What makes the difference between a paid subscription report or a free SEO audit from a website crawl? Nothing … they both need human interpretation which is where an audit includes critical thinking and problem solving..
Audits Are Essential First Steps To Any SEO Campaign
Where are we going and why are we in this hand basket?
I like data, I’ve never been detail oriented but I think my years on a help desk taught me how to efficiently step back consider all the facts and determine what the simplest answer to a problem is … ( turn it off and back on ) and that is the foundation of a good audit, observation based solely on the facts. I can teach anyone the rules of SEO or technology but its that inquisitive nature and problem solving part that people just have or they don’t.
If you find yourself trying to discover the why in things then you’re the kind of person who will enjoy auditing and these next articles are for you.
In the audits I do I use SEOprofiler, I like their reporting and how portable their data is for clients. All of my audits center around these reports. I think Moz, AHREFS SEMRush have bigger names though and people like knowing you are using a tool they’ve heard of when auditing their site. I also have found that no single tool is infallible and no client wants to accept something hard to stomach without a second opinion. For those reasons I always back up my audits with Moz , SEMrush data … that data is not the center piece of my audits but it supports it. This also helps weed out oddities, I’ve seen one tool say every page is missing a meta description while the other sees descriptions. Using two tools weeds out being wrong when you tell your clients what you’ve found.
I also always insist on Google Search Console data even though I’m often presented with Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a measure of how people get to your content and how they interact. Search Console focuses on how Google visitors found your site in the searches. The later is what I care about.
What Goes In An Audit
- Technical SEO – page speed, CDN, SSL, Gzip compression … all of the fun techy stuff many forget play a direct role in SEO and SERP.
- Keyword Discovery – I say discovery because I seek out what Google views their keywords as, what they intended is a different matter. I had a client who ranked high in “Does Ginger Make You Poop?” she was surprised but thats the highest ranking phrase she had on Google so it was worth noting in an audit.
- Based on those keywords I decided who I felt were their competitors. Often clients tell you who their competition is for customers but in an SEO audit thats irrelevant your competition is who you are fighting over a keyword with and often you’ll be surprised. Google a keyword for own business and marvel at the sites competing with you for that keyword.
- A Ranking section then reviews the keywords how often they are searched, how high the site ranks, how many pages actually rank? What kind of pages rank? These questions are important, I’ve found in WordPress that “tags” and “categories” generally rank better than the actual posts. I suspect it’s because these are composite pages automatically created and often not over optimized for a keyword. FAQs do well too.
- On Page audits which are the part most often thought of when discussing SEO. Keywords in H1 headers and H2 headers. IMG tags that are required but often empty. URL text, meta tags and page errors all fall within this group. Its interesting how much people focus on this section considering it is one of the lesser important. Consider the “Google Bomb” Miserable Failure. George W Bush and the White House didn’t spend a moment optimizing his page to rank number one for the keyword Miserable Failure but using only Off Page SEO thats what he did rank as in 2006.
- Backlinks begin to roound off the second half of my audits. How many they have, foolow or not and what anchor text is used from what topical relevant sites. Do these backlinks include varied domain names and are the IP addresses unique? Do these backlinks have targets still or might a redirect be required?
- I do comparison reviews of competitor sites, what keyboards are they ranking under that this site is not.
- I explain what I think are the biggest issues that need to be addressed and what are the easiest fixes that can have an impact the quickest.
- Theres more but these are the big focus of the audits.
I also always provide the raw data reports which often include hundreds of pages of information. Any one can run a report but my audit is the Cliff Notes and I present the way out.
Wrapping up this first post on audits I’ll include the reports from SEOprofiler on this site, feel free to check them out and keep in mind when you see the number of errors on this site…I dont get paid to perfect my own site. So there are some areas where I plan to do this or that and I haven’t yet.
SEO Audit Reports
Sometimes the trend out weighs the position.
The audits I do consider more than Google. The top 4 search engine indexes are covered with Google, Google Modile, Bing and Yahoo all being invluded. Sure Google gets the most searches but did you know that Bing searches are more likely to become paying customers?
In the next post we’ll focus on the ranking report and whats included.