A comprehensive audit of your B2B website can mean the difference between winning new customers and losing them to the competition. In this all-new episode of Whiteboard Friday, guest host Carly Schoonhoven takes you through four areas that can take your audits to the next level.
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Transcript of the video
Hello and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. My name is Carly Schoonhoven, and I am a Senior SEO Manager at Obility. We are a B2B digital marketing agency here in Portland, Oregon. If you work for an agency, you know that sometimes a helpful SEO audit can be the difference between winning a client and losing them to another.
So, something that I struggle with sometimes is how to upgrade your basic SEO audit into something that really makes an impact for a B2B company that needs a long-term strategic plan. Now, when I talk about an SEO audit, I'm not just talking about a technical audit, something that you can just pull from Screaming Frog.
It's really about getting a clear picture of a site's current SEO compliance and, more importantly, showing how, in the short and long term, you can work with it to help it achieve its goals. So today, I'm going to walk you through my approach to SEO audits and take you through it step by step. Before I start pulling data, there are a couple of things I like to determine first.
Competitors and objectives
Number one is competition. SEO does not exist in a vacuum. If we want to improve our rankings, a competitor will probably have to lose rankings. So it's really important to have an idea of the competitors that you're going to be looking at to see how you stack up against them. Now, again, it's really important to make sure that your competitors are realistic.
I can't tell you how many times I've been given Google as a competitor. Maybe that's a competitor for you, but it's really important to make sure that you're being realistic and finding competitors of similar size so that the information you're providing is actually valid and actionable. So if someone gives you Google as a competitor, think about it and maybe come up with some alternatives.
Another thing I like to look at is goals. If you're evaluating a company, ask them what their goals are. Maybe she just launched a new product and she'd really like some specific ideas on how she can improve the content. Or maybe they're going to be doing a site migration in a few months and they really want to get information about that.
So good audits are not uniform. You can really improve your audit by making sure it's tailored to the site and business you're specifically studying. Now that we know who our competitors are and what our goals are, let's start by looking at keywords.
1. Key words
Keywords are obviously very important. This is where you should start, because keywords are the backbone of SEO. This is an audit. We are not doing a full keyword research strategy here. It shouldn't take you all day. But there are a few tools you can use to get some really interesting and useful keyword information without having to spend a lot of time on it.
Moz's Keyword Explorer is a great place to start. I like to use the Compare Link Profiles tool, which is a great way to compare a site to its competitors and see how it performs at a very high level. It will help you identify if someone who is really elite, who is ranked for 20 times as many keywords as you are, may not be the most realistic competitor to watch.
You can see if there is a site that is really comparable. Or if there's a site that's not ranking for almost any keyword, that's not the one you need to worry about. So that's a really good starting point to get a sense of the competitive landscape. Another very useful thing to look at is keyword overlap. We've seen the total keywords.
But what are those specific keywords that are performing well? My nice drawing here of a keyword overlap chart gives you an idea. Let's say blue is your main competitor, green is your second competitor, and red is you. So you really want to take a look at that area where your competitors overlap but you don't have any keywords that rank.
This is very important, because you may identify an area where all of your competitors have content, but not the site you're looking at. This is a really good starting point, and it can help you make initial content suggestions and get some sort of window into your competitors' content strategies. Speaking of content, let's talk about reviewing content as part of an SEO audit.
That's probably where I spend the most time personally when I'm doing audits, because it's really valuable and there's also so many different things to look at and you can find something new pretty much every time. However, when you're looking at a particular B2B site, you need to make sure that you look at the funnel. Does it have content for all stages of the funnel, and does it move people from one stage to the next?
So take a look at their site as if you were someone visiting for the first time. Take a look at their outreach content and see: are there any mid-funnel CTAs? Is it clear what the next step is that they want me to take? Or what is the ultimate conversion they want people to make at the purchase stage? Is the contact form really clear?
How easy is it to navigate to the demo, if that's a really important conversion for them? Look at their content and what they do, including making sure they have content for the entire funnel. This is another good opportunity to evaluate your competitors. Do the same thing on your competitors' sites. See if there's anything they're doing really, really well that the site you're looking at isn't doing.
Take screenshots. Share some specific things that a competitor is doing that maybe you can learn from and find a way to do your own version on your site.
Alright. Another area that you should always make sure to include is the technical area, because we all know that even if you have the best content on your site, if your technical SEO is a mess, it won't really matter if you're not able to get that content indexed.
So a good place to start is to do Moz's On-Demand Crawl so you can take a look at things like 404 errors, duplicate content, maybe missing metadata on all of their really valuable main pages. That's good information to have and to share. Then you also want to expand that analysis to look at things like site speed. Maybe their site speed is really bad, and they've never prioritized that issue.
Use Google Speed Insights page. See if there are specific recommendations that you can give them that you can help them fix, because ultimately it's about trying to get them to want to work with you and how you could help them solve these problems. You can also look at things that might impact indexing. Take a look at their robots.txt.
Take a look at their sitemap. Check all the boxes and make sure there is nothing that will impact the look of the search.
Finally, I always like to look outside the site. This is another great use of Moz. I like to use Moz's link profile comparison option to get an idea of how you stack up against your competitors when it comes to off-site.
I know that off-site is really hard. Link building is hard, and it takes a long time to get results. But knowing how you stack up against your competitors, in terms of domain authority and total number of links, really helps you get an idea of how hard and how long it will take to catch up to your competitors in the search engine results page.
So I always like to take a look at domain authority, external links, linking domains and information retrieval to see who is going to be the hardest, who is the most authoritative and where we are today. You can also take a look at specific backlink profiles and link overlap, very similar to competitor overlap.
See if there's a site that all your competitors have backlinks to and you don't. Maybe it's really relevant, an industry publication, and you can provide that to them and you can help them eventually, hopefully, get a link from there as well. All right. So, we took a look at the keywords, the content, the techniques, and the off-site. If you've followed all the steps, you should have a pretty good audit with actions to take in the short and long term.