In September, we released our fact-checking resource of 260+ Google ranking factors. They range from outright myths to facts that were directly confirmed and verified by testing.
It did really well.
This sparked a common question, which was this:
How do I actually use this?
Despite hundreds of millions of blog posts, this question usually remains.
Most are written for clicks instead of practicality. And, even the stuff that seems useful in print usually breaks down during implementation or at scale.
The Google ranking factors resource was a part of our internal documentation. But it's not very tactical. It's kind of overwhelming. And it sure doesn't leave you with a workable process. Just a giant pile of considerations.
Enter The Foundation Audits.
From 260+ factors, we've created a single 1,200+ item checklist divided into 24 parts.
Step-by-step, we consider every factor that matters, good or bad. In the process, we'll also step through well-tested tactics.
Why so many checks?
Individual ranking factors get kind of complicated. For example, having a fast website is one ranking factor, but we have a 60-step website performance audit that covers this alone.
The factors also don't dive into tactics. They're basically posing a question without an answer.
And finally, this stuff is insanely competitive. I've yet to see a site pass through the entire audit without hundreds of archived issues.
Our audit checklists itemize every missed opportunity and lay a step-by-step roadmap to ranking.
They do this because ranking in Google is profitable.
Everything profitable in life, before long, becomes insanely competitive. You just can't afford to miss a point.
Without being this comprehensive, I genuinely believe that you don't stand a chance of ever outranking big brands that are investing 6+ figures into organic online marketing.
What about my SEO software?
A large number of the checks are assisted by software -- mainly Screaming Frog and dozens of free, web-based tools that are the best at their very specific task. Search scrape data from somebody like SEMrush or link scrape data from somebody like Ahrefs helps too.
But if you consider any one piece of SEO software on the market -- even those $5,000/month "enterprise SEO" monstrosities -- there are three issues.
First, it's really easy to find SEO software that looks at 50-100 factors. But that's it. Because there's just too much to look at and reason through. It's hard to believe, but we've found that an assortment of free tools still tends to be superior at fixing the big picture.
Second, Google's goal is to rank the best content for humans. They still make roughly two algorithm improvements per day because they're nowhere near perfect at it. We're still less deliberate as Google is in the sophistication of their approach.
So, we ask very human questions about your inbound marketing. For example, is this genuinely the best piece of content available covering this keyword? We also look at your backlinks in a manner not unlike how the Google webspam team's "manual penalty" raises questions. Where Google can't yet automate, you more likely can't either.
Third, which is maybe not an issue with all SEO software, but certainly most - is that those solutions don't provide a clear path towards action. You may get warnings for the basics, like broken links and uncrawlable content. But after that, there's no plan. You then revert to just picking around aimlessly while trying to piece together the rest.
But isn't this stuff subjective?
Some of it really is. And that's why too often, marketing specialists are left giving total non-answers to critical questions. We really don't like doing that.
So as the process expands into topics like content strategy and conversions, our checklists consist of ideas that we've found to be overall best practices.
But these ideas may not always test the best. Chances are actually high that many won't in your particular situation.
The way to pass those checks is not to implement exactly what we suggest. Instead, it's to have tested those elements and have documented the results.
Let's get started.
Pop on over to the checklist platform and give this a whirl.
Or, if you'd like an SEO veteran to apply this system to your brand for you, simply get in touch below.