Technical and content audits have been the backbone of SEO for many years, and while they play a valuable role, their scope has expanded as search has evolved. Audits now cover much more than purely technical factors such as indexation, status codes and broken links. To stay relevant, audits have broadened to include aspects such as site navigation, content engagement, content gap analysis and conversion factors.
For global and national brands, generic audits aren’t going to drive the change in performance that they are striving for, even if there are fundamental flaws with a website. Yes, these audits will certainly help — especially if, for example, there are indexation issues — but until we understand the consumer, their purchase journey and the barriers at each stage, we don’t know what we are trying to fix, or why.
Site audits which focus on resolving the barriers consumers face will help determine where the biggest opportunities exist. We can then prioritize and shape our efforts to meet the needs of the consumer and drive the largest return for our clients.
Adopting a consumer-first strategy does exactly this by ensuring campaigns have layers of hygiene optimization and insight-fueled strategic consultancy focused on identifying game-changing opportunities within the consumer search experience and conversion journey.
Hygiene optimization: the home of technical and content audits
Hygiene optimization forms the foundation for success and is where ongoing audits should sit. This activity is focused on getting the technical and content aspects of a site as well optimized as feasibly possible.
Hygiene optimization is about striving for continuous improvement by always looking to extract further performance. This approach is akin to the concept of the “aggregation of marginal gains,” which is summed up with the following quote from Jim Rohn:
Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.
The idea is that small improvements made consistently over time will eventually add up to produce significant improvement in the long run.
The concept of marginal gains acts as the perfect reminder that a site is never fully optimized. The hygiene optimization layer provides the environment where we can continually look to make small, incremental improvements through technical audits and insight-driven content optimization. For instance:
- Increase CTR by using paid search insight.
- Improve site information architecture to better surface information and improve the conversion journey.
- Ensure all relevant pages are indexed and returning the correct status codes.
In this model, audits are an essential part of campaigns, aiding prioritization and actively looking to extract every ounce of organic search performance. This approach moves us ever farther away from audits being conducted as large one-off or periodic items and toward a process of continual auditing.