By Martin Jones
Manchester-based digital marketing consultant and web development business owner with 21 years running Red Design. Human bulls**t detector and expert in demystifying digital marketing.
We’ve all seen them… those reports designed to frighten us into action!
If you are a business owner, you will have received countless emails offering free audits for your website. You may have used free SEO tools or SEO checkers to generate your own. This blog post tells you what you need to know about the results of your report or website audit checklist.
Your site audit is usually based on the SEO capabilities of your web pages, assuming you’re after organic traffic via search results for a specific target keyword per page. It takes into account core web vitals such as page load time (page speed), broken links, performance on mobile devices, and user experience.
While these free reports might seem like a great deal, the truth is that free website/SEO audits are not always what they seem. In fact, they can actually do more harm than good.
Here are some of the issues with free audits…
They are designed to be a sales tool
Another problem with free audits is that they can be misleading. Most companies use Free Audits as a sales tool, and they may intentionally exaggerate or inflate the issues they find to make it seem like you need their help. This can lead to unnecessary expenses and wasted resources.
They may not be up-to-date
SEO is a constantly evolving field, and what worked yesterday may not work today. Free audits may not take into account the latest updates to search engine algorithms, leaving you with outdated advice that is no longer effective.
Your website or website hosting may be using site caching which will throw the report out. Another common cause of inaccuracies is old site maps showing old pages that no longer exist, throwing up false positives.
They are usually technically inaccurate
One of the biggest problems with free website audits is that typically, they contain false positives or duplicated errors. The tools used to generate these reports are not always reliable, and they can miss important issues affecting your website’s health and search engine rankings. An audit may need to be run a few times and the set-up tweaked to be accurate. As a result, you may spend time and resources fixing the wrong issues. These things need to be checked by a human.
Then there are lots of details around technical issues relating to in-page optimisation in these reports, so get a second opinion!
They are not bespoke to your website
Free website audits are typically generic and do not take into account the specific needs of your business. Every website is unique, and a one-size-fits-all approach to audits is unlikely to provide you with the insights you need to improve your ranking. Time and effort are spent setting them up correctly for your business and website.
We would look at your Google Analytics account to see if you have more mobile or desktop users and set up your report accordingly. It may need setting up for a specific geographic location or catchment area.
They don’t provide actionable insights
Finally, free audits may not provide you with actionable insights that you can use to improve your website’s ranking. Instead, they may simply list a bunch of issues without telling you how to fix them or what steps you need to take to improve your SEO. This leaves it down to your web developer or SEO contractor to work out what actually needs doing.
In conclusion, while free audits may seem like a good deal, they are not always worth your time. They can be inaccurate, misleading, and not personalized to your business needs. Instead, consider working with a trusted SEO expert who can provide you with a customized analysis of your website and actionable insights to improve your ranking.