An SEO audit contributes towards a more clear idea of the status of a website. Or how an optimisation work might affect your online reputation and business image. Therefore, it’s recommended to have one, once in a while.
To take on an SEO audit, is something that only concerns to the business owner. There are no rules that state when and how you have to invest in auditing an ongoing SEO strategy. Nevertheless, there are signals that you can look out for which will help you — the business owner — make that decision.
SEO Auditors and SEO Consultants
It’s very common nowadays to find consulting services sold as auditing services, it’s important to make a distinction. Although audits and consulting Services are relatively close to each other — because they’re all optimisation services — , they are completely different in terms of purpose and operationalisation. An audit has the purpose of evaluating something or someone (a person, a company, a process, a project or product, among other details) while the primary goal of a Consulting service is not to evaluate, but to provide advice in an area of expertise.
Audit according to Wikipedia
The general definition of an audit is an evaluation of a person, organization, system, process, enterprise, project or product.
Consulting according to Wikipedia
Consulting is providing advice in a particular area of expertise. This is not the same as customer service.
In other words, a consultant will be willing to brainstorm with the client about the details and implementation of an SEO strategy. And how SEO will fit inside the broader Online Marketing strategy. An SEO auditor, would be the one that — with due credibility — can craft a thorough and detailed analysis of what has been suggested by the consultant.
We know that the SEO industry has always been full of self-proclaimed “experts”. But very likely, there just a few that can make a statement based on factual knowledge. Or have the necessary insights to identify problems and point you towards the right solutions. To provide a complete and trustworthy service, an SEO auditor should possess factual knowledge. Or at least something very close to it. Unfortunately, many of the services currently on the market — that claim to be SEO audits — are just Consulting Services… Some of them not even good Consultant services.
How to get a trustworthy SEO Audit?
This is the question that you should be asking yourself, every time you think about auditing for SEO. Truth is, there is no regulatory entity for SEO enforcing good practice. Or one that banishes snake-oil vendors. The legitimacy of an audit, depends only on the judgement from whomever pays for the service. Or, sometimes, the disperse (and biased) opinion of the SEO community.
So, as a client, what can you do?
How can you maximize the chances of getting something trustworthy and legit?
If you are looking for an SEO audit to go along with your SEO strategy, here are some questions that you can ask both the service provider and yourself, and that will help you assess the legitimacy of the auditor.
Things you can ask the SEO auditor
- Are you acquainted with the Quality Guidelines of the major Search Engines? How well?
- What is your history/experience as an SEO auditor?
- Do you have successful examples of performed SEO audits?
- Do you know the person or company that planned my SEO strategy?
- If you do, would that relation compromise the quality and outcome of the audit?
- What are your deliverables and how will they help my business have a better performance?
- How long will the SEO audit last?
Things you can try to answer by yourself beforehand
- Am I acquainted with the Quality Guidelines of the major Search Engines? How well?
– It’s recommended that you compare your own level of knowledge of the Quality Guidelines with the auditor’s level.
- Do I know of basic/blatant flaws in my site that should be immediately pointed out by the auditor?
– If you do, save them and observe at which stage the auditor points them out, or if they went unnoticed and why.
- What’s my opinion on the auditor’s history?
– It’s good that you know something about the auditor already. Are they respected/trusted in the SEO community?
- Does the SEO consultant know his/her work is going to be subject to an audit?
– Try to keep interaction as far as possible until the end result.
- Is there a business interest or partnership between the SEO Consultant and the SEO auditor?
– Do your homework, or ask for opinion, to make sure you don’t get a biased result.
I hope this contributes towards a more professional SEO community. Transparency, truth and honesty should prevail among the pillars of successful SEO companies and consultants.
If you have experience in the SEO auditing field, feel free to express your opinion.