Carrying out a digital marketing audit of your website is the best way to get a clear overview of current performance, to diagnose any key issues, and to shine a spotlight on areas for growth and improvement.
But the purpose of a digital marketing audit should not just be highlighting these areas. It should also be to produce actionable recommendations that can be turned into a data-driven strategy for your various digital channels. These recommendations should always be tied back into your core business objectives and growth targets.
This guide covers 7 key areas to allow you to complete a holistic and actionable digital marketing audit:
- Tools for Conducting a Digital Marketing Audit
- Technical SEO
- Off-Page SEO
- Tracking and Reporting
- Actioning a Digital Marketing Audit
1. Tools for Conducting a Digital Marketing Audit
Marketers need to take a deep dive into website performance data and have a robust understanding of how this performance is measuring against your KPIs. There are several free tools that are available to help you do this efficiently:
- Google Analytics: For key insights on how your website is receiving traffic, how customers engage with your content, and for measuring ROI.
- Google Search Console: For monitoring and troubleshooting your website’s organic presence in the Google search results.
- Google Keyword Planner: For conducting keyword research, understanding search demand, and calculating projections.
- Ahrefs (7-day free trial available): For understanding your website’s visibility, keyword research, competitor analysis, keyword rank tracking, and backlink analysis.
- Screaming Frog (free version available): For crawling the pages on your website to diagnose onsite issues regarding technical SEO and content.
2. Technical SEO
By improving the technical foundations of your site in the right way, you have a much better chance of being found, crawled, indexed and ranked higher by a search engine. Auditing the technical SEO of your website should primarily focus on the crawlability and indexability of your web pages.
Crawling the web is an expensive process for Google, so it’s important to make your website as easy and efficient to crawl as possible. This will help your content to be recrawled regularly and help new content to be discovered quickly.
Maintaining control over which pages on your site are able to be indexed is also key. It’s important to make sure that all the pages you want users to be able to access are indexable, but you also need to ensure that you only index content which is of value to users and will not confuse search engines when choosing which pages to rank.
Then there is also the question of the quality of the user experience that your website provides. Things like mobile usability and page loading times are all taken into account by Google, and are known ranking factors. Therefore, taking steps to improve these aspects of the user experience will be rewarded with higher rankings.
Quick Technical SEO Checks You Can Do:
- Check that your sitemap contains all indexable pages and does not contain any non-indexable pages, using the ‘Valid’ pages category in Google Search Console.
- Examine any pages which fall into the ‘Error’ or ‘Excluded’ categories in Google Search Console.
- Check your site has a robots.txt file (domain.com/robots.txt) and make sure that the file isn’t blocking any pages that it shouldn’t be by reviewing the ‘blocked by robots.txt’ area of Google Search Console.
- Audit your page speed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool.
- See if your webpage is mobile-friendly using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool.
- Look into how your site is using structured data using the Structured Data Testing Tool.
- Crawl your website to identify pages with non-200 status codes, such as 404 errors, and spot any issues with your title tags and meta descriptions, such as duplicate content issues.
When auditing the content on your website, you should review performance with a critical eye and use these insights to create an actionable strategy that can feed into your other marketing activities too.
To gauge how your content is performing, there are several metrics you’ll want to look into. Firstly, how does your website currently rank for your focus keywords? Focus keywords can be keywords with high search intent, high commercial value, high search volume, or a combination of all three. Do you have pages which are not being indexed at all, either due to thin or duplicate content?
Secondly, use Google Analytics to examine the amount of organic sessions across the site and look into which pages are driving the bulk of these sessions. Click and impression data from Google Search Console is useful for this too, as you can gain insights at a page level but also for individual search queries. Click through data can be an indicator of how engaging your metadata is from a user perspective.
And thirdly, dig into your organic conversions. Are these mainly driven by your service pages or does informational content play a role too? How do your conversion rates differ across different subfolders? It’s all very well driving traffic to your site, but it’s important to make sure this is resulting in real ROI too. We’ll delve into this in more detail below under ‘tracking and reporting’.
Questions to Ask of the Content on Your Website:
- Which pages are ranking well and which are not?
- Does poor performing content need to be taken off the site, or can it be improved to work harder?
- Which keywords are driving the most traffic?
- How much of my traffic is coming from brand searches?
- Which pages are engaging organic users once they arrive on the site?
- Which pages perform well in terms of session duration and bounce rate?
- What kind of content are your direct competitors producing, and what opportunities are there for you to create new content?
- Can any of your content be used as assets for other marketing channels, e.g. as part of an email campaign or promoted via social media?
4. Off-Page SEO
Your backlink profile (the list of inbound links pointing to your site from external sites) is an essential element of your business’ online success.
In a world where each new link counts as a vote for your website’s authority, but where not all votes are equal, the necessity for brands to participate in activities that nurture a positive, natural backlink profile is well-recognised. This has been particularly evident since Google released the Penguin algorithm update to crack down on spammy and manipulative link building tactics.
Ahrefs is a great tool for understanding your backlink profile, as it provides you with a clear overview of your backlinks, the referring domains, and a ‘domain rating’. This domain rating is a third party metric which aims to signal the strength of a website’s backlink profile on a scale of 0 to 100.
If you are attracting a high number of links from poor-quality, spammy or irrelevant websites with low domain ratings, then this can cause Google to view your website as lower quality too.
If you find that your site has a large amount of bad quality or suspicious links pointing towards it, then it may be worth submitting a disavow file to disassociate your site from these low-quality domains. Be careful though – a cautious approach is best here, as you do not want to remove huge chunks of your backlink profile because this can damage its overall value too.
You should also use an audit of your backlink profile as an opportunity to identify any broken backlinks that are pointing towards 404 pages. Make sure these are redirected appropriately so that your site continues to receive some value from these links.
Whether it comes to auditing the performance of your PPC activity or assessing the opportunity to launch new campaigns, there are several key aspects that you need to keep in mind:
- Visibility (impressions, impression share, top of page IS, absolute top of page IS)
- Profitability (CPCs, CPA, ROAS, ROI)
- Ad quality (clicks, CTRs, quality scores)
When carrying out an audit of an ads account, it is always better to identify areas of wasted spend and to prune these areas before attempting to ramp up spend in areas of high performance. Areas of wasted spend can include paying higher CPCs than necessary for certain keywords, bidding on irrelevant search terms, or missed opportunities to tighten up your targeting settings.
Once this wasted spend has been identified and cut back, this budget can then be redistributed into areas of higher performance. By doing this you help to feed the areas of your campaigns which are driving the leads and revenue that you need, whilst maximising your return on ad spend (ROAS) and therefore your overall return on investment (ROI).
When evaluating your wasted spend, don’t forget to examine the quality of your ads too. Overall ad rank is determined using a combination of your maximum bid and your ad’s quality score, so working to improve ad quality can help to bring down CPCs whilst maintaining or even improving your ad visibility.
When you are auditing your PPC opportunity, you should also consider the keywords that are out of reach from an SEO point of view. Paid media can provide an effective means of achieving visibility for these keywords in the short term whilst SEO work is carried out to improve organic rankings in the longer term.
6. Tracking and Reporting
Accurate tracking is crucial to being able to understand the performance of your marketing activity across all disciplines, and can provide vital insights into areas of high success and areas of budget waste. The importance of setting up your conversion goals correctly cannot be overstated, and you should make sure to apply these to your Google Ads campaigns for easier campaign optimisation.
It’s also important to be aware of how your digital marketing campaigns on different channels are impacting each other.
While it may look at first glance as though your PPC campaigns are the main driver of revenue, taking a look at your assisted conversion data in Google Analytics (Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions) can tell a very different story. Understanding your customers’ conversion path is key to unlocking the potential of each individual channel and creating a truly holistic digital marketing strategy.
It’s worth playing around with different attribution models in Google Analytics too (Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Model Comparison Tool).
Attribution models are sets of rules which determine how credit for conversions is assigned to different touchpoints throughout the buying journey. Relying on simplistic attribution models like last click gives undue weight to certain channels. Position-based or data-driven attribution is often far more beneficial to understanding the role your different marketing campaigns play in driving your desired conversions.
7. Actioning a Digital Marketing Audit
A digital marketing audit is only as good as the action plan which comes with it. It can be helpful to provide an accompanying roadmap which outlines planned tasks with details of potential impact and resource needed. This is a useful document which can then be passed on to key stakeholders to provide a top level understanding of upcoming priorities from a digital marketing perspective.
In some situations it may be a good idea to add in additional details to this roadmap such as assigned responsibilities and a proposed timeline. You should consider your own authority and the role of other stakeholders before making this judgement call.
Once you have assembled your strategic roadmap backed up by performance data and supported with a clear set of goals, you can begin making impactful changes that will have a tangible benefit to your digital presence and your bottom line.
Be sure to check in on performance regularly to measure this impact and provide progress reports as required.