With millions of small businesses and a seemingly endless number of small business websites live on the Internet today, how can you gain a competitive advantage? SEO audits could be the first step toward finding out. If your site isn’t performing the way it should, or the way you might like it to, there is a decent chance that it has never been properly optimized to be search engine friendly. An SEO audit can help you develop an effective optimization strategy.
Whether you’ve already hired someone to optimize your small business website or you’re just entertaining the notion, SEO audits can help to ensure that your marketing dollars are being spent wisely. Every day it seems as though there are hundreds more companies looking to make a quick buck by charging you for search engine optimization whether they know anything about SEO or not. If they don’t, I’m sure you’d prefer to know now rather than later…right?
SEO Audits Equal Peace of Mind
An SEO audit is a sure-fire way to determine whether your site is following the search engines’ accepted best practices. Unfortunately what you don’t know can really hurt you. SEO audits help to identify the issues that may be causing your site to perform poorly, as well as helping to discover if you’ve been wasting precious marketing dollars on an SEO scam.
The unpleasant truth is that there are an inordinate number of companies out there that sell search engine optimization services with no real understanding of how to properly optimize a website for long term success in the search results. Contrary to the claims of many a search marketing charlatan, there is no “quick & easy” solution for optimizing a website. There is no way to guarantee a #1 ranking in Google. There is no method for achieving a page one ranking in 7 days and keeping that page one ranking for long. Optimizing a site takes time and real work. Simply implementing the on-page SEO basics can be a time consuming endeavor, depending on how well your site your was built initially.
Many companies will charge for SEO services with absolutely no understanding of how search marketing has changed over the past couple of years or the direction its continued evolution will likely take. Website designers and development firms are often the worst offenders. Keeping up to date with the search marketing industry requires dedication and ongoing training. In the last year alone search engine optimization strategies have begun to incorporate Social Media campaigns as an integral part of the process of driving traffic to a site. Why? Because that is the direction that search marketing is moving. If you’re working with a firm that isn’t aware of that, you’re at a huge disadvantage and probably wasting your marketing dollars. The fact of the matter is that SEO is incredibly involved. Actually understanding SEO is a full time job in and of itself.
Bad SEO Is Worse Than No SEO
Many small business website owners trust their optimization strategy to a company they know little or nothing about. Are you one of them? What does the company optimizing your site actually know about SEO? Do they even understand the importance of basics – like how title lengths and what should be included within them? What tactics are being used in the optimization of your site? Do you know? When the future of your small business is at stake, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Are You Already the Victim of an SEO Scam?
An SEO audit can help you learn more about how well your site has been optimized and whether or not your SEO firm even understands the basics of on-page SEO. There is a lot more to SEO than the on-page basics – but I can all but guarantee that if they don’t take the time to do the basics, they likely know little or nothing about any of the many other aspects of SEO either. There are no super secret, proprietary or magic tactics that any one company has exclusive access to that can guarantee top rankings in the search engines. There are, however, questionable tactics – such as participating in link farms and purchasing links – that can be used to manipulate the search engines’ algorithms. Those tactics will ultimately result in a domain being banned from the search engines altogether. Many a small business website has suffered that fate due to the negligence and malicious intent of SEO charlatans. Don’t let that happen to you.
If the success of your small business depends upon potential customers finding your site in the search results, nothing is more important than finding a reputable company or individual to optimize your site. The tactics and strategies employed by your SEO can do more harm than good if Google’s Webmaster Guidelines are being violated. And SEO audit can help you to identify these issues before your site is penalized. Even if there is no risk of a ban, simply understanding where your existing site falls short and incorporating SEO best practices can help your site perform better in the organic search results and bring a lot more visitors to your small business website – often resulting in higher sales and greater profits.
Barry Welford says
That is so true. Many of these scam merchants were doing the wrong thing even 3 years back when the search engine world was so much simpler. They are even more damaging now.
You’re absolutely right about that, Barry. Luckily for small business owners an SEO audit – even a basic audit – can help to call out the shenanigans or lack of knowledge on the basics of SEO.
One thing is for sure – if they don’t know the basics, they sure don’t understand the more technical and involved aspects of SEO!
Steen Seo Öhman says
Very good point. A lot of small business sites are made by ignorant developers, with no SEO knowledge.
If only more people would use a seo friendly “CMS” like WordPress, they would be a lot better of. Normally the sites are quite simple.
But if you use a traditional SEO unfriendly CMS – you really need the adwise from the SEO audit.
You’re right, Steen – WordPress is certainly a more search engine friendly option to start with. Though, without the correct set of plugins even WP causes some basic SEO issues – like the duplicate content that results from category and author archives.
This advice is really going to help, thanks.
I’m glad you found it useful. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment. Please come back again soon. :)
Peter Brown says
Good advice, but how do I know who to trust to run an accurate SEO Audit. Any firms I can go to in London?
Well, Peter…I wish there was a way to answer that question for certain. Unfortunately choosing someone to audit your site is often as difficult as choosing someone to optimize it.
Here are a couple of tips, though:
1) if you approach a company about having an audit done and they begin immediately trying to sell you additional services, be leery. High pressure sales tactics are usually an indication of relatively poor service in my experience.
2) run a basic META tag analysis on the company’s website. You may have no idea what the analysis really means, but low relevancy scores and a lot of errors would be a pretty good indication that their understanding of basic on-site SEO might not be what it should be. And if they don’t understand and incorporate the basics into their own site, well…I don’t think I need to elaborate. :)
3) here in the US we have some consumer advocacy organizations (like The Better Business Bureau – or BBB). I’m sure something similar exists in the UK. I’d encourage you to check out any company you’re considering working with to audit or optimize your site.
I do know of some firms and individuals in the UK, but don’t know if they’re in London specifically. I’ll put some feelers out and get back to you if I find anyone.
Mark Builder, Link Ninja says
Great post. It’s important to remember that PR efforts reach many different audiences including employees, customers, investors, voters, or the general public.
PLR Products says
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Affiliate Membership says
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Andy D says
Was interested in your response to Peter Brown. Can a seo audit not be completed online? Why should Peter’s designated seo audit company have to be located in London? The reason I say this, whilst I would ideally wish to have seo audits of one or more of my own websites, the idea of providing that task to a local company here in South Florida would be my personal definition of insanity from a small business viewpoint.
Any feedback on this perspective would be much appreciated – even if you should show my apprehensions to be curiously idiosyncratic – or worse!
Hey, Andy. First, no – a useful SEO audit cannot be completed online, at least not in my experience. Any SEO worth working with to resolve or identify a site’s issues actually audits a site manually. No automated solution can compete with having an SEO professional review your website personally.
As for Peter’s request to find a local SEO firm in London, there is no practical necessity for doing so. As is often the case, many small business owners simply prefer to work with a reputable local company, if one exists. There’s no measurable advantage to that, aside from the peace of mind that comes from supporting another business in your local community.
I hope this helps to answer your questions.
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