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MSP Marketing: Is a Free Online SEO Audit Worth It?

MSP Marketing: Is a Free Online SEO Audit Worth It?

Have you been running those free online SEO audits, and have been disappointed with the results? Instead of fearing your website is trash, take a moment to understand the pros and cons of a free online SEO audit.

Is a Free Online SEO Audit Worth It?

SEO, by its nature, is a long-term strategy, and it takes a long stretch of time (usually many months) for you to determine what is and isn’t working. Fundamentally, an online SEO audit is a snapshot in time, often lacking the context needed to put your SEO in its proper historical perspective. 

Moreover, there is a fundamental misunderstanding of what SEO is supposed to do. SEO aims to increase the opportunity for your website to be seen. SEO, like all marketing, can’t guarantee a lead; all it can do is create an environment where a lead is possible, which can only be achieved if your business is seen.

What’s Wrong With an Online SEO Audit?

There’s nothing inherently wrong with an online SEO audit, and most marketing organizations offer a complementary SEO audit as part of the onboarding process. The reason why is that they need a baseline to measure. However, there is a fundamental difference between the two. When you receive an SEO audit, for example, from a marketing agency, it requires access to your Google Analytics, Search Console, and Google My Business to place your SEO within its historical context.

In contrast, most online SEO audits can only examine your website superficially because they can’t access the information necessary to understand your SEO. This lack of understanding makes free online SEO audits not a valuable tool for determining which steps to increase your page position. The main reason is they lack the critical aspect needed for SEO success; personalization. 

On top of that, these tools are just trained to spot things that the developers of these tools decided were issues. The tools aren’t actually crawling the site like Google, nor are they associated with the search engines. They are using educated guesses to determine what to look for.

Here’s an example.
Let’s say you run an SEO audit tool on your website. It comes back and says, “Uh oh, you don’t have a custom meta description on the 37th page in your blog archive!”

If your blog is built on WordPress or Joomla, you can usually just input a generic global meta description for superfluous pages like that, so without doing some major overhaul, or installing plugins and spending a ton of time, that meta description will continue to be generic. If you were to fix the issue, you aren’t making Google happy. You are making the SEO audit tool happy. It’s not going to affect how you are ranking—in fact, your blog archive pages should be set to not get indexed anyway, so it shouldn’t matter. Also, meta descriptions, while important for a very specific thing, don’t really have that much weight on your SEO ranking anyway.

Meanwhile, if you spent a fraction of that time putting together some good case studies or writing blogs, you’d have new content that could actually contribute to your ranking.

An SEO Audit Can Only See a Small Part of the Picture

Most online audits can only focus on the technical aspects of your website. However, there is value to that, because they can affect how Google views and places your site, and you should more-or-less follow best practices. These technical issues include indexing, backlink quality, meta descriptions, ADA compliance, and site speed.

Here are three areas that are lacking with a free audit:

  • Historical context: As we noted, SEO, by its nature, is a long-term strategy, and it is only over time, time meaning months, that you will be able to determine what is and isn't working. A complimentary SEO audit is a snapshot in time, lacking the content needed to put your SEO in its historical perspective.
  • Added Value: Many free audit reports rely on boilerplate and pre-programmed metrics, and if your website doesn't fall within these narrow parameters, your website will “fail” its audit. Remember that if your website has been customized (and it should have been), it will most likely fail in some areas because the online SEO tool doesn't understand it.
  • How to improve: Most complimentary SEO audits focus on problems, real or perceived, but rarely provide solutions. Part of this is because SEO is unique to each business, and a cookie-cutter approach can’t provide the insights needed to help you improve your SEO. However, the main reason why an online audit doesn’t offer tangible results is that the online SEO audit is being used as a lead generation tool. More often than not, the “secret sauce”; the solutions to your problems are hidden behind a paywall; the audit is just a tool to direct you to purchase other services.

Despite these downsides, if you don’t or have ever had someone manage your SEO, an online audit can be a good starting point to get an overview of technical issues you may not be aware of. However, true SEO success can’t depend solely on technical SEO.

Invest in a True SEO Audit

A proper SEO audit considers a wide range of metrics in determining the status of your SEO, not just your technical SEO. These metrics will answer the questions of how your website has performed over time, whether your organic traffic is growing, where your visitors are coming from, and which pages are being visited.

This information is critical to developing an SEO strategy designed to get you results. How does this information from your audit help? If there is one takeaway from this blog, it should be that content drives success. You should use your data from your SEO audit to determine user intent, that is, to determine what services potential leads are interested in. Once you know, you need to create MSP content to give Google a reason to believe you are the best resource to solve a searcher’s problem. 

The more confidence Google has in your expertise, the more chances you have for Google to show your website as a search result, and the higher your page position will be. This can only be accomplished if your website is optimized for search.

If you’ve been running free online audits and haven’t been able to convert the information into SEO success, now is the time to invest in an actual SEO audit. As the premiere marketing agency for MSPs, we understand what it takes for a managed services provider to be successful, and we have the experience to get you there. Take a moment to call 888-546-4384 and schedule a complimentary SEO audit today.

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