To compete in today’s market, SEO is a requirement. Yesterday’s “push” marketing, like billboards and television commercials, has been shoved out of center stage. This is good news for your team; you no longer need to waste time trying to convince your customers they need your services. SEO, a type of “pull” marketing, attracts customers who already want them.
Improving your SEO is a much more time-intensive task than many business owners realize. The best way to get a bird’s-eye view of your current SEO position is with a professional SEO auditor. An external SEO auditor will craft a comprehensive SEO website audit report so you can use hard data to drive your business.
Finding an SEO consultant to perform your SEO website audit is your first challenge. The SEO industry doesn’t have standard operations and there’s a low barrier for entry. In other words, you don’t want just anyone claiming to be an SEO expert performing your website audit. As with any investment, you want to do your due diligence now to get a better ROI in the future.
In this article, we’ll show you how to find a good SEO expert who will help you get on course toward increasing your traffic and ranking higher in Google.
What is an SEO audit?
An SEO audit is the process of collecting and analyzing your website’s performance of on-page, off-page and technical SEO.
A website audit report will serve as your roadmap for fixing errors and issues that may be affecting your ranking in SERPs. It will also act as your first benchmark against which you’ll measure the success of your online marketing strategy.
What Makes a Good SEO Auditor?
A good SEO auditor will strive to learn as much as possible about your target audience, your business operations and your current online marketing strategy before starting an SEO audit.
A good SEO expert will:
- Understand and inform your marketing goals. – Your SEO auditor is on your team. That means they need to align themselves with your goals for website traffic and return on investment. A quality SEO auditor will look at current and past data to help you set realistic benchmarks going forward.
- Help you uncover and clarify your unique value proposition (UVP). – What makes you stand out from your direct competitors? If you don’t have a quick elevator pitch on deck, then you’re probably not communicating your UVP clearly in your brand messaging either. An SEO consultant can help turn your UVP into a single sentence that you can use in your brand messaging across your website, social media and more.
- Provide education on SEO best practices. – SEO consultants realize that business owners and marketing managers have a lot on their plate. After all, that’s why you’re hiring an expert. A good SEO won’t simply send you an audit report and leave you adrift in the online ocean. They’ll walk you through the results and suggest clear, actionable next steps.
- Not be afraid to present you with hard truths. – Any website audit report worth its weight will uncover errors and issues. Technical issues may cost extra to fix. Long-term content strategies take time and effort. A trustworthy SEO auditor will tell you the truth about how long it may take to get results.
Avoid SEOs who make these promises:
- “We’ll get you to #1 in SERPs!” – This claim is impossible to guarantee. Getting to the top result in search engines depends on your industry, niche, UVP, length of time in business and who your competitors are. Are you competing locally in a niche market or globally against monolithic brands? Depending on your competition, this claim may take months or even years to realize.
- “Instant results!” – The only way to achieve big results fast is to utilize black hat techniques. Black hat techniques are regularly discovered and penalized by Google. Don’t let your website be penalized because the word “instant” appealed to you. It’s not a good investment.
- “We do it all! SEO, PPC, Social Media Management, Web Development, Content Creation & More!” – If your SEO can’t tell you their strengths, they probably don’t have any. Unless you’re a huge company hiring a fully staffed SEO agency, don’t believe that any one SEO consultant can do it all. Find an SEO consultant who knows their strengths (one of which should be website auditing) and ensure that they align with your goals.
How to Find a Good SEO Expert for Your Audit
SEO is an unregulated industry. In other words, it’s tough to separate the wheat from the chaff when trying to find an expert SEO auditor. There is no licensing board or graduate degree for SEO. That can make it pretty tough to find a partner you can trust.
So how do you find good SEO experts? Here are some tips:
- Ask for referrals – Even if you don’t know any SEO consultants personally, odds are your colleagues do. As a business owner or marketing manager, take a look at adjacent websites you admire. Avoid direct competitors. Use our free Visibility Index tool to see how other business’ websites are performing at a glance. Ask those marketing managers who they trust.
- Search top-rated lists for SEO experts in your niche – Whether you’re looking to hire a freelancer or an SEO agency, you’ll want to check out top-rated lists on websites like Upwork and Thumbtack. These websites attempt to rank the most active SEO consultants with the best reviews so it’s easy to find trustworthy consultants.
- Read reviews – Consumers appreciate honest reviews now more than ever, which is why we suggest reading reviews rather than searching Google. Some SEOs may not rank well on Google because they’re spending more time on their clients’ campaigns. There are also SEOs who use black hat techniques to rank higher than their competitors. However, black hat SEO won’t hold up over the long-term. A quality SEO auditor will make sure you’re using white hat techniques, and their clients will reflect that in their reviews.
- Read their blogs – Once you narrow your list down to 3-5 SEO auditors, check out their blogs. Do they appear knowledgeable about SEO? Does their portfolio reflect strategies that would work well in your niche? Find out as much as you can about your SEO expert’s strategy and experience.
- Look at their past work – Most SEO auditors will provide case studies in their portfolios. Look for websites that are similar to yours. How did your prospective SEO perform? Did their past projects obtain results? Reach out to their past clients and ask for an honest review of their experience working with the SEO consultant.
How to Choose an SEO Auditor
Once you’ve picked out a few potential SEO auditors, it’s time to dig a little deeper. You’ll need to consider the size of your website and your budget. SEO auditors will usually offer a free consultation in-person or over the phone. Be prepared to ask the right questions and look out for the wrong answers.
Questions to Ask an SEO Specialist
- Can you guarantee rankings? – This is a question SEO consultants hear often, but it’s actually a test. If your SEO claims they can guarantee rankings, they’re paying you lip service. Google ranks websites based on over 200 factors which they update regularly. Meanwhile, your direct competitors are constantly improving their SEO. There is simply no way to guarantee rankings. A good SEO will explain that and then suggest proven ways to increase rankings. But even these can’t be “guaranteed.”
- How long until I see results? – We all want instant gratification, but it’s just not the reality in SEO. Still, some SEOs claim they’ll get your website to the front page of Google within a month or two. This is a good opportunity to let your SEO explain how long it takes to see results and why. Give them brownie points for a clear explanation.
- What is included in the initial SEO audit report? – There are different levels of SEO audit reports. Hopefully, your SEO will provide on-page, off-page and technical SEO, plus an analysis of the competition.
- What aspects of SEO will your report address? – Depending on your business goals, you may want to ask for a magnifying glass to be placed over certain aspects of SEO. For example, publishing companies are primarily concerned with on-page SEO content. Other brands might be struggling with a high bounce rate that could be fixed with improvements to page speed or user interface. Ideally, your SEO will report on all these aspects.
- How much will an SEO website audit cost? – Don’t be shy. You need an SEO consultant who fits your budget. Expect to pay $100-$200/hour for an SEO consultant. Avoid free SEO audits. Your goal is to work with an expert who can interpret the results of an SEO audit with you.
Hiring an SEO Auditor
Hopefully you’ve gleaned the overall message of this article: There is no one-size-fits-all external SEO auditor. It’s up to you to investigate potential SEO auditors, interview past clients, seek reviews and references, and communicate your goals and expectations.