You’ve got a copywriting project and your client wants you to do a content rewrite for their exiting website. They also want their content optimised for SEO.
Hang on a sec- before you do anything, shouldn’t you find out how the website’s performing right now?
In this blog:
- Find out what an SEO audit is and what it consists of
- Learn about content audits and how they help you as a copywriter or content writer
- I answer the question “how can I convince my client to pay for an SEO audit?”
- Find out when an SEO audit isn’t required
SEO audits: how they help improve your client’s website
Your clients aren’t savvy when it comes to using Google Analytics and Google Search Console- I’m betting they haven’t set them up yet!
As with any business planning, it’s good to know how a website is performing right now before setting goals and future content plans. (If your client’s business is changing, there are SEO elements you need to consider- check out this blog about SEO changes for a changing business).
A business makes assumptions about website performance based on sales (or lack of) without looking at any other data.
Doing research using Google Search Console, Google Analytics, keyword research tools or other SEO tools will help you make informed decisions about your client’s website copy and content.
What is an SEO audit?
An SEO audit is analysing and reporting on the performance of a website compared with SEO best practice.
An audit tells you whether the website has an SEO strategy and whether there’s room for improvement.
What’s included in an SEO audit?
The audit should look at the three main SEO elements:
-The technical performance of a website
-The on-page SEO elements (is the content optimised)
-The off-page SEO elements (building the website’s authority)
A technical audit of a website looks at things like:
- Whether all the website pages have been indexed by Google
- Site and page load speed
- Whether all pages load correctly
- Whether there are any website error codes such as 404 errors
- Whether there is a valid SSL certificate in place
- Whether images have been compressed
- Whether all plugins have been updated and are working
- The website’s structured data/schema markup
I help my clients with their content- what should I do with the technical audit? (Or in other words- tech stuff scares the crap out of me!)
As an SEO copywriter, you’re only interested in the on-page elements of an SEO audit. But when doing an SEO audit, all three SEO elements need to be included.
That doesn’t mean you should be responsible for fixing any technical issues! Your client should pass on the technical audit results to their web developer to fix any issues.
What part of an SEO audit is most relevant to me as a copywriter/content writer?
The on-page SEO elements in an SEO audit are most relevant to you, and includes things like:
- Whether each page/post targets a different primary keyword
- Whether the slug/URL, title, images, meta description and the content itself has been optimised with relevant keywords (this is NOT always required- for example it’s ok for a title not to include a keyword).
- Whether there are H2 and H3 headings and have they been optimised with keywords
- Do the headings on the page follow the correct structure? For example, using a H2 as a main heading and then H3 as a sub-heading.
- Which keywords is the website ranking for? How much traffic have the keywords brought to the website? What position rankings are the keywords? Are the keywords relevant to the business?
I’ve got a great little checklist for you that lists all of the above and where to find it- so easy to look at when you’re optimising your client’s content.
To get your on-page SEO checklist, sign up to my weekly email list here. Every Tuesday I will also email you ONE SEO tip that you can use on your website.
A content audit is also an important part of the SEO audit process, but not all SEO providers include an in-depth content analysis and report.
What is a content audit?
When clients book an SEO audit through me, a content audit is also included.
A content audit is an analysis of how a website’s content is performing. Content audits help you create a solid content plan and make decisions about the types of content to include.
They help you justify your content planning and writing decisions!
A content audit should answer the following questions:
Which web page/post is getting the most page views?
Improving the most popular page could help increase conversions.
Which web page/post is getting the least page views?
Think about why this page has the least views. Is the topic irrelevant? Is the content not well-written?
Which page/post has the highest bounce rate?
If people are reading this page then leaving, why is this so? Does the page lack a call to action? Is the page content lacking something? Is the page ranking for irrelevant keywords? Improving the content or the design of the page could help reduce the bounce rate.
Are all pages optimised for SEO?
If pages are missing relevant keywords or the keywords haven’t been used in headings or other on-page SEO elements, then there are opportunities for you to optimise the content.
Do all pages have a call to action?
Check for missing calls to action, and check that existing calls to action are relevant. If there are CTA buttons, make sure that they work both from a desktop and a mobile device.
Are all images optimised for SEO?
You’ll need an auditing tool to be able to check this- look for alt-text which is text that describes the image.
How much time are users spending on the website?
The more time users spend on a website, the higher the chance of conversion. How long they spend depends on the topic or product.
I worked on a sewing machine review website and the average time spent on the site was 15 minutes!
Look for pages where users don’t spend a lot of time. Is this normal for your client’s industry? Is it normal for the type of page/content?
Which page/post has the highest exit rate?
Is this a page that would naturally be a point of exit, such as a checkout page or a contact page?
You can take the content audit one step further by performing a content gap analysis between your client and one of their competitors. A gap analysis helps determine what content topics are missing from your client’s website, that’s included on their competitor’s website.
How can I convince my client to pay for an SEO audit?
If your client is SEO-savvy, they’ll understand the need for an SEO audit before you start planning and creating content.
The reality is that most business owners are wary of SEO and don’t understand the benefits of an SEO and content audit.
If I had to recommend either an SEO audit or keyword research, I’d go with an SEO audit if the client’s website has been live for at least 9 months. They should be ranking for keywords, and you’ll find this out via an audit.
At least this way, you don’t run the risk of ruining any existing keyword rankings! You can optimise the content with these keywords by adding them to the on-page SEO elements (see the checklist you downloaded from me).
When is an SEO audit not needed?
Yep it’s true, sometimes an SEO audit isn’t needed.
I’ve told copywriting clients not to worry about SEO audits if the client doesn’t have the budget for one or if the website is new.
If the website is less than 6 months old, it won’t be ranking for many keywords. Some of the SEO tools used in audits may not have the website in it’s database.
And a new website shouldn’t have any technical issues!
Can a content audit be done if the client doesn’t have their Google reporting tools set up?
When a client doesn’t have their Google Analytics and/or Google Search Console set up, I use other SEO tools to find data on their website.
A tool I love using is Serpstat- I use it to check which keywords a website is already ranking for.
I also do keyword research to check the search volumes of the top keywords they’re ranking for. There’s no point ranking in the number 1 position for a keyword if nobody searches it!
Once you’ve got your audit report, what next?
Now that you have an SEO audit report for your client, you can start the content planning process.
The technical SEO elements of the audit should be sent to a developer. The off-page SEO elements of the audit should be sent to whoever works on the marketing strategy of the business.
Decide whether you’ll improve existing content, or write down some potential content ideas that your client’s website is lacking.
You can do keyword research for these potential content ideas, to see if there’s a demand for the topics in Google.
Once you’ve decided what new content you’ll write, do some solid keyword research to help optimise the content for SEO. If you’d prefer to outsource this task to an expert, my keyword research services will help you.
An SEO and content audit is a powerful way to understand the current state of play for your client’s website. This will put you in a better position when creating a content strategy for your client as you’ll have the evidence to support the content decisions you’re making.
Need an SEO audit for a client’s website but don’t want to do all the research and analysis? My SEO audit service includes a full SEO and content audit for your client’s website and a written report explaining my findings. The report is easy to understand and packed with information to help you with your client’s copy and content writing. Read more about the service here.