If you’re considering kicking off an SEO effort, usually the best place to start is with an audit. Combined with an audit of competitors you’ll have a solid foundation from which to build an SEO campaign. Audits I perform include the following. You can remove some components especially if the work has already been done so I’ve provided commentary to help such decisions.
On This Page
Web Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools Review
- This will provide some background on how the site is doing overall; if there have been any unusual swings up or down; and where the site is strong. Often there are surprising findings which can only be found by digging into a number of reports.
- Even if you have reports being generated, I’d still like to dig in myself so I don’t consider this task optional.
- You may have a list of target keywords already. If so and you think the list is good, I’m happy to work with it.
- If there is no keyword list, I’ll pull some data to help guide discussions about what to target which in turn will influence category/content changes.
- HTML Code Review: This will help ensure that there are no obstacles to Google’s crawling and indexing effort. My guess at this point is that all should be good on this front as WordPress rarely is uncrawlable.
- Information Architecture Review: The way the site’s navigation interlinks pages will influence what pages are most likely to rank. Another way to think of this is whether the site hierarchy maps nicely against what people will search for where highly competitive keywords are closer to the “top” of the site’s hierarchy. I mentioned previously that I thought there was some opportunity in this area. However, we’ll have to see just how much work will be needed and decide if the potential justifies the effort.
- Content Review: Not intended to be a word-for-word review, this task will attempt to assess the content on the site using broad strokes like too short, too long, too repetitive, too little, etc. The output will help inform what’s done post-audit.
- Off-Site Review: This task will look at the off-site activities you’re already doing that might have a positive SEO impact. If there are opportunities to tweak existing activities those will be pointed out. The findings will also be compared to what is found in the competitive review described below.
- This task will essentially be a Site Review of competitor sites. I can’t look at competitor Web Analytics or Google Webmaster Tools, so I’ll have to infer some things from what’s seen on the site.
- Like the Site Review described above, off site-activities (link building, social media) can be part of the competitive review. Eventually onsite SEO plateaus (for many small sites) in terms of return on investment and the bigger gains come from offsite SEO. If all sites are optimized, looking at offsite activities is important.
- You would need to decide how many competitors to review. If there’s a clear industry leader that is comparable to your company, then you may able to get away with just one competitor review. If the competitors have strengths in different areas, it may be necessary to look at more than one to get the full picture.
- Findings will be compiled into a PowerPoint document. I find this is a good format for eventually doing a walkthrough. When there’s more detail needed than what can fit on a slide or two, there’s Word to fall back on. In the case of long lists or a lot of data, Excel files.
- It’s usually best if there’s a walkthrough of the PowerPoint document. This will ensure that any slides that turn out to be confusing can be expanded on verbally. This can also help ensure that a recommendation isn’t interpreted in a way that differs from what is intended. An hour is often enough. Sometimes 2 hours. More than 2 and it’s difficult for all but an SEO enthusiast to be engaged.
- I know WordPress well enough to make any coding, theme, or plugin changes if desired.
- I can also assist with content changes if desired.
- I can QA what’s implemented against the recommendations from the audit. This wouldn’t be needed if I was doing the implementation as QA would be part of that work.