Tag Archive | "Audits"

SearchCap: Google family led icon, link building and SEO audits

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.



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SearchCap: Voice assistant study, SEO audits & PPC budgets

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

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8 Common Website Mistakes Revealed Via Content Audits

Posted by AlliBerry3

One of the advantages of working for an agency is the volume of websites we get to evaluate. The majority of clients who sign up for ongoing SEO and/or content services will receive a content audit. Similar to a technical SEO audit, the results of the content audit should drive the strategies and priorities of the next stages of content work. Without the audit, you can’t create an effective strategy because you first need to know what types of content you’ve got, what content you’re missing, and what content you’ve got too much of.

While there are many posts out there about how to perform a content audit (and I encourage you to check out these posts: How to Do a Content Audit and 5 Lessons Learned from a Content Audit), I am going to be focusing on what my common findings have been from recently conducting 15 content audits. My aim is to give you more of a framework on how you can talk to clients about their content or, if you are the client, ways you can improve your website content to keep users on the site longer and, ultimately, convert.

Mistake #1: No clear calls-to-action

I have yet to complete a content audit where creating clearer calls-to-action wasn’t a focus. The goal of a page should be obvious to any visitor (or content auditor). What is it that you want a visitor who lands on this page to do next? Many of our clients are not e-commerce, so it may feel less obvious; however, assuming you want someone to stay on your website, what’s next?

Even if answer is “I want them to visit my store,” make it easy for them. Add a prominent “Visit Our Store” button. If it’s a simple blog page, what are the next blog articles someone should read based on what they just read? Or do you have a relevant e-book you’d like them to download? You got them to the end of your post — don’t lose the visitor because they aren’t sure what to do next!

Mistake #2: A lack of content for all stages of the customer journey

One thing we often do when conducting content audits is track where in the sales funnel each page is aimed (awareness, consideration, purchase, or retention). What we sometimes find is that clients tend to have a disproportionate amount of content aimed at driving a purchase, but not enough for awareness, consideration, and retention. This isn’t always the case, particularly if they have a blog or resources hub; however, the consideration and retention stages are often overlooked. While the buyer cycle is going to be different for every product, it’s still important to have content that addresses each stage, no matter how brief the stage is.

Retention is a big deal too! It is way more cost-efficient and easier to upsell and cross-sell current customers than bring in new. Your customers are also less price-sensitive because they know your brand is worth it. You definitely want to provide content for this audience too to keep them engaged with the brand and find new uses for your products. Plus, you’ve already got their contact information, so delivering content to them is much easier than a prospect.

Here are some examples of content for each stage:

Awareness: Blog posts (explainers, how-tos, etc), e-books, educational webinars, infographics

Consideration: Product comparisons, case studies, videos

Purchase: Product pages, trial offers, demos, coupons

Retention: Blog posts (product applications, success stories, etc), newsletters, social media content

Mistake #3: Testimonials aren’t used to their full potential

There are so many pages dedicated solely to testimonials out there on the Interwebs. It’s painful. Who trusts a testimonials page over reviews on third-party sites like Yelp, Google My Business, or Tripadvisor? No one. That being said, there is a place for testimonials. It’s just not on a testimonials page.

The best way to use a testimonial is to pair it with the appropriate copy. If it’s a testimonial about how easy and fast a customer received their product, use that on a shipping page. If it’s a testimonial about how a product solved a problem they had, use it on that product page. This will enhance your copy and help to alleviate any anxieties a prospective customer has with their decision to purchase.

Testimonials can also help you improve your local relevance in search. If you have a storefront that is targeting particular cities, ask for a customer’s city and state when you gather testimonials. Then, include relevant testimonials along with their city and state on the appropriate location page(s). Even if your store is in Lakewood, Colorado, collecting testimonials from customers who live in Denver and including them on your location page will help both search engines and users recognize that Denver people shop there.

Mistake #4: Not making content locally relevant (if it matters)

If location matters to your business, you should not only use testimonials to boost your local relevance, but your content in general. Take the auto dealership industry, for example. There are over 16,000 car dealerships in the United States and they all (presumably) have websites. Many of them have very similar content because they are all trying to sell the same or similar models of cars.

The best car dealership websites, however, are creating content that matters to their local communities. People who live in Denver, for example, care about what the best cars are for driving in the mountains, whereas people in the Los Angeles area are more likely to want to know which cars get the best highway gas mileage. Having your sales team take note of common questions they get asked and addressing them in your content can go a long way toward improving local relevance and gaining loyal customers.

Mistake #5: Not talking about pricing

Many companies, B2B companies in particular, do not want to list pricing on their website. It’s understandable, especially when the honest answer to “how much does your service cost?” is “it depends.” The problem with shying away from pricing altogether, though, is that people are searching for pricing information. It’s a huge missed opportunity not to have any content related to pricing, and it annoys prospective customers who would rather know your cost range before giving you a call or submitting a form for follow up.

It’s mutually beneficial to have pricing information (or at least information on how you determine pricing) on your website because it’ll help qualify leads. If a prospect knows your price range and they still reach out for more information, they’re going to be a much better lead than someone who is reaching out to get pricing information. This saves your sales team the trouble of wasting their time on bad leads.

Having pricing information on your website also helps establish trust with the prospect. If you aren’t transparent about your pricing, it looks like you charge as much as you can get away with. The more information you provide, the more trustworthy your business looks. And if all of your competitors are also hiding their pricing, you’re the first one they’ll likely reach out to.

Mistake #6: Getting lost in jargon

There are a lot of great companies out there doing great work. And more often than not, their website does not reflect it as well as it could. It isn’t uncommon for those tasked with writing web copy to be quite close to the product. What sometimes happens is jargon and technical language dominates, and the reason why a customer should care gets lost. When it comes to explaining a product or service, Joel Klettke said it best at MozCon 2017. A web page should include:

  • What is the product and why should a prospect care about it?
  • How will this product make the prospect’s life easier/better?
  • What’s the next step? (CTA)

It’s also important to include business results, real use cases, and customer successes with the product on your website too. This establishes more trust and supports your claims about your products. Doing this will speak to your customers in a way that jargon simply will not.

Mistake #7: Page duplication from migration to HTTPS

With more sites getting an SSL certificate and moving to HTTPS, it’s more important than ever to make sure you have 301 redirects set up from the HTTP version to the HTTPS version to prevent unintentional duplication of your entire website. Duplicate content can impact search rankings as search engines struggle to decide which version of a page is more relevant to a particular search query. We’ve been seeing quite a few sites that have an entire duplicate site or some isolated pages that didn’t get redirects in place in their migrations. We also keep seeing sites that have www and non-www versions of pages without 301 redirects as well. Running regular crawls will help you stay on top of this kind of duplicate content.

Here are a couple of good resources to check out when doing an HTTPS migration:

Mistake #8: Poor internal linking and site architecture

How content is organized on a site can be just as important as what the content is. Without proper organization, users can struggle to surf a website successfully and search engines have a difficult time determining which pages are considered most important. Making sure your most important pages are structured to be easy to find, by listing them in your navigation, for example, is a good user experience and will help those pages perform better.

Part of making important pages easy to find is through internal linking. Web content is often created on an ongoing basis, and being smart about internal linking requires taking the time to look holistically at the site and figuring out which pages make the most sense to link to and from. I keep encountering blog content that does not link back to a core page on the site. While you don’t want product to be the focus of your blog, it should be easy for a user to get to the core pages of your site if they want to do so. As you’re auditing a site, you’ll find pages that relate to one another that don’t link. Make notes of those as you go so you can better connect pages both in copy and with your calls to action.

Wrapping up

What I find most interesting about content audits is how subjective they are. Defining what makes content good or bad is gray in a way that identifying whether or not a page has, say, a canonical tag, is not. For that reason, I have found that what content auditors focus most heavily on tend to be a reflection of the background of the person doing the audit. And the most common content mistakes I have touched on here reflect my background perfectly, which is a meld of SEO and content marketing.

So, I’m curious: what do you look for and find in your content audits? What would you add to my list?

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4 critical areas to consider when performing AdWords audits

AdWords audits are a great way to win business and check on the health of an account, but columnist Matt Umbro notes that there are some aspects of an audit that are easily overlooked or underexplored. Don’t make these mistakes!

The post 4 critical areas to consider when performing AdWords audits…



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SearchCap: Website audits, optimizing content for SEO & local search ranking factors

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Website audits, optimizing content for SEO & local search ranking factors appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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5 Spreadsheet Tips for Manual Link Audits

Posted by MarieHaynes

Link auditing is the part of my job that I love the most. I have audited a LOT of links over the last few years. While there are some programs out there that can be quite helpful to the avid link auditor, I still prefer to create a spreadsheet of my links in Excel and then to audit those links one-by-one from within Google Spreadsheets. Over the years I have learned a few tricks and formulas that have helped me in this process. In this article, I will share several of these with you.

Please know that while I am quite comfortable being labelled a link auditing expert, I am not an Excel wizard. I am betting that some of the things that I am doing could be improved upon if you’re an advanced user. As such, if you have any suggestions or tips of your own I’d love to hear them in the comments section!

1. Extract the domain or subdomain from a URL

OK. You’ve downloaded links from as many sources as possible and now you want to manually visit and evaluate one link from every domain. But, holy moly, some of these domains can have THOUSANDS of links pointing to the site. So, let’s break these down so that you are just seeing one link from each domain. The first step is to extract the domain or subdomain from each url.

I am going to show you examples from a Google spreadsheet as I find that these display nicer for demonstration purposes. However, if you’ve got a fairly large site, you’ll find that the spreadsheets are easier to create in Excel. If you’re confused about any of these steps, check out the animated gif at the end of each step to see the process in action.

Here is how you extract a domain or subdomain from a url:

  • Create a new column to the left of your url column.
  • Use this formula:

    =LEFT(B1,FIND(“/”,B1,9)-1)

    What this will do is remove everything after the trailing slash following the domain name. http://www.example.com/article.html will now become http://www.example.com and http://www.subdomain.example.com/article.html will now become http://www.subdomain.example.com.

  • Copy our new column A and paste it right back where it was using the “paste as values” function. If you don’t do this, you won’t be able to use the Find and Replace feature.
  • Use Find and Replace to replace each of the following with a blank (i.e. nothing):
    http://
    https://
    www.

And BOOM! We are left with a column that contains just domain names and subdomain names. This animated gif shows each of the steps we just outlined:

2. Just show one link from each domain

The next step is to filter this list so that we are just seeing one link from each domain. If you are manually reviewing links, there’s usually no point in reviewing every single link from every domain. I will throw in a word of caution here though. Sometimes a domain can have both a good link and a bad link pointing to you. Or in some cases, you may find that links from one page are followed and from another page on the same site they are nofollowed. You can miss some of these by just looking at one link from each domain. Personally, I have some checks built in to my process where I use Scrapebox and some internal tools that I have created to make sure that I’m not missing the odd link by just looking at one link from each domain. For most link audits, however, you are not going to miss very much by assessing one link from each domain.

Here’s how we do it:

  • Highlight our domains column and sort the column in alphabetical order.
  • Create a column to the left of our domains, so that the domains are in column B.
  • Use this formula:

    =IF(B1=B2,”duplicate”,”unique”)

  • Copy that formula down the column.
  • Use the filter function so that you are just seeing the duplicates.
  • Delete those rows. Note: If you have tens of thousands of rows to delete, the spreadsheet may crash. A workaround here is to use “Clear Rows” instead of “Delete Rows” and then sort your domains column from A-Z once you are finished.

We’ve now got a list of one link from every domain linking to us.

Here’s the gif that shows each of these steps:

You may wonder why I didn’t use Excel’s dedupe function to simply deduplicate these entries. I have found that it doesn’t take much deduplication to crash Excel, which is why I do this step manually.

3. Finding patterns FTW!

Sometimes when you are auditing links, you’ll find that unnatural links have patterns. I LOVE when I see these, because sometimes I can quickly go through hundreds of links without having to check each one manually. Here is an example. Let’s say that your website has a bunch of spammy directory links. As you’re auditing you notice patterns such as one of these:

  • All of these directory links come from a url that contains …/computers/internet/item40682/
  • A whole bunch of spammy links that all come from a particular free subdomain like blogspot, wordpress, weebly, etc.
  • A lot of links that all contain a particular keyword for anchor text (this is assuming you’ve included anchor text in your spreadsheet when making it.)

You can quickly find all of these links and mark them as “disavow” or “keep” by doing the following:

  • Create a new column. In my example, I am going to create a new column in Column C and look for patterns in urls that are in Column B.
  • Use this formula:

    =FIND(“/item40682″,B1)
    (You would replace “item40682″ with the phrase that you are looking for.)

  • Copy this formula down the column.
  • Filter your new column so that you are seeing any rows that have a number in this column. If the phrase doesn’t exist in that url, you’ll see “N/A”, and we can ignore those.
  • Now you can mark these all as disavow

4. Check your disavow file

This next tip is one that you can use to check your disavow file across your list of domains that you want to audit. The goal here is to see which links you have disavowed so that you don’t waste time reassessing them. This particular tip only works for checking links that you have disavowed on the domain level.

The first thing you’ll want to do is download your current disavow file from Google. For some strange reason, Google gives you the disavow file in CSV format. I have never understood this because they want you to upload the file in .txt. Still, I guess this is what works best for Google. All of your entries will be in column A of the CSV:

What we are going to do now is add these to a new sheet on our current spreadsheet and use a VLOOKUP function to mark which of our domains we have disavowed.

Here are the steps:

  • Create a new sheet on your current spreadsheet workbook.
  • Copy and paste column A from your disavow spreadsheet onto this new sheet. Or, alternatively, use the import function to import the entire CSV onto this sheet.
  • In B1, write “previously disavowed” and copy this down the entire column.
  • Remove the “domain:” from each of the entries by doing a Find and Replace to replace domain: with a blank.
  • Now go back to your link audit spreadsheet. If your domains are in column A and if you had, say, 1500 domains in your disavow file, your formula would look like this:

    =VLOOKUP(A1,Sheet2!$ A$ 1:$ B$ 1500,2,FALSE)

When you copy this formula down the spreadsheet, it will check each of your domains, and if it finds the domain in Sheet 2, it will write “previously disavowed” on our link audit spreadsheet.

Here is a gif that shows the process:

5. Make monthly or quarterly disavow work easier

That same formula described above is a great one to use if you are doing regular repeated link audits. In this case, your second sheet on your spreadsheet would contain domains that you have previously audited, and column B of this spreadsheet would say, “previously audited” rather than “previously disavowed“.

Your tips?

These are just a few of the formulas that you can use to help make link auditing work easier. But there are lots of other things you can do with Excel or Google Sheets to help speed up the process as well. If you have some tips to add, leave a comment below. Also, if you need clarification on any of these tips, I’m happy to answer questions in the comments section.

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Site Audits: Deliverables, Follow Up, and Implementation

Posted by JonQ

You could be the best SEO in the world, with the best recommendations your clients ever seen; but if this information isn’t presented and communicated in the right way, the sad fact is that your hard work probably won’t change a thing. A couple of weeks back, Dan and I ran a very enjoyable Mozinar on this very topic. (A huge thank you to everyone who listened in!) If you did miss it, feel free to check out the recording and download the slides here. Rather than talking through the ins and outs of technical SEO, we really wanted to dive into what, in our experience, makes the difference between a site audit being left on the shelf, compared to a document that can potentially turn a business around.

On the back end of the Mozinar, we had a ton of great questions. Many focused specifically on the delivery and follow-up process, and how we approach this particular part of the job. There was quite a bit of interest in this area, so we thought a dedicated post on the latter part of our auditing process (see below) would give us a chance to dive in a little deeper. Although the follow-up and implementation clearly comes once your document has been delivered, a lot of the very early conversations have a big influence on how successful the project will ultimately end up being. I’ve found that getting a client in the mind-set of working together and buying into implementing your recommendations right from the start always makes getting work done so much easier!

Site Audit Process

Although this post is about the follow-up process, I also want to spend some time touching on other areas that have a direct influence on that part of the project. Let's go!

Sales kick-off and briefing

The sales process is such a critical part of any project; and not just for the obvious reasons. A well thought out sales conversation is the ideal opportunity to discuss goals, understand the clients business, and really find out what they need to achieve. Ron Garrett summed it up brilliantly in this post, and covered some great points with regards to the important details that every initial conversation with a potential client should cover. In terms of how the conversations held at the beginning of a project can impact on the effectiveness of your follow-up, it’s so important to make sure you’re starting the project with the right goals in mind. After all, how can you measure success if you don’t understand what KPIs make a true difference to your clients business?

Q: How much should I give away during the sales process?

On a very similar point, we had a couple of questions crop up in the Mozinar Q&A from people asking how much to give away during the sales process. Some people like to run a sample audit, whilst others won’t give anything away until they have ink on paper. Really, this is down to you. From my perspective, you have to be sensible with your time and learn to consider each situation by its own circumstances. I’ve been in the situation many times before where you sense the company in question is just inviting agencies to pitch in order to gain some free expert knowledge. It takes time to put a proposal together, so you have to make a judgement on the best use of that time. Feel each situation out and you should be just fine.

This is not just about selling projects; it’s about understanding the situation well enough to sell the right project to solve the right problem.

Kick-off and briefing

If you take a step back and think about all the projects you’ve worked on that haven’t worked out well, it’s crazy to think how much probably went wrong before you’d even started. If everyone was in an honest mood, I think we’d all admit to being involved in projects before where it all felt just a little too rushed. As a result, a good solid brief can be skipped meaning the team get dropped in with no idea at all of delivery dates, or what the client actually wants or needs from the project. Clearly, things don’t tend to go well from here. At best, the project just ends up being another report on another desk – at worst reputations get damaged.

So with implementation and a smooth follow-up in mind, what should a good brief cover? As a bare minimum, I suggest the following should always be included:

  • Deliverables
  • Key dates
  • Goals/objectives
  • KPIs
  • Key personnel

Why is this so important? One of the biggest and most common reasons for a project failing is that for a variety of reasons they simply miss the mark. Usually when a project doesn’t tick the right boxes, the issue can nearly always be traced back to the brief or a miscommunication at the start. The other point here is that if the project is simply being dumped on the team, they’re not likely to be too happy about it. Get your team excited and they in turn will get the client excited. If the client is excited about getting things done, suddenly getting work implemented is a far more enjoyable and productive process.

Deliverables

A major part of any project is the format in which you present your documentation. Sometimes a "highlights" presentation deck detailing the biggest issues is the way to go, whereas some situations require a detailed document and a large set of data to refer to. The best way to do this is really going to depend on who you’re delivering to, and what the initial outline of the project was. We had some really good questions on this during the webinar, so it felt right to pick out some of the best and answer them directly:

Q: What exactly should be delivered? A large document, a set of data, or just the top ten action points?

At SEOgadget, we’ve found that the best approach is to do a combination of all three, with the exact delivery style adjusted to whomever you’re meeting or presenting to. A typical situation for us would be to create a master document containing detailed explanations of our findings alongside all the necessary change requests. Of course, if we’re running crawls and conducting log-file analysis then there’s also going to be a pretty substantial amount of data on hand too. I like delivering the data for two reasons: first, data always backs up what you’re recommending. It’s always so much more valuable to show and not tell. Having the ability to clearly walk the client through exactly what you’ve found can work wonders for adding credibility to what you’re saying. Second, providing the data makes it much easier for a developer to work out what’s going on and gives a reference point for future questions should anything crop up. What’s more, in 90% of situations clients always ask for the data anyway!

Technical SEO List

Task lists also have a very valuable place. The first question that always comes back is, "OK, so where do we start?" If a question keeps cropping up, then answer it before it gets asked! At the top of all our documents we provide a prioritized list of all change requests (as seen above). This forms a great base for follow-up calls and meetings as everyone can refer back to the same task list. With development resource often being high in demand, it also enables you to start scheduling the biggest fixes first.

Q: Some clients are not "techy," and talking them website audit is not that easy. How many details we should give those clients? Should we spent a lot time and train them about SEO?

This is where being able to give a high-level view first is extremely important. Not everyone understands the details of SEO. You might not always be working directly with an SEO department; you could be working with a traditional marketing team or leading into an Ecommerce manager where their role touches on SEO, but it’s not something they do all day every day. In this case, the best approach is to deliver a "highlights" type of presentation. Break the problems down and focus on the benefits of resolving the issues. Show the client what you’ve found, but think more about explaining the benefits of fixing each issue will have on their business. It’s less about canonical tags and more about ROI. Again, get the client excited about the impact of fixing things and you’ll buy yourself a heap of influence. Even though you’re only presenting on a few key areas, you’ll still have the full document to refer back to in more detail later down the line.

Follow-up support

I’m a big believer in the idea that a technical project shouldn’t be about completing a review and then thinking it’s "job done." It’s so much more important to have the ability to really influence change and action. In fact, the most important part (and often hardest part!) of any technical audit is the follow-up process and getting your work implemented. A good SEO can diagnose issues – a great SEO follows up and makes sure these problems get fixed. Going right back to what we touched on earlier when talking about the sales process, having a good grasp of development resource can really help here. Do you have an understanding of what processes are in place for booking requests? Did you check when development resource is available and allocated for SEO? Getting ahead of the game in these areas is one of the biggest keys to winning!

Audit Follow-up

The follow-up process can be greatly helped by having a central resource to track changes and keep on top of progress or indeed challenges with implementing your recommendations. Using tools such as Basecamp or Asana  can be a great way of keeping communication clear, and for making sure you have the right tasks in front of the right people. If you’re not keen on using these tools, a simple Google Docs sheet to display tasks and provide a place to leave comments is sometimes all that’s needed. Combining this with regular calls or checking in via email gives you the ability to keep the project moving in the right direction, and the retain focus when you come to catching up in a meeting or on a call.

If you’ve got any further questions on the process side of technical SEO audits, feel free to drop them in the comments, or tweet myself or Dan and we’ll do our best to answer them.

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Now It’s Facebook’s Turn For 20 Years Of FTC Privacy Audits

According to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal the world’s largest social network is nearing a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that will subject the company to 20 years of “privacy audits.” A nearly identical punishment was imposed earlier this year…



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