How to Perform an Onsite SEO Audit Part 5: Rinse & Repeat

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SEO auditThe final step to a successful onsite SEO audit is to develop the process to repeat what you’ve done. In our prior posts we’ve shared how to conduct research, do the analysis, take action, and improve. Today we’ll finish up our series talking about how to keep the momentum going.

The most important purpose of rinse and repeat is to develop those best practices into habits. You need to remain watchful that your site doesn’t fall back into the abyss it might have been before you got started with your review and improvement activities. If you spent a significant of time fixing items onsite, don’t you want to preserve its new cleanliness? How do you create habits that will ensure this? Through organization, that’s how!

Consider developing a living, breathing document that is regularly updated and refreshed quarterly, biannually, or yearly. Whichever schedule you choose, make it a point to regularly update your information in the future. Google Docs and other alternatives are available to easily create an accessible document that your whole team can update. The important part here is to actually do it, repeat the activities you’ve learned in this onsite audit series and ensure you’re updating where your hard work has been focused.

Stay Organized

Create a working document. Use the one we’ve created for you here, or use a software program that serves as your project management worksheet. Several tools are available for this from expensive to cheap, to completely free. Depending on your needs and size of your current department/team you may already have one in place. Look at integrating your onsite audit activities within the program you currently have.

Don’t have a project management system? Basecamp offers a free solution for project tracking if you’re up for that, or more advanced options like Workfront, Wrike, or Smartsheet exist too.

Still not up for it? Google Drive can work effectively too. The system houses documents that your teams can each access, or you can work in Google Docs (or Sheets or Slides or Forms) to collaborate on the same doc in real time.

Your goal should be to create a document (or use a system) that helps your team communicate, set expectations, look at impact, and keep track of what is left to be done. Here are the elements to consider:

Onsite Audit: Tracking Progress

However you measure your results, keep track of your progress
However you measure your results, keep track of your progress.

 

Status: Complete, In Progress, Issues, On Hold

Knowing the status of a particular item you’re working on is very important. Determine what status types your teams will use and who is in charge of updating.

Name of task, and task details

The name of the item you’re working on (as well as the task details) are an obvious one to include. Make sure everyone working on the onsite audit project understands the task details and any notes associated.

Priority level

The priority of tasks may fluctuate at any given time and is subjective, too. It’s best to limit the number of people in charge of adjusting the priority order. Be sure to be on the same page as your team with what “priority” means.

Expected impact, and value of impact

What impact might you see from the efforts you’re working on? What value does that represent? Simply listing these out is good for everyone to understand the direction, goal and intended benefit from their efforts.

Often it’s a shot in the dark, a complete guess as to the exact impact. Not your style? I’ve seen how adding this element can really change the motivation on a team, get everyone aligned and help us get better at making hypotheses.

notesNotes

A “general notes” field is always a must. Extra items come up, things that need to be communicated, elements to remember, etc… keep a notes section available for a spot to put this information in the future.

How to fix

Specifically listing how you intend to fix an issue will go a long way. If you have to look back in a year at your efforts, how it was done and who accomplished it, the “how to fix” section will likely give you that information. I’ve also seen how this section can be helpful to give a technical expert the ability to diagnose, strategize and provide direction to team members who can execute.

I heard from expert Alan Bleiweiss recently and he said it perfectly: not everyone “does SEO”, but they can tell others how to do it. As he’s one of the best in the industry at forensic audits I take his advice very seriously.

Hours required

One of the best lessons I’ve learned that has helped save much time and effort on the teams I’ve managed is to put a cap of hours on activities. A curious and motivated junior SEO could spend countless hours on activities that a senior SEO feels are unnecessary, because it will be a lot of effort for little gain – not enough impact. Do yourself a favor and put the number of hours you think will be required, again even if it’s just a guess.

Departments listed, and who should complete

This seems obvious, but an often-forgotten process is getting on the same page with your team as to who does what. RACI exercises are important during this process, which help to identify who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed.

KPI baselines

Last but certainly not least is listing out key performance indicators and baselines you’ve acquired. Having all this information in one place aids in measurement and determining impact down the road.

Onsite Audit Repeat Tasks

todolist

Many of the elements we discussed throughout our five-part series can be reexamined and evaluated on a regular basis. The cycle with which you complete activities depends on your needs, the severity of your issues and of course: bandwidth. To provide you with a guideline, consider the following:

  • Keyword research: This should be an ongoing process as you develop content and it’s a good idea to conduct annual checks. Search behavior changes, you’ll want to work swiftly to adapt to those changes each year.
  • Canonicals: Annually conduct a canonical and cannibalization check to ensure as you develop new content you’re not cannibalizing other pages or better yet, confusing Google as to which is the dominant version.
  • Site crawls: Broken pages can pop up at any time. A site crawl on a monthly or quarterly basis can help. Weekly or monthly checks in Search Console are advised as well.
  • Backlinks: Negative SEO is alive and well, which makes checking your backlinks a weekly or monthly activity for some teams. Consider checking links as they go live with a tool such as Fresh Web Explorer which you can also set up to send alerts via email.
  • Internal links: If you have a handle on how you create new internal links, an annual check might be all that’s needed. Depending on your situation, examine your internal links and ensure you’re not over-optimizing anchor text or have internal links that don’t work effectively.
  • Duplicate content checks: Annually take a note of the duplicate content on your site. If you have a severe issue, consider monthly check-ups until the issue is remedied.
  • Accessibility and indexibility: Search Console provides a plethora of data with regards to these. Consider monthly reviews and an annual in-depth analysis.
  • Page load speed: As with other things, if your issues are severe consider page load speed tests monthly until issues are remedied. Thereafter, consider annual “repeats”.

Your own most severe issues

Whatever your priority issues are for your site, make sure you’re setting up a cadence to check in weekly, monthly, quarterly, biannually, and/or annually. Think about the “repeat” cycle that’s best for your given situation and environment.

Onsite SEO Audit: Summary

It’s our hope that with our five-part series you now have a good idea of how to conduct a full onsite audit and work through a repair strategy, and that you have a good chance at implementing real changes. The only way you’ll see improvement is to get started. So what are you waiting for?

Catch up with the previous four posts here:

SEO 101: The Basics and BeyondPart 1: Do the Research

Part 2: Do the Analysis

Part 3: Take Action

Part 4: Improvement

If you’re looking for more resources surrounding SEO, get Act-On’s free SEO 101: The Basics (and Beyond), which will cover how search engines operate, best practices for writing SEO-friendly content, and how to choose keywords.