As a digital marketing strategist, one of your core responsibilities is to identify opportunities that will benefit a client’s online presence. While this often involves a thorough analysis of the client’s business and a deep understanding of the competitive landscape, a full SEO audit with a broad analysis on keywords, links, and on-site optimization can take days to complete.
You don’t always have that kind of time. In fact, often you'll be pulled into a client meeting at the last minute with barely any analytic information at hand.
I found my process for handling these types of situations to be very useful in quickly identifying marketing opportunities. Essentially, I look for low hanging fruit. This “quick audit” process can vary for each website as well as for each marketing channel. However, there are some some core methods to use for quickly identifying opportunities to improve SEO.
Use this if you only have a short amount of time to identify a few opportunities and demonstrate value on the spot.
The trick is to know what to look for and what tools, other than analytics, are at your disposal.
1. Know the Site
What to look for: Traffic and Demographics
Free Tool: AdPlanner
Learn a little about the website and how it is performing. Doubleclick’s Ad Planner is great for this and all you need to access it is a free account with Google. For sites that are established, it can generate a quick overview on traffic, demographics and user interest. All great fodder that will help you speak intelligently about a website.
Take a few minutes to browse the site in Chrome or Firefox using SEOmoz’s Toolbar, named Mozbar. Get a quick ‘Page Analysis’ for the homepage, category and/or product pages that seem important to the success of the website.
Ammo: Look to see if page titles, descriptions, and headers are optimized for search engines. Simply click the Mozbar and make note of those that can be better optimized.
3. For Page Speed, try Google’s chrome extension while browsing the site but Google also has an online version that works just the same.
Ammo: Drop in the URL of a landing page and look for a rating below 70. The page speed tool will generate a prioritized list of technical suggestions for improving page speed. You may discover some crucial flaws in the page that is ultimately hindering the pages ability to rank in search engines.
4. Brief Keyword Analysis
What to look for: Keyword rankings and traffic from Search Engines
Free Tool: SEMRush
Just plug in a domain into SEMRush and get a free (but limited) view on all sorts of useful data. I particularly like to reference the approximate number of keywords (this number shows keywords ranked in the top 20 of Google search results), the approximate amount of monthly visitors from Google, and competitors in organic search.
The competitor research can be especially useful for gauging a site's performance in search. I usually make a note of how many keywords competitors have in Google’s top 20 and show the comparison in a chart. SEMRush can chart this for you with their ‘Competition Graph.’
Ammo: Toggle the drop down menu and click on any of the data points to highlight areas you wish to call attention to (I mostly use ‘Num of Keywords’ and ‘SE Traffic’). Take some quick screenshots or make a few notes and move on.
5. ProTip – literally – you have to subscribe to SEMRush’s pro plan ($69.95/mo) in order to unlock the data necessary for this process. With this access, I like to export ‘Organic Keywords’ to a spreadsheet (the Pro subscription limits reports to 10,000 results).
Open the sheet and format the data in a table. Sort the position by smallest to largest. Scroll down and look for when the keywords start ranking at 11. This indicates keywords that rank on page two of Google search results. Make note of the row number (5,237) and compare this number to the total number of keywords in Google’s top 20 (158,406).
Ammo: With this data we can say that approximately 3 percent of MacWorld’s top 20 keywords are ranking on page one. Furthermore, we can assume that by improving SEO efforts, we can increase the percentage of page one keywords and significantly increase the amount of targeted traffic to the Macworld domain. To support this claim, I usually cite a variety of third-party case studies that show the difference in traffic between page 2 and page 1 search results.
6. Link Data
What to look for: Link Diversity
Free Tool(s): Open Site Explorer
When gathering link data for a website, there are a number of metrics one can use to evaluate the quality of a link building campaign. Try focusing on link diversity. It more accurately reflects a website’s link building efforts than sheer link volume. It also helps to pit those metrics against industry competitors. SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer can provide some good data and compelling visual aids to support your findings for this process. This tool is free but limited to the number of reports generated.
Sticking with the Macworld versus MacRumors comparison, here’s how I would quickly gauge link diversity using Open Site Explorer. Compare Link Metrics by entering the two domains. Scroll down to Root Domain Metrics. Make a note of the Total Linking Root Domains and Linking C Blocks.
Ammo: The site with the higher number of Linking Root Domains generally has higher trust and ranking potential. The site with the higher number of Linking C Blocks generally has greater link diversity – which means links are coming from many related site groups.
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