In this article I review the pros and cons of working with an SEO agency vs a freelancer. I’ll also explain what customers should expect in their SEO audit and what factors affect its pricing.
Potential Issues with Agency Audits
While hiring an SEO agency can bring many benefits, there are also potential challenges and problems that you may encounter. It’s important to be aware of these issues and address them proactively.
SEO Audit Costs: Hiring an SEO agency can be expensive, especially if you’re working with a reputable and experienced agency. Some agencies have high fees or long-term contracts that may strain your budget.
The prices for SEO audits are a bit controversial. I’ve seen agencies charge a company $10,000 for an audit, but contract out the work for under $1000.
It’s important to carefully consider the cost and ensure that the potential return on investment justifies the expense.
Communication and Collaboration: Effective communication and collaboration are crucial for successful SEO work. Some agencies may struggle with clear and timely communication, leading to misunderstandings, delays, and misaligned expectations.
It’s important to establish a strong line of communication with the agency and ensure regular updates and reporting.
Scalability and Availability: Depending on the size and capacity of the agency, they may have limitations in terms of scalability and availability. If they have numerous clients or limited resources, they may not be able to provide the level of attention and responsiveness you require.
It’s important to discuss these concerns upfront and understand how they manage client workload and maintain quality standards.
A freelance specialist is less likely to use a cookie cutter approach to SEO marketing, which agencies sometimes do to save time.
Transparency and Reporting: Some SEO agencies may lack transparency in their processes and reporting. It’s crucial to have access to clear and comprehensive reports that outline the progress, results, and key performance indicators (KPIs) of your SEO work.
Ensure that the agency provides regular reports and communicates the impact of their efforts on your website’s visibility and performance.
Dependency on External Expertise: When you outsource your SEO efforts to an agency, you become reliant on their expertise. This can be problematic if you don’t have a solid understanding of SEO yourself.
It’s important to stay informed and educated about SEO best practices and industry trends so that you can assess the agency’s work effectively and make informed decisions.
To mitigate these potential problems, it’s essential to conduct thorough research before hiring an SEO agency. Look for reputable agencies with a proven track record, positive client testimonials, and clear communication channels.
Establish open and transparent communication from the beginning, and set realistic expectations and goals for your SEO marketing. Regularly review the agency’s progress, reports, and results to ensure they are meeting your expectations and driving the desired outcomes.
What to Expect in Your SEO Audit
An SEO audit is a comprehensive analysis and evaluation of a website’s search engine optimization performance. It assesses various aspects of the website to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement in order to enhance its visibility, organic traffic, and search engine rankings.
The specific components of an SEO audit can vary depending on the scope and depth of the analysis, but generally, it includes the following elements:
Website Structure and Accessibility: This involves evaluating the website’s architecture, URL structure, navigation, and internal linking. The goal is to ensure that search engines can easily crawl and index the website’s pages and that users can navigate the site effectively.
On-Page Optimization: This focuses on analyzing individual web pages to assess their optimization for target keywords. It includes reviewing elements such as title tags, meta descriptions, headings, URL optimization, keyword usage, content quality, keyword density, and internal linking structure.
Keyword Research and Analysis: This involves identifying relevant keywords and phrases that users are searching for in relation to the website’s content and industry. During this part of the SEO audit, the focus is assessing keyword competitiveness, search volume, and user intent to determine the most valuable keywords to target.
Technical SEO: This examines technical aspects of the website that impact its performance and search engine visibility. It includes assessing factors like website speed, mobile-friendliness, website security (HTTPS), crawl errors, XML sitemaps, robots.txt, canonicalization, and structured data implementation.
Backlink Profile: This involves analyzing the website’s link profile, including both internal and external links. It assesses the quality, relevance, and diversity of the backlinks pointing to the site and identifies any potentially harmful or low-quality links that could impact the website’s rankings.
Content Evaluation: This part of the audit evaluates the website’s content quality, relevance, uniqueness, and engagement. It includes assessing the presence of duplicate content, thin content, keyword stuffing, or outdated content.
Content gaps and opportunities for creating valuable, optimized content may also be identified.
User Experience (UX) Analysis: This focuses on assessing the user experience of the website. It involves evaluating factors such as page load speed, mobile responsiveness, navigation ease, readability, engagement, and overall usability.
Competitive Analysis: This involves comparing the website’s performance and SEO strategies to those of its competitors. It includes assessing competitors’ rankings, backlink profiles, content strategies, and overall online presence to identify areas for improvement and potential opportunities.
Analytics and Reporting: This includes reviewing website analytics data, such as traffic sources, user behavior, conversion rates, and key performance indicators (KPIs). It helps to measure the effectiveness of SEO efforts and provides insights for future optimization strategies.
Based on the findings from the SEO audit, actionable recommendations and a prioritized list of tasks are typically provided to address the identified issues and improve the website’s SEO performance.
The Cost of an SEO Audit
Pricing for this report can vary depending on several factors. While specific cost structures may differ among SEO service providers, here are some common factors that can influence what you’ll pay:
Scope of the Audit: The depth and comprehensiveness of the SEO audit will affect the cost.
A basic audit may focus on essential on-page optimization factors and technical issues, while a more comprehensive audit may include in-depth analysis of various aspects like keyword research, competitor analysis, backlink profile evaluation, content evaluation, and user experience analysis.
The more extensive the audit, the higher the cost is likely to be.
Size and Complexity of the Website: The size and complexity of the website being audited can impact the cost. Larger websites with numerous pages, complex structures, and multiple subdomains may require more time and effort to analyze.
Additionally, websites with advanced technical features or unique requirements may involve additional expertise and resources, leading to higher costs.
Industry and Target Market: The competitiveness of the industry and target market can influence the cost of an SEO audit. Industries with high competition and saturated markets may require more in-depth analysis and strategic recommendations, resulting in higher costs.
Expertise and Reputation of the Service Provider: The expertise and reputation of the SEO service provider can influence the cost of an audit.
Highly experienced and reputable SEO agencies or consultants often charge higher fees due to their track record, industry expertise, and the quality of their services. Working with well-known experts or agencies may command a premium price.
Reporting and Deliverables: The level of detail and comprehensiveness of the audit report and deliverables can impact the audit price. Reports that provide comprehensive insights, actionable recommendations, and clear explanations may require more time and effort to produce, resulting in a higher cost.
Additional Services or Consultation: Some SEO service providers may offer additional services beyond the audit itself, such as strategy consultation, implementation support, or ongoing SEO services. These additional services may be bundled with the audit or offered as separate options, potentially affecting the overall price.
Geographic Location: The expensiveness of an SEO audit can vary based on the geographical location of the service provider. SEO agencies or consultants operating in regions with higher living costs or higher market demand may charge higher fees compared to those in regions with lower costs of living or less competitive markets.
It’s important to note that while cost is a consideration, the quality and expertise of the SEO audit should be the primary focus. Choosing a reputable and experienced service provider who can deliver valuable insights and recommendations may have a more significant impact on your website’s performance and long-term SEO success.
To get a review of your latest SEO audit or current agency contract, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.