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Free vs Paid SEO Audit
Originally published: August 15, 2021 03:02:14 PM, updated: November 19, 2022 12:00:00 AM
SEO plays a significant role in a successful digital marketing campaign. Why? Put simply, when you compare SEO to social media marketing, you will find a big difference. With SEO, you help the prospective customer find your business (pull method), whereas, with social media, you help your business find the prospective customer (push method).
In the past five years, the SEO industry started to become harder, day after day. When It comes to Google, I personally believe that Google wants to rank professional sites and close the door for others who still believe that SEO is just building links.
On June 15, 2021, Google released a new ranking factor called Page Experience. This part is enough for SEOs to start losing hair and dancing without music like crazies.
Moreover, many SEO tools such as Ahrefs commenced to include Core Web Vitals in the site audit to help SEOs get detailed reports about Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), and First Input Delay (FID). In my opinion, the Google Page Experience factor is the starting point of the new era of SEO.
A successful SEO campaign starts with a website audit. In this article, I'll do my best to cover all aspects of SEO audit to make it an ultimate guide for you to avoid getting stuck when hiring an SEO company.
What is an SEO audit?
SEO audit is the process of analyzing the website, including both on-page and off-page elements, to assess what action is needed to best optimize it for search engines. SEO audit should help you get comprehensive info about technical SEO issues, website structure issues, page experience issues, content gaps and opportunities, backlink profile, competitors, performance, and much more.
For example, suppose your competitor ranks higher for a specific keyword and wants to outrank him on Google. In that case, you need to dive deep into analyzing the competitor to find improvement opportunities.
Why is SEO audit important?
You need to perform an SEO audit for your website for several reasons. Here are a few:
- Search engines such as Google and Bing are constantly updating their algorithms for the best performance, and you need to be aware of these changes to make an adjustment to your website.
- Performing an SEO audit should help you get detailed info about your website errors and warnings.
- SEO audit helps you analyze content gaps by finding holes in your existing content. It involves identifying missing content pieces that could and should align with the various stages of your target audience's buyer's journey.
- Since Google Page Experience is now a rank factor, it's more critical to audit the related metrics (Largest Contentful Paint, Cumulative Layout Shift, and First Input Delay.)
- SEO audit helps you get detailed info about keyword ideas, keyword difficulty, volume search, and estimation of how many backlinks your need to rank a specific keyword in the top 10.
- SEO audit helps you get detailed info about the backlink profile, including internal, external, and outbound links.
What does an SEO audit cover?
There is a significant difference between free SEO audit and paid SEO audit, in which the free audit gives you a basic analysis aiming to generate leads. You can find a wide range of free SEO audit tools that perfectly hunt you to sign up for the full version.
On the other hand, going with a professional SEO audit service (paid) helps you comprehensively analyze your website to find opportunities for improvements and grow your business.
Here is a list of what is included in the SEO audit:
Free SEO audit
Mostly, in the free SEO audit, you get the following:
Here, you will get a limited on-page SEO audit, including title tag, meta description tag, heading tags usage, keyword consistency, basic content analysis, SSL validation, robots.txt, and XML sitemap.
The free analysis will give you little info about your keyword rankings in a specific location. In other words, the free rankings analysis can't help you get a complete picture of your rankings and can confuse you in making the desired improvements.
Generally, most free SEO audit tools don't provide detailed info about your backlinks to encourage you to sign up for a full version. As I mentioned above, it's an excellent way to generate leads.
Additionally, with the free SEO audit tools, you will get a little info about your website usability and performance in a way you can't take effective action to make improvements. In other words, these tools are an excellent method to generate leads.
Paid SEO audit
With the paid SEO audit service, you will get a comprehensive analysis compared to the free audit. Here is a list of them:
Here, you will get detailed info about:
- URL: This report includes URL type, protocol, domain, length, is indexable page, and is valid (200) internal HTML page.
- Meta information: This report includes crawl datetime, HTTP status code, download status (CURL code), first found at, source, is in the sitemap, is rendered page, content type, depth, and much more.
- Core Web Vitals: This report includes the important metrics (CLS, FID, and LCP.)
- Redirects: This report includes redirect URL, redirect URL protocol, redirect URL code, redirect URL no-crawl reason, and much more.
- Canonical: This report includes canonical URL, protocol, code, no-crawl reason, and much more.
- Content: This report includes title, title length, no. of titles, meta description, meta description length, no. of meta descriptions, H1, H1 length, no. of H1, H2, keywords, no. of content characters, no, of content words.
- Duplicates: This report includes no. of pages having the same title, no. of pages having the same description, no. of pages having the same H1, no. of pages having the same content, title hash, description hash, H1 hash, text hash, content hash, and much more.
- Incoming links: This report includes no. of all inlinks, no. of href inlinks, no. of inlinks dofollow, no. of inlinks nofollow, no. of redirect inlinks, and much more.
- Internal outlinks: This report includes internal outlinks, internal outlinks dofollow, internal outlinks nofollow, and much more.
- External outlinks: This report includes external outlinks, external outlinks dofollow, external outlinks nofollow, and much more.
In addition to the page explorer report, you will also get detailed info about HTML lang, Hreflang, pagination, resources, social tags, and some important metrics such as no. of backlinks, no. of referring pages, no. of referring domains, no. of referring IPs and much more there is no room to mention them.
The link explorer report provides comprehensive info about links, sources, and targets, as highlighted in the image below.
In this report, you will get relevant internal link opportunities. These are links from one page on your website to another page. There are three reasons why link opportunities matter:
- They help users, and bots navigate your website.
- They improve the flow of PageRank around your site.
- Search engines use their anchors and surrounding text in their ranking algorithms.
How do link opportunities work? Put simply, this report takes the ten best keywords by traffic for each ranking web page on your website and looks for mentions of those terms on your other web pages. You will not get a suggested link if one already exists between the pages.
In this report, you will get info about:
- HTTP status code: This report shows you the distribution of HTTP status codes across different sections of your website. If you see a high proportion of 4xx and 5xx HTTP status codes or timeouts, this requires your attention. You might also want to check the necessity of 3xx redirects.
- Content type: This report shows you the distribution of content types across different sections of your website, such as HTML pages or resource files.
- Depth: This report shows you which parts of your website have URLs that are most distant from the seed point. You should make sure that your most important pages have the lowest depth.
- Indexability: This report shows you the URL indexability across different sections of your website. It allows you to identify if some specific section of your website has indexability issues.
- Organic traffic: This report shows you the distribution of organic search traffic received by different sections of your website. It allows you to see which parts of your website might be underperforming in terms of their organic traffic.
- Referring domains: This report shows you the distribution of backlinks from unique domains across different sections of your website.
- Crawled URLs: This report shows you the distribution of newly discovered and lost URLs across different sections of your website. With it, you can instantly see the change in the number of crawled URLs in each section between the current and the previous crawl.
Additionally, you will get detailed reports about internal pages, indexability, links, redirects, on-page, social tags, duplicate content, localization, and performance.
In this report, you will get info about ranking positions and keyword metrics for your tracked keywords. Moreover, since desktop and mobile rankings may differ for the same keyword, you will get the report based on device type.
Below are some reports related to this part:
- Desktop and mobile rankings.
- Keyword rankings by tag.
- Rankings by location.
- Keywords by positions.
- Keyword rankings with SERP features.
- SERP features.
- Ranking history for your tracked keyword.
- SEO metrics for the top-ranking pages.
In this report, you will get detailed info about the backlinks pointing to your domain, URL, and sub-domain. The backlinks report includes new backlinks, lost backlinks, broken backlinks, referring domains (new & lost), anchors, referring IPs, internal backlinks, and link intersect.
In this report, you will be aware of the organic keywords for which any domain, subdomain, or subfolder ranks. Additionally, the organic keywords report will show you the following:
- Competitors' top keywords.
- Keyword rankings for ~170 countries.
- Competitors’ low difficulty keywords.
- The real potential of competitors’ keywords.
- Competitors’ keyword rankings over time.
- Low-hanging traffic opportunities on your website.
The paid SEO audit service is a perfect choice because the site owner will get recommendations about the best practices of making the necessary improvements. Moreover, these recommendations should help the site owner get an optimal SEO project to guarantee the best results for his business.
How long does a paid SEO audit take?
Getting a professional SEO audit for your website can take from 2 to 6 weeks, depending on the website structure. For smaller websites, the SEO audit might be only 2-7 days.
Additionally, the time required to conduct an SEO audit may differ based on the site owner's requirements. For example, the site owner may be interested in analyzing backlinks to find opportunities for link profile improvements. In that case, the expected time required to conduct this analysis may range from 1-3 weeks, depending on the website structure.
How much does an SEO audit cost?
Whether you’re a small-to-midsize business (SMB) or established enterprise, you can expect to invest between $350 and $14,000 for an SEO audit. Of course, if you’re a larger company with a bigger website structure, you will have higher SEO audit costs compared to a startup with a small website.
Like the size of your website, numerous parts affect the price of your SEO audit. That’s why this article provides an in-depth look at what SEO audits include.
Which type of SEO audit should companies buy?
For the best outcomes, the company should invest in having a comprehensive audit that includes the following aspects:
- A technical SEO audit
- A content audit
- A competitive audit
- A link audit
- A social audit
Analyzing your website's elements can have a positive impact on its performance. In other words, with a more robust website and SEO strategy, you can start ranking for competitive keywords that serve and grow your business.
What factors are behind SEO audit pricing?
Here is a list of the top factors behind the SEO audit:
- Website size: A website with more pages requires more time to be analyzed. If you have a website with 500 pages and want to save money by analyzing the important pages, let's say 100 pages. Don't. Why? Because when you ignore pages that have issues, you will not get a complete picture of your SEO strengths and weaknesses.
- Agency experience: When you partner with an expert team that works with SEO every day, you definitely will get an actionable SEO analysis that grows your business. And in most cases, the agency with great expertise tends to charge a higher rate for its services.
- Audited elements: A partial audit price has a different rate compared to an in-depth audit.
- Turnaround time: The faster you want the SEO audit, the more you’ll pay as well.
- Audit implementation: The SEO audit that comes with the implementation has a different rate compared to just having an SEO audit report.
Analyzing websites is no easy feat, so it’s time to party if everything performs well. However, as this presumably won’t be the last time you do a website audit, I’d suggest getting together with those involved one more time to go over what performed well, what performed wrong, and what you would change if you had to do it again.
If you are interested in getting a professional SEO audit for your website, you can look at these plans.
Got any questions? Ping me on Twitter.
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