So, you’ve taken a crucial step for the SEO of your business’ website and opted for an SEO Audit. This is the single best way to figure out what needs improving on your site. Now, what happens next? Choosing an individual or agency for your audit can be daunting. Being informed on all aspects of your agency as well as what questions to ask them before your audit is key. Don’t choose an agency for your next audit without doing your own proper research first.
The Importance of the Right Agency
In the ever-crowded field of SEO, it’s hard to find someone you can trust for your company’s audit. This area evolves at a swift pace, so choosing the right agency can be the difference between paying for an up-to-date audit or falling for the lure of one in the past. Deciding on a skilled agency is an important hire for your company, as it will have the greatest impact on whether you get great results from your audit.
Before Your Audit
Before you hire an agency to handle your audit, decide what your business needs. Set individual goals on what your audit will achieve for you. Do you require a one-time audit, or are you looking for a consistent plan? Other services that could be coupled with your audit include:
- Link building
- PPC management
- Content marketing
Get multiple consultations. Most agencies see consultations as an opportunity to offer services and tell you what they’re all about. This is also a chance for you to get a feel for people in the business and if you could see yourself working with them. At the end of each consultation, which could take a few days, you should receive a proposal for your audit from each firm. This will include pricing and a specific plan for your business.
Question #1 – “Can I See Some Examples of Your Previous Reports?
By asking a firm to see previous reports, a business owner can better understand how they will present their information. Pay close attention to detail when asking this question. This strategy will give you an inside look at an agency’s individual results as well as their previous recommendations and metrics. Make sure you understand the language of these reports. They should be gathered in a way that is easy to interpret by the general public. Bogging down these reports with wordiness and fancy terms isn’t a good sign. Their answer to this question should also answer the following:
- Why did the company need a SEO audit?
- What are the impacts of the changes you implemented after the audit?
- What is the amount of return for this user?
- What are some obstacles your agency faced in this audit?
- How did your firm overcome these obstacles?
- How are these results relevant to my business?
Keep in mind that, whatever the reports show, this is measured data. This means it’s usually a great point of reference of a firm’s success. As an added bonus, ask if you can see a case study the agency has on file. These are the best examples of their work. If they say they don’t have any case studies to show, this is a major red flag.
Question #2 – “Do You Outsource Any of the Auditing Process?”
Credible outsourcing is not a problem with SEO agencies. In fact, often it can be a good thing. Outsourcing your SEO properly can contribute to reduced costs as well as expansion of capabilities in other areas. On the other hand, failure to outsource with qualified parties can lead to disastrous results. Don’t settle for outsourcing of your SEO audit in any of the following areas:
- If a company can’t come up with its own strategy for an audit, there’s no reason to hire them.
- Link building. Another vital process for any agency, your firm should know that a lack of quality control could incur penalties for your business.
- Analytics and reporting. If an SEO agency can’t track and define their own metrics, this signals a lack of expertise or a problem with bandwidth. Understanding key performance metrics and how to adjust them is crucial to the performance of an SEO campaign, and an agency should have the capability and infrastructure to provide analysis in-house.
Question #3 – “When Will I Notice Results From My SEO Audit?”
If any agency offers immediate results from your audit when asked this question, avoid them. This is an impossible task. If at all achievable, they’re using unsustainable techniques or aren’t being upfront in the process. Either way, this is not someone you can trust with your business. Changes after an audit take time, as the metrics at work need influencing to improve ranking. Some companies could see changes in months, while others may need a more significant amount of time. Expect traffic to get worse before it gets better, but a drop-off shouldn’t persist. As a general rule of thumb, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
That said, there are reasonable expectations to aid in the length of time of your audit. Agencies should send deliverable documents the moment the audit begins to make the process go smoothly. Examples of these documents could include:
- Strategy document
- Keyword mapping document, with new titles and descriptions
- Current content recommendations
- Reports on secure links within your website
- Monthly reports, which cover rankings and traffic
If a business owner receives no documents regarding their audit, this is another red flag.
Question #4 – “If My Company Hires You for an SEO Audit, Will You Work with Our Direct Competitors?”
Some firms will work with direct competitors of their clients. This question is more about the answer itself. How an individual handles this situation speaks volumes about how they will handle your SEO audit. Securing an agency that already works in a company’s field could have its benefits. It could provide your business with a larger source of networks. Also, certain firms manage internally, so that different work is performed by different teams and managers. Then again, your competitors could be paying more for better services. Find out the details of the answer to this question. Whoever handles your SEO audit should be transparent about their internal structure.
Question #5 – “What’s Your Link Building Process, and How Is It Used in an Audit?”
To understand this question, individuals should first gain knowledge about the subject. A poor link building strategy could waste your money and land you with a penalty. Be sure your firm considers your specific audience during your audit. They should be well versed in how to avoid penalties with Google. Proper links within a website should be:
- Attached to relevant sources.
- Occur naturally over time, never all at once.
- Contain anchored text that varies and sounds natural.
- Lacking in spam and low quality directories.
Know what areas an agency will prioritize. When in doubt, it’s never a bad idea to seek a second opinion. If a firm doesn’t suit your company or its needs, know when it’s time to move on. If you’re interested in a free mini audit of your site,