There is no “one-size-fits-all.”
Wow, that sucked. How do you do it, Dr. Seuss?
The point I’m trying to convey is that site audits can come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes. Granted, there are many common themes that SEO companies touch on when analyzing a site, but no two audits should ever be identical. The way an SEO firm approaches a particular site’s audit should be unique to its industry, type of site, and the core purpose of its pages.
Not only that, but audits should also vary depending upon the age of the website and how recent its last check-up was. This is because audits (ideally) should be performed at different points in the life cycle of a website. If your company is building a site from scratch, it is critical that you analyze the development every step of the way. If, however, you are simply monitoring the progress of your existing website, you should expect a whole different kind of audit.
A templated site audit doesn’t work for everything. Sure, templates can be useful tools to reference – and that’s why we rely on our checklist. But a good SEO firm does not refer to the same document, merely switching out the client name and data results for each new report. They custom make SEO audits for each client depending on their needs.
Most businesses understand that it is wise to get an SEO audit when building a brand spankin’ new site or when you are simply looking for better rankings. However, there are plenty of other situations that should trigger another look at the SEO side of your website:
1. Google changes its algorithm.
One of those great and challenging things about SEO is that it really is constantly changing. We aren’t afraid to admit that we are consistently playing catch up with Google. (We’ll be sure to let you know when we get there.)
As most of you know, the Penguin update just rolled out, which comes with new rules and subsequent penalties. And even if someone audited your site a month ago, it may need another once-over. Again, this doesn’t have to be a lengthy, in-depth report. It can be a reactionary, event-specific report that examines the areas where Penguin (or any other algo change) hits hardest.
2. Your company goals have changed.
Let’s say that a company decides to emphasize communication and interaction with its customers. This brand exceeds at making quality products, but struggles to open up a discussion. It could be that it already has a small blog, but it is hidden somewhere deep within the site and likely hasn’t been updated since 2009 or so.
Even if the rest website is completely optimized for search engines, the domain isn’t conducive to the company’s new needs. One of the goals of the site audit in this case is to figure out how to better promote the blog and renew the brand’s image. Not only does this involve moving pages around on the site, but also implementing keyword, competitive, and link-building strategies to go along with it.
3. You changed the visual design of your site
Yes, even aesthetic updates can significantly influence search engine rankings. While many web designers can put together some fantastic-looking websites, they can sometimes over-look the little stuff, especially when it comes to SEO.
Alt tags, frames, images – you name it – can be harmful to your rankings if not put together in a search-engine friendly way. Keep in mind that search engines don’t view sites the same way that humans do. For example, at first glance, a recent client’s global navigation bar looked fine. But when looking deeper, we discovered that it was completely hidden within images. Therefore, all of those links and directions for navigating the site were invisible to search engines – and that prevents the spiders from understanding a website’s page hierarchy.
4. You are changing URL structures.
If you are shifting your root domain from www.BestExampleEver.com to www.EvenBetterExample.com, there are obviously going to be redirects, Meta robots, sitemap changes and all that fun stuff involved. While there may be a flood of ways to go about doing this, it can be tricky to make sure that you do it in a way that transfers all of your link juice and doesn’t damage your rankings. To make sure that there are no errors and to monitor site performance, you might need to scrub your website down a bit with an audit. We know, that word sounds painful – but it doesn’t hurt as much as untapped potential.
SEO, like the needs of our clients, is perpetually changing. We like that. It keeps us on our toes and forces us to earn our relevancy. We’re even in the process of performing an SEO Audit on our own .com, which has been a humbling and exciting revelation. Stay tuned for more information, and in the meantime: have a look at our SEO audit checklist, which serves as the baseline for each unique SEO audit.
And finally, take comfort in the fact that we’re going to leave the rhyming to Dr. Seuss.