SEO, like many things in life, can be really good or really bad, depending on who’s doing it. Unfortunately, there are too many people claiming to be SEO professionals who don’t seem to know much beyond the basics, and in many cases are nothing more than middle-men who just outsource the actual fulfillment to places like Fiverr, or “SEO teams” in India (where, in my experience, SEO skills tend to be at least 3-5 years behind the curve).
For many business owners, their website is a critical revenue stream. With that in mind, why would anyone trust such an important asset to people who A. don’t know what they’re doing, and/or B. engage in tactics that are knowingly risky? In most cases, it’s because they just don’t know any better.
When it comes to SEO, it can be difficult for the average person to determine if the person they’re talking to actually knows what they’re doing, making it really easy to end up with a self-proclaimed SEO “professional” who talks the talk, but just can’t walk the walk.
Case in point: Rap Genius. Google recently penalized the rap lyrics translation site Rap Genius for using manipulative link schemes, tactics that were in clear violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines. Since the penalty went into place, organic traffic to Rap Genius has taken a serious beating:
You hear that? That’s the sound of a bad SEO manager getting fired.
So, as a business owner, how do you make sure that your SEO team/company is actually doing what they’re supposed to be doing? How can you make sure they aren’t doing things that could literally destroy your business down the road?
In my experience, the absolute best thing you can do is to commission a professional SEO website audit. A comprehensive SEO audit performed by a true professional will cover your entire site from the perspective of a search engine, and can tell you what’s been done well, what’s been done poorly, what tactics have been performed that may put you at risk of a similar fate to Rap Genius, and a whole lot more.
Neil Patel has written an amazing, step-by-step guide on how to perform a thorough website audit. A well-known SEO expert, Patel’s words are wise. Here’s a screenshot from the SEO audit he commissioned from Sam McRoberts, CEO of VUDU Marketing, to create this guide:
Neil’s outlined audit process is divided into 3 key sections, and for each element analyzed within that section, it lists out what was wrong/right, exactly what needs to be fixed and how, and a best practices section so you can keep things solid moving forward. It’s detailed enough that even a non-SEO can follow it, with the right tools and some basic training.
That said, audits are time-consuming and require specialized software and deep expertise. If you’re not the do-it-yourself type, expect a good SEO audit to range from $2,500 to $20,000, depending on the size and complexity of the website. Not cheap, but if it keeps you out of the penalty box and helps you to trump your competitors at the same time, then it’s worth every penny.
Whether you’ve done SEO in the past, or if you’re planning to start doing it soon, an SEO audit can establish your foundation while serving as an early warning system to help you prevent potential penalties from Google down the road.
Whatever your situation, if you own a website and SEO is involved, it pays to have an unbiased, expert 3rd party perform an audit to make sure you don’t end up with a lump of Google Penalty coal for Christmas like the folks at Rap Genius.