Website Analysis for SEO: The Ultimate Guide

When it comes to digital marketing, one of the most common questions often asked by business owners is, “where do I start?” The answer is different for everyone, but the end goal remains the same: drive organic traffic and enhance online visibility. 

The first step is assessing your website. Several tools and strategies exist that can help you better understand the ins and outs of your website’s performance and structure (which we’ll tackle in this post), as well as uncover opportunities for improvement.

While some search engine optimization (SEO) tools require paid subscriptions, almost all of them offer some kind of free trial to allow you to use them on a limited basis. These strategies will hopefully help you rate your website’s performance by your standards, and evaluate where your website could be optimized. Let’s get started on the basics of how to analyze a website’s SEO:

When is a Website Analysis Required?

Whether you’re launching a new website, revamping an existing one, or not seeing the kind of organic traffic you want, a website analysis can provide insights into the health of your online presence.

Here are some times when you might want to analyze the pages on your website: 

  • Launching a new website: Before diving into content creation and promotion, a website analysis can ensure your website’s technical foundation is optimized for search engines. 
  • Not seeing the desired organic traffic: If your website isn’t attracting enough organic visitors, an analysis can help identify areas for improvement.
  • Suspecting technical issues: Website speed, mobile-friendliness, and other technical factors can impact search rankings. An analysis can uncover and address these issues.
  • Planning a website redesign: Before making significant changes to your website, analyze its current SEO performance to ensure the redesign doesn’t negatively impact rankings.

Tools for Analysis

There exist many tools to help with conducting a website analysis. Which one is best for you?

Technical SEO Tools

Technical SEO tools are designed to identify and fix backend issues that might impede your website’s organic visibility. Examples of such technical SEO tools include: 

  • Google Search Console: Set up and use Google Search Console to ensure that your site and all its pages are properly crawled and indexed by Google (which makes it discoverable for users). It can identify which keywords drive traffic to your site and what pages are capturing that traffic.
  • Screaming Frog: This tool crawls your website and flags various technical SEO issues, including broken links, missing metadata, and duplicate content. Once you have a list of what needs to be repaired, the roadmap to improvement can be much simpler!
  • SEMRush: Provides comprehensive SEO audits, keyword analysis, and backlink monitoring functionalities.

Performance & Speed Tools

The speed and performance of your website can make or break user engagement and search engine rankings. Performance and speed analysis tools can identify and help you optimize loading times for a positive user experience. 

  • Google PageSpeed Insights: Evaluates website speed on both desktop and mobile devices and provides specific recommendations for improvement.
  • GTmetrix: This online tool provides detailed website performance reports, including page load time and resource optimization suggestions. It can compare your website against industry benchmarks.
  • Pingdom: Monitors website uptime, performance, and page load times, allowing you to pinpoint areas for enhancement.

Content & UX Tools

Content quality and user experience (UX) are significant factors in determining your website’s relevance and credibility in the eyes of search engines. Content and UX analysis tools can help you analyze readability, engagement metrics, and ease of navigation.

  • Google Analytics: Tracks user behavior, page views, bounce rates, and conversion metrics to see content effectiveness and user engagement.
  • Hotjar: This tool helps you understand user behavior by offering heatmaps, feedback data, and session replays. 
  • Crazy Egg: Provides heatmaps, scroll maps, and A/B testing capabilities to optimize website layout, content placement, and conversion funnels.

SEMrush can also help you analyze your website’s content and user experience.

The Analysis Process

A website analysis looks at different factors of your website to uncover strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. You can use all the tools to perform both a technical SEO analysis and a content analysis.

Technical Analysis

When performing a technical analysis, these are website factors you should be examining: 

  • Crawl and indexability: Make sure search engines can access and understand your website content by checking for crawl errors and robots.txt configuration.
  • On-page optimization: Analyze title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, and image alt tags for proper keyword targeting and user readability.
  • Site structure: Evaluate URL structure, internal linking, and XML sitemap implementation.
  • Mobile-friendliness: Verify that your website displays and functions seamlessly across all devices, especially mobile.
  • Website speed: Test and optimize your website’s loading speed for a better user experience and improved search ranking potential.

Content & UX Analysis

When performing a content and UX analysis, these are the factors to analyze:

  • Content quality and relevance: Evaluate your website’s content to determine the alignment between the content and user search intent.
  • Keyword targeting: Analyze your content for relevant target keywords and find opportunities for strategic keyword edits.
  • User experience (UX): Assess call-to-action placement and how easily users can navigate your website to find the information they need across all devices.

5 Ways to Analyze Your Website

If you want to analyze your website, especially briefly, there are 5 steps you can follow for the best results: 

  1. Analyze and identify where your traffic is coming from
  2. Analyze and identify where your conversions are coming from
  3. Conduct an SEO audit of your website to flag problem areas
  4. Do a competitive analysis to compare your Domain Authority (DA) against your competition’s
  5. Compare your ad spend with your competition

Steps 1. & 2. Analyze and identify where your traffic is coming from

Whether you have an e-commerce site or are trying to generate leads through your website, Google Analytics is the best place to start. Here are two quick areas to initially review:

Acquisition/All Traffic/Channels

Here you can see what channels drive traffic for you. There isn’t necessarily a “good” breakdown of traffic between channels. However, the acquisition feature is a great website analysis tool to see what drives the most visibility for you.

For example, if the bulk of your traffic is “direct”, it’s safe to assume that people are not finding you online, but rather going directly to your website because they already know about it.

Conversions/Goals/Overview

One of the most important things you can do to gauge site performance is set up goal tracking. From there, you’ll be able to see what traffic converts best, whether that means purchases or form fills.

You can use this data to understand where you currently get the most value, and what channels have the opportunity to grow and improve with digital marketing.

Set up and use Google Search Console to ensure that your site and all its pages are properly crawled and indexed by Google, which makes it findable for users. 

Step 3. Auditing your website

Using an automated tool like Moz Site Crawler or SEMrush Site Audit allows you to better understand what areas of your website need to be improved for both user experience and search.

These audits don’t fix your site and may provide best practices, alongside strong technical recommendations in an SEO report. An audit is a great starting point for understanding how your site performs.

Use the Google speed test to gauge your website speeds, and see areas for improvement. While site speed is only a small factor in terms of organic visibility, it can be very important to user experience.

Step 4. Comparing SEO

Moz Link Explorer is a fantastic tool to benchmark where you stand in comparison tp your competitors. Use the “Compare Link Profiles” section to pull information on your site versus your top competitors.

Domain Authority is a number out of 100 that indicates the strength of a website (and its likelihood to rank for key terms). The goal here is not to be 100 (even Facebook is only a 96), but rather to have a score within range or above your competition. A big driver of the strength of the site is the number and quality of websites that link to your website (followed by linking root domains). 

Compare Domain Authority (DA) in MOZ

A note on competitors: it’s best to include your direct competition, as well as indirect or “digital” competitors – meaning those sites that rank for key terms you are targeting, even if they are not real-world competition.

Within Moz’s Link Explorer, you can view all of your backlinks, as well as those of competitors. A reminder that the quality of a link is much more important than quantity, but there may be sites for you to target for inbound links that your competitors have acquired. You’ll also get a better understanding of how much link-building or digital PR needs to be done to compete.

Using your same list of competitors, you can identify what keywords and key phrases they are targeting, where you have overlap, and where there is an opportunity to improve in SEMrush Keyword Gap tool.

Keyword overlap tool in SEM Rush

This can give you some good ideas on where to start or expand your keyword research. Tracking and targeting keywords is essential for search engine optimization.

Step 5. Comparing spend in Google Ads

You can see estimates of what your competitors are spending each month, though it is limited to Google Text Ads, and won’t include estimates for ads on the display network. This includes remarketing or spending allocated to social channels, programmatic, or native advertising. 

Both Spyfu and SEMrush Advertising Research provide these estimates, and you can look at both to see where the data is the same/differs. Because these are just estimates, it may be better to use the data more for trends than as actual numbers.

If your competitor websites are not spending money in search ads, that can mean one of two things: 1) they’ve tried it and found it unsuccessful or 2) no one has tried this yet and you will have the advantage of less competition, which means cheaper click costs. Use Google’s Keyword Planner to identify search volume and estimated click costs to see what opportunity may exist.

If your competition is spending a lot on search ads, that’s both good and bad news. The good news is this is probably a channel that works! No one continues to invest (tens or hundreds of) thousands of dollars every month unless they are seeing some type of return.

The bad news is that competition increases costs, and the barrier to entry will be higher. Look for ways to limit your targeting to limit spend, such as long-tail specific keywords and key phrases, limited geographies, etc.

Conclusion

One risk of doing a lot of research and collecting data is that you end up with more questions than answers. None of these website analysis tools will tell you definitively where your marketing dollars are best allocated, but they can help guide you down the right path.

By understanding your site’s current performance and assessing how your competitors are going to market, there should be some indication of whether it makes sense to invest in on-site or off-site SEO, paid media, or both.

Give us a call if you want help navigating the data! We can help you understand what channels might perform best for your goals and where your budget would best be allocated.

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Lyndsey Maddox

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