How this eBook helped a traditional PR agency grow their digital services
In past experiences, I’ve usually had the luxury of working with sites during development. Never had the need to do any real site audits. Recently, I started doing some contracting for a PR agency with a budding digital department and I have yet to experience this luxury again. I’ve been charged with helping them earn new business and taking on projects for existing clients of theirs. This hasn’t been easy chiefly because there are plenty of misconceptions the staff have regarding what is good (or bad) for the health of a website. I am obligated to teach these PR professionals what to look for in prospecting new business and what the account teams should pitch to clients.
Being able to perform a comprehensive audit has always been a challenge for me. I’ve often used the idiom: “I’m like a mosquito at a nudist colony”, meaning I know what I want to do, but not where to get started. I’ve gotten by on picking out the important factors in what would improve their site’s performance, but never really had to nail down a plan for a full scale overhaul. Then came a local mortgage lender who wanted to compete with the national guys in town. I saw the opportunity to seize a major victory for the agency and an audit was offered. I made the mistake of using an existing audit template designed by a former contractor, and it failed miserably. This audit was really a poor overview of the traffic they were getting and where competitors stacked up against them. I had to offer my recommendations for improvement. I was satisfied with the result to in terms of technical knowledge and sent it on to the accounts team. I was asked to attend a meeting with the client to go over the details of the recommendations I made. That was the longest 3 hours of my career. I felt horrible for the account team, the VP of the agency, and mostly for the client. It was embarrassing because there was no focus, and no real plan of action. I felt like I should hand in my gloves and retire from this arena. The account team was able to save us from peril by shifting focus away from these intended services, to a sound PPC campaign that would ultimately do what they asked, which was to generate leads. Thankfully, that project went on to become very successful.
Many new business opportunities were not being offered audits and I had no tangible plan to change that until a prospect insisted we provide them with a similar audit from a competing agency. Time to shine, I thought. Coincidentally, Nick LeRoy just released his ebook for DIY site audits and offered a review copy. I jumped at it because I’ve trusted Nick’s advice for a long time and I knew it was going to be designed for strategic action items as Nick never disappoints.
I got to straight to work and found it to have the direction I needed to provide the prospect with details that could allow them to take it to another vendor or their in-house with a strategy to win their niche. I even found opportunities that I hadn’t considered. Let’s dig into the details of what you can expect if you get Nick’s guide, and you’ll see why the client not only hired us, but expanded their budget because the audit warranted.
First off, you get an easy to understand score card of SEO elements and weights of each. Brilliant, because now, the client can even play along and it shows accountability for your plan. Then you get the important, distilled details of how to find data on each element and what each one means. I found the duplicate content and structure/architecture/nav sections to be the most helpful because this is where I’ve found every site to be different. You might be able to cookie-cut most everything else in your audit, but these two sections is where I needed to understand how to conduct the reconnaissance necessary to make good recommendations. After using Nick’s scorecard and template, I better understand the direction necessary to improve a site’s performance. The results are a solid action plan to rectify each issue in order of importance. I appreciate the time he put into this and you can tell a ton of experience has gone into it. I think Nick’s ebook is an excellent value to my practice and to those who benefit from the organized approach to auditing a site.
Another benefit I’ve found using Nick’s guide is how I am able to determine the amount of time/work it would take so the account team could charge accordingly. Now we have a viable blueprint for offering an intelligent action plans and pricing to the client. I always stand by my recommendations, but now I can do so without being nervous and second guessing them. What’s more, I can now look for additional opportunities for existing clients. While this may be time the agency pays me with no receivable from the client, it has surely paid dividends on creating reasons for clients to renew if not raise their retainers. I am eternally grateful for the guide that Nick has bestowed upon me and my endeavors with helping grow a traditional PR agency’s digital abilities.
“Untutored courage is useless in the face of educated bullets” ~ Gen. George S. Patton