SEO Audit

Mike 🎩
Mike's Tuesday Tips –
I do a lot of site audits. There are a ton of things I look for in my audits, but there are 3 things I always check for right away and get developers working on. I prioritize these 3 things because they are usually easy to fix or change and they can result in quick wins.
The first thing I am looking for is wasted links or links out of position. These are links that do not serve any Search Engine Optimization (SEO) benefit and are not particularly useful for the user experience either.
I am particularly interested in links that are part of the site template. In other words, they generally appear across the entire site on every page. Headers and footers are the most common place you find these.
Without going into a whole essay on all the factors that determine the strength of a link, a simple rule of thumb is that the more links there are on a page, the weaker each link is. Also, links at the top of a page tend to carry more weight than links at the bottom of a page.
A page does not pass on an equal amount of link equity through each link on the page, but the amount of link equity that a page can pass on is divided up among the existing links. If you can cut down the links, you can strengthen the remaining ones.
The first thing I want to eliminate is what I consider to be wasted links. The most common example I come across of these are links that appear in both the navigation and the footer.
An argument can be made that these are better for the user experience, but are they really? Among web visitors today, I think everyone knows they will find key links in the header. I don't think anyone runs to the footer to look for something.
A lot of sites use sticky headers. In these cases especially, you cannot really try to argue that duplicating links in the header and footer help the user experience.
If you have a business owner or developer that argues for keeping these links or you yourself are not sure of the impact of removing these links from the footer, set up some tracking. Track what percentage of visitors scroll to the bottom of your pages. Track who clicks on the links in the footer.
Now, I know some people will argue that sites like SEMrush have links that appear in both the header and footer. Well guess what? When you build a brand that is as well-known as SEMrush, you can do whatever you want. 😉
Next, I want to look for links that are out of position. I mentioned above that links at the top of a page are generally stronger than links at the bottom of a page. I prioritize link placement based on that.
The most common example I see of links that are what I call "out of position" are links in the header to privacy or Terms of Service (TOS) pages. Those pages are not a priority, so stuff them in the footer.
In some niches, I would argue that links to social media accounts are also wasted in the header and better served just in the footer.
Based on the industry, I might consider doing the same for About pages. In some industries, it is vitally important to build trust with web visitors in order to get a conversion, such as attorneys, financial advisors, and counselors.
In other industries, it may not be as vital. Nobody is visiting Amazon or Best Buy's about pages to decide if they want to buy something from them or not.
If you are unsure, again set up some tracking to see how many people are clicking on the About page from the navigation. Data does not lie.
The second thing I look for is link depth on primary / important pages. I want to know how many clicks away from the home page these pages are.
Depending on the size of the site, they should never be more than 1 or 2 clicks away from the home page.
If they are, you need to figure out a way to add links where appropriate to rectify it.
I might make some exceptions to this on a very, very large site, but generally, I try to keep important pages no more than 2 clicks from the home page.
The reasoning behind this is that in almost all cases, the home page is the strongest page on a site. The more clicks away a page is, the less link equity it is feeding off of the home page.
This is a little more advanced and takes some additional work, but for the pages that are 2 clicks away (or more), I'll also take a look at the link path. If the intermediary page has 100 outbound links on it, but there is another page that could also make sense to use with only 20 outbound links, I'll consider linking through that page instead (or in addition to).
Again, this is to strengthen the link equity feeding into that target page.
The third thing I'm looking at for some simple adjustments and quick wins is title tags.
I know people like to try to write catchy title tags to improve click through rates. To me, the best way to improve your click through rate is to rank higher. You will almost never see a page ranking #2 or #3 getting a better click through rate than the page ranking #1.
I focus on two things for title tags. I want primary keywords near the beginning of the tag, not at the end, and I want the title tag to address the primary search intent of the page. What was the page created to answer?
Following those two guidelines will typically give you title tags that search engines like and that will also get solid click through rates.

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93 👍🏽12 💟106 27 💬🗨

Buth
The most common example I see of links that are what I call "out of position" are links in the header to privacy or Terms of Service (TOS) pages. Those pages are not a priority, so stuff them in the footer.
In some niches, I would argue that links to social media accounts are also wasted in the header and better served just in the footer. 👏👏👏

Mat » Buth
Assuming links near the start of a page are more valuable, the social links might be telling Google they are more or just as important as the website. Especially for WordPress themes that don't have a straightforward way to nofollow those top bar links.
I don't know if I buy that. Google knows websites do this, so maybe they don't give preference to the first links. I think they will treat links in the body of text separately and that social links at the top probably won't lower their value.
Would love to know if a study has been done on this as one client has their 4 social links first.

Lori Appleman 🎓
So I deal exclusively with ecommerce which may yield different results. We do Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) audits often (and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) audits). The heat and clickmaps do show that about 20% do go to the footer to seek customer service links. What you may be able to skip in this mobile first world is a repeat of product categories. Hiding product categories under "shop" tends to reduce conversion rates as it makes it less clear what you offer and requires an added click to find the products. So this is not necessarily advice I'd recommend for a store.
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Kirsten Patricio 🎓 » Lori Appleman
I actually noticed it too on automotive websites although I don't have a large sample size of websites where I implemented screen recording.
A great deal of people actually use quick links that directs to a very specific page. Really thought it was ignored. I was honestly surprised lol.
Lori Appleman 🎓
shoppers expect to see core info pages in the footer. I look to see if the site is trustworthy when I see a new brand.
Mike ✍️🎩
I'm not sure which part you are disagreeing with me on.
"The heat and clickmaps do show that about 20% do go to the footer to seek customer service links."
That's kind of my point. You do not need links like this in both the header and the footer. People know if they don't see those links in the header, they will likely find them in the footer.
Lori Appleman 🎓 » Mike
I agree with you and generally recommend people limit them to the bottom. Priority on top should be all about making a purchase.
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Mat
Thanks, good information. Do you change the Home link to a keyword? I try to when it fits. But am curious if anyone has tested it and it definitely helps, in which case I will start doing it more often.
And are you sure more links on a page makes them weaker? I chose a page with far more external links than another the other day, for a link insert. And didn't even ask for it to be near the start, as I usually do. I just thought it was a better, longer page and probably got more traffic.
It looked like a sponsored post too, with links to a website/brand mention in the first paragraph. That website should have got the lions share of the juice. So there are lots of possible negatives, but I think my link and the 5 or so other external links would also get more juice than the page that looked weaker, on the same website. The other page might of only had one external link.
Also, I like mixing things up i.e. not always have a link on a page with my just site and maybe one authority link, so I think there is value in that. I sometimes put a link in a heading as that might have a bit of extra benefit, like being near the start.
I am not convinced link juice is limited and less valuable when there are more links on a page. You are still getting a link from the same website (authority). I agree having a link near the start might help, but otherwise I just don't think it is as simple as more links = less value.
Again, would love to know if it has been tested so I know for sure. Thanks.

Mike ✍️🎩
The link equity gets split up among the links on a page, so the more links, the weaker each link is. It's been that way since Google launched. That doesn't mean what you got was a weak link though. The amount of link equity a site can pass on through its links is based on the link profile of that page. A page can still have strong links even if it has 100 links on the page because of its link profile.
Amazon's home page could have 1000 links on it. They would still all be pretty strong links. That doesn't mean the links wouldn't be stronger if you cut it down to 999 or 998.
Mat » Mike
Interesting, thanks. I assume "link equity being divided up" has been proven in tests? I don't keep an eye on these things and often just use my gut feeling. I will Google it now.
I don't feel it's right as I think of a link as a vote of confidence: a reference or recommendation. I can't see links being worth less. To me it's like you are getting a link from that page and that's that. If there are 10 other links I don't buy it being a tenth of the value, or whatever devalue. As it is still a link/recommendation from the page.
You could say a page is more likely to be about a single link, so it's like the whole page recommending it. But you could counter with the topic being complex enough to warrant many links. E.g. Wikipedia pages. The first link is often an important one like explaining the topic the category falls under, but I think all the rest are treated equal.
Anyway. Just a gut feeling. Will look it up…
Mike ✍️🎩
I forgot to answer your question about the home link. No I do not change it to a keyword. I usually get rid of any 'home' link and just use the company's logo as the only home link.
Mat » Mike
Thanks Mike. Maybe I am under estimating visitors i.e. I assumed they didn't all know the logo awalys does that. Will check the hotspot thing in Analytics. 👍

Ta
I have embedded scraped Google reviews from Google My Business (GMB) into my website. Each of these reviews are linked with the respective Google url.
So there are a lot of links on one page.
Is that a bad approach?

Mike ✍️🎩
It's fine. To be clear, a bunch of links do not weaken the page. Pages don't bleed out their ranking or anything like that through their links. It just makes the other links on the page a bit weaker.
Ta » Mike
Thanks for the insight, appreciate it!

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Daniel
Very well written and I agree with just about all of it but I would like to raise one point. It's as if you're forgetting or in this post not addressing, the blog post section of a website "I get it you're not trying to write a book here but …
So from your blog post section the click depth magic number is actually 3 and you don't have to nor do you have to do all of your blog posts in the following way but you should have quite a bit of the following:
You should have clusters of posts I like to call them solar systems. You would have your master post which should be 10x editorial content. Now there will be a link in that post that points to one of your site pages. But I consider that a bridge so in that case I'm just fine with a third depth.
In fact that third depth can even be an off-site post, directory, or feature showcase such as an infographic directory that links to the infograph you have on your second tier.
So let's say you have a blog post about plumbing. This post as I indicated needs to be editorial level, schema "an art in and of itself", video, infographic, 2500 words, and a very well drilled down and optimized post about plumbing using only the most direct industry content you can write.
So that is your sun. Now you will build planets to orbit that sun. These new second tier smaller posts get more granular about key points of your master post. And to just keep it all on site in this example, our third tier I recommend you use for definitions and terms. Those third tier posts "moons" are what orbit the planets which orbit the Sun.
Now you not only connect going linearly towards your sun page but you also link laterally from moon to Moon and from planet to planet. This cluster almost becomes one piece of content when done right. And the jump from your post section cluster to a site page is your third click technically, but in this case it's quite alright.
However for site pages definitely no more than 2 indeed. So in summary I believe site pages click depth 2 max blog post pages can go up to 3. IMO 😎 oh and readers be careful that you do not go creating flat URL structures trying to fix your click depth issues. Flat URLs are a completely different problem and a very big one.
Ojiako
What's your thoughts on adding no follow to links on the footer that aren't priority links?

Mike ✍️🎩 » Ojiako
I never add nofollow to internal links. It doesn't conserve link equity at all. It just bleeds out and doesn't get credited anywhere. Complete waste.
Ojiako » Mike
Alright. Thanks for the tips. Deeply appreciated.

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