SEO is a fickle beast and is always changing like a lifelike amoeba, and what worked 5 years ago for ranking a website on the top organic positions in Google no longer works today. Today we are going to outline the best practices for SEO today in 2017 and what you can do to understand how things are different and how we stay ahead of the curve of what is needed to rank a website. For businesses that are new to SEO and haven’t done any link building (or are on a new domain) then a SEO audit is typically unnecessary. However, if your business has ran SEO campaigns in the past and is still struggling with rankings, an audit is a necessary step to get a clear picture of what needs to be done both on-site and off-site in order to optimize your rankings.
If your website has any history of link building or has been around for some time, then an SEO audit is necessary to get a clear picture of the backlinks that have been acquired for your website. The audit will pull a full history of your backlink profile where we will be able to determine whether or not there are any problematic links that need to be cleaned up or disavowed. A disavow is a way of telling Google not to count the value of certain links that may be toxic (spammy, foreign, low value links) that actually could be hurting your rankings instead of helping them.
The audit for your backlink profile will also tell us where there are winning opportunities for additional link building, as well as some potential targets where we may be able to acquire new links that may have been overlooked. An example would be a website where you have a backlink that could be additionally optimized by changing the anchor text to a more optimized phrase.
The content side of things ties into the on-site SEO side of things where we take a deeper look at website pages to find deficiencies and areas for improvement. There may be long form pillar content that is unoptimized that can be cleaned up which in our experience this alone has produced some huge ranking increases. Another area of improvement for the content can fall into content that is lacking keyword optimization in the titles, descriptions and other meta data. This optimization can help bridge the gap between a second and first page ranking, and sometimes that is enough to bring on significant increases in traffic that holds real value.
There is also room to identify problematic content during the audit to find out if there is any issues with duplicate content that may be on other sites on the web, which can also hurt your SEO results. Running a copyscape check to ensure that all your content is unique will ensure that your content strategy is sound and that you arent being penalized by having duplicate content on other pages around the web.
Once the audit is complete we are able to assess the results from a technical perspective in order to begin the clean up and optimization phase. Depending on the issues with a website this clean up phase can run anywhere from 2-3 months all the way up to a year. It really depends on the breadth and complexity of the website that we are dealing with. We’ve ran audits on websites with over 100k pages, which obviously takes much more man hours and laborious work to clean up if there are issues. While a website with 20 pages and zero link building history will only take a few weeks to optimize.
Generally speaking we go through the content to optimize your meta tags, fix the internal linking structure to make it more optimized, and setting up 301 redirects for broken links or pages on your website that may have been removed but are still being indexed by the search engines. Once these changes are made, it can take anywhere from 3-6 months to see the positive results from the optimization and clean up phase.
The key with SEO and running an technical SEO audit is to always be testing. The Google ranking algorithm is always changing and unless you are constantly testing and experimenting with things you may not know what the best practice is for ranking in our current day and age. Even this article may be outdated in terms of methodology in 6 months time and what works for one client may not work for another because there are so many different factors at play. As long as you are keeping up with trends and testing/checking things regularly then you should be fine.
If you are still struggling with your organic rankings and SEO then contact us here at Academic Ads today to see how we can help you optimize your website and improve your rankings.