How To Do A SEO Audit (2018)

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]