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How to Perform a SEM Audit on Your WordPress Website

How to perform SEM audit

Your WordPress website is created for one purpose – to help find the answer or the solution through your products or services. This should be not only your top priority but your main focus, the need to be online and in the right place and at the right time.

This is where Search Engine Marketing (SEM) steps in as the main way of promoting publishers and businesses online! It is an essential strategy for business development and brand growth, especially if you want to reach millions of page visits per month.

However, sometimes your search engine marketing strategy might not always bring in the desired results, even if you’ve spent a humongous amount of money on it. If that’s the case, you need to seriously contemplate if your SEM strategy actually sets you on the right track, or you’ve gone into derailment.

There are so many aspects that you need to consider for your WordPress website before you even think about search marketing success, and this is why, to make sure that you’ll hit all the right search engines notes, you need to conduct a full audit of your SEM strategies and figure out ways to improve them, which is the main point of discussion in this article.

Why Is SEM Audit Important for Your WordPress Website?

So, you have a WordPress build that needs to well-suited to your target users’ preferences. However, it also needs to be adapted to search engines as well. To make SEM work for your business, everything must be executed flawlessly, from keywords analysis, campaign frameworks, analysis, copywriting to bid and ad management, as well as ad tracking processes.

For that reason, it is essential to make sure that everything is well-prepared, and if not, you need to optimize for better search visibility! Without further ado, let’s help you perform an SEM audit for your WordPress site!

1. Do a Quick SEO Audit

By now, you are possibly aware that Google constantly updates its algorithm, and there are lots of elements that play a vital role in the SEO success of your content that can also affect your SEM campaigns.

For instance, your on-page SEO, mobile SEO, and the general search-friendliness of your website. Bottom line, your SEO is important to the entire success of your website, and the following is what you need to focus on during the audits.

Indexing

Indexing refers to how your WordPress site is submitted and read by search engines. Here, the most important component is your sitemap. Visit Google Search Console and re-check if you’ve submitted a correct version of your sitemap. Go to Google Index → Index Status where you can uncover how many of your pages are indexed by Google.

Google Search Console Index Status

Also, make sure that you’ve checked the ratio of indexed pages that receive organic traffic to see if your content effort is worth it.

Crawlability

This refers to how your WordPress site is crawled by search engines. Here, you need to keep an eye on your website speed, as well as occurring 404 and 500 errors if you’ve had them before. To test your speed, you can use tools such as GTMetrix or PageSpeed Insights.

GTmetrix Analyzer

GTmetrix Analyzer

Go back to your Search Console and visit Google Crawl → Crawl Errors to uncover if 404 errors happened.

Google Search Console Crawl Errors

Make sure that the overall speed and performance of your WordPress build is excellent! If you have too many 500 errors, perhaps it’s time to move on to a much stronger hosting provider.

Site Architecture and UX

Want users to keep coming back after they’ve discovered your website on Google? Then you must have a spotless site architecture and UX!

The UX of your WordPress website is closely related to site navigation. Be careful with the usage of “categories” and “tags”, it’s something that you shouldn’t overdo. When auditing site architecture and experience for SEO, take note of your top 10 pages and ensure that each of them is no more than two clicks away from the homepage.

Also, make sure that categories and tags are included in your sitemap. Each of your categories must have an obvious purpose and unique content that can engage a visitor that arrived through search engines.

Keywords Review

SEO and Search Marketing is all about the keywords! Analyzing your entire keyword strategy can help you come up with new ways to succeed in search engines and beat your competitors!

You can use a tool such as SEMRush to:

  • Identify the keywords your competition is ranking for.
  • Identify the keywords your competition is buying.
  • Identify the keywords you are ranking for.
  • Identify the keywords you’re buying that convert visitors.
  • Identify the keywords that you want to rank for.
  • Evaluate how you stand against the competition.
  • Identify the keywords or phrases of your homepage title tag.

The most important thing is that your keywords must bring traffic and leads to your business! Your keyword strategy and every effort towards ranking should bring you nothing but progress. Also, analyze your competitors and their SEO strengths and weaknesses. Utilize the gaps to beat them on Google upfront even without PPC.

Link Analysis

You need to analyze your internal and external links! Enter your Search Console, and go to Search Traffic → Links to Your Site

Google Search Console Links to Your Site

Here, you can discover your most linked content, the anchor text of how your data is linked, and the internal pages that you link to most. You should find out what are your most valuable links.

Analyze whether your top linked pages are compatible with your top organic traffic pages. Your internal linking structure should always match your best content. The more related blog posts are with other content related pages, the better.

Mobile

Users conduct a lot of searches on mobile, so it’s logical that you need to pay attention to how responsive your WordPress website is. First, go to Google’s Mobile Friendly tool and examine each of your top pages to see how mobile-responsive are they.

Google Mobile-Friendly Test

If your site is not mobile-friendly enough, you need to do something about it ASAP, because not only is that a ranking factor but also, people tend to stay away from terrible mobile versions of sites.

When you finish with your quick SEO audit, you’ll see with what type of content you’re working with currently, and what you can do to optimize everything for higher rankings.

2. Start the PPC Audit

Auditing your PPC aka SEM audit is not as complicated as examining your SEO strategy. This is due to the fact that with PPC, you can get results on search engines immediately! But still, there are aspects that you need to examine and optimize if you want a result-driven SEM campaign for your business.

Start with the Cost-Per-Click (CPC)

Have you determined the right cost-per-click target for your SEM campaign?

If not, you need to analyze the numbers from your analytics and the expenses for the campaign. In other words, you need to determine what is the ideal CPC for each of your search marketing campaigns.

ROI

You’ve invested in PPC because you want to increase your revenue through search engines, it’s as simple as that! Your investment needs to produce a positive cash flow.

To figure out if your expenses have paid off, you need to calculate your ROI. This will tell you whether you have a positive return or not. Fortunately, ROI is not so difficult to be calculated:

ROI = (Total Revenue – Total Cost) / Total Cost x 100

If your ROI is positive, then your investment is profitable, because you’re generating more revenue that you’ve initially spend on advertising. But, if it’s negative then it means that your investment is not working.

Conversion Rate

Your conversion rate is the percentage of people that clicked on your ad and made a purchase. This matters because not everyone that clicks will buy your product or opt for your service. The cost-per-click is not exactly the same as the cost-per-sale.

Conversion Rate = Number of People that Buyed / Number of People that Clicked the Ad

AdWords Average Conversion Rate

Averagely, advertisers can expect conversion rates of 3.17% on Search or 0.46 on Display networks. Are these figures normal for your company, or are you surprised?

Nevertheless, you need to benchmark your AdWords conversion rate to see if your efforts are paying off or not. For example, let’s say that you used to have a conversion rate of 0.3% and you’ve boosted it up to 1.3%. However, you know that the average is 3.17% for each search, so if you’re still at 1.3%, you have a long way to go to reach the average first, and then improve for more.

If you can’t even reach the average, then you have a lot of work to do to make your SEM work!

Review Goals

You can have a wide range of goals for your PPC campaign, such as improving growth, increased profits, and driving more conversions from the clicks. But, you must ensure that your goals are aligned with your SEM strategy. For instance, if you want to increase the visits to your site, your main goal should be to have a bigger click-through rate from search engines.

If the main goal of your PPC strategy is to bring in leads, then the KPIs that you need to track are the number of sales and marketing conversions through paid search traffic, and you’ll need to determine how much each of the leads should cost. For this, you’ll need to activate conversion tracking in Google Ads.

Think about your budget and the search terms that you plan to bid on. The amount of clicks is dependant on many elements, such as your ad copy, landing page structure, and copy, the competitors that are bidding for the same terms, and the percentage of users that click the ads.

Bottom line, your PPC goals are crucial if you want to have a fruitful Search Marketing campaign, and here are all the stages that can help you set good ones:

Find the Priority: What is your number one goal? The answer to that question will set the priority. If revenue growth is the biggest priority, you need to focus on high volume keywords and new opportunities. If the priority is efficiency, you need to focus less on new opportunities and more on fine-tuning your existing campaigns.

Gauge the Tolerance: If you want to grow your revenue by 30%, but cannot afford to spend more money on achieving that, then you can’t expect your campaign to be successful. Take a look at your analytics data again, and ensure that you’ll make a more informed prediction about your spend.

Define the Measurements: Are you going to use the data from Google Analytics, or Google AdWords? Specify and document your sources, targets, and the baseline.

Set a Timeframe: The timeline for your goal can influence the aggressiveness of your bid. If you want 30% growth in revenue via paid search over a 12-month span you can either test things out for a couple of months or go more aggressive with your tactics.

Review Goals: Nothing is set in stone, and you may have to fine-tune some goals based on your progress. Always identify the factors that are helping you meet goals and then identify where you can improve in your account.

Gauge the Competitive Landscape

The competition in PPC is fierce, and with each day, it’s getting tougher for businesses to separate themselves from the pack. Just as you bid on carefully-selected search terms, so are your competitors. It’s a real bidding battlefield out there!

This is why you must conduct a thorough competitive analysis, and audit of your industry to see how you stack up against your rivals. In the process, you’ll uncover lots of opportunities, but also, dangers that you need to address.

A number of PPC competitive analysis tools that can help you out:

  • SEMrush: Provides you with crucial insights on ad copy, keywords, new competitors and overall competitor performance.
  • SpyFU: Provides you with nine years of history for competitive keywords, organic rank, and ad variation.
  • AdBeat: Shows where traffic comes from, what it does within the site, and where it goes when it leaves the site.
  • iSpionage: Provides data on keywords and ad copy, to assist in evaluating CTR and CPC. Has historical PPC data for Google and Bing.
  • Keyword Spy: Helps you recognize profitable keyword-ad copy combinations and important keyword data such as ad spenders with the largest change in a number of targeted keywords and keywords with the largest CPC change.
  • Keyword Competitor: In addition to a wide range of PPC competitive analysis, this tool has a real-time competitor- monitoring component.

The amount of PPC data can be overwhelming unless your competitive analysis is laser-focused. The key areas to analyze are:

  • Competitor Selection: Identify your top PPC competitors and create a list of their domain names.
  • Keywords: Find out what keywords the competition is bidding on because this information helps you find new keyword ideas. Also, it identifies the companies you are bidding against when targeting specific keywords.
  • Ad Text: It analyzes numerous examples of competitors’ ad text, and see what it offers as well as credibility statements and CTAs that your competitors are using. This information can help you develop ads that can beat the competitors’.
  • Destination Page: Find out whether competitors send traffic to a home page, landing page, or a microsite. Analyze the elements of the destination page as well in terms of offers, credibility statements, CTAs, forms, images, videos, downloads, and additional primary and secondary conversion elements.

Take a Look at Your Account Structure

The structure of your AdWords account should correspond with your business and website. Each of your campaigns must make sense, for example, a campaign that is related to SaaS should have the “SaaS” word in it.

Google Ads Account Structure

Image Source: Google Ads Help

To determine your Campaigns, see if the terms that you have aimed for are related to the actions that you want users to make when they click on your site when they arrive from search engines. For instance, if you’re a digital agency that provides B2B lead generation services, you need to create a “B2B Leads” campaign, and the campaign goal would be businesses to contact you if they want to acquire quality leads.

To specify an Ad Group, take a look at the keywords of your campaign and see how you can further segment your terms. You need keywords with a search intent that is not different from the actual search intent of the Ad Group.

The structure of your account is the foundation on which rests expansions, testing, and further analysis. Account structure can mean a lot of things, so here is a quick list to get you started:

Check all the campaign settings. Assess if there are any campaigns that are limited by budget. Make sure to inspect the device performance as well.

Demographics matter as well, and you can find the demographics reports in both Google Analytics and Google Adwords. They are useful if you want to optimize your campaigns. Another aspect that you need to keep an eye on is the Ad Schedule.

If you run your campaigns during hours where they are no conversions, your investment is practically pointless. Look at larger blocks of time and reveal the areas with zero conversions. If there are standard hours of the day for the last year where you’ve received no conversions at all, you need to stop advertising during those hours completely.

Wrapping Up

As you go through the SEM auditing steps, keep your eye on the competition, your expectations, performance, and goals. The real work begins after you’ve documented each aspect of your search marketing campaign. Whether you address each area for improvement or decide to optimize the campaign step-by-step, now, you have a structural approach that you can use versus just assuming that everything will work out and the leads will come pouring in.

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