Three different types of SEO audits and how they can help your business

SEO Audit

Do you offer SEO audits for your clients? This has become something more interesting as I have delved into the process.

At one time, I had this very basic checklist of things I would check for SEO. I offered it for free to get people on my email list. I think I did one or two for someone. They liked the work, but never needed a website.

It seems there is a tiered nature to SEO audits. First, there are the automated audits ran by various SEO applications available for free or a monthly cost. One such service I used previously was WooRank. They were one of the early players in this.

When I executed my audit, I would start with WooRank and then look closer at the things that I received were issues. I would check these myself using various free tools. Using the automated audit was just one thing on my list.

I think audits can be good for lead magnets, but I’m not sure an SEO audit is one of those.

The second tier is the audits that are completed based on a checklist, much like the one I used. There are a number of checklists that are available online. We will address those at a later date.

Whereas a more robust audit may take days or weeks to complete, these checklists can be completed in a few hours. They are not automated.

The final tier is the one that is often run by SEO specialists. These cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and they check every nook and crevice available for a website. The results can help with a small tweak that results in a significant revenue change.

To be clear, I have never seen anyone mentioned a tiered layout for SEO audits. This is just an observation I have seen.

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Let’s dive into each tier.

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SEO Audits

Using an automated SEO audit

Let me go on record saying that using an automated SEO tool is, at best incomplete, an at worse can be a disaster. Don’t make any major decisions based on a report from one of those tools without verifying the information yourself.

As Dan Stansbury says,

“Automated website audits can be inaccurate or misleading. Software can sometimes provide incorrect findings. Or, things may be identified as a problem but actually are not.”

The bottom line is these tools can be disastrous for your customers. Stansbury says,

“Machine website audits are both a blessing and a bane to SEO. They can be useful for finding hidden broken links and other technical issues, but you should never base high-level decision making on the raw results of a website test. You need an experienced SEO professional and/or website developer to evaluate audit results, understand the findings and decide if any actions are needed.”

You are the expert my website developer friend. If you use one of these types of tools, use it as a place to start. If you use it as lead generation tactic, send your own report of issues (after verified) that will be causing the issues.

My advice is to offer an audit annually to existing customers. You will need to make it something worth paying for and using a good automatic tool can help you get started.

Build a checklist to use

For some reason, many people will refer to an audit as an SEO audit, but I think if you are going to do an audit, do it completely. A checklist can really help.

So, how do I build my own SEO audit? For starters, you will need to identify the things you need to include. The way I do this is to identify the top-level areas first. From there, I can drill down to each area.

Four top-level areas to consider in your audit include:

  • Crawling – How are index and accessibility for your website?
  • On Page Analysis – Is content optimized and well done?
  • Off Page Analysis – Trustworthiness
  • Competitor Analysis – How do you stack up to your competitors?

I culled through results and have found a number of checklists online. I find it best to see what others are doing to get ideas and inspiration. Once I have my categories, I fill in the gaps.

For example, for crawling, I will find the various tasks to perform to determine any “technical” needs including indexing and accessibility. The same is true for the other areas. From there, you can begin to build a list of tasks to perform.

A great way to flesh this out is by using a spreadsheet. For example, I have a spreadsheet I have created to build out a checklist of things that I look for when doing a homepage copy review.

Wash and repeat for each category.

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Check list

Deep dive, robust specialized audit

When an SEO specialist runs an audit, often for potential or new clients, it costs money. They put lots of time and labor in this process.

John Locke explains,

“To be clear, I’m not talking about the flimsy 1-page “reports” that come from automated tools.

“We’re talking human-researched, hands-in-the-dirt, in-depth SEO audits that give you an actionable battle plan for the next 6 to 12 months of SEO.

Professional SEO specialists charge anywhere from a few hundred dollars to well into the thousands of dollars. When they charge this amount, they are spending a plethora of hours on the audit and report and are delivering companies “off the charts” value.

One company says it like this,

“Ah yes — some companies, even some reputable companies, offer free audits. We no longer do so for several reasons. First, we’re not just going to do a cursory review of your site in less than an hour. It’s going to take at least several hours of our time. Perhaps 10, 20 or more hours!”

It’s not just about time. They are offering a plan of action, a roadmap for improvement and success.

In the digital industry, we are sometimes allergic to requesting payment for strategy, but it is good business sense.

Wrapping it up

Which type of SEO audit do you offer your clients? Are you using the two page PDF report from an automated tool to help with lead generation?

What about using a checklist? Maybe you are offering an audit to existing customers, new or potential customers to give them some insight on where they stand.

Or perhaps you are creating and generating a professional, deep dive, plan of action worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. The goal you have for an SEO audit will inform which approach you take.

Have you offered an SEO audit before? Did it help your clients? Drop a note in the comments and let us know

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