SEO Playbook and Charts

seo training and seo audits

An SEO Playbook for Organic Performance

Following a playbook helps us understand the choices and recommendations we are making. That is why I’ve collated my charts and other resources into this SEO playbook. 

These should make it easier to understand the reasons behind many recommendations and lay them out in a format that is useful for a wide range of stakeholders and scenarios. 

Table of Contents

Have you Been Hit by an Algorithm Update?

When Google makes a change to one of its ranking algorithms, it can be a challenging and unpredictable time. If you see your metrics start to drop, it can be easy to panic, and the immediate reaction is often to try to fix and combat the drop.

In most instances, you don’t need to take action, and you should never make a dramatic change while an update is rolling out – unless absolutely necessary and only if it is unavoidable.

Use this SEO playbook to decide if you need to do anything to your site after an update, and if so, what change or optimisation you should be making.

Monitor what is happening and pay attention to any further communications from Google.

Refrain from making harsh changes; based on how the update affects you, the best course of action is typically to do nothing. If you experience a big change that you feel doesn’t make sense, you may create new content or optimise your existing pages.

SEO Audit Workflow

On my dedicated tech SEO audit website, I shared an SEO workflow that you can use when conducting an audit.

This workflow is designed to ensure that you conduct a detailed audit containing all the information you need to get in-depth and actionable insights.

The ten steps you should follow are: 

  1. Manual website checks,
  2. Check website history,
  3. Crawl the site, 
  4. Benchmark the competitors, 
  5. Check Google Analytics 4 and Google Search Console,
  6. Check for indexing issues, 
  7. Test the site speed, core web vitals and user experience, 
  8. Analyse internal links,
  9. Find content opportunities, 
  10. Collate and analyse results. 

Get your SEO Recommendations Implemented

If you have a change or a recommendation you would like to see implemented on a website, there can often be multiple layers of approval you need to go through.

Knowing how to do this effectively can be the difference between getting your changes implemented this quarter, not seeing any fixes until next year, or having them forgotten about altogether. 

Use the steps in this image to help you include the correct information from the start and get your requests implemented much quicker than you would otherwise. 

Your SEO recommendations need to include the following:

  1. What the issue is,
  2. Where it has been found,
  3. Why it is a problem,
  4. How you would like it to be fixed, 
  5. Who is responsible for fixing it, and
  6. When you need it to be fixed by.

Difference between a Subdomain and Subfolder

A subdirectory or a subfolder is just one way you can organise your site structure, but there may also be instances where a subdomain is a more logical choice. 

Before making this decision, you need to recognise how they are different and the advantages and disadvantages of each option. 

Use this image to figure out what the distinctions are and help you to make a more informed decision about your site architecture.

SEO Checklist for 2022

There are a lot of things you need to do to set your website up correctly, and if you’re starting from scratch, it can be difficult to know where to start. 

To help you do this, I’ve broken down each item by category. Use this SEO playbook and tackle each item accordingly as part of your ongoing strategy. 

The categories to help you set up your site and optimise it with best practices in mind include: 

  1. Website setup,
  2. Keyword research, 
  3. Technical SEO, 
  4. Off-page and content, 
  5. Off-page and link building. 

Setting Up HREFLANG

There is not necessarily a right or wrong way to set up hreflang, so you can indicate to search engines which is the correct language version of your web page.

With each option, you should have reciprocal hreflang and offer a country selector page. 

Users and search engines need to understand the other versions that are available and should be able to freely visit each of them without being redirected. 

Use this image to see an illustration of how you may choose to set up your hreflang, using an English site, German site, and Dutch site as an example.  

Understanding Keyword Cannibalisation

On a large website, keyword cannibalisation can happen for various reasons. While it may seem trivial, it can pose a significant problem for websites. 

When cannibalisation occurs at scale, search engines can struggle to understand which page they should rank for the keyword, and as a result, none of the affected pages may perform as expected. 

Use this image to gain a better understanding of what keyword cannibalisation is and how you can set up your site to stop similar pages from competing with each other. 

Common Tech SEO Mistakes

I regularly come across a wide range of SEO mistakes, and while they mainly affect technical SEO, others affect the quality of content, digital PR, and outreach.

Use this chart to make sure you avoid repeating the same mistakes and help set up your website with best-practice SEO in mind.

Types of Site Migrations

A migration can take place for a number of reasons, and there are a lot of changes that can take place. 

It’s important to know what type of migration is happening so you can plan accordingly and make correct recommendations. 

The most common types of migrations include: 

  • Site location changes,
  • Platform changes, 
  • Content changes, 
  • Structural changes. 

Use this chart to determine what type of migration you are handling and start planning your migration roadmap. 

Difference Between Trailing Slash & Non-Trailing Slash

It is important to know the difference between trailing slash and non-trailing slash use on URLs.

Although users may not see them to be any different, trailing slash use can actually make a big difference to search engines. 

While the use of a trailing slash after the domain name or hostname doesn’t matter, how it is used elsewhere does. 

  • A URL without a trailing slash indicates it is a file. 
  • A URL with a trailing slash indicates it is a folder.

Examples of How to Use Site:search

Search operators can be used to find pieces of content that Google may have indexed. Search operators typically start with “site:

This can be useful for a variety of reasons, as well as helping us to identify content that could be noindexed, removed or updated to avoid duplicate content. 

In this example, I explain how we can do this using 9 search operators. If we start with the “site: exampledomain.com xyz”, remember to enter the domain you want to search for, as well as replacing “xyz” with any of the following, depending on what issues you would like to look for. 

  1. index 
  2. error
  3. “lorem ipsum”
  4. demo
  5. test
  6. filetype:pdf
  7. -inurl:https
  8. inurl:www
  9. -inurl:www

Guide to Search Engine Directives

Robot meta tags are handy search engine directives that can be used to help guide search engines in the direction of our most valuable content. 

Examples of these include meta tags that can be applied at the page level, as well as to specific images, snippets of text and more. 

Whichever you choose, make sure you do so carefully and monitor the analytics afterwards so you can ensure it had the desired effect. 

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