Beware the $300 SEO Audit

Free seo auditIf you’re part of a brand that searches for “quick seo audit” or “free seo audit,” Evolve Digital Labs is probably not a good fit. Similarly, anyone seeking a 24-hour turnaround has unrealistic expectations because SEO is a process that requires strategy and commitment. An SEO Audit sets the stage for success in the search engines. We compare it to a diagnosis; doctors don’t prescribe medication or prep for surgery without first figuring out what’s wrong and what steps are required to fix the issue. Because it is such a critical prerequisite, we think it’s fair to describe what you can expect from an audit that is simply not worth your time or money:

1. Amateur Analysis

There’s a saying you’ve probably heard: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This reality applies to nearly all wakes of life, with the exception of $1.50 PBR nights at dive bars. That shiz is real. Listen, people: an SEO audit won’t help you get anywhere if it doesn’t dig deep enough and provide insights that resonate. If you’re shopping for a solution that will cost you less than an iPad, you’re doing it wrong. It won’t take you long to find the websites that offer these services, but I can guarantee that it takes you longer to fill out your credit card information than it does for them to plug your information and pump out the stale report.

“We’ll diagnose 10 pages”

Why this doesn’t cut it: Websites need to be approached holistically. Does that mean poring over each paragraph in a 5,000-page website? Of course not. Still, there’s no set-in-stone number of pages that need to be analyzed in an audit a but it’s definitely more than 10, 20, or even 50 in most cases.

“We’ll provide a list of errors and warnings”

Why this doesn’t cut it: While this information is incredibly useful, it requires minimal effort on the SEO’s part. Google Webmaster Tools, a free service to owners of websites, does this work for you, along with SEOmoz (which requires a subscription, but offers a 30-day free trial). The benefit to utilizing the services of an SEO company like Evolve Digital Labs is that we provide more than a stale report.

  1. We express the severity of each error and warning (how bad is it?)
  2. We explain how it affects you (what does this mean for me?)
  3. We provide next steps for each issue (where do I go from here?)


“Guaranteed #1 Ranking!”

Why this doesn’t cut it: Please. Any SEO who blindly promises number one results in the search engines is a fool… unless you’re okay with paying someone to help you rank #1 for a ridiculously long-tail keyword (e.g., “cincinnati automotive insurance broker for mobile petting zoo businesses”). It’s not easy for websites to obtain impressive rankings for terms relevant to their business; that’s why this claim sounds too good to be true.

2. Shady Solutions

More than likely, a cheap SEO audit won’t include any sort of remedy for your website a it will just point out what’s wrong. But I’m sure that the same SEO will do what he can to upsell you. If you come across any of these solutions, run in the other way.

Buy some links

Why this doesn’t cut it: I’ll admit a some of these websites can be pretty convincing, offering .gov and .edu links; I can only imagine how killer these solutions must sound to brands that donat know any better. But it all circles back to the if-then cliché I keep referencing; buying links is a shortcut with dire consequences. With Google’s Penguin update still on the loose, we recommend steering clear of SEOs that sell links.

Shady SEO Screenshot

Keyword-stuffed Content

Why this doesn’t cut it: Content, whether blog posts, additional on-site pages, or guest posts, should serve a greater purpose than simply accumulating keywords for which you’re trying to rank. Sure, Keyword Research (a service we provide) delivers extraordinary insight regarding which terms are within grasp and which may require a year or more to see results in the search engines. We use this data to understand which answers we should be answering through content, thus transforming a website into a helpful entity for visitors.

Directory submissions

Why this doesnat cut it: Black hatters sway brands with the big numbers (120,000 submissions to directories!) but what they don’t mention is how this outdated tactic can cause websites to lose traffic. Directories were once a reliable source for search engines to use to find and index websites, but they have become so saturated with spam and weak sites that Google is no longer valuing directories as reliable sources. Auditing a website (in a way that actually benefits a client) requires strategy and tedious research. You won’t find a cheap or free audit that yields tactical solutions for the future or next steps you can digest. The point of an audit is really to gauge where your website stands before you waste any time or money on strategies you’re not prepared to handle. We’re pretty open about what steps we cover during an audit; give our checklist a look and let us know what you think!