Best Practices for 2017 SEO Audits [PODCAST] by @rinadianewrites

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SEO audits are the cornerstone of every SEO specialist’s work with clients. So how should SEOs go about conducting audits and what important steps should be kept in mind? We’ve got answers for you in this episode of Search Engine Nerds.

Anna Crowe, Search Engine Journal’s Product Strategist and Marketing Manager at Firesnap, joins SEJ Executive Editor Kelsey Jones to discuss best practices in SEO audits. Anna and Kelsey also talk about how long it takes to see results, whether or not to include social media, and real examples of how audits have made a difference in a website’s visibility.

Vector Icon Style Illustration of Seo Audit and Website Conversion Rate Improvement Process

How often do you think SEO audits should be done?

Anna: Audits differentiate between clients. But typically, if I get a new client, I like to do a full SEO audit from the technical side to the link building side and to the content side right whenever I get them. Then I like to schedule them quarterly, so hopefully, four times a year.

If we have a really big campaign or any cool inbound marketing strategies we’re working on, I’ll do an audit right after that just to see if there’s any weird changes or any different influences, especially if we did any website restructuring. I know I had a client that had millions of pages, and we restructured a lot of those pages. We did an audit right after that and found some errors we wouldn’t have noticed if we didn’t implement an audit right after.

Kelsey: It’s a good point to do one every time there’s a change because I think sometimes a developer will make a change and not think it makes that big of a difference, and it really does.

On average, how long does it take you to complete an audit?

Anna: It depends again on the client’s site. I work with a lot of small businesses, so a lot of their websites are between a hundred to 300 pages, so they’re smaller and I can typically pump those out within one to two months. Because they are a smaller business, I like to keep the budget cost low. But then, I have bigger clients that come to me with millions of pages and they want something super technical, and that can take anywhere from six months to a year depending on the different sections of their site, how quick the developer’s turnaround time is, and all those different factors that you don’t really have control over. But you always try to do whatever you can with what you’re given.

Kelsey: I think there definitely needs to be a good line of communication and also making sure clients understand how important some of these changes are that you need to be making.

Anna: Exactly. It’s an education process. Education is so important for clients at the beginning because SEO is something that changes all the time. Something that was cool last year is not necessarily so cool this year, so definitely keep that education process going. I know I like to try and email my clients once a month with some new things that have happened and things that we might want to change to their website based on the new things happening in SEO.

Do the things you look at and audit change by industry or company goals, or do you have a standard of best practices you look at and keep relatively the same?

Cartoon businessman hands with magnifier analysis paper sheet, calculator, pen. auditing tax, financial market analysis, seo, financial report. vector illustration in flat design

Anna: I do have my own personal checklist I go through for every single client. There are obviously different things to look at, so it is based per website, and then company goals will help me prioritize what needs to get done within an audit first. If they have a really big editorial team, maybe the content is a little bit more important than some of the structural changes to the website.

Kelsey: That’s a really good point, prioritizing based on what’s most important to the client.

Anna: Right. It shows you’re actually listening to them and you care about their business. You want them to succeed based on their business goals and you can be part of their team, too.

What other things do you look at when it comes to the online presence?

Anna: Whenever I’m done with the technical side and the content side of things, I’ll usually move to social media just because it’s an easier transition and easier for the client to grasp. A lot of times, they already have someone working on their social media strategy, so I’ll just partner up with them, have them walk me through what they’re currently doing, and see if there are any small tweaks we can change — whether it’s their Facebook description or actually uploading files with a keyword name into the images on Facebook. Small little things like that can make a difference and connect the dots between social media and SEO.

Kelsey: I think they all work together so it’s always good to keep an eye on it because you are involved in the company’s online presence. So just being aware of what else they’re doing, whether it’s social media or PPC, I would say it’s always a good idea.

How long does it take to see results after fixing some of the major issues?

Anna: Depending on what the issue is, for me, it’s usually four to 12 months. Honestly, it just depends on what we’re working on. Like my link building campaigns for fixing internal link structures or 301 redirects, we usually don’t see any movement until about six months. If I don’t see any movement in the six-month timeframe, I go back and check my processes, make sure I didn’t miss anything. But I really have clients that don’t see any traffic movement until that year mark.

Then, you have those random things that happen. It happened to me two summers ago where we made one change and saw a drastic impact in one month. I think it also depends on what Google is focusing on at that time. Four to 12 months is usually my range, which clients hate hearing that, but it’s the truth.

Kelsey: Yeah. Maile Ohye, who recently left Google, did a video this year about hiring SEOs, and she said that you should expect to not see changes until four to 12 months:

Should audits always be done externally? Even if a company has a search marketer on their team, should they work with someone else to do an audit just because they’re too close to it, or does it matter?

Anna: I’ve luckily been in both positions. I’ve been working in-house as an SEO person and obviously externally, too. When I was in-house, we actually worked with an amazing search agency and they were super helpful. Even though I had extensive knowledge of SEO, I really appreciated having an external resource that wasn’t necessarily biased about the company goals or internal plans and could really look at it from a strictly SEO perspective. That leads into what I’m doing now, and I think my clients appreciate that because they can often get sidetracked by bigger brand goals that aren’t necessarily SEO goals.

Kelsey: Yeah, good point. It probably just depends on the company, and how they’re structured, and what they need.

Do you have any parting words of advice or things you think people should keep in mind no matter who they’re doing the audit for?

Anna: I would always be testing. This industry changes so much that unless you start experimenting with things and with different websites, you’ll never know what’s going to work. What works for one client might not work for another and vice versa, so always be testing, always be checking, and keep up with the trends, and keep your mind fresh.

To listen to this Search Engine Nerds Podcast with Anna Crowe:

Think you have what it takes to be a Search Engine Nerd? If so, message Kelsey Jones on Twitter, or email her at kelsey [at] searchenginejournal.com.

Visit our Search Engine Nerds archive to listen to other Search Engine Nerds podcasts!

Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita
In-post Image #1: Bub0Bub0/DepositPhotos
In-post Image #2: drogatnev/DepositPhotos

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