SEO is a vital part of any marketing strategy, which is why a failing SEO report may seem like the worst news possible. Today, we’re here to discuss what to do when your website receives a failing SEO report (and why it isn’t all bad news).

The first thing you should know is that not all SEO reports are created equal. Small business owners are often inundated by sales calls from marketing agencies — all of them promising to boost sales — for a price. Often, in the pursuit of the almighty dollar, these agencies can use less than honest tactics to try to trick unwary business owners into purchasing their services.

Anyone who is familiar with statistics knows that data can often be manipulated to demonstrate the desired result, rather than an accurate one. These tactics are common among marketing agencies targeting small business owners, and, sadly, it doesn’t look like things are going to change anytime soon. The best thing you can do to protect yourself from a bad SEO investment is to regard these sales calls and reports with extreme skepticism. Below are some tips that may help.

Get a second opinion

Not long ago, we received an angry communication from one of our clients claiming that they’d received an SEO report that was less than favorable. They wanted to know why we weren’t doing more to promote their company and were more than a little upset that we were offering substandard services. This communication came as a surprise to us since that business had been receiving good sales and had generally profited from our involvement.

A closer look revealed the truth: The mistakes and errors the marketers our client had spoken to had claimed were hardly worthy of the name. They were minor errors that actually had little to no impact on the overall SEO score. Of course, sometimes more than a second opinion is necessary to set your mind at ease.

Do an SEO report comparison

The best way to test an SEO report is to run one on the same company that sent it to you. When we received the previously mentioned complaint, we immediately went to our competitor’s website and subjected it to the same SEO audit they had run on our client.

It was no surprise to us that this company’s website actually scored lower than our client’s using the exact same measurements. That means that the work we’ve done for our clients actually surpasses the work this marketing company was capable of doing on its own website. Needless to say, our client was reassured.

Another good way to get a second opinion is to run the SEO audit on a big-name website like Google and see how it compares. If the algorithm finds errors in one of the most popular and widely used websites on the web — the minor errors it finds on your website probably don’t impact your SEO very much at all.

Get a professional assessment

Most of the time the reports sent to you by marketing agencies are no more than some numbers that have been crunched by a (possibly flawed) program. These programs are designed to find errors, no matter how small, and blow them out of proportion.

It isn’t that the programs themselves are flawed, not exactly. More accurately, it is that they were designed in a way that targets small business owners, blowing things out of proportion to induce panic and part you with your money.

The best way to really understand your website’s SEO rating is to confer with an actual human being. A personal touch is sometimes needed to understand how SEO can be manipulated by unscrupulous marketing agencies. You can’t trust an algorithm to know what’s best for your business.

It’s important to talk directly to trained professionals, discussing the relevant aspects of your digital marketing strategy, the things most important to your specific case like:

  • SEO: Is your website search engine friendly? Mobile friendly? Properly set up?
  • Google My Business: The setup of your GMB profile is vital to your online profile’s success.
  • Local listings: Find out whether your business is listed in the proper online directories and properties.
  • Review generation: Do you collect customer reviews from all of your customers?
  • Paid search: Is your paid search performing well?

A program may be able to identify minor errors, but an experienced person can identify your website’s strengths and weaknesses with a keen eye towards priorities.

Drew Johnson is the co-founder and VP of Marketing of 33 Mile Radius, a lead generation company focused on home services. He has helped local businesses get found online since 2007. For more information, visit