SEO Audits aren't just about generating data using the most sophisticated tools. Here are the 4 questions you need to ask if you want to deliver the perfect SEO audit.
I had the pleasure of speaking about SEO Audit at #SMX London, the biggest Search Marketing Conference Series worldwide, programmed by one of my favourite sources of search marketing news services, the venerable Search Engine Land. The programme in May 2016 features some of my favourite search marketing speakers, including Brad Geddes, Aleyda Solis, Duane Brown and Tim Grice, amongst many other familiar and new speakers.
SEO Audits: Can you see the wood for the trees?
SEO Audits – Your Toolkit
If you need to improve the process of you undertaking an SEO Audit then here is some great background reading:
- Technical Site Audit Checklist: 2015 Edition
- How to Perform the World’s Greatest SEO Audit
- My favourite resource: Annie Cushing’s Site Audit Checklist
The Four SEO Audit Questions
- What is the purpose of the audit?
- Who is this audit for?
- What are the key drivers?
- What’s the background and history?
What is the purpose of the audit?
An effective audit will be tailored to the specific issues facing the business. During the course of your research you will uncover significant issues but don’t waste valuable time investigating issues that are outside the scope of the business requirements. It is too easy to spend hours investigating technically fascinating, but relatively low priority issues.
Some typical audit purposes are to address the business priorities arising from
- Google Penalties
- Greenfield SEO
- Brand new site
- Combining multiple sites or migrations
- CMS migration
- New strategy or focus
Who will the report be for?
A great audit will be written for the right audience. Use the process of personas to identify the specific needs, priorities, and expectations of your SEO audit.
Eddie, our fictional business owner of financial director wants to focus on the big picture: what is the current situation? What are the critical issues? What are the quick wins, and what do we need to do for the long term? Does Eddie need a 200 page report detailing every little aspect of the audit? I don’t think so! He wants an executive summary with top level strategic business issues
Our web developer needs a more detailed plan of action. And in particular he wants the plan prioritised with some idea of the amount of work each step might require.
And finally, our fictional marketing manager may be most interested in the situation analysis; how do we compare with the competiion, relative scoring, benchmarking, and probably most important of all, descriptive educational content accompanying your findings.
What are the key drivers?
The key drivers aren’t about technology: they are about the vision or purpose of the business. Remenber, your SEO Audit is going to help the business to reach their goals.
Focus your audit efforts on the business’ key drivers:
- Fire fighting: meaning the business isn’t doing well at the moment
- More of the same: business is good, and we want more of the action
- High growth businesses: let’s put a rocket under this business and accelerate growth
- New website launch: we have a big marketing push
Background and history
Remember your SEO Audit isn’t happening in a vacuum.
There will be a number of external factors, an SEO history, a change in management and strategy, all of which should influence your reporting style and content.
- Have you been doing SEO previously?
- Do you have previous SEO documentation to show us what you were doing?
- Have you had big website changes? Redesign? HTTPS?
- Has your digital strategy changed?