This is the first real post in a series I promised yesterday. (Look at me! I'm blogging!) I'll be covering, in detail, how I construct an SEO Audit from the ground up.
Today, I'm starting with the single most important element of the SEO Audits I create. The scorecard works on a five-point rating scale, assessing the site's key pages in columns against a list of categorized SEO factors in rows. The SEO Scorecard is created in Excel and then pulled into your audit document in screenshots. My SEO Scorecard template was in desperate need of an update, which I rectified today. Go download the new version.
I always feature the SEO Scorecard near the beginning of the document. It is an excellent way to anchor the rest of the report and gives you something to reference as you describe enhancements. Let's dive in.
In order to be effective at creating and populating an SEO Scorecard, you have to have a strong sense of SEO best practices. My rating scale of 1-5 is entirely subjective, based on my own knowledge and experience. Sure, there are tools to help, but today the best way to get a good SEO Audit is still to have a knowledgeable human do it. Here is a screenshot of the optimization scale. A score of 1/5 signifies, "Poor. Grossly out-of-line with best practices." and a score of 5/5 signifies, "Excellent. Meets best practices. No improvements at this time." You then of course have everything in between.
All of the scorecard sections roll up into one aggregate score. Here is a screenshot from my updated SEO Scorecard template that shows just the Overall Optimization section. Along the top, I cover 4 pages (sometimes 3 or 5) and also have a place for 'Domain Wide' scores. I always cover the home page. The remaining 3 or 4 page types are based on the website. Most websites are based off of a core few page types, so these aren't too difficult to identify or narrow down. 3-5 is plenty. Under each page type there is a score, in this case everything is off the charts with a 6.0. (This is because I always start my scorecarding off with 6s in every field to be populated. This is a quick way to see what still needs to be completed and doesn't throw off the template aesthetics like a blank field would.) The scores are based on an average of each section. I don't weight the factors, but it could be done. On the far right, everything is summed up in one overall SEO Score.
This is were we start to get into the SEO factors themselves. Next week I'll start diving into what factors I look at, why, and how I do it. Today, though, we're just talking about the scorecard itself. Here is a screenshot of the On-Page/Content Optimization section of the SEO Scorecard. You can see the factors detailed down the left and 4 columns of scores. Each column within the On-Page/Content Optimization section gets averaged. Over on the far right hand side, rows are averaged. Effectively, your client can look at the site's score overall (like we saw in the Overall Optimization screenshot), scores by individual factor and page type, as well as averages by factor (across all page types) and averages by page type (across all factors). As you can see, there is a lot of information packed into a scorecard. If I pound away, I can usually complete an SEO Scorecard in about 4 hours.
Crawling, Indexing & Technical Issues
The next section I want to show you is one that is mostly assessed on a domain-wide scale, so you can see how that works. See how the individual page types aren't populated but the domain wide column is? There are a couple more sections that I'm not going to show you here. I've already covered the main points. Go ahead and download the template to see the rest.
I use scorecards in all of my full site audits. Executives like them because they are an information packed summary of the findings. It also gives them something to measure against moving forward. There is nothing more exciting (okay, maybe there is something...) than turning a score of 1 to a score of 5 and seeing how that changes the spreadsheet and the score.
I hope I've shared a thing or two that you can use! Next week I'll be covering how I audit on-page factors, so come back and see me! Happy Auditing!