Website audits serve the same purpose of a physical. They’re an opportunity to take a complete, top to bottom accounting of a site to note what is working, what’s broken and what needs to be improved. Once completed, the audit should help inform the larger strategy and sometimes, shape the desired outcomes and the time frame in-which those goals will be reached. Says Jason White (@Sonray ), Director of SEO and Website Audit Whiz at DragonSearch
The website SEO audit Q&A with Jason White is finally here. Jason recently guest lectured in my NYU class demonstrating a website audit to graduate students. He does SEO websites audits daily at DragonSearch so you should hear him out.
Who is Jason White? Cycling, high-fives, copious coffee consumption and burrito judging is where he starts. Running SEO for DragonSearch is where Jason continues. He has been actively involved in many different forms of marketing including: branding, print and media buys, guerrilla marketing, pay per click, mobile campaigns, connecting multiple platforms to create holistic campaigns that deliver results. Jason has spoken at Search Marketing Expo and the Mid-Hudson Valley Digital Marketers with work featured on Search Engine Journal, The Marketology Blog and interviews appearing on Inc., CNBC, WordStream, CIO and Techwyse. Find Jason Google+.
What are the benefits of an SEO audit?
I’m creeping up on a milestone birthday this year so I don’t know this firsthand but it’s my understanding that folks of a certain age should have regular checkups and a physical with their doctor.
Website audits serve the same purpose of a physical. They’re an opportunity to take a complete, top to bottom accounting of a site to note what is working, what’s broken and what needs to be improved. Once completed, the audit should help inform the larger strategy and sometimes, shape the desired outcomes and the time frame in-which those goals will be reached.
What are the must-have components of SEO audit?
Before you begin. When a new project comes in we request any and all information that a client has including previous reports. Sometimes an audit has already been completed and largely, those audits were run by a program with little feedback from a human or explanation as to why something is being flagged as an issue. The computer programs know to only look for what they’ve been told to look for and they don’t understand that fixing 5,000 duplicated title tags isn’t going to have as much benefit as implementing an XML sitemap.
When we deliver a website audit to a client, we want them to easily be able to identify the largest issues which are going to help get the site in a better standing. Budgets are always tight so the faster we can improve the amount of money a client is making from their site, the better for everyone. We want our clients to know exactly what can be fixed today, next week, next month and what will require additional resources in six months as well as understand how we’re recommending to fix the issue and why it’s a problem.
Cookie cutter audits don’t serve the client’s need so each audit needs to be focused on that initial impact while
Site audits are often the first major deliverable for a project so it’s execution and delivery is paramount in not only identifying issues but in building a relationship with a client and earning their trust.
How to perform SEO audit for a website?
- Does the site serve the need, does it answer to a problem and can a visitor come to the homepage and know instantly what products and services are offered?
- Are the resources well thought out, are blog posts simply written because it’s a best practice or are they focused and high quality?
- What happens when a user fills out a form, picks up the phone or makes a purchase?
SEO audit is a collaborative project. Part of constantly hunting for improvements requires the SEO team to run the project lean with efficiency in mind so we can dig to find every last issue and detail that makes a site unique. We want this mindset to ooze over to both the client’s internal team and the development team to earn buy in so we can get items completed quickly.
It’s important that all stakeholders feel that they have a seat at the table and have an opportunity to provide feedback on what is recommended. If a website takes 4 seconds to load and our recommendation requires improvements which will cost $4,000 and only yield a 1 second improvement, it won’t be the best use of the resources and might cause a difficult relationship with the other teams. Earning their feedback is an important part of our process and we go to lengths to ease communication and win their favor.
When we deliver a website audit, we actually deliver two. The first one is intended for the client and contains visuals, what the problem is, why it’s a problem and our recommendation is to fix the issue. This document can quickly turn into 30-50 page beast in some cases. The second document is a much simpler spreadsheet which is organized into tabs. The main tab is a ‘to-do’ list – this is the problem, this is who needs to fix it and this is how it should be fixed. It enables the different teams to understand who is doing what and how to support the different efforts with greater speed. We’ll then provide a link to the client’s audit so if more information is needed, the development team can quickly investigate. It’s a simple way to show respect towards other people’s time and expertise while keeping the overall project on point.
SearchDecoder: Here are couple in-depth free guides, tools and resources for performing an SEO audit if you would like to learn more:
The world of SEO is fast-changing, which strategies to stop, start, and continue in 2014?
STOP chasing rankings and start courting users. Rankings place focus on things you can’t control but users help you achieve your goals.
STOP listening to the SEO echo chamber and…
START listening to marketers outside of the SEO community. Our community is great but it’s filled with the same ideas. New ideas will make you a better marketer.
CONTINUE to let your passions permeate because users will feed off of your energy.
What’s your favorite thing about SEO?
It requires a blend of analytics, creativity and competitive spirit that is never the same. I have my tool box of skills, figuring out how to apply them to an objective and seeing it succeed is where I find the greatest reward.