I just published a blog post Australia's "Best 100" business websites and was reminded of the importance of digital strategy. This ranking involved asking the Google Search algorithm for high quality sites. These sites ranked for the non-keyword "www", even though some of them don't use that word in their URL.
Why do they appear in this list? Most of the Best 100 sites are well-known, iconic brands. They offer great content to users and many other websites link to them. Social conversations mention them. Search engine optimisation (SEO) has changed dramatically in 2013 and largely points to a "back to basics" policy for the Google ranking algorithm.
SEO trickery seldom works as a long-term strategy. We cannot assume that these 100 sites have excellent SEO in place -- a few seem to have no SEO signatures and they are towards the bottom of the list. Yet, many other large, consumer-facing companies are not on this list.
Digital audits can help to uncover such mysteries. Some businesses ask for an audit when they are unsure if their current provider is giving them the anticipated value they were promised. Others engage us prior to a major rebuild of their website, or of their entire digital strategy.
Digital audits cover three broad aspects of digital marketing:
- Search engine optimisation (SEO)
- Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, also known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
- Social media optimisation (SMO) They can take between three days to three months, depending on the size of the business.
An SEO audit begins with a stakeholder interview, where the goals of the business and of the website are covered. Four areas are checked next:
- Server, coding and tagging
- Measurements, including ROI
A PPC audit requires access to the Google AdWords account. Checks include:
- Campaign settings
- Keyword match types
- Ad copy
- Conversions and ROI
Social Media Optimisation Audit
Many, if not most, large businesses have some kind of presence on social platforms, but they tend to be tactical -- campaign to campaign. This often neglects the website at a strategic level, thus missing out on opportunities to bring the social visitors to the website. Checks include:
- Facebook Open Graph and EdgeRank
- Twitter Cards
- LinkedIn profile
A general audit involves the wider business issues of the website. These include:
- Staff skills and gaps
- Contracts with service providers
- Existing traffic reports
Actioning the Audit
Usually, but not always, the audit is followed by a document containing a list of recommendations. They are presented as required, such as low-hanging fruit first, or most urgent issues first.
I always include an action list at the end of the audit with a person's name beside each task. This ensures that the customer has a list of tasks they can execute in-house or give to the agency. I am sometimes asked to stay back and oversee the implementation.
What can you expect to find in such audits? The list would be too long to list here, but can be summarised as follows:
- Major SEM/PPC neglect, sometimes wasting six-figure sums of budget -- agencies might set up a campaign, but then leave it running on auto pilot.
- Technical ignorance that can hamper a site's search-engine-friendliness -- the larger the company, the greater the risk of technical ignorance.
- Risky SEO tactics that can lead to a ranking penalty, or worse -- removal from the search engine index -- some agencies are using outdated tactics and aren't aware of the consequences.
- What's good and worth keeping -- it's not all bad news. A lot of the larger sites are usually in good shape, but need that edge, which comes with ironing out the smallest kinks.
If you would like a SEO audit, call Optimising now on 1300 171 005 for a no-obligation chat.