I'm sitting in my lab actively auditing a massive enterprise eCommerce site and wanted to share a few steps and insights from my checklist. It isn't my full checklist, as that is accomplished over weeks and months, but as I sit down this morning, I thought I would share a bit of my formula.
I am intentionally going to leave SEO SaaS tools out of this reflection and focus purely on the google suite of available solutions. While I have an advanced tool kit, is it surprising what is available to SEO's at no cost.
I begin in the Google SERP for the core Branded Head Term. You would be absolutely SHOCKED to see that this is quite often overlooked. I want to take a look at the SERP response. Does the brand secure nearly the entire available organic SERP? What competitors are paying for above and below the SERP visibility. What does the knowledge graph look like. Is there any contextual positions like a Quick Answer, Local Pack, Video or Image Carousel, Shopping Carousel, Knowledge Panel, People Also Ask, etc. My goal is to find a point of entry. If the Branded Head Term is not returning extensive results, I have a potential point of entry. (think schema, think Google My Business, think indexation problem, so forth)
From there I take a look at Google Trends. I want to understand the history of popularity for the Branded Head Term and what I assume are the Non-Branded head terms. Im usually pretty good at guessing without the use of an SEO tool to do the research.
From there I am off to Google Search Console. what is the current health of the website? Are there any manual actions? Anything preventing indexation? Any performance problems across devices, locations, demographics and no forth? Do I see anything alarming within Core Web Vitals? Am I missing a sitemap.xml?
I then take a look at both the /Robot.txt file and the /Sitemap.xml to get an understanding. You would be SHOCKED to see incorrect disallows or no follows or no index directives within Robot.txt files. Typically these could be implemented to staging environments pre-migration and simply forgot to remove or tidy prior to launch. Or how many times I have seen a Sitemap.XML tell a bot that the Blog article or Product display page is updating
From there I am off to Google My Business. This is a hotbed for stale content. Lots of times, the original creator of the account is no where to be found, and business goes on without really updating this platform. Google My Business is a central hub for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. It is critical to keep this portal up to date, on target with current business dealings, reflective of company values and fully optimized. Even one missing feature, could be a full on opening for competition to capitalize on.
From there I am interested in exploring the holistic marketing strategy from the perspective of the consumer. This may take me into the ESP or into GoogleAds, or into social platforms and so forth. What is my experience as a consumer and what can I find that is missing? Do i see cross platform synergies? Do I see a holistic approach to content Titles, Descriptions, cross platform linking and related content?
From there I am looking at basic site structure and URL taxonomy. Again, While I use crawler solutions, I simply poke around from Home Page to, CLP to PDP, to Blog landing Page, to Artcile page and so forth. I am looking for general cleanliness and the relationship between meta elements and the URL. Im looking for clean directory structures. I am looking at pagination protocol in the URL. I am looking at case sensitivity. The list goes on.
While my list keeps going, and while I have not even gotten into Google Analytics or Page Speed Insights, or Rich Results Test, or Google Lighthouse and more advanced tools to paint a clearer picture, by this time, I know more about the business that any employees, and most leadership team members. I am not just looking for SEO opportunities. I am looking to understand the total opportunity across the entire business, industry and digital ecosystem.
My goal is simple. I operate as a surgeon would. I do as much pre-surgical inspection, data collection, process elimination, testing, and analysis, before I ever make a first incision. The goal is to do ZERO harm and make the smaller incisions possible to enhance. I am a measure twice, cut once practitioner.
I am a Holistic Search Marketer.