I recently got the experience of doing ~30 in-depth video site audits over the course of around month.
It was both an eye-opening and really fun experience for me, and also quite draining as I give 110% to these.
And the more sites I audited, the more I began to notice some trends.
Even with the sites where the owners were crushing it, the same issues were popping up in my analysis.
While I’m still offering these audits (order here), I want to share the most common things people are struggling with in case it helps you right now.
Not Starting With The End In Mind
You know what’s difficult? Trying to a reach a goal that you don’t even have.
I get it, I really do. I’ve started sites in the past where I was chasing high affiliate commission with no real plan other than making money.
But when you don’t have any goals, then you don’t know what you’re working towards and you end up just treading water instead of doing meaningful work towards goals.
Sometimes the site gets hit by an algo update and you’re not really sure what to do because you don’t have a roadmap.
Sometimes things go well, but not as well as they could, because you don’t have a roadmap.
So, start with a fucking roadmap.
It can literally be as simple as I want to reach $2,000/month in income from this site.
Or, you can be like me and have lofty goals like X amount of income from affiliate and display ads, X number of products to sell, and X as a possible live event/real word biz component.
Just pick some goals, put them in a spreadsheet, on a sticky note on your monitor, or that wipey board on your wall.
THEN, when something goes really wrong or really right with the site, all you gotta do is refer to your roadmap to get your site on the right track.
Sleeping On Link Building
Before I get the inevitable comments on how you don’t have to build links to rank, if you want to be able to actually compete, reach the ceiling of income potential, and just fucking dominate your niche, you gotta stop sleeping on building links.
Yes, aged domains are a cheat sheet, but you often still need to do some link building eventually thanks to our enemy link rot/decay.
I’ve been building links to sites before most of you even had site building on your radar, so I know how incredibly tedious it is.
And often expensive.
But it is a necessary evil – and I think that it’s only going to get worse for us site builders with all the AI-related changes in the SERPs.
Links are essential – and only becoming more so every single day.
I think the worst thing about those of you who are sleeping on link building is that most of you aren’t even doing HARO – wtf?!
You can literally do HARO link building for free. It will only cost you time.
Or, you can hire my team or over-pay with another service.
Bottom line – just get started with HARO right now. Like today.
And there’s tons of other link building that you can do as well.
You can do guest posts, niche edits, resource link building, join groups to exchange links, and more!
And another course in there on how to put together your own HARO team (with my SOPs).
Or you can look through the interwebs for blog posts on how to build links and get started that way.
The fact of the matter is that you need links to build trust and authority, or you’re gonna get left in the dust.
Being Afraid Of Disavowing Bad Links
Yes, Google has publicly told us that spammy backlinks don’t count and that they are good at knowing some nefarious douchebag built them.
The reality is that if you end up with too many spammy/junk links, then it does hurt your site.
It doesn’t always end up being a manual link penalty either.
But sometimes it does and it can take a long ass time to remove it.
LFG!!! Manual penalty for “unnatural inbound links” finally lifted from my site after 4 long months. It was a completely b.s. penalty to begin with, but huge to be gone. Great start to Valentines Day. pic.twitter.com/W1CmyjVliG— Mike (Niche Twins) 🏴☠️ (@NicheDown) February 14, 2023
Often though, you just don’t know you’ve been algorithmically penalized for bad links…even though that’s exactly what happens.
You’re left wondering why the fuck your rankings and traffic dropped – and most of you never even consider disavowing those shitty links that you didn’t build.
I get it – you’re afraid that the disavow file will harm you, instead of help you.
The reality is that in the rare event it does harm you, the simple act of removing the disavow file reverses everything.
You literally have nothing to lose by trying it.
No Content Roadmap
So, this is kinda related to ‘not starting with the end in mind’ but specific to content.
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you should not put articles on your site for any and every keyword just because you found some stuff that’s easy to rank.
One of the sites that I recently audited was in the relationships niche, and it has been hit kinda hard by a recent algo update.
Digging into the content, it was no surprise that the site has gotten hit because it was ranking for things like “Bob’s Burgers quotes.” (not actual article topic)
As much as I love Bob’s Burgers, an article focused on quotes from the show has zero business being on a site about relationships.
Maybe you could focus on quotes from the show about relationships to make it relevant, but this site owner did not do that.
Doing shit like this kills topical relevance and sends the signal to Google that this site is all over the place and no one knows wtf it is about.
That includes Google.
When you send mixed signals like this to Google, it bites ya right in the ass.
So don’t do that.
Instead, work on a content roadmap when you create your site that covers all the main topics/categories/topic clusters that you want to cover.
Then, don’t stray from that.
Sure, once you completely exhaust all that (not likely), you can expand your content roadmap to cover closely related shoulder niches/topics.
Not Understanding Your Audience
It is really surprising to me how many site owners either do not understand who their actual audience is or who don’t understand what their audience wants/needs from them.
Before you even think about starting to write content for your site, you really should sit down to come up with who it is that you intend to target.
Let’s say that you’re super into mountain biking and you wanna start a site on it.
Awesome, but who are you creating content for?
It is people who are new to the sport or people who are experienced?
Knowing this in advance helps you create that roadmap that will actually work for your site.
Not Refreshing Content
Even owners of small sites are guilty of this one – as am I with some of my sites.
But you really gotta prioritize refreshing old content in order to maximize the potential of your site.
For some of the sites that I audited, this was super obvious because buying guides were never updated to 2023.
In fact, one site I saw had 2019 in the title of some older posts.
But it’s not just buying guides and their dates that you need to update.
Sure, you need to look for new products to put in those buying guides, but info content also needs updates.
There may be some new info that you can add to old content.
You may also discover some bad practices that you need to fix in that old content – y’know, things that didn’t know you shouldn’t do like use copyrighted images.
Here’s a fun little data point for you – I have an affiliate site where I updated all the buying guides at the start of 2023 and it took the site’s affiliate income from just under $800/mo to over $3,000/mo right now.
And literally all that I did was refresh the products that I’d selected in the first version of the article.
But, that was enough for the freshness factor of the algorithm to give me a nice little boost that still continues.
Wrapping It Up
While these six things don’t cover all the problems that I came across, they are the once that I saw on multiple sites.
Hopefully, I’ve given you an ‘eureka’ moment just now with an issue you’re having with your own site.
If not, and you are having issues that you’re struggling with, I love helping people through these video site audits, so get yourself one here.
Hey, I’m Shawna. I make a living working from my laptop in places like London, Sydney, Dubai, Rome, Oslo, Bangkok, Las Vegas, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. I share how I do some of that on this website.