After reviews of progress in 2017, many companies are finding that one of their issues was their traffic suddenly, or slowly dropped this year and it cost them business. We are getting a lot of requests for an audit to see what went wrong. Wanted to give a quick overview of what an audit can help you with, in case that is what you need.
There are a number of important pieces of the puzzle including both Google algorithm history and the history and adjustments made on the website or the way the website interacts with Google. Many companies use audits to point out flaws that may not be overly important and scare you into a sale, but a good audit can prove tremendously valuable at helping you address legitimate and important issues and move you forward.
Basic Internal Audit
Though we perform basic audits for any prospect that comes to us interested in improving their SEO performance, a basic audit typically only covers the current situation with your site. As I mentioned above, most sites are not following all best practices exactly, even with an SEO working on them. However, understanding what is crucial and important vs. what is more trivial is a big part of the importance of the audit.
An Internal audit will dig into the current site situation and scan for meta-tag use, code structures, internal duplicate content, content length, and speed issues, among other things. We use multiple tools to help gather this information, even for the basic prospect audit, because it is important to gather all of the important information, even if it is at a high level. Often high-level issues point to the more detailed site issues that you end up digging into.
Though your current site condition can tell you a lot about how your site stands in a vacuum and whether it follows best practices, it doesn’t necessarily address your site strength compared to others in your market at the time.
Your competitors are often moving forward too, so any audit is just a snapshot, but since every search terms’ competitive landscape is different, it is important to understand who else is ranking and how they compare to you. If it is clear your link strength is nowhere close to the competitors or that your site speed needs significant work, it may help you decide what your planning will involve to get there, or to attack a different set of keywords. We take a look at the competitive landscape now and where your URL or site stands as compared to the others with which you are competing.
Lastly, and often most importantly for the complicated issues, we look at what has happened over time and try to pinpoint the time your issues occurred and how that matches up to Google algorithm changes, site development work, site indexing changes, or just content changes from your content team. More often than not, the more complicated issues are something that was done during a site redesign, or in the case of many of the content based updates in 2017, pages that used to rank, suddenly stopped after the Google algorithm made Google more picky about content length or freshness.Sometimes Google just figured out that your content is not original and it doesn’t necessarily combine with one of the big name updates, but time analysis is often very important to figure out what went wrong. I would say in more than half of my audits, the issue arose from something the web developer did with an update or change, that they didn’t realize would wreak havoc on the SEO world. We find it and fix it.
The best thing to do is just find out what is going on so you can address it. Some fixes are a click or two away, while others can cause a fundamental shift in your marketing strategy, but continuing on and blindly throwing money at a problem when you don’t know what is causing it is sure to fail. Give us a call.