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You want to improve your local SEO. You are smart, so you know you need a local SEO audit to understand your current position and how to take advantage of opportunities in your market.

Unfortunately, you don’t have a big budget. In your attempt to try and save some money, you start looking into how you can do your own local SEO audit. You might even have reached out to a local marketing agency to inquire about their services and have been presented with an offer for a free local SEO audit.

Now you might be thinking that doing it yourself or getting a free local SEO is your ticket to low cost local SEO success. In reality, unless you’re already a local SEO expert, or savvy internet market, a DIY local SEO audit is going to cost you both money (for tools) and time (to do the work) which quickly add up.

Plus, that free local SEO audit offer is more of a sales tactic than a helping hand – no one would give away hours of time and decades of experience in local SEO for free unless they expected to be making it back somehow.

We know that as a company that offers a professional local SEO audit, we might seem biased, but these free local SEO audit offers and softwares are a waste of your time. It’s much easier to understand why your website isn’t getting any traffic and how to improve with a professional local SEO audit and action plan created by a local SEO expert who has your best interest in mind.

Let’s take a quick look at a local SEO audit and then get into why using a free local SEO audit to develop your strategies is a bad idea.

What is a Local SEO Audit?

Local SEO audits are different from traditional SEO Audits. Here’s how.

SEO audits are very beneficial. An audit is usually performed before planning a new website, content marketing, link building, or SEO campaign. SEO audits are also a great way to benchmark performance and even verify that SEO vendors are doing the right things for you.

Traditional SEO audits focus heavily on an analysis of your website and backlinks. This is because content and links are the two main factors that drive higher rankings in organic search results. Items such as indexing, page speed, page title optimization, backlink analysis, and other factors that improve organic search visibility are covered.

A local SEO audit is every bit as beneficial as a traditional SEO audit, but it’s a bit different. The main difference is that local SEO audits focuses on additional areas of your online presence, since there are different ranking factors for local SEO. (If you are not familiar with local SEO, feel free to learn more about it in our local SEO guide.)

Local SEO audits take into consideration your Google My Business profile (and maybe Bing Places), your listings on business and industry directories, as well as your online reviews. Of course, a local SEO audit will still include a review of your website, and backlinks, but this will be done through a local lens. For example, keyword targeting will be looked at for a particular city, town, or zip.

Often times you will see an offer for a free local SEO audit offers usually come from an agency, consultant, or software vendor. While you might be tempted to take them up on their offer and dream of local SEO success, the reality is that free local SEO audits are usually a bad idea.

Here’s 7 Reasons a Free Local SEO Audit is a Bad Idea

Why is a free local SEO audit a bad idea? There are several.

In general, free local SEO audits are a bad idea because you get what you pay for.

It takes years to master local SEO to the point where you can properly perform an audit. Professional local SEO audits also take hours, if not days, to complete. No one would give this away for free unless they were using it as a tool to make more money.

This means your free local SEO audit is usually used as a sales hook, a way for a company to get their foot in the door to sell you something. These audits often biased, light on details, and big on fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD).

This is why we created Local SEO Audits. We were tired of free local SEO audits that were shilling bad data and agencies using them to sell services you don’t need. With Local SEO Audits, you get a professional audit performed by a local SEO consultant with years of experience and documented expertise helping companies around the world.

But, perhaps you’re not convinced just yet that you need to pay for a professional local SEO audit. It’s okay, here’s seven reasons you should consider running away from that free local SEO audit.

1. Results May Not Be Accurate

Free local SEO audits often rely heavily on software that often returns inaccurate information.

This is the major one for us. Free local SEO audits are not made to be accurate. Time and time again, we meet with clients who are frustrated after performing their own audit based on a free local SEO template or analysis software tool. The results often say the same thing that a generalized article would tell you about local SEO.

This information is typically not accurate or exclusive to your business. It’s a generalized result based on a few factors that may or may not even pertain to your business strategy and goals. When it comes to detailed information that’s helpful to your business, you need someone who is going to take the time to analyze your website and content correctly.

2. Misleading Grading and Scoring

Free local SEO audits use grading and scoring systems that are misleading at best.

Some software may lead you to believe that you need more content or a deeper analysis for recommendations, misleading you with inaccurate grades and scores so you’ll purchase the “pro” version.

In many cases, these free local SEO audit tools were designed to spit out scores with red underlining that will scare you into thinking that you need more help than you can do on your own. This is because they don’t want you to read further than the score. If you were shown the deeper analysis of what’s going on with your website, you may see some simple errors in the free local SEO audit that would take a few minutes to correct. In other cases, you may need more help to fix local SEO problems on your site, but these scores don’t provide a plan to do so.

3. Not Customized for Your Business

Free local SEO audits fail to take into account historic context and your future goals.

When you get a free local SEO audit, you probably found it off of a generic website or software company not related to your industry. If you want to start your strategy off with the right information, wouldn’t you want it to have knowledge of your business, what you do, and what you want to do in the future? These audits typically can’t go much further than showing you where to place content and sign up for Google My Business. There’s more to your local SEO content strategy than that.

4. Marketing Schemes to Sell You Software

Free local SEO audits are typically used as a way to sell you something, even if you don’t need it.

You already signed up for the free local SEO audit because you didn’t have the budget for something else, so why is this same company asking for your email address? Because you’ll likely receive an email about software and tools that you can buy to help with your website. However, this still won’t help with your local SEO strategy, which is all you wanted to find out about in the first place.

The software is only built to capture your information and make promises to you that the salesperson will follow up on. You may not even get any information to help with your business’ SEO strategy.

5. No Expert, Custom Analysis

Fee local SEO audits do not include insight about what was found (you’re left to draw your own conclusions).

There’s a bunch of numbers with no context or analysis below. It simply tells you that you don’t have the right keywords and backlinking strategy. What does that mean? What does it all mean? You will likely have to bring these results to an SEO analyst or consultant to help you figure out what’s going on with your site. A free local SEO audit isn’t going to do that much. What if you had just done that from the start?

6. Does Not Provide an Action Plan

Free local SEO audits lack the next steps you should take to improve your local SEO.

Finally, recommendations are not provided with free local SEO audit templates and software. You won’t see an action plan to help you rank up in local search results for your business. This means that you’ll still have to figure out all of the analysis and how to tactically execute a plan on your own.

7. No Q&A With Local SEO Experts

Free local SEO audits do not include discussion and feedback on what’s best for your situation.

What if you have questions about the results? Can you call a customer support line? Can you talk to your personal SEO analyst? Neither! You won’t be able to ask the right questions and get speedy answers with free software. Instead, you’ll have to wait or even worse, sign up for a sales demo to understand what the results mean and how to proceed with a new strategy.

What You Get with Professional Local SEO Audits

Why you should pay for a local SEO audit

As you can see, there are many reasons relying on a free local SEO audit to help your SEO efforts a bad idea. These reasons are a big reason why you should pay for a local SEO audit.

Here are a few more that we’ve heard directly from clients of ours:

1. Accurate Data and Analysis

A professional local SEO audit can offer accurate details of technical errors, content problems, missing information on profiles, negative reviews and other issues with your local online presence that are not allowing you to rank properly in local search results. The reason for this is professional local SEO audits are created using both software and the expertise of the auditor in order to make sure the data and analysis is accurate. Armed with this accurate data, you can expect to receive an accurate action plan that improves your rankings.

2. Access to All Information

A free local SEO audit is often only a surface level view that requires you to sign-up or pay for a “pro” version to get all the information and analysis. With professional local SEO audits you know upfront what you are going to get because it is outlined upfront. When it comes to your SEO efforts, you don’t want half the information, or better yet waste time thinking you got a deal only to find you have to pay more than you would have for professional audit. Remember, you get what you pay for.

3. Detailed, Expert Evaluation

There are many software companies out there that think they can develop a tool that makes the human element of SEO obsolete. While many have tried, all have failed: there is no such thing as a simple scan, diagnostic, or crawler that can replicate what an expert can do. The local SEO tools are definitely valuable (we use them daily), but they are not a replacement for experience and expertise.

This is partly because these tools are designed for one-size-fits all scenarios which is rarely the case with local SEO. These software tools lack context of your goals, and also all of the data required to make an honest representation as to what you should be doing (or stop doing). The only way to get this is by paying to have a local SEO expert deliver an audit.

4. Insights, Opportunities, and Threat Detection

What about helpful recommendations to grow your business and prepare for the future? We all want to understand our options when it comes to improving our search rankings, while also being mindful of threats that lie ahead. That’s why paid SEO audits do a complete SWOT analysis, as well as look at insights from your industry and audience, in order to turn the audit data into an actionable plan. It’s this analysis, not the benchmarking, or performance data, that makes difference between a great audit and a free lousy one.

Better yet, you don’t want to have to necessarily pay the person who did the audit to also do the work. A lot of consultants and agencies offering free local SEO audits due so in order to slant things in their favor. With a professional local SEO audit, you’re paying to get information on what’s best for you, not what’s most profitable for the agency or consultant.

5. Prioritized Action Plan

Once you have a local SEO audit, you’re only a third of the way there. The next step is knowing what to do with all of the information. This is where the professional really shines.

Any piece of software or free audit can tell you a bunch of information, but how does that translate into an actionable plan? You can only get this kind of information from an expert analyst. For example, at Local SEO Audits, we provide full analysis with an explanation of results and a step-by-step action plan that coincides with your business strategy and goals.

Remember, the data means nothing if it’s not actionable. Part of what you get with a professional audit is help with how to fix things along with the steps you should take capitalize on opportunities.

6. Expert Q&A with Discussion and Feedback

A local SEO audit may be the data you’ve needed to support making changes to your efforts, but who will support you during the project? Working with local SEO experts gives you access to an account manager and analyst who are there to answer your questions and even implement the plan for you with help of your agency. They can also help you make decisions on how to prioritize your time or budget, in addition to point you to helpful tutorials on local SEO.

Why Paying for a Local SEO Audit is Worth It

Most people look for free options first because it seems more budget-friendly. However, as you can see, it could actually end up wasting a lot of your time and not provide any change. Here’s why paying for a professional local SEO audit is well worth it.

1. Experienced Professional Reviewing Your Local SEO

If you’re making a sizeable investment into your local SEO efforts, having an experienced professional review your efforts ensures you will maximize your returns. This is true whether you are doing this yourself, with an in-house team, or through an outside agency. Even if you are just getting started with local SEO, paying to have an expert review your current state, business goals, market, and competition as it relates to local SEO will save you hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars in rookie mistakes that are made every day.

2. Information Verified for Accuracy

How do you know an audit is truthful if it’s provided by a third-party who is trying to sell you local SEO services? The same is true for local SEO tools that claim to be only thing you need, but in reality only tell you half the story. If you read through comments and complaints about these local SEO software tools, you’ll notice a common thread: they’re not accurate and lack all the information to help someone with a successful local SEO strategy.

3. In-depth Insights on Your Efforts

What’s the difference between slightly tweaking or adding on to your content vs re-doing all of it? How to get more positive reviews on your GMB profile so that you can improve your reputation and rankings? A free local SEO audit or tool may suggest that your site lacks a certain element or has over 100 errors. What does that mean for you? Are you supposed to stop what you’re doing? What should you improve first? Getting a bunch of data quickly is great if you’re a local SEO expert…but if you’re reading this…you’re probably not one yet. That’s why paying for a local SEO audit is worth it – you don’t have to be the expert!

4. Actionable Next Steps for Improving

Wouldn’t it be awesome if a free local SEO audit gave you a plan for implementing all the findings? Sure, but that’s not how these free local SEO audits and tools work. With a professional audit, part of what you pay for is an action plan that’s tailored to your business and growth goals. This action plan takes into consideration your goals, resources, and experience in order to prioritize the efforts that will bring you the best results, in the fastest time possible.

5. Access to Local SEO Expert for Q&A

Last, but certainly not least, a paid audit from a local SEO professional is worth it because of the access you get to their expertise. You can talk to someone who cares about your success and ask them questions so that you understand why your site is ranking the way that it is–as well as how to improve. Free local SEO audits are not are not meant to provide this type of expertise, because real experts would not give away their hard earned knowledge for free. Would you?

Do You Need a Professional Local SEO Audit?

Many businesses have gone through an SEO audit before, but they didn’t have the right plan of action to tackle the issues and improve their rankings. SEO audits provide abundant information about problems, but they rarely provide a step-by-step guide to fixing those issues.

This is where local SEO strategists and SEO experts can truly help your business. With a local SEO audit performed by experts, you’ll know exactly what areas of your website need help and what tactics you can implement to start ranking.

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