We never begin an ongoing SEO management campaign with a new partner without first conducting an audit to understand the current condition of their technical, structural and off-site SEO elements and identify opportunities for optimization.
While the specific focal points or areas where we really dig in may vary based on the client’s historical SEO performance, what platform the site was built on, what level of sophistication they and other factors, the overarching approach is always the same. We separate the audit into three key areas--Keywords & Content, Technical Analysis and Site Authority--and then use audit findings and industry experience to develop a holistic strategy that integrates SEO into all marketing efforts across the organization.
Let’s dig into these areas a bit further:
I. KEYWORDS & CONTENT
Keyword Research & Mapping
We undergo a rigorous keyword research process in an effort to determine the most relevant, high-volume keywords for each landing page on the site. Research includes an ideation phase, where we use multiple tools to determine what terms are currently driving traffic, what are the opportunities and what are competitors ranking for.
We then compile all possible keywords and data and start to organize by keyword category, intention (e.g., transactional vs. navigational), national vs. geo, branded vs. non-branded, etc. Finally, after all data is collected, cleaned and organized, we begin to make our selections for primary and secondary keywords, and assign two to three terms per landing page.
We evaluate current on-site content and provide optimization recommendations and new content opportunities. Optimizations and opportunities may include using keywords more throughout content, adding more images, beefing up content length and tone, creating a resource section for more “how to” or informational content.
II. TECHNICAL ANALYSIS
We then conduct an analysis of on-site technical elements, meta data, structured data, site structure, navigation, internal linking and on-site engagement. Identify errors and opportunities, and create action plan for optimization of entire site. For the most part, these items are more important for making Google and the search engines happy (as opposed to actual human searchers) but there are some items that impact both.
We also evaluate the current situation and provide recommendations for expanding search engine coverage across universal results and integrating other organic search elements. For example, a recommendation could be to add the ImageObject properly for Organization schema so that the brand’s logo is being pulled into Google’s Knowledge Graph Box in the top right corner of SERPs.
III. SITE AUTHORITY
As much as some want to ignore them, backlinks are still extremely important for organic search success, as show in the new Periodic Table of SEO Elements released just this week. Therefore, we conduct a thorough analysis of existing backlinks to determine the quality, identify any actions needed (e.g., removal of low-quality backlinks) and create a strategy for obtaining new backlinks in future.
SEO and social impact each other greatly. (Some still don’t want to believe it, but I’ll no longer try to convince them, I’ll simply feel bad they don’t get the enjoy the added benefits!) That’s why we round out our SEO audit by evaluating the site and social channels to identify methods for increasing awareness, driving traffic and generating links through social sharing and social networks.
The SEO audit process isn’t a rapid one--it can take anywhere from 60 to 90 days to complete. We know how eager clients are to improve their site’s performance and drive additional traffic, so asking them to wait two to three months to see a plan let alone results is a tough pill to swallow. But it’s necessary for us to do our due diligence to truly understand what we’re working with. What’s working and what isn’t? What are the priority areas in the short- and long-terms? Where are competitors excelling and do we stand a chance competing with them? And we are typically able to uncover low-hanging fruit or quick fixes that can start to show progress and make an impact more quickly.