Why You Should Conduct Regular SEO Audits

shutterstock_565063069.jpgAs the lead SEO strategist at New Breed, I’ve noticed that most clients have at least an idea of what shape their website’s SEO is in. Besides that, they also know where they rank for certain keywords. But the rankings are often different than what the client expects — mostly because of the failure to use an incognito browser session to search. (If you search in your regular browser for a site you’ve been to before, it’s likely going to rank near the top of the results page.)

When I learn that some of the client’s thoughts about their SEO success are misguided, I suggest an audit. Before we can make any improvements, we need to understand the baseline. If you haven’t had an SEO audit completed on your site recently — or ever — I highly recommend it.

An SEO audit is an inspection of the visibility and potential of your website’s search engine performance. It provides you with a few different things:

  1. An overview of your current search engine performance detailing your strengths, weaknesses and competitive gaps
  2. Recommendations on how to move forward to capitalize on your strengths, work towards updating your weaknesses and closing the gap on your competitors
  3. A to-do list of next steps for 30, 60 and 90 days that will help you build upon your strengths, weaknesses and competitive gaps

Now that you understand the importance of an SEO audit, let’s dig into the aspects for why you should regularly complete one.

Why

There are a few primary reasons you should complete an SEO audit. Most important (as it so often is) is that you want to maintain a positive user experience for your site visitors. You want them interacting with your site in a way that convinces them your company is a person they should invest time and money into; clicking on a broken link won’t give them that confidence.

The user behavior metrics associated with your site also have an impact on your search results. The longer your visitors stay on your site, and the more often they navigate to more than one page, and the longer they stay, the more likely you are to rank against your competitors on search engines.

There are hundreds of reasons why you should complete an SEO audit, but it really boils down to maintaining a error-free, search-friendly site for your visitors.

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When

How often should you complete an SEO audit? The answer depends on a few things. I recommend doing it twice a year, but if you don’t have the capacity to complete that, then once a year is a good option. If you have a team that manages your SEO, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to complete an audit every quarter. That will help drive your team’s action items for the next quarter, as well.

It is also important to complete an SEO audit before a new major project such as a rebranding, new product/service offering, website redesign or launch, etc. If you’re expecting a large number of new visitors coming to your site, then make sure it can handle these new interactions.

Where

To determine where you should find information for your audit depends on the level of SEO competency available on your team. If you have a full team, you’ll most likely have an SEO software (such as Moz, SemRush or Ahref) to help you crawl your website and find these errors. If not, you can use a variety of free tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Screaming Frog. You can accomplish a lot with just those three tools, but if you are making SEO a priority for your marketing team, I would recommend looking into some basic software to help you maintain your keyword positions and understand the health of your site.

Who

You should, of course, complete an audit on your own site, but it wouldn’t hurt to look into your competitors’ sites, too. Obviously you can’t get access to their Analytics or their internal information, but there are some some ways you can still research your competitors’ SEO. HubSpot details some of the easy ones in this blog post.

The most important thing to remember is that if you identify some things your competitors are doing that you want to replicate, don’t. You can’t beat them by doing the same thing they’re doing. Instead, look into some ways you can improve what they’re doing or find a better way to achieve the same result. Remember, don’t beat your competitors, outlast them.

How

Finally, how do you complete an SEO audit? I detailed 7 steps to implementing an SEO audit  in this blog post. Go check it out, and make sure you audit your site regularly to maintain a positive user experience.

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​8 Books Every Marketer Should Add to Their Holiday Wish List

Particularly in the wintertime, it can be easy to slip into a creative lull and hard to maintain your forward momentum. We’re convinced that the best medicine for garnering motivation and inspiring movement is picking up a new skill or perspective on your work. Alas, we’ve compiled eight books that are sure to give you the mental jump start you need to tackle your 2018 marketing goals with renewed energy and insight. 

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1. To transform your content marketing strategy:

Top of Mind by John Hall

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Image sourced from Amazon.

Achieving success in any business is all about nurturing valuable and relevant relationships. Top of Mind delves into how to use content marketing to stay at the forefront of your target audience’s thoughts. With clarity and concision, Hall reveals the elements of effective content marketing strategies and addresses how to bridge the barrier of consumer mistrust in the modern age. Whether content marketing is part of your current engagement strategy or is on your list of New Years resolutions, this book will help you better understand how buyers engage with web content and how your digital communication strategy affects your brand’s integrity and staying power.

2. To learn tricks for maintaining forward momentum and cultivating innovation:

Leap First by Seth Godin

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Since he made his debut blogging in the early 90s, Godin has written eighteen best sellers and gained worldwide acclaim as a thought leader in areas such as marketing, creativity, leadership and innovation in the modern business world.

Unlike Godin’s more product-focused marketing books like The Purple Cow, audiobook Leap First: Creating Work That Matters focuses on the individual behind the product. Through a series of anecdotes, creative examples and witty tangents, Godin describes how cultivating the right mix of professional qualities can help you create work that is exceptional, fresh and impactful.

3. To understand what makes some companies succeed and others fail:

The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank

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Steve Blanks if famous for his theory on customer engagement and advancement (as he lays out in The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer), but this earlier book is jam-packed with foundational business wisdom that makes it an essential prerequisite. With the spirit of an entrepreneur and the wisdom of a seasoned expert, Blanks discusses what elements make a successful product and what skills are needed to create and sustain business growth. Although at first glance, it may seem that The Four Steps to the Epiphany is targeted at business owners, under the hood it has an acumen and practical application that transcends different roles and career trajectories — making it relevant to anyone who wants to get ahead in the business sphere.

4. To discover what motivates action and inspires mass change: 

The True Believer by Eric Hoffer

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Image sourced from Amazon.

An inspiring work of social psychology, The True Believer is still as relevant today as it was when it was first published in 1951. In this influential work, Hoffer discusses the irrational and intangible factors that motivate group behavior. Although not a business book in the traditional sense, the ideas discussed in The True Believer and the assertion that meaningful narratives hold transformative power is worthy of every marketer’s time and attention — no matter what your unique goals may be.

5. To master the knack of generating buzz:

Word of Mouth Marketing by Andy Sernovitz

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Image sourced from Amazon.

This book reveals how the world’s most successful companies became self-generating-lead-machines by harnessing the art of communication and buzz. Sernovitz lays out five essential steps to mastering “word of mouth” marketing and describes how to hone your blogging strategy, email campaigns and other social communication channels to further those ends. He presents concepts in a straightforward and digestible way that makes it the perfect quick-read for marketers looking to polish their multi-channel marketing efforts.

6. To explore what gives certain products and ideas magnetism: 

Contagious by Jonah Berger

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Image sourced from Amazon.

Named best marketing book in 2014, Contagious: Why Things Catch On is a study of what makes some products more popular, some ideas more infectious and some content, viral. Berger explores why certain brand narratives are more compelling and lasting than others — and how those stories contribute to the popularity and staying power, or “stickiness,”of a product. Through a series of smart examples, Berger looks at what products have succeeded in the past and why we still hold them in high esteem.

7. To become more influential:

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, PHD

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This National bestseller explores the psychology of persuasion and how to channel those skills to be a master persuader. Cialdini identifies six principles of influence and details why they’re effective, guiding readers through the logic behind why people say “yes.” Although this book has applications beyond the business sphere, understanding the science of persuasion is an imperative skill for marketing and sales professionals seeking to influence prospects and customers on a daily basis. Originally published in 1984, Influence has earned positive critical acclaim for over thirty years.

8. To win more sales:

To Sell is Human by Daniel H. Pink

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Image sourced from Amazon.

By now, most of us have heard of the elevator pitch — but what are its successors in the digital age? Selling is both an art and a science; Pink lays out ways to excel in both departments. Whether you’re selling a product, a service or simply an idea, this book provides a thoughtful and informative take on how to be an exceptional salesperson beyond the bounds of the elevator.

No matter what your marketing goals are, find your motivation to make it happen in 2018. Getting started is as easy as taking the first step:

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7 Steps to Implementing an SEO Audit

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Keeping a dial on the SEO for your primary domain is a critical effort for your business. You want to bring organic visitors to your site — so you need to ensure you’re ranking well for your designated keywords, building links to your domain and committing to user experience best practices. One of the most effective ways to guarantee your site is up to par in each of these areas is by implementing an SEO audit.

What is an SEO audit? It’s an inspection of your site’s visibility and its ability to rank. An effective SEO audit will provide you with the following:

  • An overview of your current search engine performance, detailing your strengths, weaknesses and competitive gaps
  • Recommendations on how to capitalize on your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, and close the gap on your competitors
  • An actionable to-do list of next steps based on your strengths, weaknesses and competitive gaps

At New Breed, an SEO audit is a seven-step process that covers preparation, implementation and evaluation. It runs as follows:

  1. Set a goal
  2. Determine KPIs
  3. Collect data
  4. Compare to competitors
  5. Plan of attack
  6. Implementation
  7. Evaluate and adjust

Before conducting any sort of audit, you must make sure you have plentiful, accurate data available. I recommend using an SEO crawler such as Screaming Frog, Moz or SEMRush. These tools can give you enhanced insight. But if you’re only equipped with Google Analytics and Search Console, you can still complete an audit. I recommend using data from the trailing six months for the best results, though you can be successful with quarterly data, if necessary.

1. Set a Goal

Prior to taking any action, we need to determine why we are completing this audit. Your goals for this audit are going to shape the way it runs. For example, if you are completing this audit before your website redesign, then the recommendations will have to be followed during the new site build, as opposed to over a period of time after launch.

Identifying your goals will provide you with the insight and direction you need to ensure your audit is a success. Whether you are looking to redesign your site or to simply maintain tracking of your SEO highlights, start by defining your end goal, and work backward from there.

2. Determine KPIs

Once you determine your goal, it is important to align that goal with specific KPIs to use throughout your audit. These KPIs will be your “focus metrics” as you inspect your site’s SEO. The set of KPIs should outline how your goal is to be achieved. For example, if your goal is to bring more organic leads in to your website, a KPI to focus on would be the visit-to-lead conversion rate. Look into that metric and evaluate how it has been performing in the trailing six months. Then, look at the way that metric is impacted on your site. What are your top pages from search? Do they have a top-of-funnel form to fill out so you can capture a visitor’s information?

Each KPI is affected by certain aspects of your current site. Determine your KPIs and look into how they are affected by your site architecture and by typical user behavior. This will set you up for SEO audit success.

3. Collect Data

Now that you have your KPIs established, pop into your data sources, collect your data and analyze it against your revenue goal.

After this audit, you’ll want to direct your efforts toward filling the gaps between your SEO efforts and your revenue goal. For instance, if you know you need 600 visits per week in order to provide enough opportunities (at a defined win rate) per month, and you only have 300 visits a week right now, you’ll need to prioritize search ranking (for awareness content) in order to bring in that extra 300 per week.

Once you’ve found your gaps, you can begin to compare your current status to that of your competitors.

4. Compare to Competitors

Use the KPIs you’ve established and use data from your competitors to understand how they’re reaching those goals. This is where an SEO software comes in handy. Collecting this data can be tricky, but if you are using an SEO software, you can plug your competitors in and collect the data. Be wary — it is not 100 percent accurate, but it is good enough to allow you to make certain assumptions. Then compare it to your own data. Identify some of the ways your competitors are reaching the goals you want to reach, and jot those down as part of your recommendations. But don’t just copy your competitors! Look for areas where they’re innovating, and adapt the tactics for your own architecture.

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5. Plan of Attack

You’ve collected all of your data, you’ve compared that data to your revenue goals and competitors, and now it’s time to figure out how to optimize your current strategy to drive ROI.

Your plan of attack should be built within a 30, 60 or 90 day timeline. What are the things you need to start now so the changes you are determined to see will be ready come end of the plan? What tactics are low-hanging fruit, which definitely belong in the first 30 days? If you set a priority for each of your tasks, set the highest priority and most impactful tasks to be completed first, then align any future tasks with that schedule.

6. Implement the Plan

Now you have to follow that plan. Don’t drown in the details! It’s easy to forget the purpose of the audit, but all of the planning, goal setting and prioritization you worked through in steps 1 through 5 should help you avoid that. You know your purpose. Step 6 is purely execution.

7. Evaluation

Great job! You’ve completed your plan of action. Go ahead and crack a beer or open that bottle of wine. But don’t kick up your feet yet. We didn’t touch step 7.  

You should be easily able to report on the changes you’ve made. Start tracking those KPIs and note if anything has changed. Are you making improvements? Is the dial moving in the right direction or is it stagnant? Based on your plan you should be able to identify if your changes are working correctly or not. If your KPIs aren’t moving in the direction you’d like them to be going, adjust your strategy slightly. Don’t make a hasty realignment of your current project, but look into ways you can do it differently that may lead to more success.

There’s no guarantee your strategy will set you on the right path to top-ranking results and huge increases in organic traffic. What you can do is make small edits and changes over time, with the overall goal of getting your SEO strategy to an improved state. There is no end-all, be-all SEO strategy. Test out a few, and see which works best for your audience and industry. You’re simply trying to create a foundation for the future; keep tracking what’s working, and keep reshaping your plan accordingly.

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