I have noticed a trend over the last year or so that seems a little disturbing to me. Especially lately, lot’s of discussions about keywords and backlinks and social engagement and relevant content. Not that all of these areas of SEO are not important, they certainly are. However, rarely have I seen anything about some good old fashioned, in depth, on-site SEO audits.
Google takes into account over 150 on-site factors. Google aside, there is also the user to keep in mind. Keywords are certainly important, but so are proper titles, headers and meta descriptions. You can’t beat a high equity backlink, and you can’t beat a nice html and xml sitemap or breadcrumbs either.
It’s all important, I just think there should be a little more emphasis on website audits.
I was looking around at some (Local) competitors websites yesterday and not one of them had anything that really came close to what I would call an audit. Take this this one for example. There are a lot of elements of an audit here, but given what this represents, it’s just not the way that you do things.
Ok, it’s not the way that I do things.
These are monthly packages, how many of the items in any of these lists really have to be done every month. If the website is set up correctly and configured right, most of these things just get done once. The sitemaps, robot.txt, setting up analytics and WMT’s. the 301 redirects, alt tags, metas, all of these things are generally a one time job and are all part of a SEO audit. At the same time, if you add up the time it would take to do all the items that I have the red arrows pointing at, I would guess this is two or three hours work at the most. About the only real time consuming chore here are the redirects. If the site has a whole bunch of links that are 404’s or 302’s then it could take a few hours but generally speaking this stuff is pretty quick to do. I can only assume that the “Website Analysis” is having a look at analytics.
When I initially meet with a client I have a pretty extensive questionnaire that the client and I go through. We talk about desirable outcomes, KPI’s, goals, as well as a host of other items. Throughout this process I learn (discover) what keywords that I need to be aware of. I find what conversions the client is looking for. And I try to determine what resources the client has at his or her disposal. If possible I try to get my clients to do the Meta Descriptions. I have found that if that is possible, it gives the client a clearer insight of how the keywords are being used. I want my clients to understand the “why’s” of what I do.
But before I do anything else my first responsibility is to conduct an in depth audit of the website itself.
I have a couple different audit templates that I use. One of them is almost 200 page long and does cover virtually every on-site factor that can be looked at. However, my go to audit covers about the top 40, yes I am going to call them ranking factors, that really need to be correct. Within that audit I do look carefully at Keyword use, especially in regard to the sites top landing pages. However, again I don’t start with the keyword research, I start with the audit, keywords are just a part of that audit.
If you want to see what a truly fine audit template looks like, have a look at Annie Cushing’s website – (NOT an affiliate link) Annielytics. And as you can see you can pick that up for $195.
So to wrap this up, I want to express again, Yes keywords and their use is critical. Good quality backlinks are needed in todays world to rank well. However, let’s not let the audit sit under the bed like so many dust balls. You can’t build a good house on a poor foundation, a good SEO audit will ensure that the foundation is solid and will help all the other work that is done have the best SEO impact possible.
For more information on ahost of topics – this is the link to my posts page