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Ross & Craig Site Audit (Lead Generation)




Ross: Hello everyone and welcome to a very special SEMrush webinar. We have with us one of the OG webinar hosts and guests, Mr. Craig. Craig, how's it going? I understand it was your birthday recently.

Craig: Yes, the big 3-0.

Ross: The big 3-0? Plus what? Plus a couple more?

Craig: No comment. No comment.

Ross: Well, we've been given a bunch of really great websites. In previous webinars, one of the things we come up against is we get given several hundred websites and we need to pick the ones that we can kind of audit live and give some advice for. 

Inevitably, there's so many things that we want to audit on each person's website that we only end up doing two or three. I've got about 10 that I could potentially go through, so we'll just try and smash through as many as possible.

1st Website: No Canonicals & Bad Keyword Targeting

Craig: I'd love to do the first one, man. Wait until you see what I've got in store. I'm going to look real clever here. I'm just going to share the screen. 

So, first website. It was quite hard to pick some decent websites with a bit of meat on them, with things that were actually wrong with them. The first one I got was OnlineLoans.com.  If you have a look at the website, they probably don't care for the website too much. They've still got “2019 top online loans”. You may want to change that. 

But overall it's quite a clean, tidy website and you can get your offers, personal loans, business loans, mortgage loans and all that kind of stuff. But the first thing I do is stick it into SEMrush, see what's going on traffic-wise. They're based over in the US, so make sure you select the right database. 

And you can see here, they've done little to no traffic. Now, for a website that ranks for 766 keywords, although the rankings are not great, I would expect it to have some form of traffic and that obviously throws up alarm bells, so wait until you see this, Ross.

I'm one of these guys that think outside the box and do things that maybe others wouldn't think of, so the first thing I check with a website like this is the canonical. You can see there, look at that, no canonical found. What do you think of that? What do you think of guys that don't do much with their canonicals?

Ross: Get you in a lot, a lot of trouble, that. We have seen on multiple occasions, not just canonical on the page if it's self-referencing or going to somewhere else, we've seen cross-domain canonicals quite a lot as well. I've seen guys where they have a bunch of different websites and they're trying to maybe migrate something or partially migrate something or ...for whatever ridiculous reason and they will actually put the canonical as a completely different website.

Craig: There's a few other small things I just wanted to point out quickly with this website before we jump on. 27 pages indexed and, as I say, some of the keywords that these guys are targeting are pretty horrendous when you look at the 27 pages, like, what is a Wisconsin FHA loan? The keyword targeting doesn't really bring in the sales volume. They are not a specialists in that market but these are the only pages that you've got that are indexed. The rest of your main money pages are not indexed.

I'd be looking at duplicate content, your backlink profile is pretty poor. I think you're getting every link and any link going, totally irrelevant links on your website, which you can obviously see if you go to your backlinks on here. 

There's nothing categorically majorly wrong with this website where I can audit it and go, "No, there's tons of broken links, loads of orphan pages." 

A lot of the times when I've got people in the industry talking to me, they say, "Yeah, can you have a look at my website. I've had three guys look at it and I can't for the life of me find out what's going on." And you look at it and you go, "Mate, your website's full of duplicated content. Is not one of the first things you would check?"

I think you have to get the basics right and for OnlineLoans.com, I don't think they've got a lot of the basics right. Keyword targeting is not right, content's probably not right. Just some of the core basics when setting up a website is just not there and, for me, at that point, that's why you're in the position you're in. 

Ross: How would you start fixing it? All those FHA loans and the only difference there was the city. A lot of times, that can be classed as a doorway page so would you keep those? Would you add different content to them? Would you get rid of them?

Craig: The sales terms that...they're targeting with that page are not sales terms that get searched for, so you have to look at that and either change it up, vary things around or whatever it may be. I think you've got to go back and go right back to the start and get a good content strategy in place and actually go after keywords and a nice structure that's actually valid. 

As you say, it looks like a doorway page. It just looks spammy as hell. You know, making a whole bunch of pages that target FHA loans just looks garbage. Go after some of the biggest stuff. You know, you've got mortgage loans and if you look at your main navigation bar, there's a lot of other loans on there and you're going after FHA loans. And I get that that might be the long tail or whatever, but it just looks very spammy.

I would be going after a mixture of the kind of top-end keywords, middle road ones and obviously get some long-tailed ones in there, of course. It just looks as if this person has just rammed it full of long tails and then basically went and got a whole bunch of crappy links and is hoping for the best. I think the content and everything needs to be kind of be removed, cleaned up and target a much wider range of sales terms.

Ross: For our people who are kind of new to SEO that might be in the chat, what would be the first place that you would go to in order to understand things like keyword volume and search intent and all that? Lene Baxter asked what's a canonical? We'll assume lots of varying levels of knowledge. When it comes to doing the keyword research and stuff like that, where would you go and how do you do that? Just to point them in the right direction.

Craig: For keyword research, I think there's a couple of different ways you can do it. One, I would manually look at the kind of results on page one for any given search term and you'll see the bold blue writing, which is people's actual sales terms, because sometimes using a tool like SEMrush when you're going very, very specific to an area isn't going to pull through some of the areas that you've got on there.

I would start looking at SEMrush and stuff like that. Because the purpose of SEMrush is to give you accurate data to work with and obviously you want to go after keywords that do have sales volume and you have to use data, no matter what, whether you use SEMrush or some other kind of keyword tool, you have to put something in there and have something substantial to work with, But SEMrush would be my go-to tool, other than manual checks.

Ross: Keyword Magic Tool for me is just fantastic, gives you all the question-based keywords, gives you all the kind of head stuff and you can click into all the different groups so it helps you kind of structure and silo out the website as well.

2nd Website: Canonical Mistakes and UX Improvements 

All right. Shall we move onto the next one? Will we do a turn each, will we? I hope they're in the chat because it's a great website called Ruff on the Road. 

This website is actually very well put together. I do the exact same thing as you when I first kick off. I'll go into my SEMrush dashboard and I'll just run to see what's actually going on here and what kind of traffic do they have. The thing that kind of shocks me with this site, despite it having about a thousand or so backlinks, it's got a hard zero when it comes to traffic, and you're like, "Okay, that's weird." 

The first thing you want to do is see, well, do they actually have any content and, yeah, they do have content, so let me just click into it. It's relatively well structured. I suppose the first thing you would notice is this is a category page that they've got and then this is a product page. On this particular category page, they have a single sentence of content and that's it, so I would seriously look at adding more content onto this particular category page.

I'd also look at things like the title. It says “handmade dog collars”. The first thing I'd be doing is actually jumping into keyword analytics, Keyword Magic Tool, and I would be putting dog collars into that ...so I could actually physically see what's going on there and what keywords I could potentially target.

Another interesting one when it comes to using this, I would typically look at what they're already ranking for and try and build on it. Now, as you can see, they're not really ranking for anything and the traffic's really low, so the first thing I'm thinking is have they not indexed this by accident? Because there's no reason for this not to rank.

They've got 213 pages live in the index, you're like, okay, that doesn't make any sense. 213 pages, zero traffic. First thing I would actually do is check to see if it was noindexed or not, so I would look at the coding just to see if I could find a noindex, nofollow, and what do you know? 

When Google comes to this lovely, well put together site, it's getting pushed to the old Wix version of the website, which, of course, is not in the index. It's completely noindexed in the index, so they've kind of really damaged themselves there in that they've built it on Wix, it's got indexed as the actual domain and it's not been properly redirected across and the canonical has been changed. If you were to change that canonical, literally just to the page itself, so a self-referencing canonical is what that's called, you would literally see your traffic go through the roof.

Other things I would have a little look at, so jumping into any sort of product page, just purely from a UX point of view, I'd give you a little heads up and say you want the product as well as the add to basket and pricing and stuff like that above the fold. I'm not super sure what this looks like when we move into mobile, but I'm hoping this goes away because this is kind of redundant at the moment.

Step Outside Collar, $26. I would quite like to see what that actually looks like in a search. Are they getting any snippets? You can see there they've got some snippets coming up. If you'd want to check if your structured data is coming through properly, you'd always use a structured data testing tool and run the test, and that's going to tell you what schema is physically on the page. I

I'm expecting some sort of pricing and product based schema. Because we're live streaming this, this may take quite a while because it's ... Well, it might not even work because it's canonicalised to the Wix site, so it might be following it to the non-indexed. 

It's a shame because they've put a lot of effort in, and it's a really nice website. A couple of small things from a UX point of view, you've called this section Sniffs. I don't know if that means something in the dog world but it's kind of like if you're a design agency, you call your blog The Journal. It's a bit pretentious, it's a bit stupid. 

Use internal language for internal copy; don't use it for core pieces of your navigation. And I would seriously think about changing the way the structure works, so from “shop”, into your categories, have big standalone category pages with lots of good content on it.

They've made their own kind of animations and stuff like that; got these lovely photographs. When it comes to any sort of internal linking, my easy advice to work out where to link to is to go to the kind of authority page, if you like, and do a site command and then the page itself and then put the keyword you want to rank for. And what that's going to do, it's going to show me not only the actual URLs that are connected to this site, it's actually also going to show me, as far as Google's concerned, the ones that are most related to callers and the most high authority.

If I click on this page or this page and I did not have an internal link to that collars page, you should probably add it, because as far as Google's concerned, this is great, how to determine your dog's collar size, this should internally link back to that main collars page, because Google thinks, A, it's related, and, B, it's one of the most powerful.

That's a really simple, basic way to do internal linking, but it's a reasonably good rule of thumb. All right. You're up next. 

Website #3: Slow Page Speeds, Flat URL Structure, and Link-building Opportunities

Craig: This next website is fairly new. Now, what would you instantly think this website was about, Ross? It's called Worn Slap Out.

Ross: Is it about lipstick maybe? Or is it literally Worn Slap Out?

Craig: This website is for people, recipes for the joyfully exhausted. You're a worn slap out, Ross, because you're always joyfully exhausted any time I speak to you, working too hard. 

A relatively new website, so it's pretty unfair to hammer her completely. She's got some nice growth there and I think the website looks as if it went live round about November time. What is quite good, though, and what I like about Kathryn's website is the amount of content that she's put on it already. She is literally hammering these blog posts out.

47 blog posts she's done in a two or three month period. Now, obviously she's starting to peel through for some keywords. Some are at the bottom end of page one, there's a whole bunch of page two, but you can see there's some real good stuff there, and I think for recipes and cake recipes and everything else that she's going after, it's a relatively good market. You can get a lot of sales volume on there. 

First of all, I had a look at the website. You know, the speed score, 2.3 seconds, it's not great. However, you've got a lot of green on here through GTmetrix, so it clearly looks as if you have put some form of effort into speeding that up.

18 requests though, your website's in WordPress, it looks as if you're using a hell of a lot of plugins, which I think most people would try and advise you against because it's going to impact your website.

Ross: Especially if it's a blog, right? When I see people with 30 plugins and it's just a ... Fundamentally, it's a blog, it's like what are you using them for, you know?

Craig: Also, I think internal linking wise, I ran a quick audit on the website so let me just go to Projects.

Ross: It's interesting the first thing you've done is you went to see the sitemap. Is that something you'll always do? You'll try and root around for a sitemap so you can just see what's actually there?

Craig: Yeah, well, I like to see what, first of all, what it's ranking for and how many articles are on there. For me, that's what it's all about. You need to have content on there in order to rank, whether that's on page 10, five or four or whatever, who cares? As long as it's been indexed, you've obviously got somewhere to start, so just one of my weird quirks.

But internal linking, if you look at the website, it's not great and, as Ross said in the previous website, he gave a suggestion. You want to make sure that you're internally linking to the pages that Google feels is most relevant to your search terms.

Ross: Is there a category structure for this or is it all just blog post, blog post, blog post? As in like … /recipes/cake and anything like that.

Craig: No. That's the next thing that I was going to say. What happens is if you've got 147 pages as you have right now, it's all going to end up messy. As Ross said, you would probably want to have a category searcher on here because it's just all flat URLs. 

You know, whether you go on to weeknight dinners, you've obviously you've got your weekend dinners here, sorry, and then just a flat URL. You probably want to look at fixing your URL structure there as well, because if you're going to continue to blog at the same speed you're currently blogging at, then that is going to end up messy. 

I think sorting out the URL structure is a good place to look at. Clean up the plugins. I think your template color and text are not great. You know, it's kind of gray writing on a white background, it's kind of sore on the eyes, but overall, the reason I picked this one was not to criticize, just to show that someone clearly has a passion for recipes and they went well out there and smashed out 147 blog posts, which is a great amount of work, and I think that shows that you've got the hunger and the desire to do well.

It doesn't look like you monetize that website just yet, and I'm not sure what your monetization plan is, but I'm sure once you're getting traffic, then you can start to look at monetizing that in a number of different ways.

Ross: What would you add first? I think with a lot of those bloggers, one of the big issues they have is their ability to gain links...it's quite hard going. I know if you've got a bunch of recipes, you can actually submit original recipes to places and get links back to your original source like that. What else would you do in terms of link acquisition for that kind of blogger world?

Craig: For me, it would be guest posts and stuff like that. Just getting guest posts on other websites and obviously it will cost you a few quid, but that is one thing that your website does lack, and I think for any website, you've got to get the balance right between content and links because it's the same as a guy lifting weights.

You've just got to build links to kind of prop your pages up and send power to the main money pages. Trying to get some of those original recipe places, maybe some fun PR, some quirky, crazy stories or whatever it might be that your PR guys do, some guest posts and I don't think you'll go far wrong from there. 

But just try and diversify your link strategy, try and not stick to one. I think you're obviously in quite a boring niche, if you like, so it's quite hard to make up good stories. Ross, for example, does PR and comes up with stats and figures and all sorts of wacky stuff that obviously trigger interest and I think, which I agree, Ross, maybe recipes is one of those ones it's slightly harder to get that kind of input.

Ross: It's hard to make it new. People love to consume it, so it's easy to get traffic, but it's hard to get it newsworthy and get it featured in newspapers because coming up with a recipe isn't intrinsically newsworthy. 

However, if you look at things like look at editorial calendars of lifestyle sections, so pick your favorite Sunday newspaper and look through the lifestyle section and you'll start to see themes emerging. A big theme recently has been the royal family, so moving to Canada, so what you could do there is you could actually make a cake in the shape of Prince Harry's head or something like that. 

Pitch that into all the royal journalists to get them to feature that slightly quirky, slightly weird thing that you've just done. Think outside the box like that and that should help you kind of get along as well. All righty.

3rd Website: Multiple Domains, Building EAT, and More

Are we moving onto site number three? This is kind of quite apt because it's a health website and we're both ill. This is called Avanos. They say that they innovate every day. They're a medical device company dedicated to challenging the status quo every day in everything we do. 

I'm just going to click around and start to understand what you actually do. Acute pain, I see that you've used a triangle instead of an A for your text there. I understand that's a brand thing. Don't do that. Google doesn't know what that is. Although it's not going to make a huge difference, internal anchor text is a factor, so change that back to just normal letters if you possibly can.

You do pain management solutions, and when I click on that, I don't know if you've seen that. Did you notice what just happened there, Craig? They've got completely different domains for every single one of their services. When we go onto chronic pain, digestive health, et cetera, every single one of them is a completely different website.

First thing I'm going to recommend, and it's probably not going to make you very popular in the office, you're going to have to redirect all of those back into a single domain. You want to have a migration strategy set up. SEMrush have a filled up piece of documentation on their blog about how to run through step-by-step migrations. Then you're going to want to 301 redirect everything back into the main domain.

There might be some reasoning behind putting them over multiple domains but one of the first things I would do is get the stakeholders in a room and start to understand why have you put these across five websites instead of one. Did you have a slightly overzealous salesman who was your website builder sell you five websites instead of one? That does happen. I'd seriously look at redirecting.

Now, let's just assume that these are all the same domain. What we're going to do from a SEO point of view, so, I mean, the first thing I would kind of highlight is things like surgical or acute or surgical pain solutions and, "We take pain personally." So surgical pain solutions and acute pain solutions, people don't use that language to find things. It's going to be necessary for you to do a little bit of keyword research. Be mindful of who your customer actually is and actually putting together the correct language for them.

I'm just going to check that product page, so that you've got proper schema. These URLs are getting very large. The reason why I'm so hot on making sure there's schema on there is because making sure Google understands the intent of the page is really important. So guys, I'd have a little look at your schema just to make sure that it's actually firing correctly and it's being interpreted correctly by Google. It looks like it isn't.

Another thing to note is you are in what's called a YMYL situation, not to be confused with YHYH. YMYL is your money or your life. When you look at Google's Webmaster, its search guidelines, one of the things that we do for the people who are manually reviewing websites is they put certain websites into categories of your money or your life, meaning that if this negatively affects someone's health and wellbeing and happiness, they're going to treat it differently, and they have things called EAT signals, which is expertise, authority, trust.

Now, what's your opinion on EAT, Craig, because I know that we come from an old school where you can pretty much brute force a ranking if you really want to. But even someone like the really hardcore old school guys are now very much struggling in medical niches. What's the big core things that you've seen guys that are running medical sites do that would help with things like EAT?

Craig: I mean, I think it would be common sense you can't, with medical websites, you can't just have some random blogger like the girl previously, chucking out recipes galore. Recipes are not going to kill anyone, well, unless, it's maybe my mom's home cooking. But I think in terms of medical and everything else, I can see why Google would implement that, you know, you've got to have authority and trust. Even the likes of me when I'm not well, I start googling things and then you start reading stuff and you get scared and we can't have that out there. 

You've got to future proof yourself, I think. Google are going to look at ways,to...get rid of the garbage, so to speak, and they've got to look at things like that, especially in the medical niche.You still want to be known as an authority and the guy in your industry that knows what he's talking about, so I see no reason why you wouldn't go down that route of doing what we do, webinars, press articles, conferences, and just building up a good social following and everything else we are, you're offering good advice.

Ross: One of the things is actually having real people that you can actually prove that they're experts in the field. Now, you've already kind of done that with this site here. You've got David Ball and all these guys that are front and center and their information's there. And when you click onto it, it's a little bit about them. 

Where it lets itself down there is this is just text with some guy's image. You want to be linking to all of their social profiles and you want to be using Schema sameAs. Inside the code itself, you want to be saying that this person is the same as, and then link to maybe their alumni page on the university they went to link into their LinkedIn profile, their social profiles. 

Because what that does for Google is it starts to build the picture of who this person is as an entity, because at the moment, as far as they're concerned, Joseph F. Woody as he's connected to Avanos is not actually an entity. He's just a bit of a text next to a picture.

I would do a big inventory of everything that you own and start to push everything into a single source. Having it split across so many must be really tiresome to actually make sure that this is actually working, and I don't know how you do tracking for leads and conversions and things like that but it must be very hard. And you're linking out to a bunch of broken resources.

Before we get into any SEO stuff, this is admin. I think we need to decide the domain we're going to use, we need to decide the structure we're going to use and we need to decide how we're pushing ourselves out there, because otherwise this site's really nice and really well put together. 

Maybe some better keyword targeting, but first thing I'd be looking at is let's get this in ship shape so Google can actually understand who you are and what you are, so when it comes to the EAT bit, you're completely sorted. Okay. Do you have another one?

4th Website: Slow Loading Times & Spammy Backlinks

Craig: Next website I've got, I'll just start sharing my screen again, is signaturechicrealestate.com. Looks okay. Chicago-based real estate company where you can search for your properties and prices and everything else as you would expect from a real estate website. 

But you can see here on the right hand side bar, it does link to a lot of content, a lot of landing pages, a lot of areas within Chicago, which is probably a good thing to do. When we put it into SEMrush or whatever, you've got some growth here. I think your website came out in August and you've got a very, very small amount of traffic. Again, 589 keywords and very little to no traffic, mainly because all your keywords are at the bottom of page two and further down.

One thing, no canonical. Two, your website takes seven seconds to load. You may want to look into that. No one's going to wait seven seconds for a website to load, and one thing that I do want to touch on is the kind of backlink. The backlinks that are going to your website are absolutely horrendous and look very, very spammy. 

The thing that I'm noticing here is you're getting links and they're all dropping off, which would tend to be some kind of automated software. But, in the grand scheme of things, you have got six referring domain names and six of those, real geeks, there's a couple there, a few of them are really good and relevant and you want to do more of that.

And it looks to me that either you're not building backlinks or you're using cheap Fiverr gigs, and the backlinks is the biggest, as far as I'm concerned.  Backlinks really is one of the most important things you should be doing over and above having a sound technical structure and having decent content on your website. 

You do have page two rankings for some search terms, especially in Chicago, and you've got all your kind of long tails target areas within Chicago, so I think, overall, the structure's right there. You just need to get better quality backlinks and, again, there's no obvious mistakes other than no canonical. What do you think, Ross?

Ross: I mean, the backlinks thing is so huge. I'm with you, Craig. I would take every bit of cash you've got and start putting it into link acquisition.Another thing is real estate agents, especially in America, most of them have their own websites and social platforms and things like that. Reach out to these individuals and start to get them to actually link to their own listings on your platform. That will start that moving as well.

It's localized to Chicago, that's an absolute gift, so I'd be looking at every single major business in Chicago that needs some sort of SEO presence, who's got a blog, something like that, reaching out to those guys. Literally pick 500, a thousand businesses, reach out and say, "I'd love to collaborate with you on a piece of content if you're interested, here's what's in it for you, here's what's in it for me." If you've got something to offer like maybe you've got a big social following or an email newsletter, you can use that as collateral to actually get on. 

So we're coming up to 7 o'clock, guys, thank you very much for participating and asking all the questions. Craig, thanks for coughing and spluttering your way through it. I think you've done a brilliant job.

Ross: If the guys want to know a little bit more about you, how would they go about doing that?

Craig: You can find me on craigcampbellseo.com. Ross, where can we find you?

Ross: Just google me, because I'm an SEO after all. Just google Ross Tavendale and you'll, I'm sure you'll find it. My business is Type A Media, typeamedia.net. All right guys, thank you very much. Until next time, we will see you later.

Craig: See you later.

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