Because Google and other search engines are simply computers, they require some hand holding when it comes to crawling and understanding your site. Google has created quite a few tools and standards that allow SEO professional to provide further details about a site’s content and subject matter. A skilled SEO service provider will be familiar with these standards and have the needed software tools and experts to employ them on your site. Technical audits can vary dramatically in their size, scope, and cost. If you have a simple “brochure-ware” website, your technical SEO needs will be less than a dynamic or software-heavy site. Typically, e-commerce sites require the most technical SEO due to their complex navigation and large number of pages. News sites and blogs with a lot of content may also require more technical optimization because they have a large number of pages, categories, tags, content types (video, audio, podcast, etc.). It’s likely that a technical audit will be one of the more expensive SEO services you purchase because it requires more expertise from the provider and can take a lot of time. The good news is that these auditing costs are not recurring and are only necessary once every 1-2 years if done thoroughly.
Here’s what your agency or consultant should be talking to you about when it comes to a small business technical audit:
- A crawl of your entire domain using crawl-simulator software to inventory all of the URLs, images, scripts, CSS files, and assets
- Setup of Google Webmaster Tools console including the creation and submission of an XML sitemap to help Google discover all of your pages
- Recommendations designed to consolidate duplicate pages or remove irrelevant pages from Google’s index
- This step of the audit will discuss the use of 301 redirects, rel=canonical tags, robots.txt and robots META tags
- It’s OK if you don’t understand the details of these technical tools — that’s your agent’s job
- An analysis of the load times of important pages on your site with an emphasis on your homepage and top-navigation pages
- These days, Google prefers to serve up fast pages in their rankings so it’s important that your pages respond and load as quickly as your Google-page competition
- Make sure you get some concrete recommendations on how to improve
- A scan for common crawling and indexing problems to ensure that Google isn’t getting hung up trying to access your pages
Hiring an SEO firm to have a look at your domain is a good idea. Being ranked in Google is a 1-way ticket to market leadership in your area and can often be the difference between your business thriving and stalling out. Despite its importance, it can be intimidating. Much like taking an old car into the shop and hearing a mechanic rattle off a dozen problems with parts you’ve never heard of. Studying this guide will keep you on the right track and ensure you’re not getting taken for a ride.