If you have been doing SEO in-house, most likely, you've covered the SEO basics. Now its time to bring in someone more seasoned to bring a fresh perspective, do a thorough SEO audit on your work, fill in gaps and help convince management that your more advanced (and costly) SEO recommendations really are in their best interest.
After all, accountants are an equally specialized field with many gray areas, and they have auditors - so should an SEO.
What you don't need in an SEO audit:
- You don't need an SEO audit to tell you what you already know - if the big things they are touting for the SEO audit is the page title tags, alt text and meta descriptions, they're probably not worth your effort -- you may already know this is a good thing for SEO. And, you can get this stuff from Google's Webmaster Central. While this is something every SEO audit should include, it should NOT be the highlight. Instead they should be talking to you about what actually differentiates the advice in their SEO audit. This is especially important if you do SEO in-house, because you have probably already had many ideas tossed around internally - you're looking for a fresh perspective.
- You don't need an SEO audit to tell you things that aren't even correct - this happens. An agency friend of mine recently divulged some of his SEO Site Audit Hall of Shame, things he has seen over the years come out of agencies. We had more than a few chuckles.
- You probably don't need an SEO audit done by someone cheap - First, a good SEO knows what their work is worth, and the ROI on their advice (when implemented) more than pays for the investment. Second, when it comes to SEO, your really do get what you pay for. If you're a really small site, OK, perhaps you could get a decent site audit from someone good for $1k - $3k (likely doing SEO on the side while doing SEO at an agency or in-house, this is something I've done), but if you're a Fortune 1000, you deserve something better - SEO advice is not the place to be on a shoestring. You may find that 'gem' deal, it's like finding a needle in the haystack and your brand deserves something more robust.
What you do need in an SEO site audit:
- Your moneys worth - ask what you get for your money, how is the report delivered, and how long is it?
- Both strategic and technical advice that really sets you apart from your competitors
- Something tailored to your business - for big companies, many of the cookie-cutter mass produced audits just won't give what you really need.
- Diverse experience and examples that you can take back to management to help sell the innovative SEO ideas
- An audit that's worthy of your brand - if you're a big brand, get the expertise that your name deserves - it's your most valuable asset, make it shine in search engines and not fall in your competitors' shadow. There is so much bad advice in the world of SEO, you need something that will, without doubt, keep your brand moving in the search results
What should you spend on an quality, actionable, revenue producing SEO audit?
An SEO audit is like employee development, it pays for itself. It's not the place to cut costs and get lower quality advice.
You need to invest in rock solid advice that will actually move the needle in a way that will impress management, and that typically comes from someone who knows the ROI on the kind of SEO advice you will be given.
I have seen this type good of SEO audit typically come in the range of $8,000 - $35,000. In my personal experience, I find good independent SEOs cost fall at the lower end of the spectrum and the big higher profile agencies cost more (though, this is not always the case). Align yourself with what you prefer to work with, and something that is in sync with your SEO needs: bigger agency with a lot of resources at your disposal to help you act on the recommendations, or a individual consultant with a smaller client list where you the one doing the work for you is the one you talk to. You can get awesome advice from both, if you choose wisely.
A good SEO audit can cost $8k-$35k?!?!
While you may be getting sticker shock, remember this:
- A good SEO audit tells you exactly what you need to do to improve your rankings, it's something you can use to create an SEO roadmap, reference often and show to your IT department.
- A good SEO audit will probably give you more action items than you can pull off in the next 6-12 months. This means you will have plenty of action items to keep you busy, and its not something you'll need again for a while.
- A good SEO audit can pay for itself in weeks or months, if you implement its SEO recommendations
- A good SEO audit comes from someone with years of experience, most likely with big brands, and working on sites facing challenges similar to yours.
- A good SEO audit will open management's eyes and help you get SEO items prioritized, and stay in scope.
- A good SEO audit can confirm that some of your "wild ideas" aren't so wild after all, it will confirm to management that you do know your stuff, and you're on to something.
- A good SEO audit brings a fresh perspective that will take your SEO program to the next level.
Get your site audit from an SEO strategist that has worked as a full-time in-house SEO for big brands - Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Yahoo! Inc. and Business.com.