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SEO Community Rebukes Google for Advising Free Site Audits

SEO Community Rebukes Google for Advising Free Site Audits

Google published a video on how to hire a search marketing consultant. They made two reasonable recommendations. But the third one caused the search community to rebuke Google for that advice.

Google’s advice lacked the nuance that comes with actual experience as a client-facing SEO.

How to Hire an SEO

The video lists three steps for hiring an SEO.

The first two recommendations are:

  • Interview the SEO Consultant
  • Check References
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Those are reasonable recommendations.

The third recommendation was to request a technical and search audit before the business hired the SEO.

Google recommends obtaining a free site audit before hiring an SEO

It has to be emphasized that these are three steps to take before hiring an SEO agency.

There is no ambiguity that Google is recommending that businesses require a “free technical and search audit” before hiring the SEO.

Google Recommends SEOs Work for Free

The SEO community swiftly offered disapproval to Google for issuing that advice to business owners.

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This is what Bill Slawski tweeted:

Danny Sullivan was tagged in the discussion for his feedback.

Danny said he didn’t produce the video and suggested that maybe the video was asking for a general overview of what was to be done.

Danny continued his thoughts in this tweet:

Respected search marketer Bill Hartzer was among the first to notice this bad advice. He offered his insights in a blog post:

“…asking for a technical audit of a website even before the SEO is hired, is flat out bad advice. Very bad advice…”

He then pointed out that a superficial free site audit is the hallmark of a scammer.

Bill said:

“SEO consultants that provide a “technical audit” or even call it a “technical audit” for free before they’re even hired is misleading, sketchy, and not someone that you’d want to deal with in the first place. A good SEO consultant will explain to you that they won’t provide a technical SEO audit of your website for free.”

Gary Illyes Tweets

Gary Illyes tweeted what appeared to be a retcon of the meaning of technical and search audit to simply mean a look around.

But taking a look around a site prior to giving a quote is not what the Google video recommends. The video explicitly advises businesses to request a technical and search audit before being hired. An audit is a formal document with actionable insights.

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If Google meant that an SEO should take a look at the site to understand the scope of the project then they should have said that.

Bill Hartzer rebutted Gary’s tweet:


Google’s video was poorly conceived. All of the advice is good except the part where they recommend a free site audit prior to hiring the SEO.

A free site audit is a lead generation trick. This tactic is employed by disreputable email spammers.

One can only speculate that the authors of Google’s video have received spam emails offering a free technical and search audit and they presumed this was a common way of doing business.

The advice in this video demonstrates that lived first-hand experience is superior to second hand knowledge. Had an employee with actual client-facing SEO experience been on the Google team that produced this video, that person would have been able to point out the error, what Bill Slawski termed, “questionable advice. ”

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Watch Google’s tips for hiring an SEO specialist here:



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Roger Montti

Roger Montti is a search marketer with 20 years experience. He provides site audits, phone consultations and content and link ... [Read full bio]

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