Want to improve the organ­ic search vis­i­bil­i­ty of your web­site?

Step one is com­mon­ly an SEO audit.

An SEO audit can pro­duce valu­able insights. It reveals past SEO strat­e­gy and tac­tics – or lack there­of – and is a fresh way to get start­ed with a new part­ner,

The best audits are done in-depth and focused on aspects across the three key areas of SEO:

  • Tech­ni­cal.
  • On-page.
  • Off-page.

They also use some key­word or goal-ori­ent­ed focus­es to com­pare against. This allows for a deep­er analy­sis of key­word per­for­mance and com­peti­tor com­par­i­son.

When invest­ing time, ener­gy, and actu­al dol­lars in an SEO audit, you are prob­a­bly doing it with the goal of tak­ing action after­ward. Per­haps you’re look­ing to get a return on invest­ment or jump-start rank­ing, traf­fic, and con­ver­sion goal improve­ments.

So what comes next?

Here are some spe­cif­ic next steps you should take after the audit is com­plet­ed to build momen­tum and ensure your time and invest­ment isn’t wast­ed.

1. Develop a List of Insights

A detailed, hand­craft­ed audit report often includes:

  • The list of SEO items audit­ed.
  • What the sta­tus is of those items weighed against best prac­tices, audi­ence, and com­pet­i­tive fil­ters.
  • Rec­om­men­da­tions of aspects to cor­rect or improve.

These are often woven through­out the report and some­times are sum­ma­rized in an exec­u­tive sum­ma­ry or con­clu­sion sec­tion.

For lighter or more auto­mat­ed audits, this sec­tion of find­ings might be lack­ing clar­i­ty or depth.

Your first step after the SEO audit is to get to the short (or pos­si­bly long) list of spe­cif­ic insights and things that need action.

2. Prioritize Based on Level of Impact

Using the list that was includ­ed in the audit report, or the insights you com­piled, it’s time to begin the plan­ning phase.

If you have the option to go back to the per­son or team (inter­nal­ly or exter­nal­ly) who con­duct­ed the audit or do a post-audit meet­ing, this is the time to learn and under­stand the expect­ed lev­el of impact of each of the items on the insights list.

Not all cor­rec­tive or opti­miza­tion actions will have the same mag­ni­tude of impact. While SEO pro­fes­sion­als are pressed to avoid promis­es due to the uncer­tain nature of the indus­try, there should be a scale and objec­tive way to pri­or­i­tize the list based on how big issues are.

Set­ting expec­ta­tions of what the impact could be, even when they are based on bench­marks and where you want to be, will be help­ful lat­er for mea­sure­ment of actu­al impact.

For exam­ple, resolv­ing the issue of miss­ing title and meta descrip­tion tags on every page of the site by writ­ing cus­tom, help­ful, key­word focused tags will like­ly have more impact and should have high­er pri­or­i­ty than imple­ment­ing schema struc­tured data for a con­tact us page.

3. Determine Necessary Resources

With a pri­or­i­tized list of action items based on the lev­el of impact, you can now deter­mine the nec­es­sary time, bud­get, and resources need­ed to tack­le each item.

Some updates can be made in min­utes by a sin­gle per­son with lit­tle train­ing. Oth­ers might require the assis­tance of oth­er depart­ments, indi­vid­u­als, or out­side ven­dors.

Some­thing like the imple­men­ta­tion of a sophis­ti­cat­ed canon­i­cal tag strat­e­gy might require a good tech­ni­cal SEO mind plus the skills of a web devel­op­er. Those resources may cost mon­ey and have to be slot­ted into sched­ules.

Once you know how long it will take to imple­ment each item, what it will cost in time and resources, cou­pled with the lev­el of impact from the pre­vi­ous step, you can fil­ter the list and re-pri­or­i­tize.

4. Develop a Timeline

You now have an out­line of the work and needs in front of you. This is not the time to take your foot off the gas.

Push­ing for­ward on the SEO plan can be daunt­ing due to time, resource, and bud­get con­straints. How­ev­er, SEO is a long-term com­mit­ment that is fueled by short-term activ­i­ties and tac­ti­cal exe­cu­tion.

At this point, you should be able to see what the all-in invest­ment is for imple­ment­ing all of the items on the list.

Based on bud­get­ing, pac­ing, and the abil­i­ty to com­mit, it should be pos­si­ble to know how much time over­all it will take to work through every­thing.

With this in hand, you can devel­op a time­line with spe­cif­ic mile­stones, goals, and report­ing cycles to mea­sure the impact of the effort.

5. Create an Action Plan

Putting the plan in motion, you’ll need to find the right sys­tems to ensure that:

  • Col­lab­o­ra­tion is easy.
  • Tasks are sched­uled and assigned.
  • Account­abil­i­ty is attached.

Whether that is a work­flow pro­gram, SEO tool, or project man­age­ment suite, treat­ing this as a real project or cam­paign fol­low­ing the audit is one of the best things you can do to give it a fair shot.

Heap­ing a big stack of tasks or assign­ments on an indi­vid­ual, team, or group of roles with no expec­ta­tion or account­abil­i­ty is a big risk for fail­ure.

Set­ting the tone with a plan and an expec­ta­tion of it being orga­nized and com­plet­ed on bud­get and on time is crit­i­cal.

Not all stake­hold­ers and roles will under­stand the poten­tial impact of improv­ing SEO if they only have a small role in cer­tain pieces.

The IT man­ag­er (no offense) prob­a­bly won’t care much about why you want them to change 302 redi­rects to 301s or set a canon­i­cal ver­sion of the root domain.

With­out some edu­ca­tion and a clear assign­ment with a due date that tucks into the plan, it might go into an IT queue with low pri­or­i­ty and nev­er get done.

6. Achieve Success

How are you going to know what SEO suc­cess looks like and that this effort was worth­while?

Tying back into the goals and expec­ta­tions you set in the first post-audit step of assess­ing the best esti­mate pos­si­ble of the lev­el of impact of the action items iden­ti­fied, you can mea­sure per­for­mance.

Using base­line or bench­mark data, you can iso­late the project sched­ule and see where aver­age posi­tion, impres­sions, traf­fic, and con­ver­sions changed dur­ing the project or cam­paign.

With a ded­i­cat­ed plan and con­cert­ed effort, you should be able to track spe­cif­ic improve­ments.

Be sure to use the anno­ta­tion fea­ture in Google Ana­lyt­ics and have reg­u­lar report­ing cycles month­ly or week­ly depend­ing on how long your time­line is for imple­ment­ing the plan.

This is a great way to track improve­ment over time and under­stand the actu­al impact ver­sus the esti­mat­ed lev­el of impact and to make any agile revi­sions to the plan or to keep going with the orig­i­nal sched­ule.

Conclusion

The SEO audit process can be over­whelm­ing.

Depend­ing on the type of audit, and how much sup­port and edu­ca­tion you receive at the end of the process, it can be chal­leng­ing to use the audit as a pow­er­ful tool to improve the opti­miza­tion of a web­site.

Through work­ing from insights to ful­ly-action­able and mea­sur­able plan, you can achieve suc­cess and find ROI not just for the audit invest­ment itself, but in lever­ag­ing SEO as a valu­able dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing chan­nel.

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