done in the past has changed over time due to the penetration of new technologies and the availability of various visuals.
Only humans can decide the kinds of changes a site needs. When you explore your site from the perspective of a user, you can understand where your site requires visuals, where you need to change the tags, and so on. Automation only works on predefined rules, regardless of the industry type. They cannot understand your audience’s needs in a personalised manner.
Your Web pages cannot rank on search engines if they are not indexed. But do all Web pages require indexing? The answer is no. Manual auditing informs you of which pages require indexing. Indexation is important for Web pages that contain product information, blogs, and policies. In contrast, you may overlook pages such as forgotten passwords, login, and so on.
In the context of the customer journey, automation might be incapable of indexing various Web pages that appear after payment. It also fails to recommend adding a ‘no-index’ tag to pages that are skipped by Web crawlers.
Automation cannot tell you if your site’s UI/UX is successfully meeting the customers’ expectations. However, when you perform a manual audit, you can track the call to action (CTA) volume of your home page, details in the footer, and the position of CTAs on different Web pages/product pages of your site.
Manual auditing is the most effective method for determining the source of poor user experience. For example, if your site has a lengthy subscription form, irrelevant fields, or an unnecessary section on the home page that confuses visitors, you will learn about them through manual auditing. Simply put, you can use this audit approach to make your site navigation more user-friendly.
4) Duplicate Domain
You may have noticed that different sites are accessible via different URL versions. Assume there is a company called XYZ Ltd. with the website address www.xyz.ltd.com. Due to poor SEO practices, the site owner ends up creating multiple URL versions, beginning with HTTPS, HTTP, and so on. This makes it difficult for users to identify the original version. The situation also makes it difficult for your site to rank for various keywords while also preventing search engine crawlers from indexing your page.
Manual auditing can help you identify and resolve this issue by using response codes like ‘200OK’ and status codes such as ‘301 moved permanently.’
5) Recommended Search Optimization
While automation relies on predefined rules to detect errors on your website, it cannot make recommendations on various flaws. On the other hand, a manual audit goes through various SEO technical aspects to determine where optimization is needed. You can optimize content, title tags, meta, internal linking, navigational structure, XML sitemap, and many other things based on the information provided.
In-depth analysis is possible only with the help of manual intervention. If you expect the tools to do everything, you will be disappointed.
Even though a manual SEO audit is superior to an automated one, you should consider incorporating a blend of both when developing your SEO strategy. This will allow you to track your site’s real-time performance and assess where it falls short of its peers. Always use data to improve your overall site, including content, links, and so on.
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