SEO is becoming increasingly difficult by the day. To truly excel with the digital marketing tactic, it's essential to periodically audit the various elements of a website that may influence its ultimate success on the search results - particularly for those highly sought-after keywords (you know, the ones that your prospective visitors would actually use to find your website).
There's been a rise over the past few years of agencies offering their clients audits of those clients existing search engine optimization campaigns. While it's vital (I repeat, vital) to know what's working or not, too many of these audits are self-serving - to the agency - at best, and can be downright misguided when those performing the audit simply don't understand your business, its customers, or its competitors SEO strategies.
Again, audits are really important but you should not do so in a silo. What you should look for (or request from the agency performing the audit) are some benchmarks as that alone will provide the most valuable insights and ultimately the most benefit. Companies need a point of comparison (POC) to gauge their efforts. That POC should ideally be a competitor, and a competitor within your geographic market.
If you offer SEO services you might right now be fuming mad (that's double the work!) but in reality, you can't and shouldn't expect your clients (who will pay you good money) to make a decision based on half the SEO story. Buyers of SEO services need to understand how much improvement to their current efforts are required to beat the competition. If you can show them how low the hurdle is, just imagine how quickly they will sign on the dotted line.
Here are a few key essential SEO audit points and why it's important to provide a POC for each:
Keyword Focus: Most websites, particularly those on a smaller scale, focus on just a handful of keywords. Knowing what those keywords are (based on the research you can gain from popular keyword research tools) is important but if the competition has been engaged in SEO for some time, they may have discovered a few search terms that really, truly convert browsers into buyers. Knowing what search terms competitors are currently using therefore can prove exceedingly valuable when developing an SEO campaign. Don't accept a SEO keyword audit without knowing what your competitors are optimizing for today.
URL Structure: Yes, a well-organized website structure is important to a successful presence on the search engines - it's undeniably one of the most important variables in good on-site optimization. But unless you have thousands of web pages, there's really no reason you'd have an abnormal structure whatsoever (no complex folder hierarchies, or product parameters for example). It would be useful to know if competitors did have an URL structure problem though because then you'd have an opportunity to differentiate your digital presence from the perspective of the search engines.
Title Tags: SEO's need to do a better job of showing their clients what it is that they actually do (URL structure by the way isn't one of them as from a distance it seems rather simple - just change the name, right?). The best way to do that is to communicate the importance of title tags; and since they're visible on the search results to users this isn't really too much to ask for from the SEO group performing the audit. If you can clearly express why your prospective clients method of title tag optimization isn't working, show them how their competitors too are doing it wrong, and how your approach to the practice is better, you've got a near fool-proof way to once again get that client on your side.
These are just three areas where I hope you can see that having a point of comparison in SEO audits is really important to the benefit you could derive from an SEO audit. Consider a few other elements - validated code, social media, mobile compatibility, code validation, and page load speed - and ask yourself, is this something that should if I were to show to my client, it would benefit from them knowing about? Remember that in the SEO industry, knowledge (and more of it) is power - the power to make the right decisions.
Digital marketing executive with proven experience in all aspects of search engine optimization (SEO), performance-based advertising, consumer-generated/social media, email marketing, lead generation, Web design, usability, and analytics. - 20-year Internet marketing veteran, currently serving as the Digital Marketing Campaign Manager at Antenna Group (formerly Chicago Digital). - Former Editor-In-Chief of Website Magazine, and a regular speaker on Web technology digital marketing strategy - Author of several books on digital marketing Including Web 360: The Fundamentals of Web Success; Affiliate 360: The Fundamentals of Performance Marketing; Domains 360: The Fundamentals of Buying & Selling Domain Names, and SEO 360: The Fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization.