Moz SEO Audit
Launching a startup is a huge task all on its own. While it can be a challenge to factor SEO into the mix, it's an incredibly important consideration. In today's Whiteboard Friday, Rand shares a comprehensive plan to kick off your new SEO audit and grab a piece of that organic search pie from the get-go.
Pro tip: For easy listening, this video is broken up into 9 chapters that correspond with the transcript below.
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Hi, everyone down at StartCon. Thank you so much for having me. My name is Rand Fishkin. I'm the co-founder of Moz, and today I'm going to be talking to all of you and to Whiteboard Friday fans everywhere about how to kick-start an SEO audit for your startup.
So what I've done here is I've taken our classic SEO pyramid, sort of you've got to start with a strong base and work your way up. Well, I flipped it, because, in an audit scenario, we're actually going to start from the bottom and work our way to the top. So I've inverted our pyramid. We're going to start with crawling and accessibility, and we're going to work all the way up to conversion.Now, SEO in a startup setting can be challenging. I'm going to assume that your startup has already launched your website or your web content, your application, and that now you've just realized, "Wait, maybe we should do some of that SEO stuff." And yes, you should. Let me make three big reasons, three big cases why you should.
- Search traffic is among the highest percentage of all referral traffic on the web. So whereas social traffic sends approximately 5% to 6% of all the web's referral traffic, search engines send about 28% or 29% of all the web's referring traffic. This is data according to SimilarWeb who has a large clickstream panel that they look at.
- Organic search traffic is more than 90% of all the clicks that go to search results. So 90% of the clicks are going to organic, 10% or actually less than 10% are going to the paid results. Companies around the world are spending $40, $50, $60 billion a year or more on Google's paid search results alone. That organic stuff is a competitive advantage because it means low cost of customer acquisition. It tends to mean higher retention. It tends to mean higher conversion rates. Very, very attractive traffic.
- Searches are a specific request from a user that says, "I want this thing and I want it right now." That's some of the most powerful traffic you can possibly be in front of on the web, and, as a result, the startups that can get their product, their service, their company, their brand in front of those searchers can have an outsized impact.
Now, we need to kick off this audit.
Crawling, indexing, and website structure
What I've essentially done here is taken sort of the top three things to be thinking about for each of these and detailed them for you. So when it comes to crawling and web structure, we want:
1. Everything on one sub and root domain.
I can't tell you how many times I've seen startups use blog.startup.com, or use startupblog.com. Or they blog only on Medium.com instead of blogging on their own site and using Medium as an additional network to amplify that content. Or they put everything on their app and their app is one page, and so Google can't index anything except that one page. Generally, all of these are terrible ideas. If you can, keep everything in subfolders, or if you call them subdirectories, of your website. Don't separate out your content on to multiple sites, and don't build anything on somebody else's site unless you're also using it on your site and just referring back. You want to use Medium, that's great. You want to use Facebook, great. You want to use LinkedIn Publishing, fantastic. Always have the "Here's the link to the original" and point it to your website.
2. You can sign up for Google Search Console (it is free).
That will help you identify a lot of crawl errors and issues. If you work with a professional SEO, chances are they're going to use a tool like OnPage.org or Screaming Frog or . Those are all good too. They can provide a little bit more extra detail.
3. Eliminate duplicates, search URLs, and thin pages
One of the things that you will want to do, when you're looking at your site, is eliminate duplicates, search URLs, meaning pages on your site that are essentially just search results — Google does not like your search results in their search results — and thin pages, pages that have very little content. You might think, "Oh, but they target some extra keywords for me." Yeah, but Google considers your site as a whole. If you have thousands of pages with very thin content, they're going to rank your other content lower, and that is not a good thing. You do not want that.
1. Make a big, broad list.
You could do this in Excel. You could do it in a Google Spreadsheet. You could do it in . I want you to use a bunch of different sources. I want you to look at keywords that your competitors are ranking for. You can find that from lots of different tools. You could use something like Keyword Explorer. You could use SEMrush. You could use KeyCompete. You could use SpyFu. There are lots and lots of tools that allow you to do this.I want you to also use the related and suggested search terms that come up when you search for the key terms and phrases you're already targeting in Google. I want you to use semantically-connected terms and terms that are in the format of questions. A lot of folks like Answer The Public. Moz also has the filter in Keyword Explorer for queries that are in the form of questions. These will give you a big, big, broad list.