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SEO Audit Services are intended to help websites uncover common issues and areas for improvement.

From on-site to technical and off-site, a comprehensive SEO audit forms an invaluable component of a successful SEO strategy.

But when it comes to a standalone audit and handover checklist, are they really worth your money?

Let’s face it, the term “SEO Audit is thrown around very loosely in the SEO community.

In some cases, it may refer to a thorough website audit aimed at identifying strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in the market.

In others, it’s the $2,738 FREE audit service that is carried in the 15min before your consult by a disinterested SEO professional. And, for many, it’s simply an automated report from a third-party tool that points out broken internal links, 404s, 301s, site speed issues etc.

Depending on how (and who) carries out an SEO audit, they can range from extremely valuable, to completely useless. To give you some context, we’ve compiled a breakdown of what an SEO audit should include, whether they provide value, and help you to understand whether you should or shouldn’t be paying for an SEO audit.

Table of contents

What is an SEO Audit?

As the name suggests, an SEO audit refers to the process of evaluating a website through the lens of SEO best practices. Search engine optimisation audits are intended to identify issues that can potentially hold your site back from performing well. Armed with this information, the intention is to create an action plan to improve the performance of a website.

An SEO audit will focus on the four pillars of SEO:

  1. On-page
  2. Off-page
  3. Technical
  4. Content
SEO Audit Focus Areas

The value of an SEO audit largely depends on who performs the audit and the tools that are used. Almost every third-party SEO tool can provide a free technical assessment of your website. And while these reports can be useful for rectifying on-site issues, spotting unnatural link patterns, and meeting technical best practices, they provide limited value without the intervention and guidance of an SEO consultant.

Third-party automated SEO audits are a starting point. And while some SEO agencies may decide to sell you this report under the guise of an ‘expert assessment’, it’s important to take third party reports with a grain of salt. Not only are they limited in what they can report, but they are also prone to errors. Run two reports of the same website back-to-back and you are bound to see a slightly different outcome.

What do SEO audit services include?

What do you actually get when you pay for SEO audit services? Long story short; it depends.

Like anything, you get what you pay for.

The complexity and value of an SEO audit can vary greatly between SEO providers, the scope of the audit, as well as the size and complexity of your website. As a rule of thumb, an SEO audit should be broken down into the following key categories with actionable insights:

On-Page SEO Audit

For most SEO experts, an on-page assessment is the starting point for each SEO audit. An on-page assessment starts with a crawl of your website to extract all of the website pages. Using tools like Screaming Frog, an SEO professional can extract valuable on-site data, including:

On-Page SEO Audit Checklist
  • Site architecture
  • Title tags/page titles
  • Header tags
  • Meta data
  • URL structure
  • Internal links
  • External links
  • Images files
  • Responsive design
  • Structured data usage
  • Word count
  • Keyword cannibalisation

Using this data, an SEO expert can look for oversights in the on-page strategy and common SEO issues such as keyword cannibalisation/overlap.

Off-Page SEO Audit

Off-page or off-site SEO audits are intended to understand how search engines and other users perceive your website. Off-page audits analyse the way that search engines and users perceive the authority and trustworthiness of a website. A comprehensive off-site audit will typically include:

Off-Page SEO Audit Checklist
  • Backlink audit
  • Disavow file review
  • Citation audit and clean-up
  • Unlinked brand mention review
  • Reputation review and management plan
  • Social media links
  • Google business review

Technical SEO Audit

A technical assessment of your website is more than just an automated report. A comprehensive technical SEO audit must include a thorough review of your website’s back end as well as your Google Search Console and Google Analytics profiles. Factors that are considered in a technical audit include:

Technical SEO Audit Checklist
  • Sitemap review
  • Robots.txt file review
  • Crawl stats review
  • Indexation issues or errors
  • Meta tag review (index status, canonicals etc.)
  • Crawl budget review
  • Structured data review
  • Hreflang tag review
  • Hosting review
  • Site speed review

A technical assessment of your website is intended to uncover any crawlability or indexing issues that may be affecting site performance.

Content Review

An SEO content review requires a higher level of expert intervention than just about any other step of the process. Where a third-party tool may be able to point out technical deficiencies, you’ll need the help of an SEO copywriter or on-page expert to carry out a useful SEO content audit and review. The review should include:

Content Audit for SEO
  • Keyword analysis
  • Keyword grouping
  • Identify content gaps
  • Review content structure
  • Review content quality/E-E-A-T review
  • Review engagement metrics (bounce rate, time on page, conversions)
  • Content pruning – remove outdated/low performing content
  • Content strategy and planning

Competitor Insights & Market Overview

Competitor insights and a market overview through the lens of an SEO professional can help to uncover valuable intel. A market analysis helps you to benchmark your own website performance relative to your competitors. Some of the things that you’ll uncover include:

Market Analysis and Audit for SEO
  • Emerging keywords trends
  • Keyword gaps and opportunities
  • Gaps in your product/service offering
  • Content opportunities
  • Backlink comparison and opportunities
  • UX and site structure review

By understanding your SEO market share in relation to your competition, you can identify opportunities to develop a more effective SEO strategy.

How much does an SEO audit cost?

It depends on what you get and who you work with. In general, SEO audit’s start at around $500 for a basic report and can costs $10,000+ for a comprehensive SEO report on an enterprise level website.

At the lower end of things, it’s important to be wary of SEO agencies that are simply using a third-party SEO audit tool to run a scan of your website and sell you a list of your problems. From here, the chances of being up sold to their SEO service plans are high – so it’s not a bad idea to be a little bit sceptical of cheap SEO audit services.

Are SEO audit services worth it?

 An SEO audit is a non-negotiable start to every successful SEO campaign. But when it comes to standalone SEO audit services; are they worth it?

Well, it depends.

What exactly are you getting for the money – and do you have the capacity to implement the necessary on-site, off-site, technical, and content changes to make a tangible difference to your SEO performance?

In the right hands, an SEO audit can be a great starting point. In the wrong hands, an SEO audit can be worth less than the 16MB that it occupies in your email inbox. Unless you have an action plan and a capable SEO team in place, then SEO audit services are more likely to send you running down rabbit holes and chasing your tail than anything else.

Pros of SEO Audit Services

  • Understand problem areas on your website
  • Gain insights into how users interact with your website
  • Uncover information around what is holding you back
  • Gain insights into your competitors and market trends
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Spend time consulting with an SEO professional

Cons of SEO Audit Services

  • You need to be an expert to implement changes
  • Depletion of in-house resources
  • Pulls you away from your core competency
  • Risk of misinterpreting audit recommendations
  • Potential to damage your website without the full picture
  • No ongoing support or follow-ups
  • Further learning is required to understand cause and effect
  • You won’t find out whether your changes have been positive or negative until it’s too late.

Are SEO audits a one-off thing?

No, SEO audits should never be a ‘one-off’ clean up or improvement plan. Not only is your website and your competition constantly changing, so too is the way that search engines rank websites. An SEO audit is a regular, ongoing component of an SEO campaign and requires ongoing work. SEO audits are a lot like playing whack a mole, new issues are likely to emerge as you’re cleaning up other issues.

A once-off SEO audit is a snapshot of your website at one point in time. The moment that you start marking changes, you need to conduct another audit to understand the outcomes.

Should I invest in an SEO Audit?

In our reckoning, SEO audit services are not worth the money.

In most cases, an SEO agency that offers paid SEO audits are simply doing so in the hopes of up-selling you to an ongoing contract or retainer. Even where this isn’t the case, the issue with an SEO audit service is that you’re essentially paying for a checklist of tasks – most of which you won’t be able to carry out without further help.

Remember, SEO is a game of inches. Standalone SEO audit services that give you a checklist to action leave too much room for interpretation and errors. If you’re serious about your long-term search engine optimisation success, then working with an SEO agency or consultant is the safest and most effective way to get long-term results.

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