Before the audit begins, you have action items and next steps to complete.
- CMS access.
- Google Search Console Restricted user permissions.
- Questionnaire for any historical information that may assist in our analysis.
- The final discussion about expectations, timelines, milestones, and project deadlines.
After this is out of the way, we begin the SEO auditing work.
When it comes to SEO auditing, we’ve got a system so specialized, it’s practically got its own DNA.
Decades in the field have sharpened our focus to know the nuances of URL structures, status codes, and internal redirects like the back of our hand. With us, you’ll find actionable opportunities that can dramatically improve your search rankings
- Tailored Deep-Dive
Forget cookie-cutter models. We dive deep to understand your unique industry quirks and needs. We’re not just looking at your website; we’re deciphering your business DNA for unparalleled insights.
- Gap Bridging and Benchmarking
Why settle for second place? Using advanced keyword research and competitive gap analysis, we examine why you’re not outranking your competitors and what you can do to get there.
- Elite Analysis
Our audits are exhaustive and leave no stone unturned. From analyzing multiple hop redirect chains to identifying 5xx, 4xx, and 3xx status codes, we surface the SEO opportunities that will genuinely shift the needle for you.
- Tactical Roadmap
The audit is just the beginning. We provide a data-driven SEO Roadmap that specifies your next six months of SEO activities. These aren’t random tasks but targeted actions grounded in metrics that matter to your bottom line.
- Strategic Debrief
This is where we sync up for an exhaustive rundown. We’ll make sure you’re clear on every audit insight, discuss high-value SEO tactics, and align your team with the steps on your SEO Roadmap.
Your Metrics Tell a Story: Here’s How to Read It
First thing’s first. You’ve got to start with your metrics, specifically Google Search Console data. I’m checking out the impressions and clicks over the past 16 months. Yeah, you heard that right—16 months. It’s a long enough period to show us the trends, shifts, and oddities that shorter time frames might gloss over.
What Those Numbers Really Say
You know what’s worse than having no data? Misreading the data you do have. So, before we go any further, let’s set the record straight on what “impressions” and “clicks” are actually telling us. Impressions show how many eyes glance over your site in search results, but it’s the clicks that show whether your site actually drew them in. Both of these numbers together give us an “impression to click” ratio—a snapshot of how well your site is doing at grabbing attention and encouraging action.
By the end, you’ll know every skeleton in your website’s closet and how to kick them out.
Why 16 Months? Here’s the Deal
Now, some might ask, “Why 16 months?” Let me tell you, this isn’t arbitrary. GSC saves up to 16 months of data for things like clicks, impressions, CTR, and position. Looking at this length of data gives me a window into patterns you can’t see with just a month or two. I can tell if your website’s performance graph looks like a roller coaster, a flatline, or a steady climb. It’s like a storyteller spilling the plot, and each version I see has its own narrative.
First Off, Impressions
First up is the impressions data, specifically that purple line graph. If it’s showing peaks and valleys or just ripples, that’s page one of your website’s story. Then comes the blue click line—right after the impression line.
The Clicks, A Close Second
If the blue click line and the purple impression line aren’t tight-knit twins, you’ve got an issue—probably with URL structure, canonicals, and content tagging.
Down to the Nitty-Gritty: Errors and Issues
- Server Errors (5xx): These can really mess up your user experience.
- Not Found (404): This tells me about broken links and lost opportunities.
- Soft 404s: These are misleading and can impact your SEO.
- Blocked Due to Other 4xx Issues: This might be due to incorrect blocking in the robots file.
- Duplicate, Google Chose Different Canonical Than User: Google’s playing the boss here, and it’s not good.
- Duplicate Without User-Selected Canonical: Yet another red flag.
- Discovered, Currently Not Indexed: This says Google knows you but isn’t showing you off.
- Crawled, Currently Not Indexed: Google crawled but didn’t index? This needs investigation.
Each of these checks brings its own set of clues and contributes to the unfolding story of your website’s performance.
The Details are in the Crawls: Screaming Frog & Siteliner
PUBLICLY AVAILABLE automated tools are like general practitioners, but for a specialized diagnosis, you’ll need a specialist’s tools. In our case, these are custom developed tools for specific niche tasks. From status code reviews to duplicate content identification, let’s discuss why these tools are indispensable in our SEO audit toolkit.
Now, here’s where we separate the pros from the amateurs. The tools: custom developed SEO audit tools, Screaming Frog, and Siteliner. These aren’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill SEO tools. These are like the surgeon’s scalpel and forceps. Screaming Frog helps us take a full crawl of your site.
What’s a “full crawl”?
Imagine taking apart a clock to look at every gear, spring, and cog—that’s what’ we’re doing’s happening, but for your website.
- Screaming Frog Crawl Sorted by Status Code: You don’t go to a general doc for a heart issue; you see a specialist. Screaming Frog is your specialist for website health. Sorting by status code, from high to low, clues us into what needs immediate attention.
- All Inlinks to Error Pages: Inlinks to pages with 5xx, 4xx, 3xx status codes are red flags you can’t ignore. They’re like a bad Yelp review for a restaurant—you have to get to the bottom of it.
- Website Redirection Export File: Whether it’s JSON or CSV, exporting your redirects is a must. It’s like a treasure map but for pitfalls. You know exactly where your traffic is being rerouted and can catch any missteps.
- Inbound Backlinks History: Reviewing pages with a history of inbound backlinks is crucial for understanding lost opportunities. These could be 5xx or 4xx errors or pages that go through redirect chains, resulting in the loss of valuable link equity.
- 250 Page Sample Siteliner Crawl: Siteliner is where you get into the nitty-gritty of duplicate content. A 250-page sample crawl can expose where you’re repetitively messing up, almost like a lie detector test but for your website.
Getting into the Weeds with Redirect Chains
Let me tell you, I’ve been using this custom config in Screaming Frog since 2017. I don’t just identify the status codes; my goal is to go for the redirect chains, and let me spell it out for you: a redirect chain is a series of hops your URL takes from Point A to Point B to Point C, and so on. You might think it’s not a big deal, but each hop is like a leak in a bucket, draining away valuable link equity from your site.
For the savvy, here’s a breakdown of setting it up in Screaming Frog:
- Configuration > Spider > Advanced: Check ‘Always Follow Redirects’.
- Max Redirects: Stick with 5, which is the default.
- Configuration > Spider > Crawl > Crawl Behavior: Tick ‘Crawl Outside of Start Folder’.
Run the crawl, and then get your hands on that hop report: Reports > Redirects > Redirect Chains.
Trust me, this one simple setting can accelerate your site structure analysis. You’ve got to know where you’re losing link equity in the chain to fix it. Without this info, you’re basically flying blind.
The Data-Driven 4-Step Structure to Fixing Your Site
You’ve heard of the usual SEO audits, but what about a 4-step structure process? This unique approach ensures that not a single issue flies under the radar. I’ll unveil each of these basic four steps and how they contribute to a more wholesome SEO strategy.
The 4-step structure outlined ensures a detailed, data-driven look at crucial factors that often get overlooked.
The Four-Step Breakdown:
- Status Code Pages with Inlinks: The first step zeroes in on pages with status codes other than 200 but have inlinks. I am not just looking for errors; I’m looking for errors that matter because they’re actually hindering organic traffic.
- Redirect Issues: This step aims to clean up your act when it comes to redirects. That means cutting out 404s and solving chains that may be draining link equity. I’m essentially cleaning up the maze that search engines and users have to navigate.
- Inbound Backlink Status: It’s not just about knowing you have backlinks, but knowing the quality of the pages they’re linked to. I check the status codes of all pages with inbound backlinks to catch any 5xx, 4xx, or 3xx issues, redirect chains, or excessive hops.
- Google Search Console Tasks: Last but not least, I use GSC as a catch-all to review various metrics. I’m not leaving any stone unturned with Google’s own data on how it views your site.
Each step is like a project in itself, layered with multiple tasks and sub-tasks. This isn’t a cursory glance; it’s a deep, systematic examination to unearth hidden structure and technical SEO issues that could be affecting your site’s performance.
Real Case Studies: What Was Fixed and How It Happened
Numbers don’t lie. In this section, I’ll walk you through some real-world case studies from hundreds of audits to show you how effective this approach can be.
- Skyrocketing Impressions for E-commerce:
- Issue: The client had 50+ pieces of content recently published in a matter of 3 months, but a tangled web of internal links and a disorganized blog category and tagging structure tanked the site.
- Fix: I revised the URL structure, internal linking, and reorganized the blog archives.
- Outcome: The site experienced a 60% boost in impressions in just 10 days.
- What This Means for You: If you’re sitting on a content goldmine but not seeing results, your issue might lie in your technical SEO. I can find these issues and fix them, as was the case here.
- Digital Fixes, Medspa Wins:
- Issue: Misconfigured Google Business Profile links and improper handling of citations.
- Fix: Optimized the GBP links and revised the citation strategy.
- Outcome: Clicks doubled in just a week.
- What This Means for You: If you’re a local business struggling with citations and local SEO, I can diagnose and solve your problems to increase visibility and clicks.
- Surge in Appointments for Sports Medicine:
- Issue: An ineffective robots.txt file was hampering site performance.
- Fix: Adjusted the disallow directives in robots.txt.
- Outcome: 20% increase in clicks, leading to a fully booked summer.
- What This Means for You: Even minor technical issues can cause major setbacks. I focus on every small detail to make sure you get the results you deserve.
- Don’t Get Ripped Off by Your SEO Agency:
- Issue: The business owner lost $30k over two years due to poor SEO strategies by a previous agency.
- Fix: Conducted a comprehensive site audit and corrected Google Search Console indexing issues, among others.
- Outcome: 200% increase in impressions in just 60 days.
- What This Means for You: If you’re not seeing results, it might not be your business—it could very well be your SEO agency. I can provide a thorough audit to get you on the right track.
So, you’re probably thinking, “This is great but what’s the strategy?”