Pubcon Vegas 2017 Live Blog - SEO Audits with Alan Bleiweiss and Bill Hartzer

Here are some notes I took during the SEO Audits session with Alan Bleiweiss and Bill Hartzer.

Bill Hartzer: SEO Audits from An Agency Perspective

Four basic steps to the audit
  • Before You Begin - information needed
    • Access to the website and log file data
    • Google Analytics
    • Google Search Console
    • Bing Webmaster Tools
    • History - What SEO has been done in the past
    • List of Domains owned and controled
    • List of Competitors
    • Anything else (catchall)
  • Gather Data
    • Review content on the site and how the site is ranking
    • Look at the data from analytics and website consoles (GSC/BWT)
    • Save the data in places that make it easy to retrieve, crunch and review
    • Look for subdomains
    • Use Screaming Frog, and don't forget to adjust the memory settings if the site is larger than 100K pages
    • Website log files can show you error issues that you can't see anywhere else
    • Don't forget to look at off page items like inbound links and such
    • Use WebPageTest.org to find issues with site download time issues
  • Analyze
    • Look for obvious problems, odd data points and other things that just don't look right
    • Check the main KPIs for significant drops or increases that can't be explained - and then look for correlations to Google updates
  • Present Results
    • Present the data in a way that the client can understand and use
    • Document what needs to be done so you can show results after recommended changes are made
    • Find out of there is a dev shop that needs to understand the instructions
    • Make it all easy to follow and logical
    • Prioritize - what are the most important things to check and what are low-hanging fruit items
Alan Bleiweiss: Performing SEO Audits for Maximized Efficiency & Value

Overall Steps
  • Determine Goals
    • Alan uses a different intake form for different types of websites - match the intent to the goals
    • Set SMART Goals
    • Sometimes the clients don't even have goals - this process can help set them
  • Gather Initial Data
    • You'll likely have a list of standard things to check for every site, but you also need to tailor your data gathering to the site type and goals
    • Don't get overwhelmed with data - choose wisely
    • Google Analytics is a better tool to understand things from an Organic Search perspective, much more than their competitors
    • Are they tracking conversions or other "money" KPIs? This is important!
  • Evaluate Data
    • Look at every report in Google Search Console - this can help you quickly identify potential issues - including click data
    • Google might find pages if they are only in the XML Sitemap, but they won't give it the respect or traffic if it's not linked to from somewhere in the navigation (this is very important!)
    • Look for conflicting signals 
    • Look for unnatural patterns
  • Dive Deeper as Needed
    • Walk away often and come back with fresh eyes
    • This is critical to further success
  • Evaluate Site UX
    • Look at the site like your customers - this is the only way to really know what they are looking for
    • Look for intuitive and logical directory structure
  • Create an Organized Deliverable Document
    • Who is the doc for? Consider your audience (just like Bill said)
    • Give examples or specific recommendations, consider step-by-step instructions
    • Here's a great recommendation: If the client doesn't have a QA version of the website, they should have one. Don't implement changes on a live site - test everything first
    • If you do audits on a regular basis, boilerplate often-used deliverable content
    • Alan's deck is online at http://bit.ly/audithowto 

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