How To Do A SEO Audit (2019)
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How To Do A SEO Audit (2019)


Hello, this is John Locke, and today I’m going
to show you exactly how I do an SEO audit. When you have an SEO consultant that’s doing
a SEO audit, that in-depth audit is going to look at your website, see how it stacks
up against the competition, look at what’s actually ranking on Page one of Google, and
try to figure out a way to get you to go from down here to up here. That’s the goal. In essence, the SEO audit is going to give
us a battle plan of what to do over the next 6 months to make improvements to our site
so your brand can get pumped up, you get more eyeballs on your business, you’re getting
more organic traffic and you’re going to raise your visibility within the search engines. So before we get into it, I also want to point
this out. A lot of sites out there they have “free SEO
audits” or automated tools that scan the surface of your website, that’s not what I’m talking
about here. This is an actual human being looking at your
website trying to make deductions about what you should do to improve your rankings and
your traffic based on multiple data points. Now, what these other things are, they are
automated tools that basically just skim right over the surface of your site, they don’t
go in-depth, and they’re only going to tell you things that someone who knows what they’re
looking for would be able to see within five minutes. They’re not going to give you a detailed battle
plan and an exact blueprint of what you should be doing over the next six to 12 months to
improve your rankings. This isn’t something that scratches the surface,
this is a detailed battle plan that gives you precise, actionable, detailed advice of
what you need to do. So let’s break it down. How my SEO audits work right now, they have
11 sections. Section one, this section talks about why
we’re here. It describes the problem that the company
has already told me about. What are they trying to accomplish? What is their ultimate goal for getting traffic
in Google? What do they want to have happen? Now normally, the desired outcome is something
like more sales, more revenue, more leads, you want to crush your competition, those
sorts of goals. So essentially, this first section is an overview
of where the company is at, what they’re trying to accomplish, we’re establishing a starting
point for the whole project. We’re framing the situation and giving a reference
point of how the website affects the business as a whole and we’re setting up what we want
to have happen from our SEO work. Section two. This second section is all about keyword research. So the keyword lists that I get from clients
at first are usually really high level, it’ll be the most generic terms of the keywords
that they think that they want to rank for. But usually, they’re not exploring all the
possibilities of keyword phrases that they could drink for. My goal in this section is to sit down and
find all the keyword phrases that they have a possibility of ranking for based on search
volume, based on what their goals are, and based on the difficulty of ranking specific
keyword phrase. We’re also going to look at what is their
competition ranking for and what are their customers actually searching for. If this is a local SEO project, then we’re
going to be looking at search volumes for specific keyword phrases that people are searching
from specific regions like neighborhoods or neighboring cities. So the next part of this section is all about
looking for patterns. So depending on the complexity of the SEO
audit, we might just be saying here’s where you’re ranking for each of these specific
keywords. You’re either ranking number 10, or you’re
on Page one, or you’re on page two, here is everything, it’s like one, two, three, four,
five just to kind of establish a pattern. So basically, here’s some general patterns
that we’ve noticed so far just from the first couple of sections alone. And this is very important. We want to analyze what Google is ranking
because you want to go with the grain and not against the grain, and I’ll talk more
about that in just a little bit. So at the end of this section, I want to give
some suggestions based on the evidence of what we’re seeing. So we’re looking at overall what’s ranking
for specific keywords and then also looking at places where you’re deficient for those
keywords. Maybe you can create pages for that. Section Three. So this is the part that nobody really does. What’s actually ranking above you and what
can we learn from this? What we’ll do is we’ll take some selected
keywords off the list in the previous section and we’ll do an analysis of Page one of Google
for each of those keyword phrases. We’ll look at what’s actually ranking there
and then we’re going to form some theories about why Google has this as its particular
top 10. This is what I’m talking about when I’m talking
about going with the grain instead of against the grain. So you want to be doing what Google wants
to have happen because that’s what your customers are searching for and those are the answers
that they’re being satisfied by. A good example of this is let’s say that you
have a product that you want to sell and so you want to rank it on page one for that search
term. But everything on Page one for that search
term is people trying to get more information about what that is. So these would be informational searches or
think like Wikipedia type pages, those are all informational searches, so trying to rank
an e-commerce page for that search term isn’t going to make sense because it doesn’t go
with the grain of what’s already ranking. Here’s another example of what I’m talking
about. I had a certain client that they wanted to
rank for some search terms but everything on page one to Google for that particular
search was a comparison of this tool versus that tool and they dealt in both tools. And so they said, “We can’t create that type
of content because we don’t want to offend either maker of that tool because we have
relationships with them.” And my reply to them was, “You’re not going
to rank unless you create that type of content because that’s what people want to find when
they’re searching for that particular search phrase. And that’s what Google is ranking.” You can’t go against the grain and just rank
whatever you want. You have to follow the searcher intent of
what’s already ranking on Page one in Google because that’s what people are trying to find. So this third section is breaking down some
selected keywords looking at what’s already ranking and looking at the top 10 results
and trying to match up searcher intent. If there’s a map pack in those results, we’ll
look at that too, but generally, that’s going to be localized. So we’re really focusing on the top 10 results
and trying to match searcher intent and see a pattern. The purpose of this section is to identify
patterns so we can create content that will fit into our strategy meaning we’re going
to create content based on these searcher intents so we can rank and drive traffic to
the site. And then section four is all about technical
SEO, and when I say technical SEO, we’re looking at all of the underlying infrastructure parts
of the site. The things aren’t obvious. It’s not content, it’s not links, maybe it’s
not the design, but it’s these infrastructure things that are going to give us incremental
gains. It’s all the stuff underneath the hood. When you start adding up all these little
factors, they start to make a big difference. SEO is all about incremental gains, so when
you add up all these little things maybe they don’t make a difference just in isolation,
but when you add them all up together they start to boost the site up. So, when I talk about technical SEO, here’s
what we’re focusing on. We’re looking at whether your site is mobile
friendly or not. We’re looking at whether your site is implementing
HTTPS or not. Do you have XML and HTML site maps? Do you have a terms of service page? How many 404 pages are there? Do you need to have 301 redirects? Meaning, is Google crawling old pages which
are no longer on your site and do they need to be redirected to a new page? Also, do you have the incoming broken links
that need to be 301 redirected so you’re not losing that link equity? Is your side accessible for people who have
either sight, or motion, or hearing disabilities? And there’s a lot of things that go into this,
some of the more basic things are, do you have links to jump to the main content that
are there for screen readers? Is the text versus the background have enough
contrast where people who have poor vision or they’re color blind, can they read that
information? Another important one. Do the images on your site have alt text. If a person who is using a screen reader comes
to your site, they see a description of that image. We’re also going to look at the speed of your
site, and the big part of this is Time to First Byte. And Time to First Byte we’ve talked about
in a previous video. A lot of this usually has to do with your
hosting, but basically, Time to First Byte, it’s how long the server takes to give the
browser the files that make up the page and how fast it starts rendering the page. So those are important things to look at when
we’re talking about technical SEO. And the final thing that we look at is, does
your site have that If Modified Since header? Almost nobody has this, so that’s a pretty
common thing. At the end of this section, we’re going to
make suggestions about what you need to do to change or improve for your technical SEO. Section five is a content audit. Now, what we’ll do for smaller sites is we’ll
go through page by page and we’ll look at what’s on each page and then make suggestions
because we’re going to be comparing it to what’s already ranking and what we believe
should be on that page to make it right. We’re also going to be looking at searcher
intent and stacking it up against other competitors that are maybe ranking higher and just point
out like how those are matching searcher intent may maybe better than your page. So page by page breakdown on smaller sites. Also in this section, if you need to make
URL changes, meaning the web addresses, what the slug is that you type into the browser
to go to that page, if those sorts of things need to be changed, we’re going to address
those in that section. For larger sites, maybe we’re not going to
look at every individual page but we’re going to look at all the key pages and give a breakdown
of those pages because we want to drive traffic to those. We’re also going to look at global elements
in this section, meaning what’s in the header? What’s in the footer? What’s in the sidebar? Because these things can have an effect on
the SEO for the whole site. So we want to look at those global elements
and how those tie into SEO as well. So, as you can imagine, doing a content audit
on this scale takes a little bit of time. It’s definitely a lot more in-depth than this
little 2-page “SEO audits”. This is much different in this content audit
is going to give you a breakdown of exactly what you need to do. I will tell you that 99% of SEO companies
will never do this type of content audit and instead what they’re going to default to is
trying to sell you a bunch of spammy back links because that’s what they’re good at,
is generating spam back links on sites that they control because that’s easy to do. What’s a lot harder to do is sit down and
have a content strategy and then actually work with you or do the content themselves. How important is content to your overall SEO? I would say that if you have room to only
do one thing for your SEO, it should be working on your content. However, this is the area where businesses
seem to have the most trouble. A lot of people are heads down in their work
or they don’t have the staff or the infrastructure to do this within their organization and so
it gets pushed to the side forever. But content strategy is a differentiator,
and a lot of the sites that I see ranking, they actually make the time, they set aside
the time to do this. SEO is not magic fairy dust that you sprinkle
on at the end, and content strategy is really the hardest work that you’re going to do with
SEO because it requires consistency, it requires that you know what you’re talking about, so
some expertise and authority, and you have to be consistent over time. So at the end of this content audit section,
we’re going to make suggestions about what content you should be creating over the next
six to 12 months. And again, this is a battle plan of what we’re
going to do, these are actionable items things that we’re going to do or that you should
be doing. So a blueprint of here’s all the content you
need because here’s the gap between you and your competition or the sites that are ranking
above you. So in essence, here’s all the things that
you need to be writing or making videos about. Otherwise, you’re not going to rank against
your competition because they’re already creating content like this or similar to this, and
that’s what’s driving their traffic. Okay. In section six, we’re looking at on page factors. We’re looking at all the things that are on
the page itself and usually this is keywords and how they’re being used. But we’re also looking at title tags, meta
descriptions, which these become the snippets that you see in Google’s search results. How do these stack up and are you mentioning
your keywords there? We’re going to look at keyword distribution
in H1 and H2s. These are the different headlines on the page. Do you mention keywords or synonyms so those
keywords in each of those headlines? And that’s a good one. Are you using synonyms for your keywords on
the page? We also want to make sure that you’re not
keyword stuffing the pages and just repeating the same phrase over and over and over, but
you want to write in a way that’s natural to where humans understand it. This isn’t SEO from 15 years ago, that doesn’t
work anymore. So here’s something that is very true. If you want to rank for a certain keyword
phrase, you have to put that keyword phrase on the page. That’s still how SEO works in 2018, that’s
how it’s going to work in 2019, and it’s still going to work like that far into the future. You have to mention the thing that you’re
wanting to rank for. Google is not going to rank you for a key
word phrase if it doesn’t see it anywhere on the page and it doesn’t see anything that’s
even close to that on the page. Another thing that we’ll look at is the layouts
of the pages, the design of the pages. Does your site look old and junky or does
it look like it’s up to par with what’s happening in the present day? And most importantly, is the design supporting
your content? The job of design is to support the content
and call attention to it in a way that’s going to make people take action. And we’re going to briefly touch on user experience
in this section as well and just say is there something about the user experience that can
help the content on this page be better supported. Okay, section seven. This is where we look at the back link profile. As we mentioned before, this is where a lot
of SEO companies spend a lot of their time because building spam back links is fairly
easy to control. What’s not easy to do is building links on
sites that are relevant and credible that drive traffic or identifying places where
you should be building those links. That involves research and a lot of these
SEO companies outsource a lot of their work so a lot of this does not get done. The other thing about getting back links so
a lot of people don’t understand is getting relevant back links to actually move the needle,
it means creating relevant topical content and getting links from places that can drive
referral traffic to your website. If there are places where you can get a link
for your website that are related to your industry or places where you can get PR or
positive press that are industry related and get eyeballs on your brand, then that’s definitely
something that you need to check out and explore. So we’re going to be looking at your back
link profile but we’re also going to be comparing it to your competitors back link profile. What happens a lot of time is we end up pointing
out hey, like competitor X big brand over here is ranking way up here because they’ve
got 500,000 back links to their site and you’re way down here because you’ve only got 23. Google does use how many links and the types
of links that are coming into your site. It’s kind of an indication of how big your
brand is and how much attention they should be paying to it. It’s not a knock on your business when we
point this out, it’s just a sign that we need to be more proactive about getting you relevant
links to your website. Getting links are a big part of SEO because
Google uses them as a sort of proxy for your authority and trust. If sites that are closely related to you in
your industry are already linking to you, then that’s a good sign and we need to do
more of that. Brand is a part of this as well, but we have
to do a couple things to get the ball rolling. Links and content are very closely related,
and I want to stress this, it’s very important that Google recognize you as a brand. And I’m going to give you a hint about what
Google sees as a brand. Large brands, they have social media accounts
for all of their branding properties, meaning they’ve already claimed their brand name on
all the relevant social media accounts and they’re active on them and they’re publishing
new content, not only on their website on a regular basis, but they’re also publishing
original content on their social media accounts, and they’re trying to pull customers in because
that is a means of customer acquisition in 2018 and 2019. Large brands also want to generate positive
press for their company because they want to highlight what they’re doing. They want to do a little humble brag on their
company. And in contrast, smaller brands are usually
heads down in their work all day, maybe it’s because they don’t have the infrastructure,
but they’re not active on social media. Maybe they don’t have a ton of social media
accounts but they’re not using all the different means on the web as a way to attract customers. They’re usually just doing their work. They’re not posting anything original on their
website or on their social media all that often, maybe the last time they posted was
two years ago. And they also don’t look for opportunities
to build their brand by building buzz around their brand name or their company. So in section number eight, we’re going to
look at your Google My Business profile, and part of that is also how do you look in the
knowledge graph, which is on the right hand side of the page when you Google your business
name, and how do you look in google maps. Some of the things that we’re going to look
at is are you in the right business category? Is your information correct? Are you using structured data on your website? If you have a site that’s build on WordPress,
you can use a plugin called Yoast SEO, if you’re site’s built on Drupal, this is also
available as a Drupal module. But does the structure data on your site match
what’s in your Google My Business profile? So we’ll also use a free tool that Google
has which is the structured data testing tool to see what is being output on your site,
making sure that that same information is in your Google My Business profile and that
it matches up. If your business category needs to change
or any of the information in your profile needs to change, we’re going to make those
suggestions right here. In section nine, we’re going to look at industry
specific citation sites and review sites. And if we’re talking about local SEO, this
is most definitely going to include Yelp. It’s also going to include any other site
that’s industry specific. And we’re going to take a look at your profiles,
make sure that you’re generating reviews, making sure that your business category is
correct on Yelp, making sure that you’re mentioning the main thing that you’re wanting to rank
for in your Yelp profile. Most businesses that need help in the local
SEO department, they need to get more reviews on Yelp. Now, this is going to surprise a lot of people
because a lot of people perceive Yelp as a rival to Google, and I guess they kinda are,
but Google leans heavily on Yelp, not only Google reviews but Yelp reviews when it comes
to ranking things in local SEO. And then also, if there is an industry specific
place where you can get reviews, then you should also be on that. Those are the top three places that you need
to be getting reviews. Also, if we’re looking at a local SEO situation,
we’re going to want to make sure that what they call your NAP citations, which is name,
address, phone number, but I would also include website, is consistent on all the data aggregators. And this would be Factual, Foursquare, Acxiom,
Neustar. There’s other ones out there that are kind
of secondary like Best of the Web, HotFrog, Manta, those sorts of things. But we want to make sure that your name, address,
phone number, website and your business categories are all consistent on all of these. In Section 10, we’re going to look at anything
in user experience that needs to change. If we haven’t addressed it already, we’re
going to address it here. In most cases, this is going to come down
to design and functionality. Is it easy for people to find what they’re
looking for, design and legibility? Last thing I want to say is, all you designers
that think light gray text on a white background or pale gray text on the like even paler gray
background is a good design decision, just stop it, because it’s not a good design decision. It’s really hard to read even for those of
us with perfect vision. So, no matter how many design awards or dribble
likes that you get, please stop that. It’s terrible. Section eleven. This is miscellaneous and it’s anything that
we haven’t touched on to this point. If you need a specific analytics tool, if
you need to install Google Analytics or Facebook Pixel, or maybe a tool like Crazy Egg to see
where people are clicking or where they’re scrolling to, we’ll suggest that here. Also, if you’re not taking advantage of other
marketing channels like email marketing, perhaps there’s another place where you could be marketing
yourself and getting some buzz going or another channel that you could be using, we’ll mention
that here. So this is exactly how we do SEO audits here
at Lockedown Design and SEO. I hope you find this helpful, and if you have
a SEO question that you’d like to see us answer, go ahead and leave it in the comments below,
we’ll answer it out in a future video for you. And if you’re getting value from this channel,
I would just say please subscribe, because we’re going to be publishing videos every
week. My name is John Locke. My business of course, is Lockedown Design
and SEO. We help manufacturing and industrial companies
rank higher in Google and Bing, we drive traffic to their site, and as a result, they get more
requests for quotes. Until next time, peace. [Outtakes: Automated tools can never replace
human deduction and reasoning skills when it comes to dropping science.]

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