A common question we get from digital marketing clients is “how to do an enterprise SEO audit?…” Most often, enterprise level marketing managers are looking for clear directions on how to explain to executives the value of a large scale audit and its effects on organic search traffic.
Which is why we put together this article to generally breakdown our SEO audit and analysis process.
What is an Enterprise SEO audit?
Before we deep dive, simply put, an enterprise Audit for SEO is doing a (often) large scale SEO audit.
Meaning the website is often pretty big, commonly ranging in the hundred of thousands of pages if not millions.
Another possible scenario is for larger companies or well funded startups. For example, we’ve worked with clients I’d consider enterprise, but their website is still fairly new in the eyes of Google.
Is an Audit for B2B Enterprise different from B2C?
Well, yes and no. A B2B audit or analysis is normally content driven websites, whereas B2C is usually a combination of content and an eCommerce store.
What to Look for In an SEO Audit for Enterprise Level Businesses
When discussing an audit to a client of any level, you have to make it pretty clear the posible gain.
After all, no one really cares or often fully understands an audit for SEO at higher levels in organizations, they generally care more about the cost per lead, traffic potential etc. Usually the higher ups care more about data-driven information.
Which is why in our Audits, we make it pretty clear the overall value and general expectations.
In short, for both aspiring SEO leads and future clients, we thought it would be helpful if we broke down our general audit process.
Work in Easy Wins for Scalability
More often than not, in any SEO situation you should make easy wins within your audit a high priority in your enterprise audit.
This does a few things:
- The digital marketing staff that hired you will breathe a sigh of relief, as your services, analysis and audit recommendations are working.
- You’ll win developer confidence, more often than not, at an enterprise level, dev’s will be implementing your SEO recommendations and changes. You need them on your side.
- You make everyone look good, your work impacts the people who choose to hire you in the first place.
No Audit Tool or Similar Auto Generated Technology- Custom Audits Only
In truth, we often take offence when lower level SEO managers (meaning agencies that are not very good 😛 ) – claim that some report generated by a tool is the same as spending hours and hours reviewing a website or in-depth audit.
A lot of the time your selected SEO tool is great for guidance or generating a large scale report for your review.
The audit report might provide a few hints, but by no stretch of the imagination can they “solve a problem” and put an end to all your search engine roadblocks.
All analysis, auditing, no matter if it’s a startup or enterprise level website, must be done by a professional technical SEO expert.
You need to go down a series of rabbit holes within your audit until you find root problems with a website. Artificial intelligence or whatever programming language just isn’t there yet.
Define The SEO Problems To Include In Your Audit
It’s often a good idea to nail down some audit goals that the client has. Increasing organic traffic from search engines is pretty vague, you may have to dig in a bit more with what clients want.
Usually you need pre audit information like:
- We’d like to outrank the competition, they are xyz websites.
- Currently these sections of our website are struggling to get search engine traffic.
- Such and Such sections of our website won’t index or the index rate is too low
- Our content won’t update in the search results after we publish it live
- We have xyz cannibalization problems
- Our website doesn’t show up in Bing or DuckDuckGo….
Often, this just makes for a happier end client.
Focus on Problems That Have Scalability
While you are defining the clients needs, you should prioritize audit items that can have a positive impact site wide.
Meaning, focus on “must haves” not “nice to haves” in your analysis.
You can certainly mention problems of lesser importance in a report, however a lot of the time marketing teams are under the gun and need to focus on problems that push results forward.
Define The Technology and Programming Languages Involved
I’m often surprised when I speak with other enterprise level SEO providers that they are completely unaware of the technology involved and what an audit or analysis can do.
- For example, which platform is their website built on? Salesforce, Magento, WordPress, Custom CMS etc?
- For some weird reason, do they use more than one CMS?
This is a pretty important topic and widely misunderstood in the world of Enterprise SEO. Most SEO’s are not developers, which is a huge disadvantage for them at the enterprise level.
The needs of Single Page Application SEO and server side programming languages are completely different.
Define The Different Templates On A Enterprise Website
Generally speaking within Enterprise SEO, a website or eCommerce store will have a few different layouts.
For example, all blog posts might have 1 or two layouts, eCommerce category pages will have 1 or two+ different themes that they commonly use sitewide.
Identifying the different website templates is a really good place to start. If you can find common issues that are holding back search traffic, often their web development team can roll it out sitewide.
Here are some items you might want to keep an eye out for:
First and most obvious, is probably the speed of each of these templates. Likely can identify core functionality that is holding the page back.
Personally, I believe there’s a point of diminishing returns, meaning at a certain point focusing on speed will not provide any additional SEO value, although that may be a different story for conversations.
That said, to my surprise at an enterprise level websites tend to be more feature focused, as opposed to performance focused. Meaning, after analysis, a lot of times their sites are pretty slow.
Core Web Vitals
While we are in the speed section of the enterprise audit, we’ll normally include findings from Core Web Vitals.
Here, we mostly pay attention to user experience type elements. For example, does some weird element move around on the screen? Sidebar suddenly jumps around?
In truth, we mostly focus on what “Lighthouse” recommends. Lighthouse is a tool that is for free in Google Chrome.
Does the page have a ton of CSS scripts loading? Is it all in the top of the page loading before valuable content zones?
This is especially common with mainstream CMS’s such as WordPress, which is used by a lot of enterprises.
Many developers will unknowingly cause some SEO roadblocks. Usually it is not on purpose, they simply aren’t ‘init’ the same way digital marketing and SEO people focus on growth. In addition, they often follow “best js practices” – which aren’t always best for enterprise SEO search engine visibility.
A lot of the time these frameworks are set up in such a way that important SEO elements render on the page in an unfavorable way.
HTML for Search Engines
Is the Semantic Markup for SEO set up properly? Meaning is the HTML code up to snuff and have any odd issues?
Basically, at the enterprise level, it’s pretty common that developers will unknowingly do something not ideal for search engine optimization.
Here are some general guidelines:
- Are the footer links in well… the <footer>?
- Are there too many <h1>’s?
- Are there content tags, such as the <p> tag in the nav?
- Pretty much anything else that goes against the rules of HTML5.
It’s fairly common that structured data is not properly optimized and we include this in our technical SEO audit service. Rather, there is some element that is not in the JSON array when there should be.
Generally there are pretty clear guidelines from search engines such as Google. If you’d like to enrich your search results, you have to make sure all the code is validating property.
However, many people do not know you can actually go a bit more detailed and write your JSON arrays that contain more information about the page.
Meaning, you often do not have to follow the Google guidelines, you can include more elements, which may result in better search visibility.
As an SEO, I see evidence that supporting “high quality content” doesn’t always matter. However, from a technical perspective there is certainly a point of diminishing returns.
For example “thin” content is often an issue.
A common mistake we often see is that content producers focus on publishing a lot of content, as opposed to making sure it is meeting the minimum criteria for the SERP (Search Engine Results Page.)
Having high quality content certainly has its perks for converting readers into customers, however from the perspective of auditing a large scale enterprise website, we are generally more worried about hitting keyword density minimums.
A lot of the time, our audits will include a content workflow to help said “enterprise” company with producing high quality SEO friendly content that meets the requirements of readers and search engines.
Use These Areas To Dig Deeper Into Your Audit
Usually, you can use these as a starting point series of rabbit holes to further identity opportunities to include in your audit analysis.
Google Search Console
Google search Console is an amazing tool for SEO. It is also largely underutilized from small websites all the way up to the enterprise level. The amount of information in there is staggering.
Here are some features enterprise level sites may want to pay attention to:
Especially when you are reviewing individual templates for pages, you can enter a few in there and usually come out with some kind of conclusion or something you need to dig into.
Here’s a few big ones:
The url inspection tool will alert you any errors.
This is one of my favorite sections to help diagnose indexing issues. A lot of the time Search Console will give you a general idea of what to look into.
That said, their advice in this area usually kinda stinks. It’s great to figure out there may be an indexing issue, however you are kinda on your own to figure out what the exact road block is.
Performance on Search Results
Arguably not the best name, but regardless the amount of information in this section is amazing.
Personally, I like to dig into the Search Queries, to identify opportunities that may not be completely obvious.
This is doubly if we are reviewing pages upon the client’s request. Usually enterprise clients have more than a few pages they are trying to rank for ultra difficult keywords.
Here, you’ll find insight into ‘easy wins.’
Spam Problem? Use The Removals Section.
After running into this a few times, we felt it was nice to include in your Audit or SEO auditing process.
Often clients (enterprise or not) will be very happy you brought any hacking or spam attacks to their attention.
And All The other Search Console Sections….
I think you get the point 😀 – Each one of the tabs is pretty helpful.
Backlinks Audits for Enterprise Level Websites
Lets face it, an enterprise level website will have thousands if not millions of backlinks.
You can’t look at them all one by one, rather you have to split it up into the following areas:
High Priority Page Backlinks
More often than not, enterprise clients will throw a few pages your way that they are really worried about.
These are the pages where I’d closely analyze the anchor text for each backlink. This makes it a lot easier to make recommendations in your audit report.
Backlink Pages with some Kind of Issue
Enterprise sites are normally huge, there are bound to be a few pages that are down or return a 404.
Often you’ll find pages that have a lot of backlinks and are currently down. Meaning, you can include in your audit an ideal place to redirect them too.
Reclaiming possibly thousands of wasted backlinks.
Sitewide Enterprise SEO
Analysing an entire website can be tedious work, especially at the enterprise level.
Similar to how we spoke about the different templates, you’ll have to breathe the website into meaningful sections.
Otherwise you’ll be spinning your wheels throughout your audit.
That said, there are a few things you can keep an eye out for when producing an enterprise SEO report:
Especially with custom made websites, lots of funny characters may be inserted into the URL.
Generally, you do not want the URLs to drag out and be too long. Ideally, you want to aim for short & concise URLs.
A Shockingly common issue we run into is that the home page doesn’t internally link to other pages.
The homepage is the most “commonly” linked page on the website. In short, all the authority and crawlability is being cut off right from the start.
Footer & Nav Menu Links
Often these sections are bloated or the internal anchor text doesn’t contain meaningful keywords.
An entire course can be written on this subject. But it’s very common that content is not clustered together properly.
For example, you might want to separate your “PPC Content” from your “SEO Content”
We’d file this under architecture issues. In short, when a 3rd party tool crawls the site what happens? Does the entire website or section get crawled? Lots of 404 errors?
What About the ‘Other’ Search Engines? DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, Bing, Etc
Similar to Google I would review Bing Webmaster tools and see if anything jumps out.
The main difference here is that the majority of these Search engines are based on Bing in some way shape or form.
This means that there are a handful of different aspects you have to include in your audit.
No Structured Data – Dublin Core
While you can most certainly have structured data on your website, in the case of Bing and related search engines they will likely not render like Google.
Instead, they have their own search engine framework called Dublin Core.
In theory, it’s very similar to structured data, as it’s something the individual search engine created to help understand the page.
The main difference being that Dublin Core is more similar to HTML meta data. Whereas Google’s version is written in JSON.
This is generally true for Bing & Yahoo, however we are currently unaware of any useful meta data for DuckDuckGo.
What SEO Tools Are Commonly Used At The Enterprise level?
We already mentioned a few in this article.
Generally we use the following tools:
- DeepCrawl / Botify
- Screaming Frog
- Search Console
It’s important to note, it doesn’t really matter which tools you use, provided you are able to obtain expert level analysis for your enterprise audit.
How are these Enterprise tools different from Automated Tools?
Actually some of them will run on an automated basis. For example DeepCrawl, Botify and even Ahrefs.
Their automated features are nice to keep an eye on everything, however for meaningful gains you need someone who is experienced at enterprise level SEO to perform the analysis.
Especially on the technical level, really understand how large scale websites operate in search engines.
Wrapping Up our Audit Workflow
As you can see from our enterprise audit process, there is a lot of gray area.
Generally you start with guidelines for enterprise SEO audits, then you shortly thereafter go into a series of rabbit holes. Learning how to turn these technical issues into meaning SEO recommendations is the key to any audit for enterprise.
As always, feel free to reach out to us if you need a hand with your audit.