July 5, 2023

Did You Just Get Ripped Off? A History of the SEO Audit

Did You Just Get Ripped Off? A History of the SEO Audit


SEO audits are often the first undertaking when starting an SEO campaign or exploring which agency you want to work with. Their role? Identifying strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for your website to rank higher in search engine results. However, the majority of SEO audits are nothing more than an agency copying and pasting your URL into a piece of software and then them handing that PDF over to you with a price tag of hundreds or thousands of dollars. 

This article was created to help you identify a legitimate audit versus a plug and play rip off.

Off the shelf audits are typically very heavy on the technical side of things and rarely touch on the most important aspect of SEO, content. If you own a fairly basic website that isn't handling tens of thousands of visitors a day, odds are there are very few health metrics worth your time addressing over creating content. With many mistaking a simple printout from SEO audit software as a comprehensive analysis, businesses are ripped off every day and left without any plan to make their website more appealing to readers. While the agency charges thousands a month to fix minor details that would only become ranking factors if you had the content to rank in the first place.

Not only audits like these have minimal impact on your SEO but it sets the ball in motion for a general misunderstanding of what SEO is. SEO is not fixing small “issues” 3rd party software tell you to improve, SEO is about delivering an answer to a searcher in the more effective way.

When it comes to a technical SEO audit, you are much better off simply going to one of the resources below, paying for a month of the service ($50-100 versus the $500-1,000’s an agency will charge), having your developer fix the issues and then pay a marketing agency for a content plan.

Quality Audit Tools


Moz offers an SEO Audit & Strategy service that helps with technical SEO, content optimization, and link building.


While Ahrefs is mostly known for its backlink analysis tools, it also offers a site audit tool that provides an extensive technical SEO audit.


SEMrush provides an SEO audit service through its Site Audit tool, offering insights on technical and on-page SEO.

Agency Analytics

Mostly known for their client facing data presentation tools, Agency Analytics also provides website reviews including SEO audits.

Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog offers SEO Spider, a website crawler that helps in conducting technical and on-page SEO audits.

Lower Quality Audit Tools

The 2 examples below are the most popular "free SEO audit" tools. If your audit looks like one of the following reports, there may have been very little time, effort, or money spent on your audit.


SEOptimer has held a top ranking position for search terms like "free SEO audit tool" for years and is a great tool if you want to do basic research yourself. You should not pay for an agency to hand you one of these audits, however.


SEOmater also holds top rankings for search terms like "free SEO audit tool" for years and is a great tool if you want to do basic research yourself. You should not pay for an agency to hand you one of these audits, however.

The Problem with Software-Driven SEO Audits

Software-driven SEO audits often lack the human expertise required for valuable insights.
These audits typically rely on a generic approach and overemphasize technical SEO.
They frequently fail to provide actionable advice for improvement.

Continue Reading To:
  • Explore why software-driven audits often miss the mark.
  • Discover the limitations of this approach.

A trend has developed in recent years, where software-driven SEO audits are viewed as the be-all and end-all of a website's SEO health. It's a tantalizing concept: press a button and receive an overview of your website's performance. Fix these issues and you will start to rank. Unfortunately, these tools often lack the human expertise needed to provide valuable insights and actionable advice.

Such software audits often rely on a cookie-cutter approach. They churn out reports that emphasize technical SEO – meta descriptions, title tags, URL structures – but fail to delve deeper into areas such as content quality, user experience, or link profiles. This is what differentiates a website and will actually get you ranking.

Worst of all, these audits, while may look comprehensive, often fail to provide actionable recommendations, leaving businesses with an SEO report that, while filled with data points and words that sound important, provides little guidance on where to go next.

What is Left Off SEO Audits Often Matters the Most

Quality content and strong backlink profiles are often more valuable than technical SEO elements.
Balancing content creation with a robust link-building strategy is essential for successful SEO.

Continue Reading To:
  • Understand why quality content and backlinks are often the missing pieces in SEO audits.
  • Learn how to balance these elements in an SEO strategy.

It's essential to remember that quality content and a strong backlink profile often matter more than any technical SEO element. A website filled with relevant, valuable content designed to meet user needs can do more for your SEO than perfectly optimized title tags.

Similarly, backlinks remain a powerful SEO tool, building authority and credibility for your site. A well-thought-out link acquisition strategy can significantly boost your website's performance, but you won't find these strategies in a standard software-driven audit.

The most successful SEO strategies balance high-quality content with a robust link-building strategy, resulting in a cohesive plan designed to boost website performance across the board. The technical issues are often a last resort tie breaker for search engines if the content and link building are exactly the same which rarely happens.

The Elements of a Comprehensive SEO Audit

An effective SEO audit includes technical SEO analysis, content evaluation & road map, link profile assessment & plan to build more backlinks, and finally a competitive analysis.

Continue Reading To:
  • Learn about all the components of a comprehensive SEO audit.

So, what should a comprehensive SEO audit include? Well, technical SEO analysis should certainly be part of it, but that's just one piece of the puzzle. A thorough audit should provide an actionable plan instead of simply pointing out a litany of issues. It is not enough so only evaluate your content for relevance and value or assess your link profile.

Technical SEO Analysis:

This step is akin to ensuring the engine of your website is running smoothly — it won't matter how high-grade your fuel (content) is if the engine is flawed. This component scrutinizes your website's fundamental architecture, from its URL structure and XML sitemaps to its use of meta tags and website speed. It ensures your site is crawlable and indexable by search engine bots, checks for issues like broken links or 404 errors, examines your site's mobile responsiveness, and even dives into more nuanced aspects like schema markup. 

Once we have the Techincal SEO in place and the site is able to be indexed and crawled, you can turn the majority of your attention to these next 2 areas.

Content Evaluation and Optimization:

The saying "Content is King" holds true even in the most technical aspects of digital marketing. A comprehensive SEO audit needs to assess your website's content quality and relevancy. It should go beyond merely checking for keyword usage, also delving into the value you offer to your audience, the uniqueness of your content, and how well it aligns with user intent. More advanced audits will include analysis of content structure, readability, and even a road map for future content creation. Remember, search engines aim to deliver the most relevant and high-quality results to their users - your content should strive to fulfill this goal.

Link Profile Assessment and Improvement:

The strength and quality of your backlink profile significantly influence your website's authority, and subsequently, its rankings. A basic audit will evaluate your current backlink profile, identifying and removing any toxic or spammy links. A detailed audit should highlight opportunities for acquiring high-quality backlinks while also analyzing your internal linking structure to ensure optimal distribution of link equity throughout your site. A healthy link profile is analogous to a vote of confidence in the eyes of search engines and can often tip the scale in your favor.

Competitive Analysis:

A truly comprehensive SEO audit does not operate in a vacuum. It understands that your website is not an isolated entity but competes in a bustling digital marketplace. Therefore, an audit should include a competitive analysis that looks at what top-performing competitors in your niche are doing well. It can offer insights into their keyword strategy, backlink profile, and content marketing practices, which can, in turn, help inform your own SEO strategy.

User Experience Evaluation:

As search engines become more sophisticated, elements such as website usability, user engagement, site navigation, and overall user experience play a critical role in your website's SEO performance. An in-depth SEO audit should assess these factors to ensure your website is not only pleasing to search engine bots but also engaging and user-friendly for your human visitors.

Local SEO Assessment:

If you're a business with a local presence, your audit should also include a local SEO evaluation. It should ensure your business is correctly listed in local directories, scrutinize your Google My Business profile, and assess the performance of local keywords in your content.

Make sure any SEO Audit provider you are contracting will provide a detailed audit on all of these areas, otherwise you are better off buying a subscription to one of the options above for 1 month and getting a basic report at a much better price.

Selecting an Effective SEO Audit Service Provider

The right SEO audit service provider should have proven expertise and offer a customized approach.
The audit results should provide actionable recommendations.

Continue Reading To:
  • Find out how to choose the right SEO audit service provider.

If you're at the finish line and need to select an SEO audit provider, don’t just go for the one that gets your report back the fastest or has the shiniest dashboard. It's like choosing a mechanic; you wouldn’t opt for the quickest or the cheapest, you'd want the best.

The need for expertise and experience in the SEO audit process cannot be understated. SEO is an ever-evolving beast, and the person (not the software) conducting your audit should be on top of the latest trends, algorithm changes, and optimization strategies. You're not just looking for someone who can crunch numbers; you want an analytical mind that can decipher the numbers' meaning and plot a strategic course.

An effective SEO audit is tailored to your website and business, not just some off-the-shelf template. A personalized approach can root out hidden issues and highlight opportunities unique to your industry, audience, and brand.

But an audit is pointless if you're left with a hefty document of problems and no idea how to solve them. An actionable roadmap is essential – the steps you can take to improve your SEO game and climb those rankings.

In Conclusion

SEO isn't a mystical realm, it's about providing value to your users, creating quality content, and building meaningful relationships (or backlinks, as we call them). It's about knowing your digital landscape and leveraging it to your advantage.

An SEO audit is your compass in this journey. It shines a light on the path you're currently taking and reveals the shortcuts and pitfalls along the way. But beware of those offering fast, automated audits – they're as useful as a compass without a needle.

Instead, go for a comprehensive, human-driven audit. Yes, it might take a bit longer, but wouldn't you prefer a meticulously planned journey rather than a misguided sprint?

At Mad Mango Marketing, we're not just SEO auditors; we're your SEO partners. We provide custom SEO audits backed by years of experience and expertise. Our audits aren't just filled with jargon and numbers but include a detailed, step-by-step action plan to boost your SEO and deliver the results you need.

If you're ready to take your SEO to the next level, get in touch with us for a free consultation. We're more than happy to show you the Mad Mango Marketing difference. Let's start this journey together.


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