As an SEO consultant, it is your responsibility to grow your client’s website rankings for their targeted keywords on Google. To accomplish this however, you will need to know where your client stands today in terms of the various ranking factors and where they should ideally be seen.
This process is known as SEO auditing and is generally the first thing a consultant does before they begin the optimization process.
The SEO auditing process is broadly classified into two—onsite and offsite. They refer to the two major components of SEO—factors within your website that impact rankings and those factors outside your site that can influence where you rank for your target keywords.
Onsite SEO Auditing
Auditing your client’s website for onsite ranking factors is quite straight-forward. You assess each of the webpages for the presence of well-defined headers, schema markups, URL structure, mobile responsiveness and metadata.
In addition to all this, content quality plays a significant role—it is worth benchmarking your client’s webpage against the top ranking webpages for each of your target keywords and comparing the pages on metrics such as word length, number of headers, readability (using Flesch-Kincaid scores) and so on.
One of the most vital aspects of onsite auditing process is identifying the right keywords. Quite often, clients target the wrong keyword for their website which would deliver them sub-par traffic even if the site has been optimized otherwise.
A free keyword research tool can provide consultants with all the information they need regarding search volumes and competition. Using this information, consultants can assess the client’s keyword strategy and recommend changes.
If your client is an established organization with several thousands of internal pages, then auditing each of these pages for onsite factors can be a long-drawn and futile process. In such instances, you could do one of the following:
Common factors: If your client is a listing directory or an eCommerce site, then a lot of onsite factors like headers, URL structures and schema markups could be set universally. In other words, assessing these factors on a handful of page is often sufficient to audit the entire website.
Top pages: Media organizations or blogs may have thousands of pages that are not often bound by common factors. In such cases, it is a good idea to pick the top 100 pages in terms of either current traffic levels or based on target keywords.
Auditing these hundred pages for onsite factors should provide a consultant with enough actionable points to set the SEO execution into motion. You may always come back to pick additional pages at a later stage once the execution is complete on these top pages.
Offsite SEO Auditing
Assessing the backlink profile of your client is one of the primary tasks in offsite SEO auditing. There are three things to look at while auditing your client’s backlink profile.
- What percentage of backlinks were obtained naturally (without any outreach from the client’s side)?
- What percentage of backlinks were paid for?
- What is the distribution of anchor texts for each of your top pages?
Google insists on keeping your backlink profile natural and not to pay for links. Auditing the site for paid links (asking your client could be easier) could give you an idea of the risks that lay ahead. Backlinks that are sourced from shady websites or are conspicuously unnatural need to be disavowed.
Webpages that have an overwhelming number of backlinks with money anchors (anchor text that is focused on the target keyword) carry a higher risk of being identified as a paid link. In such cases, there is a higher chance of your client’s site incurring a Google penalty. Auditing the backlinks thus provide you with all the information regarding the risks that the website carries.
In addition to this, your SEO auditing must also include a content-keyword mapping process. For this, a consultant must look at each of the targeted keywords obtained during the onsite auditing process and map it with the content page that they want to rank for. Once this map is complete, audit the backlink profile for each of these content pages to identify the gaps in the offsite profile.
The objective of an audit process is to identify the opportunities that exist for your client’s website, as well as create a roadmap for your execution. The strategies provided in this article will help you understand where your client lies vis-a-vis competition and provides you with a clear to-do list of how to execute your SEO campaign.