SEO Audits: Adding Value That Your Clients Really Care About
If you’ve been on either client or agency side – you’ll have likely been involved in some sort of audit. When onboarding a new project, it’s a common element that you audit the existing structure of a site, analyse how they could be doing better, and provide a list of tickets or details that need to be completed by a team.
Sometimes, this is exactly what the client wants. Just a list of technical details that they couldn’t otherwise identify, and they’re looking for the expertise of an agency to find these and tell them how they should be fixed.
But on the whole, is it an audit that clients really want, or is it a strategy that they’re looking for?
There’s a great quote by Michael E. Porter (an American economist), who says, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do”.
Everyone can audit a site by crawling it, copying over tickets and adding details of fixes – it’s the sifting through the data and understanding what to look for, prioritising the impact and value for your clients that’s the critical part in forming long-term approaches early on.
1. Ask your client about their business objectives – early!
This might seem obvious, but it’s easy to gloss over this once a client has moved across the sales funnel multiple times to land at the audit stage.
Asking your client about their pain points, why they’re looking for an agency or support, where they want to be in 6 months, a year or even longer can really support with telling you what you should be looking for in the early stages. It highlights what improvements will be required to target those goals and reach those objectives and shows that you know your clients’ business.
2. Content is king, but data is queen
By data, I don’t just mean a crawl of a site and selecting 100 missing meta descriptions.
If you’re recommending that content should be expanded, adapted, and new pages should be created – what have you got to back this up? Search volume, industry figures, examples of competitors are excellent types of data to use.
Clients want to see real-time figures of how their business is doing, and recommendations are no different here. If you want that buy-in, make sure to include real stats and forecasts where possible to show why these tasks can really make a difference and what they’re built upon.
3. Tell a story through the findings
Stepping up from the above point, if the canonical tags are all wrong, the page speed is slow, or the content is stuffed full of keywords (hopefully not this, it’s nearly 2022 guys) – fight the urge to just label these all up in a sheet and send across.
Include the impact of these things, why it’ll be essential to address them, and how the site will perform better if implemented. What sort of performance can we expect to see after these are included, and even what the long-term approach could be to provide the need and importance of these steps.
4. We all love a bit of competition
A client is coming to you for a reason, and that reason likely has to do with them seeing competitors in their industry steaming ahead, and they want to know how they can keep up – or better – beat them.
Do the research and include competitor analysis within your findings. It’s often that businesses will have their key competitors in mind, but this can vary when it comes to keywords and products.
Understanding who their competitors are in search results as well as who they see as their competitors will allow for a wider range of opportunities but also narrow down the realistic avenues you need to target in order to get to those top positions.
What are the top players doing that makes them stand out, and how does it compare to the client’s side? Highlighting those in the findings will definitely push your recommendations through!
5. Prioritise and work WITH your client
When you’ve reviewed your client’s site, seen alarm bells and found a large-scale issue you know will have a huge impact, it’ll go straight to the top of the list. However, to deliver an audit that will truly be effective for your client, you have to work with them and their resources – along with their business goals.
Weigh up the opportunities by impact and effort. If the team can tick off health checks early on that will then help towards larger goals – this is way more effective than sending large projects across that can’t be completed and roadblock performance.
In the same sense, if the business wants to focus on a key product or service, then the opportunities and tasks that support this should be outlined early in the plan and additional impact works around and throughout. Including the impact along with this is a sure-fire way to get more buy in to get things done.
Remember while audits are usually at the start of campaigns, they should also be the base of a long-term approach and help build a strategy that really serves your client and grows over time – rather than just a task to tick off.
Are you looking for assistance on your next audit? Get in touch with our SEO experts.
Rebecca Jackson, 15/12/2021