While enormous, comprehensive SEO site audits have been the norm up to this point, we think it's time the site audit process evolve to be more effective and more actionable. Throwing every finding, fault, tactic and recommendation into one deliverable doesn't necessarily take into account the client's priorities, goals and resource constraints.
Here we dig into our thinking on this topic and where we're going with our audits.
If you haven't already, read my blog post, "SEO Site Audits are Broken", for further exploration of how to approach these in a more beneficial way.
Adam Audette: Hi, everyone. Adam Audette on the RKG Blog, and I want to talk today about SEO site audits.
Obviously, a tradition in SEO, doing a site audit, doing a detailed report about the site, all the issues that could be implications for SEO, trying to be completely exhaustive and really document where the priorities should be. SEO site audits are really incredibly useful, actually essential, for the work.
I want to talk about where the norm is and where the tradition is in SEO audits today, and what we've seen over the many years that we've done these, and where we at RKG are moving as our model with SEO audits, and how we think we have a better, more efficient, more fluid process than what is normally seen out there.
Let's talk a little bit about what SEO audits typically consist of. They are very comprehensive, they take a long time to put together . . . or they can, if the site is large and complex, I mean they can take upwards of 100 hours, 120 hours or even more to put together for very large, complex sites. They are very comprehensive. They are sort of encyclopedic. They are a document with everything that could be a priority, high, medium, or low priority for a site. They contain everything from technical to on-page to content to social to analytics to . . . You name it, it's sort of everything and the kitchen sink, SEO.
It's typical that these are given in the beginning of a relationship, either as a single standalone project, or as part of a retainer, where a company will reach out to a consultant or an agency, and say, 'Hey, we want to do SEO, we'd like to start with an audit.' The agency or consultant might say, 'Great, cool, that's what we like to do, too. So, we're going to go dark, from your perspective, for about thirty days, maybe longer, maybe a little bit shorter, depending on the site, and we're going to document everything we know about it.
While it's great to have all that documentation, and it's the norm, I think that there are some downsides. And some of those are, it's a very cumbersome document. Cumbersome in the sense of, it's a lot of detail to go through. They can be 100 pages or more in length. They can be encyclopedic, which is an advantage on one hand, but it is also a disadvantage on the other, because it's not clear and actionable and prioritized. Even audits that are clearly prioritized within, and those sections are clearly marked - hey, this is high priority, this is medium, this is low priority - still are quite cumbersome in the way they are approached, because you've got everything in there from, say, image SEO recommendations to technical recommendations.
If the company has a limitation in what they are able to accomplish, then it's very hard for them to take an audit like that and make it actionable. I mean, if they already know that they can't do anything with images, what's the use of having it documented in an audit that they have issues with their images and have recommendations included? This is where an audit like that is not necessarily synced up with where the business's limitations and priorities and goals are, and I think there is a better way. The way that we're moving at RKG and the way that we believe is the right way is a new and improved audit, where instead of taking 100 hours or more to do a comprehensive document, we might take 10 to 12 hours, maybe a little more, maybe a little less, to understand where the priorities are and to categorize those, and without going into exhaustive detail, then taking our findings as a cursory, high-level look at the SEO program for a site. And then meeting with the business and the stakeholders and understanding where their goals are, where their priorities are, and where their limitations are.
If we come out with ten high-priority items for the next year for them in SEO and they say, 'Hey, great! Well, five of these we just can't do this year, but we'd like to keep on the table for next year. Five of these we'd like to do: three right away, and two down the road. Let's focus on those three right away.' And we can go back and say, 'Okay, great, we're going to dive into these in depth.' Take those three priorities, really build out the tactics and the strategy, if it's strategic for those, and deliver on those. It's more fluid, it's more dynamic, it's more in sync with where the businesses and where their goals and limitations are, and it's just an improved and more efficient process for all parties.
I've written about that on the blog, you can find that here, there's more detail about our experiences and history and my personal views on that, so please read that. I'd love to hear your comments, and I'd love to hear your approach and experiences with SEO site audits. Until next time, SEO safe.