Montserrat Cano believes you should audit your website regularly in 2023 as a way to be more strategic, and gives SEOs guidance on what you should be focusing on during your audits and when you should be doing them.
Montserrat says: “You should audit your technical audience, positioning audience, etc. You should also be monitoring your website, your positioning, what kind of content is being picked up by Google, whether that content is producing results, and whether your competitors are looking for any other type of content that you should be ranking for.”
What’s the difference between a bigger audit and a smaller audit? What does conducting a bigger audit involve?
“With a bigger audit, you should be looking at technical aspects like technical position. You should make sure all websites are performing correctly and there are no security issues. This might not have as much to do with SEO, but it will affect a website’s performance.
Also, look at every single brand’s digital PR output. Conduct bigger keyword research and a bigger audit into what they’ve been doing during the year - in terms of the keywords you should be ranking for that are no longer producing any benefit.”
If you work in a large organisation, should you be working in conjunction with your IT department when you audit?
“Definitely. SEO does not benefit from working in isolation, so it’s important to do work with other departments. You should be good friends with the experts in your IT department and with the developers who will help you with the more technical aspects.
For example, you can audit the website, assess colours of choice, etc. As you look through, you’ll see things that might not be appropriate - like HTML or text that breaks the hat. These are the tips you can give your developers to look into. Perhaps they are not as important as you think they are, or the other way around. This is just a way for you to help them to monitor your website and do their work in general.”
From the audits you conduct, what are you finding as quick wins to improve the speed of a site?
“Sometimes images are unnecessarily too big, so why have them in the first place? Compressing images is a great option, however, looking into images of websites after an audit is a project in itself.
Whether it’s an eCommerce or SaaS website, most use an incredible volume of images and graphics. These need to be compressed, but this is a big job. That’s why it’s so important to work with designers and developers who can assist you.”
Are CMS systems getting better at automatically compressing the file size of images or is that something that has to be done manually?
“A manual audit is still necessary. There are some very good CMSs, add-ons, and plugins that can help you with your website. However, a manual audit is still better than just having a CMS and using tools. Also, as you start doing the manual audit, you can check whether that’s something you should be focusing on.
One of the main benefits of an audit is that you can identify issues that you perhaps didn’t know existed or issues that you deprioritized beforehand, like images. It’s important to think about your resources and the state of things at a given moment in time. Think about whether you need to look into images or not.
Prioritise properly, because a lot of the SEO things we do need to be prioritised. Let’s take Core Web Vitals as an example. When they first came out everyone assumed we needed to look into them, but sometimes looking into Core Web Vitals can break other things. You have to be careful and prioritise accordingly. That’s another reason why you have to audit, especially when you’ve deprioritized something that later becomes a priority. It’s important to always be aware of what’s happening in the moment and react accordingly.”
What is your favourite software for conducting audits?
“Screaming Frog, Sidewalk, Semrush, Majestic, etc. Using a combination of tools is the best approach. With different manual audits, it’s more about checking with the tool first and then checking manually to see whether your results are correct. If it’s checking properly then it’ll be something you need to do.”
Regarding Screaming Frog and Sitebulb, what are you looking for specifically from those two tools?
“Screaming Frog is used to perform everyday quick checks. Sitebulb is mostly used when you first come into a project or when you’re working on a much bigger one. Both tools are amazing but Sitebulb is a lot more visual, so if you want to do a bigger audit you can save time by looking at the different graphics you find. Screaming Frog is more number-crunching.”
How do audits help you to be more strategic and how do you use the data you discover from them?
“It’s all about providing search engine algorithms with content that’s going to be useful to your target audience. It’s about providing content that answers their queries, content that is going to help you convert, that will make you look good from a digital PR perspective, and that will help your brand.
The benefits of doing this are big but they’re mostly related to the concept of uncertainty. We’re living through uncertain political, economic, and SEO times. Look at the SERPs every day and you’ll be able to see the different tests being performed in different markets. You could see something in India but not in Sweden. Sometimes you’ll get search results where there’s no clickable link.
You need to be prepared for this, and audits can help with anything that might happen - whether that’s a URL update or something else. This can help you with uncertainty because all you’ll know about are brands, outputs, etc. The next step is to master your audience. How is your audience interacting with your content? Where are they clicking? What kind of formats do they prefer? etc.
We need to master this to avoid being absolutely nothing. Think about the algorithm updates and the weight Google is putting on trust, quality, etc. An audit can help you understand what your current state is so you can prioritise and plan for the year ahead to stand out in the SERPs. For example, are you making the right type of content? And, if keywords are not performing well, is that something you need to improve on?
There might be ongoing projects that can inform you about that. For example, if you’re looking into Core Web Vitals as a side project but you audit and realise you are not ranking for a piece of content competitors are ranking for. In this case, you’d need to shift priorities.”
What shouldn’t SEOs be doing in 2023? What’s seductive in terms of time, but ultimately counterproductive?
“Well, people need to be more strategic with content and stop producing more and more content for the sake of producing content. This is completely counterproductive because it doesn’t help with your resources. Also, work satisfaction can reduce because you’re pressed for time and can’t measure the importance of content, how your audience is interacting with it, and whether they’re clicking on it or buying something through it. It’s important to analyse these things but impossible to do so when content is being published every week.
Be strategic about content and everything else. Identify a type of content that needs to be produced. Think about the resources you’ll need to produce it, create a calendar to address the time you’ll need to produce it, and think about what keywords need to go in there and your tracking requirements.”
Montserrat Cano is a Senior Digital Marketing Consultant based in Madrid, Spain.
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