SEO audits can be quite expensive, and I’ve routinely written about how overpriced they are. For this reason, it’s important that when you spend money on an audit, you’re getting actionable recommendations and in-depth analysis of your website.
Identifying whether an SEO expert conducted a bad SEO audit can be challenging, especially if you lack a solid understanding of SEO practices. However, there are some common red flags and indicators that can help you assess the quality of the SEO audit provided by the expert.
Here are some signs that the SEO audit might be inadequate. Remember, it doesn’t take an audit to be missing all 12 of these – even if 2-3 seem incomplete, that’s enough to support an email to the SEO(s) asking them for more work.
Lack of Specificity: The audit report lacks specific and actionable recommendations. Instead, it contains general statements without detailed explanations or step-by-step instructions.
Within each section, there should be a checklist or list of next steps for your content writers and development teams.
Absence of Technical Analysis: A comprehensive SEO audit should include a technical analysis of your website. If the audit focuses solely on surface-level factors without addressing technical issues like site speed, crawl errors, or indexation problems, it may not be thorough enough.
The information to complete a technical analysis is in your Google Search Console account and can also be uncovered using tools like Moz or Semrush. If an SEO is going to perform an audit of your site and they don’t ask for Search Console access or mention the SEO software they’re going to use, that’s a red flag.
Little to no Keyword Research: Keyword research is a fundamental part of SEO. If the audit does not include an analysis of relevant keywords and their usage on your site, it may not adequately address your site’s organic search performance.
Often times companies will just spit out excel sheets filled with thousands of rows of keywords, with little effort put into which of those keywords should be targeted first.
Overlooking On-Page SEO: A proper SEO audit should analyze on-page elements such as meta tags, headings, URL structure, and content quality. If these crucial on-page factors are not covered, the audit is likely incomplete.
Ignoring Backlink Analysis: Backlinks significantly impact a site’s SEO. A deficient audit may not delve into your site’s backlink profile or assess the quality and relevance of your backlinks.
There should also be instructions in the audit that explain how you can improve your backlink profile.
No Competitor Analysis: A thorough SEO audit should include a competitor analysis to understand your site’s position relative to competitors and identify potential areas of improvement.
Shallow Content Analysis: Content is a vital aspect of SEO. If the audit does not assess the quality, uniqueness, and relevance of your content, it may not provide valuable insights to boost your rankings.
Really, an editorial calendar with SEO blogging instructions should be in the audit.
Ignoring Local SEO: If your website targets local audiences, a good SEO audit should include a local SEO analysis, including local citations, Google My Business optimization, and NAP consistency.
Lack of Analytics Review: A reliable SEO audit should review your website’s analytics data to gain insights into user behavior, traffic sources, and performance. Absence of this analysis may indicate an incomplete audit.
Google Analytics 4 and Google Search Console would be the tools used to review important data for this project.
Not Addressing Mobile Optimization: With mobile-first indexing, a proper SEO audit should evaluate your website’s mobile optimization and user experience on mobile devices.
Outdated or Irrelevant Recommendations: Check if the audit includes outdated or irrelevant SEO recommendations that no longer align with best practices. While I don’t agree that Google’s algorithm changes drastically all the time, there are rankings factors the weigh more than they did 5-10 years ago.
No Future Strategy: A quality SEO audit should not only identify issues but also provide a clear plan and strategy for ongoing optimization and improvement.
If you suspect your hired SEO expert conducted a poor SEO audit, consider seeking a second opinion from another reputable SEO professional or agency. Alternatively, you can educate yourself on basic SEO principles to better evaluate the recommendations provided in the audit.
Remember that a comprehensive and well-executed SEO audit is essential for the success of your website’s search engine rankings and overall online visibility. If you’d like a SEO audit of your website, or to have a previous audit professionally reviewed, contact me at email@example.com.