You know the fundamental SEO audit report features. Organic CTRs, referring domains, etc…
But in this post, we’re focusing on the not-so-commonly used SEO audit features. And with the help of SEO experts, we created a 10-point list of outside-the-box SEO audit report features to test-drive.
Let’s dive in.
10 Must-Use SEO Audit Report Features
Here are SEO audit report features shared by experts:
- Competitor SEO Profiling
- Site Speed
- Site Health
- Content Duplication
- Visual Experience
- Business Listing Consistency
- Content-Length Ratios
- Demographic Data
- Recommended Actions
Now you know the new SEO audit report features. But stick around. Hear what SEO experts had to say about each…
1. Competitor SEO Profiling
When we reached out to the experts, one response continued to surface: Competitor SEO analysis.
And after analyzing responses, it made complete sense that competitor SEO analysis was a total must-include in your reporting. Here’s why:
The goal of your audit is to provide a benchmark of where your site is and where it would like to be. And to do that, you need to make clear where your site is in relation to competitors.
If you discover your site gets 1,000 visits a month, that could be viewed as bad. But if your closest competitors are only getting 500, then your site is actually performing well. It puts it all in perspective as each metric is relative.
– Brett Downes, SEO Manager, Traffic Jam Media
Brett makes a great point. Without competitor profiling, the SEO audit report is subjective. But including competitor data adds context to a site’s performance.
And there are other reasons why competitor profiles are useful in your SEO audit report…
To me, the most important thing to include in an SEO audit is a competitive analysis.
The number of prospects I speak with that have no clue what they’re competitors are doing on the web is shocking. I also find SEOs don’t provide competitor profiles (or as much as they can, given potential access limitations) in their SEO audit reports.
Regardless of the industry, you need to know where opportunities are on your own website in addition to your competitors. This shows you what direct competition is doing, how you can replicate the good and implement a campaign that’s even better while ignoring the bad.
Things to look at in your SEO competitive analysis are:
- Tracking & Analytics (what tracking software is being used and how many)
- Accessibility (https, site speed, etc.)
- Search Visibility (organic versus paid, etc.)
- Social Audience (engagement)
- Content (number of pages, average word count, etc.)
- External Reviews (Google, Yelp, etc.)
- Employee Reviews (ie. Glassdoor)
– Brandon Doyle, General Manager, Rank First Local
Now you know why competitor profiling is a must in SEO reporting: It illuminates a site’s performance within an industry. It also gives you ideas for SEO improvement.
Now let’s shift over to technical SEO audit report features.
2. Site Speed
Our next feature is site speed. Another must-have when it comes to SEO auditing. A speedy site equals a high-quality experience for visitors. And search engines have begun paying close attention. Here’s more:
Every company needs to include page speed in their SEO audit reporting.
This is a critical component in today’s fast-paced user mindset. If a site doesn’t maintain a quick page speed, then you’ll not only have a high bounce rate but your site will generally not rank well.
High page speed is the linchpin of a high-converting website. So don’t overlook this feature. Because without this crucial component it doesn’t matter how well designed the site is – it just won’t convert.
Nobody wants to stick around and wait for a page to load. Because we’ve all become conditioned to receive things immedeatly, hence the need for quick page speed.
– Thomas Adams, SEO Specialist, Tech Prosperity
This technical SEO feature may not be at the forefront of SEO audit reporting. But it matters. Because while sexy features like organic CTRs make for a nice report, site speed could be the real culprit affecting SEO.
3. Site Health
Site health is about structuring your site for search engines to read. Here’s more on this SEO audit feature.
SEO audit reporting is truly the first place to start for improving performance.
Features like keyword analysis, top performing content, and backlinks are all important pieces in the puzzle. But again, they are not the base upon which you build.
The number one most important thing to look at in a site audit is overall site health. Or “Crawlability”.
You have to properly format your site so that Google and other search engines can crawl it. And not only that, but also provide important information. You can break the foundation down to include things like how headings are used, meta descriptions, navigation, page structure and more.
– Jordan McCreery, VP Business Development, Ingrained Media
Jordan’s points revolve around the backend of a site. And when you run into errors here, you need to mention it in your auditing. Here’s more:
One advanced SEO audit report feature is the number of on-page SEO errors that a company’s site contains. Because it provides you with an SEO roadmap of on-page issues to fix.
Some examples of on-page issues you’ll find in an audit include:
- Missing meta descriptions
- Images missing alt-text
- Pages missing H1 title tags
Fixing these SEO issues maximizes a site’s potential to rank well.
– James McCarthy, CEO, Placement Labs
James raises a good point. And while this is on the backend of your site, it’s still critical to mention in your report. And you can convey this information easily using tools like Pagezii’s SEO Analysis Report.
You can see the SEO audit report at work in this video tutorial. Check it out and take your SEO audit reports to the next level.
4. Content Duplication
Content duplication is another SEO audit must-include. If not, your site could get hit hard with a Google penalty. Here’s more on the topic:
One must-include factor for an SEO audit is duplication. There are several instances of duplication to consider, including:
- Similar pages that are missing canonical tags
- Pages that have duplicate copy
- Auto-generated dynamic URLs that contain subtle differences (like capitalization or trailing backslashes)
Google’s Panda update targets websites that have thin, duplicate, or plagiarized copy. So, when auditing SEO, it’s important to address duplicate content and advise your clients as to the most crucial duplication errors throughout the site.
This will give them the best chance of success when assembling an SEO/content plan.
– Christine Kilbride, Digital Marketing Associate, Sagefrog
Christine’s points are important to keep in mind. Because duplicate content is a problem right under your nose. And dropping the ball can hurt your rankings over time.
Now we’ve covered technical SEO audit report features. So it’s time to shift to more “human” aspects of auditing.
Navigation is important for a few reasons. One – it helps user traverse your site. And two – you make it simple for search engines to crawl. Here’s more:
Auditing site navigation plays a critical for both search engine visibility and the user experience as they navigate the website.
Search engines read links and use the navigation to better understand how site pages correlate with each other.
From a usability perspective, navigation helps visitors quickly understand what content the site offers, using keyword rich language to help them quickly and easily navigate to the pages that best meet their needs.
– Stoney deGeyter, CEO, Pole Position Marketing
Stoney raises great points on the importance of site navigation.
Let’s dive a bit deeper into the UX side of SEO auditing…
6. Visual Experience
When you think of SEO auditing, we think data. Numbers. CTRs. But what about your visitors?
In my experience, one thing that many SEO audit clients disregard is the visual experience of the site. Because it’s subjective and can be the most expensive to fix.
In an SEO audit situation, many website owners want to see keywords and numbers. Those are all important – but they don’t mean much if the site those search visitors land on is hard to use, or gives a bad first impression!
In the competitive analysis part of an SEO audit, then, if design is contributing to poor search traffic performance, side-by-side screenshots of the client and competitors can help underline the real experiences users are having, and move the conversation about visual UX experiences toward something more productive and concrete, while minimizing the chance your client feels defensive that you think their site ‘looks bad’.
– Lyndsay Peters, Director of Search, ATAK Interactive
Visual experience and design are important elements in SEO. If visitors hit a site and bounce, that site is recieving low dwell time. And this is actually a great talking point for audiences who are new to SEO. Because it something anyone in marketing can understand.
7. Business Listing Consistency
This is definitely one of our outside-the-box SEO audit report features. But we had to include it on our list. Because you already know the essentials. So it’s time to spice things up. Here’s more on this audit feature.
One of my must-use SEO audit report features is an overall snapshot of the business’s listings for unification, correctness, and completeness.
There are over 100 listings, reviews, and directory websites out there. But a lot of businesses claim their Google My Business, Facebook, and that is about it. While claiming the top 10 or so is the most important (Yelp, Foursquare, YP, etc.) you shouldn’t skip the rest. And it’s important to make sure the information is correct, uniform and up to date across each.
Often times, industry-specific directories get overlooked too, which isn’t good. For instance, if you’re a plumber, Home Adviser is a great business listing for you to be on. And it can rank high in your third-party search results.
I often get asked why it’s important to claim a lot of the directories that do not receive much traffic or no one has ever heard of. But here’s why:
Google has heard of them and cares about listing accuracy when taking into consideration which pieces of information to return to a person based on their search query.
If you’re not claiming your listings or the ones you are claiming contain errors or are incomplete, Google’s confidence in your brand and returning your search in the top three positions goes down because it does not know for certain all the info a person may interact with will be completely accurate.
Google is in the business of search experience. And the more complete and unified information you give them, the more likely they are to return your company’s search results on the first page.
So, it’s critical to include this information in an SEO audit because it plays such an important role in search rankings. And it’s also easy for a company to understand and digest.
– Justin Knott, President, Intrepy
And that is why business listings matter. Justin’s detailed description makes complete sense. If you’re not updating your third-party listings, you’re sending mixed signals to Google.
8. Content-Length Ratios
Another outside-the-box SEO audit report feature was short vs. long content. And in the era of long-form content, this is another critical piece in SEO reporting. Here’s the scoop.
I’ve completed a thousand SEO audit reports in my career, some small and some large. There are the basics that should be in all audit reports, like:
- Number of backlinks
- Number of referring domains
- Domain Authority metrics
- Trust Flow
But one of my favorites is the number of pages on a website that contain less than 300 words.
With the Panda algorithm, Google wants to rank quality sites. And a large factor of that is the ratio of long to short pages you have on your site.
For example, if you have 200 pages on your site and 50 of them have less than 300 words – that means a quarter of your site is thin. This ratio won’t help you score well in regards to Panda. And all your rankings will suffer no matter how many good backlinks you get.
Once you have a list of your thin pages, you then need to decide what you want to do with these thin pages:
- Delete it and 301 redirect to your homepage or a better page on the same topic.
- Merge it with a better page.
- No index it, but leave it live as it does serve a function to the visitor.
- Canonical to a better page
- Is it a section of your site that’s thin? If so, you can exclude it in your robots.txt file
Either way, you don’t want Google crawling these thin pages. Save your crawl budget for only pages you want to rank.
– James Herd, Digital Marketing Executive, Holmes Media
James raises a ton of great points here. First, the point on long to short content ratio. This is something to keep an eye on when auditing SEO. Next, his points on how to balance out this ratio. All aimed at improving SEO ranks.
9. Demographic Data
When it comes down to it, what’s the audit for? It’s to assess a site’s performance for generating organic visitors. Keep that in mind when it comes to SEO audit report features. Here’s more on this idea.
SEO auditing is a crucial process, regardless of whether you’re working on a new site or an established one. Because SEO is only as good as its weakest part. So it’s important to look right across the board at your domain.
I like to have clients take an interest so I can create genuine buy-in and loyalty. And there’s one thing I’ve started including in audit reports more recently that’s particularly helped me to achieve this.
I include Google Analytics demographic data in my reports to give clients a clear picture of site visitors.
It provokes a bit of dialogue. So I’ll then ask whether this fits the profile of people they would like to target, or thought they were targeting.
It also tends to stick in their mind and we then refer to it as the relationship progresses. A simple age and gender breakdown are informative, and in some instances, it has surprised clients quite a bit.
Having come into SEO the marketing route, rather than a technical background, starting with the customer is second nature to me. Keyword research is important, but it can be tempting to dive straight into it, without thinking about what an ideal customer might look like and what they would search for. I’ve found that this one small step can go a long way towards keeping myself and the client on-track.
– Rob Watson, Digital Marketing Consultant, Click To Sale
Can you argue with Rob’s points here? Nope. Because an SEO audit report is an audit of a business process. And the fundamental reason behind this process is to drive visitors, which can potentially convert to a lead.
Make sure to show who site visitors are in your SEO audits. Now let’s finish this list off with our final point.
10. Recommended Actions
An audit is only half the battle. Sure it’s great your audience knows whats going on from an SEO perspective. But, then what? Here’s the answer.
One of my absolute must-use SEO audit report features is this:
Every report should have recommended actions for everything rather than just problems laid out. It seems obvious what the action should be for a skilled SEO practitioner, but it’s not for most people.
This is a vital piece to an SEO audit. Because it makes your report prescriptive. Meaning you’re solving a problem instead of just pointing to it.
– Nick Leffler, Owner, Exprance
An SEO audit tells you whats wrong. Kinda like a physical. And just like in a physical, if your doctor didn’t tell you how to fix any problems, you wouldn’t know what to do.
So make sure you’re proving the solutions, not just the diagnosis.
Try These Ten SEO Audit Features In Your Next Report
When we reached out the experts, we were surprised with the range of outside-the-box audit features they shared. And in 2017, all ten of these SEO audit report features matter. They’re what separates the everyday SEOs from true search engine practitioners.
Would you add any other SEO audit report features to the list? Make sure to share them in the comments below!