You’ve probably been presented an audit for your website in the past. Perhaps even a free audit (gotta love free stuff), which was likely auto-generated completely by SEMrush with some simple whitelabeling. I think one of the biggest issues with audits is presenting all the negatives without A) acknowledging the positives B) presenting the how-to or the recommendations on how to fix the negatives. I guess that’s when the free audit pivots into a paid audit.
The audit is presented how you’d imagine. Very similarly to a report, except it is extensive to the point where it needs its own Table of Contents.
I love auditing websites. It takes you into a world where you can see what other SEOs were thinking when they optimized the website, and maybe the SEO before them, and even the SEO before them. You’ll almost always find something unique and interesting applicable for your own arsenal. But for older websites, audits are most important because of this reason alone – the amalgamation of SEO efforts over time, often times not keeping up with algorithm updates and/or similar SEO philosophies, can take a website’s setup and pull it in many different directions. In SEO, we know that cohesion is important, from off-site (citations) to on-site (uniform meta information standards). Audits commonly strive to find homogeneity within the website.
If you’re proactive with your website’s SEO, I would say getting an audit once a year would be ideal. Even a third-party is often the right approach – I’ll admit, we don’t “freak out” if a client wants to commission another expert or agency to perform an audit every once in a while. It’s really equivalent to another pair of eyes, and being that a technical audit is so expansive, you can almost count on an audit uncovering plenty, no matter how adept your in-house team or agency is. If you haven’t EVER had a technical audit, well then, you’re overdue.
Below we go into detail on what we prioritize in a technical audit. Frankly, the amount of components of this audit could become endless, but we try to observe the 80/20 rule every chance we get. I also did a podcast on it as well (the hour or so hardly did the audit breakdown justice) but you could certainly get more insight into what goes into this project. Often times, the takeaways and analysis of a technical audit could map out your digital marketing plan for an entire year – just in time to get another technical audit going!
Search Index Review
- Identify if the site is indexed well
- Audit robots.txt file for crawl issues
- Confirm proper sitemap setup and submission
- Check website is set up for proper crawling
- Process for dynamic rendering information
- Perform plagiarism check
- Check for duplicate content within the site
- Review content length
- Review content quality
- Review blog strategy
- Review practice area strategy
- Review geo-page strategy
On-Page SEO Review
- Analysis of title tags and meta descriptions
- Review headings (H1, H2, etc.)
- Review the use of internal/external links, etc.)
- Check site meets minimum E-A-T standards
- Verify website generally adheres to principles from the most recent Google algorithm updates
- Check keyword usage throughout site
- Identify keywords driving site traffic from analytics
- Review keywords based on:
- Thorough website UX analysis and suggestions
- Best standards for fonts, colors, buttons, images, links etc.
- Behavior flow (if accessible)
- Behavior on pages/posts (if accessible)
- Suggestions for ADA compliance if interested
- Review mobile layout
- Site speed audit
- Audit site for server errors (404 not found)
- In-depth analysis of current links/authority
- Lost and new links
- PA/DA trends
- Analysis of follow links and plan for maximizing inbound
- In-depth citation analysis
- All locations – removes and additions
- General reports from major aggregators
- Legal directory submission analysis and suggestions
- General business submission analysis and suggestions
- GMB setup analysis for all locations
- General ORM report and suggestions
- Review and social validation reporting
Analysis of Opportunities from Competition
- Identify the top 5 competitors for your primary service
- Identify the top 3 competitors for your secondary service
- Review top-performing content
- Review geo, practice area, and blog strategy
- CTA’s and imagery
- Awards, accolades, recognitions
- Identify qualifying opportunities:
- Sponsor opportunities
- Content opportunities
- Event opportunities
- Identify qualifying opportunities:
Technical SEO Review
- Implementation of structured data/schema
- Proper site structure and URL structure
Paul Warren: Hi, I’m Paul Warren.
Ryan Klein: And I’m Ryan Klein.
Paul Warren: And this is another episode of SEO is Dead and Other Lies. Ryan, I don’t know how you’re doing, because we’ve been chatting for the last 20 minutes.
Ryan Klein: We do this all on Zoom and I really appreciate Zoom, and I appreciate them going public and trying to make that money. And I don’t think that their product has gone downhill by any means.
Paul Warren: Did they go public?
Ryan Klein: Yes, I tried to get the stock, but it quadrupled in five minutes because the system’s rigged, bro.
Paul Warren: Oh wow.
Ryan Klein: Anyway, let’s get back in good spirits and let’s hit it, man.
Paul Warren: Hey, this is our first podcast of the new year.
Ryan Klein: That’s right. And its Podcast 51 that’s being recorded when 50 hasn’t gone live yet.
Paul Warren: That’s cool.
Ryan Klein: You know, I don’t want to launch a podcast on a holiday because I just feel like people aren’t in the work mood or the spirit at the time. Think about it, that’s January 1 or 2. Everyone has their goofy resolutions that are going to be freaking squashed in the next six weeks.
Paul Warren: Taking up their time — unless it’s more about SEO.
Ryan Klein: Yes, time, exercise, no more booze, yoga, downward dog spirit, temple dance, paleo.
Paul Warren: Just paleo. No sugar.
Ryan Klein: You know what Paul; I’m actually going to stick to my resolutions because they’re easy.
Paul Warren: What was that? To drink more.
Ryan Klein: No. No one ever has self-destructive resolutions.
Paul Warren: Why not?
Ryan Klein: I think it’s more along the lines of why don’t people have more self-sabotaging resolutions?
Paul Warren: Yeah. Let’s just cut out the length of time here and just get on track to what you’re really trying to do anyways.
Ryan Klein: You’re not trying to pull on SYSK — which Stuff You Should Know. And we start off with something really random when you don’t know where this is going. But I’m going to somehow pull in the subject matter. And so, we are going to segue into resolutions and then resolutions for your website, and what’s a good resolution for your website and your marketing.
Paul Warren: Get all of your own page SEO stuff together.
Ryan Klein: Yeah.
Paul Warren: It’s a great resolution. But let that be your internet, your SEO resolution for the year. Get your own page stuff in order.
Ryan Klein: What’s a great thing to do annually? Generally, like a checkup, you know. You do it for your body, you’ll want to take care of that weird lump that’s on your butt, and then for your car you want to get inspected, and then for your website you want to do an onsite and even maybe an offsite audit.
Paul Warren: So that’s what we’re talking — those weird lumps on your website’s butt with this audit. That we’re going to walk through about what you should be doing at least once a year — more than that, probably. Probably twice a year.
Ryan Klein: I think biannually is good. I think that quarterly is excessive unless there’s a big algorithm update and you take a huge hit — of course you’d want to do it a little bit sooner than later. But I think you can do an audit at least once a year. Like Paul said, maybe twice. But this is going to be a little bit technical. We’re talking about how we’re going to avoid making it boring. We do not want this to be boring, and it’s technical. So, we’re going to try to make it as exciting as possible and go into detail about the things that we think you should emphasize.
Paul Warren: Yeah. And the other reason why this is important — and audits are important — is because it’s really easy to not think about stuff that you have set, and you’re assuming it’s working correctly. That’s not really how websites work, I’ve learned — or databases or hosting or really anything. You shouldn’t assume that it’s going to work correctly for a long period of time. You’ve got to go in there and you’ve got to check it.
Ryan Klein: Absolutely.
Paul Warren: Think how many WordPress plugins aren’t updated or they’re just messed up from these exploits and stuff, and all of a sudden, your whole website’s down, right? I don’t even know if we really included that in here, but it’s just an example of how you should be checking stuff.
Ryan Klein: That’s too much low hanging fruit. That one was too obvious to me, to even include some technical.
Paul Warren: You’ll be surprised, yeah.
Ryan Klein: I mean I’m not typically surprised when you go on the back end of people’s websites, but yeah, even plug-in updates. Yes, I would definitely have it.
Paul Warren: And it’s easy to assume your robots, texts. All that stuff is working the way it’s supposed to, but all of a sudden, oh man, you started looking in Search Console and you have a whole bunch of stuff not indexing anymore. Your rates are going way down, and you got a whole bunch of errors and it just happens all the time. So, we’re going to give you some guidance on how to work through this.
Ryan Klein: Okay, so hypothetical: Beginning year, you want to crush it. Who doesn’t want to do better the next year compared to the previous year? Look at your website. Your website oftentimes is going to hugely generate, whether it be referrals or your word of mouth or your proactive paid or your organic, all of it. It’s super important, obviously, I don’t have to go into that. So, take care of this baby. We’re going to go through the audit and I’m also going to post the link. So, if you want to have it up, you can follow along. So, to start, we’re going to start with Search Index Review. I’m going to say that the site map is definitely something I won’t go into detail. So, we’re saying here, identify if the site is indexed well. So, Paul, how do you like seeing if a website is indexed?
Paul Warren: Well Ryan, there’s a couple of ways. If you have a really large website, this might not be a great place to start, but I’ll give you some ideas. You just go to the old site call in, your website domain, and you start looking at all the stuff that’s indexed within Google, and then you start looking at the stuff that maybe shouldn’t be indexed in Google or the stuff that you need to have indexed in Google, and it isn’t indexed in Google, right? So even if you’re not really knowing how to use a lot of tools or whatever and you just want to get a quick idea of the pages that are indexed on your site, that’s a good place to start.
Ryan Klein: I agree with that. And the other thing you can do as well is you should be aware of how many pages you have. We’re almost always going to default to WordPress. But you should also know if it’s proprietary, roughly how many pages are on your website and a site map will assist you with that. Or just in general, you should be aware of how you can quantify the number of pages on a website and you’ll go to your Search Console and it’ll also tell you how many pages are next. It’s straight up in there. And if it says that there’s 1,500 and there’s 2,000 pages on a website and there’s a discrepancy of 500, then you have a little bit of work to do in figuring out why 500 are not indexed. In some situations, you manually index them.
Paul Warren: That’s as straightforward as you can get it. Go on the Search Console, look at the number of index pages and then figure out how many you have, how many you should have, your location-based website, whether you’ve got location, silo pages, whatever. Check them in mailing and see if they’re indexed, if they’re not, you’ve got some work to do.
Ryan Klein: Indeed. So that’s good. We just did one bullet out of about 50. So, at the robot’s TXT file, we will check that for crawl issues. I don’t feel like going into detail about that, because I’m not refreshing on that enough right now.
Paul Warren: It’s sort of like you can configure it a lot, like any other SEO tool and stuff, but you just want to make sure that it’s working correctly. It’s adding the new pages, it’s sending the right response code for those pages for Google to index them or not. That’s just an important thing to have there. And that it’s set up and it’s working correctly. That’s where you’re going to use your Search Console again to make sure all that stuff is working the way it’s supposed to.
Ryan Klein: Okay. So, I want to give a little bit more time to site map. So, I’m going to skip it really quick. We’ll go back to it in one minute. I’ll check that the website is set up for proper crawling. Basically, that kind of goes hand in hand with robots. It’s also making sure you don’t have sub-directories that just lead to nowhere. You want to make sure it links on your homepage or links into actual pages, you know, checking your menu. You know, as websites evolve, you forget to link internally. It’s just natural.
Paul Warren: You don’t have a bunch of orphan pages that anyone can get to easily, stuff like that. You don’t have important stuff behind some sort of form that has to be filled out.
Ryan Klein: Cool man. And then the dynamic rendering, if you want to know about that — which is an interesting thing that I think more and more people will do in 2020. We do have an entire podcast, a large portion of a podcast dedicated to it that we can offer to listeners if they want to know more about that.
Paul Warren: With our friend Jeff from Huckabee. It’s a great podcast, actually. You should check it out. He drops a lot of really good knowledge. You know, we don’t normally even interview people that have a product to sell on here. He was just so knowledgeable about that stuff. I was like, come on man, let’s talk about it.
Ryan Klein: Yeah, he crushed it. And he’s in there just rattling off all this technical stuff, even more technical than this audit. And he says, “I’m not even like the CTO. My home dude is the one that built it and he knows 20 times more.”
Paul Warren: Brain explosions.
Ryan Klein: Great podcast. It becomes a part of our technical audit and maybe some others, so keep that in mind. Going back to the site map, site map is just so important for uncovering things in general that might be gaps or issues with your website. I think that a proper site map nowadays from what I see are mostly pretty straightforward and you’re talking about pages, posts, sometimes people do tags, some people do categories, sometimes people do authors.
Ryan Klein: I personally think that when you look at a site map and it starts getting a little crazy with media, I think that you have to reevaluate what’s going on with your sitemap, like videos and images and random pages that don’t go anywhere that is worth looking into and cleaning up. Paul, what do you think?
Paul Warren: I totally agree with that. The key thing is I feel like the pages that are important for your rankings and your content, those are listed in there correctly. But yeah, to kind of make the point that you’re saying like there’s a bunch of crazy image URLs, a bunch of weird stuff in there, that just doesn’t make sense, you know?
Ryan Klein: Yeah. People don’t really visit their site maps too much. And I know when people got a little bit higher on their sitemaps several years ago, they’d be saying, “Oh, I’m going to do my priority and the importance of my sitemap, and I’m going to change the frequency where the homepage is daily blogs or weekly blogs.
Paul Warren: Yeah, you don’t need to do anything crazy like that.
Ryan Klein: My home page is 1.0, this page is 0.6. It’s like these are all, at this point, almost entirely arbitrary and they’re almost like your peace of mind. So, you have to be a little bit more up to date with site maps. If you haven’t looked at or even heard about it or thought about it in several years, it’s time to kind of take a look and see what’s going on there. And it’s probably primes for a resubmission via Search Console again.
Paul Warren: Let’s delve into the next section which is your content. So, you know, a big content guy, it’s very powerful when it’s done correctly because you can write content that actually leads to sales, not just rankings. That’s amazing, right? But one of the things that you want to do — and this is really huge for me and this is a good place to start — is know how to perform a plagiarism check.
Ryan Klein: There’s all kinds of tools that you can use to run your website through, and it’ll tell you what percentage of your content is plagiarized on some other webpage or even web pages within your own website.
Paul Warren: It’s pretty great.
Ryan Klein: Yeah. I think that plagiarism checks are important to do, apart from audits, maybe a little bit more frequently, and especially for two reasons. If you’re employing writers and other agencies to write your content and they’re writing a bunch of content, maybe it’s good to just check if someone has plagiarized every once in a while.
Paul Warren: It’s built into our onboarding process.
Ryan Klein: So, when we do internally, or when you’re checking third-party?
Paul Warren: No, we have software we use.
Ryan Klein: Okay.
Paul Warren: Whenever we have a bunch of writers that are not in-house. We don’t have any in-house writers and they send us this information, like articles, whether it’s a blog, whatever. And we always run it through a plagiarism checker just to see and make sure that they’re being honest. I’m not going to pay them if they’re ripping off someone else’s content.
Ryan Klein: Oh hell no. Then you fire them and then you post about them online and then they never work again. And then they sabotage you with negative links.
Paul Warren: Yeah. But I do have the exact same negative comment that I posted on all of them that do this. So, I plagiarized that.
Ryan Klein: You used to use our own dark powers against them, I guess.
Paul Warren: All over again, just like their articles.
Ryan Klein: I do like Copyscape, it’s pretty reliable. It’s pretty cost-efficient and it can do it in bulk. You’re not doing it page by page. Again, going back to the site map, one way that you’re able to get a lot of pages to upload all at once for a bulk plagiarism check is you provide a site map. Copyscape, and I’m sure other software, does this. It does a scan of every single page on there and then inputs them and then checks them all for plagiarism at once. So yeah, this will probably cost you.
Paul Warren: That, too, is what I use as well.
Ryan Klein: Oh, you do? Yeah, I’d say a thousand-page website. Probably run you $50.
Paul Warren: It’s worth it. Pretty cheap.
Ryan Klein: Yeah, and you’re not just checking to see if your content is plagiarized. You’re also checking to see if anyone else has stolen your content. So, keep that.
Paul Warren: Yeah, and sometimes they steal it and you can get them to link to you.
Ryan Klein: That works.
Paul Warren: I’m okay with it, then, if they link back to me.
Ryan Klein: I’m like, well, if it’s plagiarized, technically you stole it, but you’re not going to get any SEO value plus second link, so I guess — whatever.
Paul Warren: So, the next thing is reviewing content length and quality. You know what — I’ll combine those two, because it was where you have content length and then quality is separate, but they kind of go hand in hand right now with the future of how SEO works with content. So, you want to have a minimum word count at this point. I think it’s like 500. Five hundred or more, really the more the better. And it’s also if you’re using a good spread of keywords for related topics within it. So, you want to write for humans to a certain degree with the layout of it, but you’re also, unfortunately, writing for Google. So definitely look at thin content and look at revising it and then make sure it reads like a human being wrote it. You know, one that speaks the language that you speak is generally pretty useful. And hit that length.
Ryan Klein: Yeah, I think you can kind of group a lot of these together. The blog strategy, practice area strategy, GEO strategy because it’s just when you’re doing the audit, it does give you a chance to just be like, it’s time to go and see how I wrote this page a long time ago. Some of it is important pages, and you might not have even looked at it in three years and you might be like, that call to action kind of stinks. You know, this intro, this anecdote is amateur. I don’t write like that. That doesn’t best represent us. I think this audit is a great opportunity to also analyze your voice and your message in your own voice for the important pages.
Paul Warren: The quality and the writers — whatever. You know, especially if you’re working on a site, like you took over the SEO on a site you know, look back at that old content, see if you can redirect it or combine it or maybe you have a new article about the same old subject. You look at stuff, just kind of go through it and make sure that you’re a good steward of the blog for people coming in.
Ryan Klein: Yeah, because your content over time should hopefully, like this podcast, then get better over time. So, if you’ve been blogging for five years, you’d imagine that your most recent five blogs would be significantly better than your first five blogs. So it’s good to take a look back, see if it can be revised, see if you just remove it altogether or consolidate it because content is the foundation of your website and you should be taking a peek at the content that you’ve been producing over the years and seeing if it’s still representing what you want on your website.
Paul Warren: Okay, and yeah, I mean definitely get advice. Definitely I think you probably want to do this. I don’t know if you really need to go back and review all the quality and stuff more than once a year. Hopefully, you have a plan kind of built out for why you’re writing this content after you’ve done this. And you know, I don’t think you’d have to do it every six months. But yeah, just double check your work, basically.
Ryan Klein: Well, we definitely believe in refreshing pages that are important pages and also this is a good opportunity if you have blogs that do get a lot of traffic from just being indexed for years and ranking, and then it doesn’t really generate any revenue. That’s a good opportunity to look through it and be like, Oh, it’s because the content is not particularly good. And you could probably have stronger Calls to Actions or better opportunities to convert.
Paul Warren: And if it’s not getting any traffic anymore or maybe it’s an outdated keyword or whatever, redirect it, get rid of that. You don’t need that. You don’t need that extra stuff on your site. I mean, you’ve got to crawl budget. So, use it wisely.
Ryan Klein: Yeah. You got a crawl budget. That’s one thing you have to be mindful about is just pumping out content and you know, we have situations where you think that writing hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pages is the way to go, but you’re just kind of dispersing that crawl across a bunch of pages that might not matter as much. And before we go into this on-page SEO review, I notice they skipped the check for duplicate content within the site. And I want to mention that over time, people might not realize that they are writing about the same subject matter already. So if you’ve had a blog for five or seven years and you’re running out of topics, you might start writing content that you’ve already written about and you might do keyword cannibalization and you might have existing content that you didn’t realize you had posted already, then you post it again. Technically you make duplicate content. So, you should be mindful that people make these mistakes over time on their website and they kind of start to accumulate. And you should be aware of this possibility happening on your website.
Paul Warren: Great points. All excellent points, Ryan. But let’s delve into one of the easier areas to make some changes and updates and audits. And that is, you can use a lot of tools. You can use Screaming Frog to do this, updating your on-page SEO stuff. And we’re not talking about content with this one in particular. I mean, maybe a little bit here. Only I mean, like your meta-data, your title tags, your descriptions, right? Make sure you have descriptions. Even though Google has come out recently and I don’t believe them, an H1, H2, H3, whatever, it doesn’t matter anymore. They don’t care. They don’t provide any more relevance based on what you tell them. I don’t know how much that’s really true. It certainly doesn’t mean don’t use H1, H2, H3 tags. I mean, think about how you structure a sentence or how you structure your website and the opportunity to put keywords and stuff in it. But just make sure that you have that kind of stuff and make sure you’re providing a good user experience for someone reading it. And I think having H1s and H2s and stuff within your articles and pages that have substantial content are important for that.
Ryan Klein: So, Paul, you’re telling me you don’t trust Google really, after all this time?
Paul Warren: I don’t trust Google any farther than I can throw them, and I can’t throw him anywhere because they’re not real. They’re just on the internet. So no, I don’t trust them a bit.
Ryan Klein: You just wish Matt Cutts was back so you could physically pick him up and throw him somewhere.
Paul Warren: Who? Matt Cutts, yeah, I would. I’ve never met the guy, though, but it was very entertaining to laugh at his tweets about how they were BS.
Ryan Klein: I remember him kind of talking and like kind of smiling through the teeth of it.
Paul Warren: Yeah.
Ryan Klein: Maybe he was lying.
Paul Warren: Yeah, I know.
Ryan Klein: He’s like, I have a question today. So, I mean, this is pretty standard, straightforward SEO stuff. I think that it’s really good annually, again, to check the title tags and meta as your website evolves as your expertise evolves. You’re probably going to look back at titles and descriptions and be like, “Oh, that title is not particularly good. I bet I could do better.” Or this description, you know, the amount of characters for descriptions has increased. You might not have updated that yet. This is a good time to sit down and do one of the most monotonous things you can do for your website, updating your descriptions. And then what you mentioned about H1, internal/external link standards were kind of a big thing last year. So, check that out. I think we’ve talked about that.
Paul Warren: Yeah, I mean it’s not exciting stuff by any means. But it’s like the little things.
Ryan Klein: I almost nodded out, but yeah.
Paul Warren: It’s the little things that can make a difference here.
Ryan Klein: You just want to know what this is.
Paul Warren: You have to be doing everything you possibly can to outrank your competitors, you know?
Ryan Klein: Oh, absolutely. I mean the whole thing, it’s kind of sounds kind of like a checklist because that’s what an audit is. It’s just a way of kind of staying on top of things and being mindful that your website is a living, breathing thing. Not really, but yeah, because it’s evolving, and you want to always be revising these integral things to the successor website. And Paul, like you were saying, it’s not any one of these that seems to make a huge difference, but when you list out 50 things, when you add up these 50 things that all do have weight and are worthwhile, yeah, you’re going to have a website that stays in front of your competition.
Paul Warren: Yeah, absolutely. So, let’s move to one of these on-page SEOs, which I’ve spent a lot of time on in the past, especially when it comes to developing content and reviewing stuff and reviewing keywords by page. So, the page that you want to rank for these keywords, are they still relevant? You know, I’d like to look at Google trends for those terms. Do you need to make tweaks for that? What’s the volume for them over time? How difficult has it become to rank for those terms? And really, just think about how a page should be about a topic that you can sort of add these related keywords into. So, if you have one page that’s not really ranking very well for the main keywords that you want, maybe look at narrowing the content topics, or maybe it’s too narrow and you need to add in some more stuff. But really look through the content that you have and look at the keyword research and sort of match those up for the pages that you have.
Ryan Klein: Yeah, I think this is a good opportunity to maybe do Google trends on some of them to see if they’re still moving in the right direction. You can look for other opportunities that way, too. You just want to make sure you’re spending time and energy working on something that’s going to be sticking around for a while and still giving you the qualified traffic, you’ve been looking for.
Paul Warren: Yeah, absolutely. That pretty much covers that. You guys can check out the list that we have here. There’s a few more in here and that kind of goes into the EAT standards — and I don’t know how much that even really counts, how much even Google paid attention to their own standards.
Ryan Klein: I know, yeah, if we’re practicing a little bit of 80/20 right now, the 80/20 rule. I’d say do it for maybe some of your main pages and see if you can do some of its standards that are site-wide all at once. But based off my experience literally in all of 2019, I would not get too hung up on it.
Ryan Klein: Yeah, I can get behind doing it more often than annually. I think it’ll also depend on probably a few other factors like what industry you’re in, how much traffic you’re getting. And then also if you are in the process of revamping major aspects of your website and you should be very conscientious of what updates you are doing in the midst of it.
Paul Warren: And do you work at a company that maybe has a large dev team that’s constantly making updates and stuff, and not necessarily reviewing those changes across the whole site in different environments. That can happen quite a bit. All I know is at the end of the month, they’re going to look at like leads, and if you work in SEO, you’re going to try and attribute that to the work that you’ve done, and if it’s way low, they’re going to look at you probably first and say what’s wrong, what happened? Just things to keep in mind here. But let’s just jump into where to start. You know, if you’re going to do this, look at the best standards for your fonts, colors, buttons, images, things like that. Is everything working? Is everything rendering, how does it look in different environments? And I say environments, meaning phones. How does it look in different phones? How does it look at different browsers, on different computers, right? And you can test all this stuff pretty easily. They make tools for it. If you’re looking in Chrome, you can actually right click and look at it in different environments when you inspect it. So, you know, it’s not that hard to look through your work and make sure everything is rendering the way it’s supposed to. And then you also just pull out your phone and go through the whole user experience and see what it’s like too, as if you were someone searching for it.
Ryan Klein: Sure. I think a good standard is most good websites have two to three different fonts. If you’re like, “Oh yeah, I do have eight different kinds of fonts on my website,” it’s not really a good practice. Colors that are too bright, they’re too dark. You can probably look up color templates that tend to mesh well together with other images.
Paul Warren: I can tell you if it’s bad.
Ryan Klein: I can just look at it and I snap my fingers. And then behavioral flow, we tend to use that through analytics. So, it’s a good chance to see if people are kind of taking their journey through your website kind of how you predicted, or it would be ideal for you. So, in 2018, let’s say they used to get to the homepage and go to your contact page or fill out a form. And that was ideal. Great. In 2019, now they went to the homepage and they started clicking on blogs and then dropping off. It’s like, Oh, what happened? So, you want to kind of know how people are still utilizing your website as people’s behaviors on websites in general change over time.
Paul Warren: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, it’s really just kind of focused on the behavior flow. You can use some really cool tools out there that aren’t very expensive. Hot Jars is one, and it’ll do screen recordings so you can actually see how actual users are experiencing your website. It will anonymize, like if you have a form so you can’t see their name or the city or state or whatever, if they’re filling this stuff out, but you can see them go through and everywhere they’ve clicked on it, it’ll record the clicks, which is really, really cool. And that’s the major one. Also, if you want to do some AB testing, Google Optimize is a free tool that you can use and run experiments. And you can see just how people are interacting with different goals that you might have set up on your website that you’re tracking through Google Analytics. And because it’s a Google product and ties together with that so you can see all those conversions, it’s pretty cool. So, you know, always be testing this kind of stuff.
Ryan Klein: And I think that in 2020, maybe we’ll see the rise of all this ADA stuff. I’ve had several people a little concerned about it.
Paul Warren: I’m hearing a lot about it. I’m a little concerned as well.
Ryan Klein: So, it might be the year. I want to say ‘might,’ it just kind of seems like it will be. So if you’re concerned about it, you’ve been snipping about it, you’ve been hearing it coming out of the woodwork, it’s been through the grapevine and every other way you can say that it’s reached your ears, it’s something worth looking into because evidently people that can’t see you definitely deserve to have a great user experience on your website. I know I sound funny, but …
Paul Warren: Yeah, I mean, it’s a positive thing, but if they have to enforce it, it’s just going to be a mess. It can be costly.
Ryan Klein: It’s interesting. I mean, I think that people that are aware that ADA, the disabilities kind of arrangement or compliance for digital assets like websites, I think a lot of people in this space have heard about the Domino’s situation where they got sued for not being ADA compliant. I did hear a not-so-popular one about a horror website or automobile sales website. They got sued and then they were like, why would a blind person want a car? So, I guess that was their rebuttal, but that wasn’t good enough. So, it affects all industries, is my point.
Paul Warren: So just be on the lookout for that. If you have a smaller website, you can go ahead and take care of that. I was just doing it. Go ahead and do it.
Ryan Klein: It’s not that simple, though.
Paul Warren: Yeah. I’ve had to do it before at a previous job. It’s actually about 10 years ago I had to do it at a company I worked for and it was in the education industry, so it was just a lot of work to get done. So, it was a very large website. Couple other quick points to you as a site speed audit — and this is something that’s really, really important. It’s only going to become more important, especially your mobile site speed. If you’re having caching issues, there’s a million things that you can get into on how to address that and how to fix it. There’s just a lot, if you can go to an AWS web server, that’ll really speed things up. There’s a lot of solutions — too many to really get into in this podcast.
Ryan Klein: Yeah. If you’ve been listening to us for a bit, we’ve had little tidbits here and there over the past several dozen podcasts about that. So, site speed, that can be something that just naturally slows down over time. If you’re swapping on images, you don’t think about it, you installed new plugin, dead servers, your server gets bogged down before you know it, your website is much lower.
Paul Warren: The number one thing I see that’ll fix a lot of this is CloudFlare. I don’t know if you guys know about that at all but check it out.
Ryan Klein: Are you talking to the audience?
Paul Warren: Yeah.
Ryan Klein: You guys?
Paul Warren: I don’t know if you guys know anything about that, check it out.
Ryan Klein: Yes.
Paul Warren: But anyway, I don’t want to get in two minutes about that because this isn’t really what the podcast is about.
Ryan Klein: Yeah. The whole point of this is just to get very topical, going a little bit into a description, but we’re not delving into anything because this podcast would be four and a half hours long.
Paul Warren: Yeah. All right. And then audit your site for 404 errors. This is just something you should be doing probably every quarter. There are a million things you can use to do that. Screaming Frog will do it for you. You can go all the way back to Xenu, which is this really weird tool that some Scientologists built 15 years ago.
Ryan Klein: Zoologists?
Paul Warren: No, I wish it was a zoologist. It’s still out there. It’s free. It works really well, actually. But it’ll just scan in your website and it’ll tell you what page the 404 errors are happening on. It’s not very user friendly at all, but neither is Screaming Frog. You’re going to have to be able to interpret what you’re seeing afterwards. It’s free. So, keep that in mind. It’s free, so it’s not going to be super user-friendly.
Ryan Klein: Or you can donate though, right?
Paul Warren: Donate? To Xenia?
Ryan Klein: Oh yeah, I forgot about that.
Paul Warren: You can’t donate to Xenia.
Ryan Klein: The Scientology headquarters in Clearwater, right?
Paul Warren: Yeah, and they definitely need the money, I’m sure. But yeah, always be checking for that kind of stuff. Also, your Search Console is going to tell you if you have some 404 errors. So, just always keep an eye on that. That’s part of my monthly mix is to go in there and check to make sure I don’t have a bunch of 404 errors like super shooting up there. Because it’s usually just some sort of weird issue, weird image, weird something that’s image file that’s causing it, or you’ve just got to know about it. You’ve got to take care of it.
Ryan Klein: Right. You can automate it. And is 503, the one where your website’s completely down?
Paul Warren: I think so.
Ryan Klein: All right. I don’t know response codes right now, but that’s another way to automate if a domain is unavailable.
Paul Warren: Your server is unavailable.
Ryan Klein: If you like crawling a budget … yeah.
Paul Warren: That’s a good one.
Ryan Klein: That’s a good one. If you’re trying to get sweet domains, well, that’s for domain. So, okay. Then the last part that we have here for the onsite audit is technical SEO review. And that would just be taking advantage of structured data because a lot of people still really don’t. And if they do, they’re only doing maybe a couple things, maybe location, maybe an article, maybe a blog. But there are a lot of categories. Most people don’t do all of them. They still don’t use FAQ a lot. They still don’t use other local services. I mean, there’s just a lot of categories I guess is what I’m getting at. And then they continue to add categories. So that’s something that definitely happens.
Paul Warren: And it will review?
Ryan Klein: But I would definitely kind of review what structured data is available every quarter, personally.
Paul Warren: Yeah, definitely. All right let’s jump into offsite audits or a backlink review, which is not something I do a lot of, honestly, I’m not going to lie.
Ryan Klein: Okay. Does that mean you’re technically deferring to me then?
Paul Warren: No, I won’t defer to you, but I mean, I used to do it a lot and I was really worried about toxic links back in the day. And it is of my opinion now that unless you get some sort of manual spam penalty from Google — and I haven’t talked to anyone that has had one of those in a really long time — that links those links, they just don’t even provide value, right? They don’t really penalize you anymore. It’s just like there isn’t any value in having them. So, I rarely if ever detox links. It’s been years and years since I’ve tried to get rid of backlinks I’ve had.
Ryan Klein: I think I only do it if I see them and I’m just like, “This looks really nasty. This website is just pure trash. I might as well just do this about it.”
Paul Warren: But a good one to follow is lost and new links, right? So, if you’ve had some really good links in the past, you can use a tool like Ahrefs that’ll tell you all these links that you’ve lost. And you can go back and try to get those links and maybe the blog post went down on whatever website that it had it on, who knows? It can be a million things. Not really a million, but there could be a few things and it’s just good to keep an eye on your quality links that you have. And you can kind of set this by domain authority to “Hey, if it’s under an 18 TA or whatever, don’t even worry about it.” I mean, you might want to worry about it, but I’m just saying you can cut this down because websites generally have tons and tons and tons of backlinks from stuff that you don’t even really think about.
Ryan Klein: Yeah, I think that it’s good to look at what links you lost. So, for example, let’s say you sponsored one who became a gold or platinum sponsor somewhere. You drop some money on it and they put you on the page or for some reason the webmaster took you off, you’re going to be like, “Hey, come on guy or lady, that’s the webmaster.” You know, I paid to be there.
Paul Warren: Yeah. Like what webmaster?
Ryan Klein: Just webmaster, it doesn’t have to have any specification. Yeah. It’s good to know if you’re being removed from places that you proactively work to get your links there. And also, for new links, it’s good to know if you have any content that just crushed, and you happen to get a lot of great links from it. And if it’s from something or a website or business in notoriety, who knows, you can just say it’s featured, and they didn’t notify you.
Paul Warren: You can do more content like that and maybe you get even more links. So, it’s just good to know what people are linking to. There are just good things to keep in mind there. And then looking at the trends, and then analyzing your follow links, analyzing your whole backlink profile, what it looks like. Does it look natural? Can you throw some more exact keyword matching links to certain pages and not throw off the algorithm or anything like that? It’s just having a good idea of how many actual optimized anchor text keywords you have pointing to your website out there.
Ryan Klein: Citation directory review. It’s somewhat similar to the backlink, as in you want to analyze and review all the directories you’re featured in and all the citations that you currently have go into your business and your website. So, some sort of in-depth citation analysis, which Paul, I know that you enjoy doing that as a local expert analysis. You can definitely take the reins on this one, buddy. Walk us through it.
Paul Warren: Oh man. It’s still pretty important to make sure that you have accurate name, address and phone number information out there. It’s easy to find out if it’s not correct. You can use all kinds of tools that’ll tell you if there’s duplicates or it’s the wrong information or you can just search the address and see what phone numbers come up for the search, and see what address has come up before or what names or websites they’re on. But just wherever I always start, if I have really bad local rankings for a location, I start with the citations and seeing how accurate that information is out there.
Paul Warren: And then I either fix them or I add more. I look at competitors, if they have better local ones than I have ones that aren’t accessible through an API, through a tool, like a Yext or whatever. Those are, in my opinion, more valuable because I feel like everyone has the extra ones at this point because it’s such an automated system. So, finding those little gems out there that aren’t in that from your competitors, it’s just a part of the process when I take over for a local website or I’m building a new one that has a GMB listing.
Ryan Klein: Cool. Did you cover the whole entire thing right there?
Paul Warren: Oh no. I couldn’t pull that there.
Ryan Klein: There are eight bullet points and then I see GMB and then S on the top side. if you went through the whole entire thing all at once.
Paul Warren: No, we didn’t talk about reviews and social validation reporting.
Ryan Klein: Yeah. It’s good to see pretty much just how your brand is featured and perceived online. So, doing some sort of online reputation management report, I’m sure you can do some sort of basic free one or you can maybe go on fiber and then someone can throw one together for you pretty cheap. But it’s good to see that you’re coming up, every place you potentially have reviews, every single place that you have a social profile.
Ryan Klein: Sometimes it’s good to be able to analyze what kind of profiles you had made on your behalf without your consent, which happens all the time, and see which ones may be important to fill out. Because sometimes people doing research on businesses will find a profile of you randomly somewhere and it’ll say nothing about you and that’ll just kind of leave a weird impression. So, it’s just good to know what’s being said about you, what’s being created for you and if it matters, like at all, just being bracketed. It’s like owning it and completing anything to give the best representation of your business besides your website.
Paul Warren: Yeah. And then maybe even respond to it. Maybe it’s bad, you can get to remove them if you respond to it, maybe your competitor left something bad for you out there. Just protect your brand, that’s important.
Ryan Klein: Protect your brand.
Paul Warren: Protect your brand.
Ryan Klein: 2020 is the year of protecting your brand, the brand.
Paul Warren: Making sure you’re utilizing everything that you can in GMB is also important. I read some pretty good studies the other day about the number of images that you have and the actual interactions that your GMB listing has of you. Or regularly posting images, not just the posts but actually usually your stored stuff, you’re going to get more interactions, you’re going to get better rankings from it. And the more that you actually post and use Google posts, the more interactions you’re going to have with your Google My Business listing as well.
Paul Warren: So, take advantage of those things. If you have under a certain amount of locations, you can automate this process really, really easily with some tools out there so you’re not having to log into GMB and post every day. You can really schedule that way in advance. If you have a ton of locations, you’ve got to find some more creative solutions. But definitely take advantage if you can.
Ryan Klein: It’s good to hear that Google My Business has more integrations. No one wants to log in there. Just like Google Plus, remember that that was a thing of the past.
Paul Warren: Yeah.
Ryan Klein: Go to the museum.
Paul Warren: Google Plus, the great wasteland.
Ryan Klein: Yes.
Paul Warren: It’s gone now, right? Yeah. Google, it’s gone.
Ryan Klein: It is gone, yeah. So, Google My Business, if you haven’t been in there in a while, you needed to be in there six months ago because Google is making a lot of updates there. And Google My Business with local maps, that is not going anywhere. If anything, it’s going to be monetized like we’ve discussed more than it already is and featured more prominently. So that’s something you can’t wait on. That’s something that you have to hop on right now.
Ryan Klein: And I would revisit that one. I mean, I would see the new features and what’s going on with it monthly for that and then I’d make sure we’re going to post it.
Paul Warren: We’ll definitely revisit that one on the podcast for sure.
Ryan Klein: Cool. So, Paul, we made it all the way to a section that someone somewhat appropriately called the competitive matrix.
Paul Warren: Like a SWOT analysis?
Ryan Klein: No, I mean, this I think is possibly not technically a part of an audit because it really doesn’t have nearly as much to do with you, but it can kind of inspire you to have some action items and have some further goals and things that you want to accomplish.
Paul Warren: I mean, I think that that should be, if you were to go and get an audit from an agency, it would include a competitor analysis in it. Right?
Ryan Klein: Yeah, I guess technically since this section is the offsite audit, then I think that’s fair. So yes.
Paul Warren: Yeah. So, you always want to be checking out what your competitors are doing. Maybe they’re doing something better than you that you can copy. Maybe they got some links that you don’t have. Maybe they got some services that you want to offer. Who knows? This is a ton of stuff, right? And you also just want to know who’s coming up so you can knock them down.
Ryan Klein: Yeah. I mean, it doesn’t hurt to just see what your competition is up to, see if they’re just owning you and their reviews up. All of a sudden, they have promotions that are undercutting you like crazy if they have a service that you’ve been thinking about doing, but now they’re being new to it. I mean, there’s plenty of reasons to be aware. Definitely in the beginning you’re moving toward what your competition is up to you. And using research tools and just simply go into the website, navigating around and seeing what they’re up to. I think it’s all helpful information, but the fire under your ass really, you need that in the beginning of the year before you move far from making more resolutions.
Paul Warren: Take advantage of that inspiration that you have when you have it.
Ryan Klein: Yeah, I mean, I think that if you want to get back to your grain alcohol after a few weeks and you want to keep eating your chicken tender Pub subs after a month, go for it. But one thing never stopped driving to be your competition. That’s the one that you have to see through.
Paul Warren: Yeah. And in fact, just try and crush them. Hopefully they go out of business. Yeah. You’re ruthless.
Ryan Klein: Yeah. And then their kids go out of business.
Paul Warren: When I drive by that competitor, I want to see a For Rent sign in their window.
Ryan Klein: Being such an impressive marketing agency, we not only drive your business, but we’re so good that we put your competition out of business and their kids out of business and their kids out of business, and they have to relinquish their last names and they don’t even exist as society anymore.
Paul Warren: They’re going to be living on the street.
Ryan Klein: Brutal.
Paul Warren: Do it.
Ryan Klein: Well, what’s next — content analysis?
Paul Warren: Yeah, we did that.
Ryan Klein: We’ve got a few more. Well, this one’s saying a little bit more, I think this is content analysis in regard to the competitors. So, you want to see what areas they’re in. You want to see, or I guess perceive it. You can use tools to see what their top performing content is and then you can see what kind of call to actions imagery they use, and you can see what kind of awards, accolades and recognitions they’ve received. And then you go after it and you do it better. Simple as that.
Paul Warren: Just do it better.
Ryan Klein: And then you do last, but certainly not least — and I don’t like using that phrase, but it really isn’t last and not least — are the backlink analysis. Looking at the links of competition is always just really eye-opening stuff.
Paul Warren: Yeah, I should really always be doing that.
Ryan Klein: You can see where they’re getting sponsorships. You can see what kind of events they participate in. You can see where they syndicate, and they contribute in sponsored content. You can see what PBMs they subscribed to. You can see what kind of overseas link builders they use. It’s everything. It’s awesome. Backlink analysis on competition is a must. That’s a must in onboarding. It’s a must for starting a marketing campaign. And it’s a must when doing periodic audits. You should always analyze competition’s links.
Paul Warren: Definitely. Well, I think that just about covers all of the areas for an audit.
Ryan Klein: I can’t scroll down anymore. I’m sick of talking, too.
Paul Warren: We’ll link to this article in our podcast description and if you really have any questions about how to do any of these things, you can Google it. There’s a lot of information on how to do it, but don’t ask us, just Google it, but feel free to hit us up with any questions that you might have. We’ll try to help you out. We respond pretty quickly. You can always contact us at s[email protected] We also have a Facebook page, just search our name on Facebook and YouTube channel. So, if you want to leave one in the comments, we usually respond pretty quickly. I think we have a Twitter that I never checked. So, don’t even worry about that one, guys, or just leave a comment on the actual podbean podcast, which is what we use to send our podcast out there in the universe.
Paul Warren: But we’re pretty quick to respond. We love having you guys on. Actually, we’re going to have some good guests coming on next week that we met, because they reached out to us. So, we’re pretty excited about that.
Ryan Klein: We finally got those Google engineers from MIT.
Paul Warren: Finally, they’re on here. So hopefully you guys will find this helpful and please hit us up. We’re happy to answer your questions.
Ryan Klein: Yeah. And a couple of last things, too. I think that we’re going to take it to the next level. We’re getting back on track. It’s 2020. We’re going to hit 10,000 downloads because we measure this podcast in milestones, of course. And hey, for me personally in the Seattle area, I’d always be down to do some philanthropy, some speaking, some engaging things in the community. That’s just me. I don’t know about you, Paul. You like talking about this stuff?
Paul Warren: Yeah, that’s why I have a podcast.
Ryan Klein: You’re like, where’s this going?
Paul Warren: No one pitches his services for speaking.
Ryan Klein: No, it means I’m not going to benefit from it, but if you want to, you can hire me to do guitar lessons that will cost money.
Paul Warren: Okay. He’s pretty good with guitars, so I’ll give him that. Yeah. So, feel free to hit us up. Check Ryan out on LinkedIn. If you ever want to have him speak or you just want to learn more about SEO, have him come to your corporate office and give a presentation on it. We’ll do it.
Ryan Klein: That sounds like something I’d be charging for, if it’s a corporate office.
Paul Warren: He’ll do it for free. That’s what I’m saying.
Ryan Klein: Yeah, I’ll do whatever. We love his stuff. You can tell by their enthusiasm or passion talking about it. And we want to get the hell off this podcast right now. Okay.
Paul Warren: Anyways, well, thank you guys so much for listening. I’m Paul Warren.
Ryan Klein: And I’m Ryan Klein.
Paul Warren: And this has been another episode of SEO is Dead and Other Lies. Bye.
Ryan Klein: Bye-bye.