SearchFest 2015 Overview: “Performing a Highly Technical SEO Audit”

Why it’s important

Intense competition for coveted organic search positions leaves little room for error. There are a wide range of perspectives ranging from businesses that don’t understand why their business isn’t showing up in search to those that understand, and have given up. SEO can be hard, in many industries there’s no guarantee of success or ROI, a lot depends on the competitive nature of your industry and how well it has adopted SEO strategies in the past. But with constant algorithm updates, focusing on a sound SEO strategy is as important today as it has ever been. Developing a strong SEO strategy starts with knowing where you’re at, so you can plan accordingly to get yourself where you want to be.

What it’s about

SEO is all about data and adaptation. Collect and analyze your data, then adapt. Whoever does this the most efficiently and effectively wins the race in the SEO world. But what data should you collect? And once you have it, how do you develop actionable insights from it? This course goes over the tools necessary to do a comprehensive data sweep of your site with different crawlers, then shows you how to analyze the results and turn that analysis into action. Special attention is given to agencies in showing marketers how to relay insights to clients and present the SEO audit in a friendly and easy to follow way.

Who presented? And why should you trust them?

Bill Hartzer, Senior Strategist – Globe Runner

A trusted blog contributor at industry leading sites such as Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Guide, Bill has insights into search marketing that are valued industry wide. A frequent and accomplished public speaker on the subject Bill draws from over 18 years of experience in digital marketing including search engine marketing, SEO, and social media marketing. A valuable resource and SEO expert that knows the ins and outs of discovering if a website has issues with their SEO strategy.

What else does Bill have to say about SEO and digital marketing strategies? Find out on Twitter by following him @bhartzer

What you missed from “Performing a Highly Technical SEO Audit”

When you know nothing about a client, do an SEO audit. Gather data through Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools, analyze and then present the results. Ask them if they have done SEO in the past, who did it and what did that company/person do for them. Look into the domains history for any penalties.

SearchFest 2015 Perform an SEO Audit

SearchFest 2015: Perform an SEO Audit

Who are the client’s competitors? Ask the client for a list of clients but do your own research into who you think are their competitors. Look over both lists. Get the client to talk. They may have information that you wouldn’t be able to come up with in your own research. Save the data into spreadsheets and notes into your favorite word processing software. Take screenshots.

Do a site search in Google to see what pages are being indexed. Simply go to Google and type site:clientdomain.com into the search bar. Screaming Frog is a great tool you can use to crawl your site. It’s especially useful for large sites. Other crawlers include OptiSpider™ and Integrity (Mac only). Run all three to crawl your site for an overall picture. Integrity seems to show more errors than the other two. Siteliner will find duplicate content, broken links and more.

Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools are essential. They will show what queries a site is showing for, the position the site is in for those queries and any errors that search engine’s crawler may have. GWT only goes back 90 days and BWT starts when you connect it your site.

Use lots of different tools to gather the best data:

  • SEMrush: Check the domain for traffic changes over the last couple of years, keyword data and rankings. Also looks into duplicate content and site speed.
  • Website log files: Web Log Storming and AWStats analyze the sites log files including individual visits, crawlers hitting the site and much more.
  • Review the links to the site through Webmaster Tools. The list isn’t comprehensive but will give you a good idea.
  • Ahrefs: Review the referring pages and check the trends.
  • Majestic: Run the site through the scanner. The goal is to get the Trust Flow and Citation Flow as similar as possible. If the Citation Flow is higher, this could be a case of low quality links. The Topics tab categorizes sites by topics.
  • URI Valet: Check the server headers and ensure there are not multiple redirects.
  • WebPagetest: Test a website’s performance, including page performance, site speed and more.
  • Pingdom: Test the site speed. Similar to WebPagetest.

Do a manual review of the site. Look at the design, follow the navigation. How is the user experience? Take notes and screenshots to review. Look at the source code for areas to clean it up. How do the URL’s look? Are they clean and relevant? Look through Google Analytics In-page analytics. Look at conversion data.

SearchFest 2015 Perform an SEO Audit

SearchFest 2015: Perform an SEO Audit

Open up the robots.txt file (does the site have one?) and look at what is being disallowed. How is the file being created? Does the robots.txt file link to the sitemap?

Use Schema.org structured data, it’s not just for local addresses. Reviews, events, people, organizations, products are more can all be marked up. Google has updated their structured data tool to be a lot more useful.

Audit local listings. Have Google My Business, Bing Places and Yahoo Local citations been claimed? If they haven’t, then a local listing audit is necessary.

Analysis Phase

Make assumptions and recommendations to the client. Discuss the data you have researched and go over it with the client. Look for obvious issues that can be fixed easily and for odd data points. If the client has had Google Analytics on their site for a while, compare previous years. Was their drops in traffic from Panda or Penguin updates? Use the Panguin Tool to see updates over the Google Analytics data. Analyze keyword through SEMrush and look for opportunities.

Presentation Phase

Create a document with the data you have gathered. Within the document detail the issues and opportunities. Create charts and use images to make it look appealing to the client. The document should at the very least contain the following:

  • Cover page
  • The results: table of the content
  • Overview with the summary and positives and negatives
  • Content optimization opportunities
  • Recommendations
  • Finally, a list of priorities and a plan of action for implementation

More from Searchfest 2015

If you liked what you found here, visit our SearchFest hub page to discover more topics to follow from SearchFest 2015.

Nik Dahlberg

Dedicated Father, enthusiastic marketer. Let's connect.

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