A comprehensive audit of your B2B website can mean the difference between winning new clients and losing them to the competition. In this brand new episode of Whiteboard Friday, guest host Carly Schoonhoven walks you through four areas that can take your audits to the next level.
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. My name is Carly Schoonhoven, and I’m a Senior SEO Manager at Obility. We’re a B2B digital marketing agency here in Portland, Oregon. Now if you work for an agency, you know that sometimes a really valuable SEO audit can be the difference between winning over a client and losing out to someone else.
So something I sometimes struggle with is how to level up your basic SEO audit into something that’s really impactful for a B2B company that is in need of a long-term, strategic plan. Now when I’m talking about an SEO audit, I’m not just talking about a technical audit, something you can just pull from Screaming Frog.
It’s really about getting a clear picture of a site’s current SEO compliance and most importantly showing the ways, both in the short and long term, that you can work with them to help them achieve their goals. So today I’m going to walk you through my approach to SEO audits and walk you through step by step. Now before we get started pulling data, there are a couple of things I like to figure out first.
Competitors and goals
Number one is competitors. So SEO, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If we want to improve our rankings, a competitor is likely going to have to lose rankings. So it’s really important to get an idea of what competitors you’re going to be looking at so you can see how you stack up in relation to 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. Now maybe they’re a competitor for you, but it’s really important to make sure that you’re being realistic and finding competitors that are of a similar size so that the insights you’re providing are actually going to be valuable and actionable. So if someone gives you Google as a competitor, think about it, maybe provide some alternatives.
Another thing I like to take a look at is goals. So if you’re evaluating a company, ask them what their goals are. Maybe they just launched a new product and they really would like some specific insights as to how they can improve that content. Or maybe they’re going through a site migration in a few months, and they really want some insights related to that.
So good audits are not one size fits all. So you can really level up your audit by making sure that it’s tailored to the site and the company you’re looking at specifically. So now that we’ve got our competitors, we’ve got our goals, let’s get started by taking a look at keywords.
Obviously, keywords are so important. It’s where you need to start because keywords are the backbone of SEO. Now this is an audit. We’re not doing a full keyword research strategy here. This shouldn’t take you all day. But there are a couple of tools that you can use so that you can get some really interesting and helpful information about keywords without having to put in a whole bunch of time.
So Moz’s Keyword Explorer is a really great place to start. I love to use the Compare Link Profiles tool, and this is a really good way to take a look at one site versus its competitors and see how it’s doing from a really high level. It’ll help you identify if there’s someone who’s really elite, who’s ranking for 20 times more keywords than you, that’s maybe not the most realistic competitor to monitor yourself against.
You can see if maybe there’s a site that’s really comparable. Or if there’s a site that’s not ranking for hardly any keywords, that’s not going to be one you have to worry about. So it’s a really good place to start just to get sort of an idea of the competitive landscape. Another really helpful thing to look at is the keyword overlap. So we’ve seen total keywords.
But what are those keywords specifically that are performing well? So my lovely drawing here of a keyword overlap chart gives you an idea. So let’s say the blue is your top competitor, green is competitor two, and then the 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 are ranking.
This is so important, because maybe you’ll identify a topic area where all of your competitors have content for, but the site you’re looking at doesn’t. This is a really good place to start and can help you provide some initial content suggestions and get sort of a window into your competitors’ content strategies. So speaking of content, let’s talk about looking at content for an SEO audit.
So this is probably where I spend the most time personally when I do audits, because it’s really valuable and there are also so many different things to look at and you can find something new pretty much every time. When you’re looking at a B2B site in particular, however, one thing you want to make sure you’re taking a look at is the funnel. Do they have content for all of the funnel stages, and are they funneling people from one stage to the next?
So take a look at their site like you’re someone visiting it for the first time. Take a look at their awareness content and see: Are there mid-funnel CTAs? Are they making the next step they want me to take clear? Or what is that ultimate conversion that they want people to take in the purchase stage? Do they have a really clear contact form?
Is it easy to navigate to the demo, if that’s a really important conversion to them? Take a look at their content and what they’re doing, specifically making sure that they have content for the full funnel. This is another good opportunity to evaluate your competitors. So do the same thing on your competitors’ sites. See if there’s something they’re doing really, really well, that the site you’re looking at is not.
Take some screenshots. Share some specific things a competitor is doing that maybe you can learn from and find a way to do your own version of on your site.
All right. Another area to always make sure you include is technical, because we all know that even if you have the best, amazing content on your site, if your technical SEO is a mess, it’s not really going to 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 they have missing metadata on all of their really valuable top pages. That’s good information to have and to share. Then you also want to expand that to look at things like site speed. Maybe they have really poor site speed, and it’s nothing that they’ve ever prioritized.
Use Google’s Page Speed Insights. See if there are some specific recommendations that you can give them and that you can help them fix, because ultimately it’s about trying to get them to want to work with you and showing how you could help them fix those issues. You can also take a look at things that might be impacting indexation. Take a look at their robots.txt.
Take a look at their sitemap. Just check all the boxes and make sure that there’s nothing that might be impacting their search appearance.
Finally, I always like to take a look at off-site. This is another great use of Moz. I love to use Moz’s Compare Link Profiles option to get an idea of how you stack up with your competitors when it comes to off-site.
Now I know that off-site is really difficult. Link building is hard, and it takes a long time to really show results. But knowing how you stack up against your competitors, when it comes to Domain Authority and it comes to total links, really helps you get an idea of how hard it’s going to be and how long it’s going to take to catch up with your competitors in the search engine results page.
So I always like to take a look at Domain Authority, external links, linking domains and really just finding insights as far as who’s going to be the most difficult, who is the most authoritative, and where do we stand today. You can also take a look at specific backlink profiles and link overlap, very similar to the competitor overlap.
See if there’s a site where all of your competitors have backlinks from and you don’t. Maybe it’s really relevant, an industry publication, and you can provide them that and you can help them eventually, hopefully, get a link from there too. All right. So we’ve taken a look at keywords, content, technical, and off-site. If you followed all the steps, you should have a really great audit with some super actionable, short-term and long-term action items to provide.
So I hope this was really helpful, and thank you for joining me.