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Why SEO Audits Matter: I Chat With Claudia Pennington, Digital Marketing Consultant

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Interview with Claudia Pennington
Claudia Pennington, digital marketing consultant and side hustle coach. discusses SEO Audits and why they matter.

Have you been hearing about SEO auditing? Are you wondering if SEO audits matter for your website and business? Do you want to know exactly what an SEO audit is?

Not sure if you need one, and, if so, how to get one?

If so, read on. I interviewed Claudia Pennington, a digital marketing consultant and course creator, in 2017. We've updated this article with learning resources so you can do your own SEO audits, if you like.

Why would you want to do that? Maybe because SEO audits matter enough that businesses are paying between $650 and $14,000 for them in 2022. That's a lot of money for a small business, money you can save by doing your own SEO audits. Once you get the hang of auditing your own website, you can offer this service to other small-biz owners.

So learning how to do a thorough SEO audit can earn you money. It can also help you make money. And maybe best of all – there are some great free resources to help you learn! Look for the links at the end of this interview . You can build a career or side hustle that could get you earning extra income in a few months.

A bit of explanation…

Digital Marketing is marketing products or services online using digital technologies, mainly the Internet, but also mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.  SEO: Search Engine Optimization is about ways to increase the number of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in search results pages on Google and other search engines.  

Claudia Pennington has years of experience in these fields. She translated her experience into online digital marketing training courses at the former SEO Audit Guide.com. In this interview, Claudia explains the basics and how this work-from-home career can fit into a busy mom's (or dad's) schedule. She will give you a better picture of what SEO auditing is all this is about and why it matters.

Why do SEO Audits matter? With our free resources, you can do your own SEO audits - and do them for other small businesses, too!
If you'd like your business to be visible online, SEO audits matter. Learn how to do them with our free resources!

Claudia, could you give us a little history and tell us how you got into teaching digital marketing courses?

My experience in digital marketing goes back to 2005 when I was a technical writing intern working for Penn State’s Information Technology Services department. I gained experience with newer tools and technologies at the time, including social media, wikis, podcasting, and blogging.

Fast forward to 2015 when I worked at a digital marketing agency while also side hustling as a digital marketing consultant. As a digital marketing consultant, I earned more than my day job working at home nights and weekends–that’s when I had my “lightbulb moment.”

I realized that I could put my knowledge and experience into online training courses to help others become Digital Marketing & SEO Consultants who work from home. My husband and I launched an online business, Side Hustle, LLC, and a package of five online training courses.

Part of the work you do as a Digital Marketing & SEO Consultant involves completing SEO audits. Could you explain that in layman’s terms? Can anyone learn this skill easily?

One of the core services offered by a Digital Marketing & SEO Consultant is the SEO website audit. SEO website audits are akin to car inspections. Mechanics use a checklist to check the same basic components that nearly every car has to see if they function as expected. When there is an issue discovered in a car inspection, the mechanic puts the information into a report for the car owner so that the car owner can review the recommended repairs and decide how s/he wants to proceed.

Much like a car inspection, SEO website audits look at the components of a website to see if these components function as expected. Since every website has the same basic components, there is a checklist for the SEO website audit process to ensure that the consultant has checked every component of a website. Through the SEO website audit process, the consultant produces a report for the website’s owner that highlights what needs to be improved on a website. If you like to-do-lists, you’ll enjoy the SEO website audit process!

Are digital marketing and SEO audits things that a stay-at-home mom can do in her limited amount of time? Is it a flexible career?

Absolutely. Digital marketing and SEO are flexible. You can work as much or as little as you want. Whether you have 15 minutes available in one day and an hour the next, you get to choose how to spend your time and what tasks you want to do.

For example, if you have a new client who needs an SEO website audit, you can complete the website audit at your convenience. The typical website audit takes about 10 hours to complete, but you don’t have to work 10 hours at once. At 30 minutes a day Monday through Friday, you can complete an SEO website audit in a month. Alternatively, you could work 2 hours each night for 5 nights and finish an SEO website audit in a week. As a consultant, you work for yourself when it’s convenient for you!

Why do SEO audits matter? Learning how to improve websites is a marketable skill - this interview with resources explains how.
SEO Audits examine all aspects of search engine optimization.

Is SEO auditing a career in itself, or would someone need to add consulting to make the career worthwhile?

You can focus on SEO website audits. Typically, the SEO website audit is completed as a one-time project. Once the website audit is complete and the client has paid, the relationship ends there. SEO website audits make great projects for someone who is looking to make extra money once in awhile rather than on a consistent basis.

Let’s say you have a goal to make an extra $1,000 a month or $12,000 a year. If you complete one SEO website audit each month, you will have completed 12 website audits of 12 different websites (usually 12 different clients unless the client has several websites). It requires some extra hustle to find a new client each month, but it’s possible to make money consistently.

What is digital marketing and do you need to learn every digital marketing service to become a sought after consultant?

Digital marketing is an umbrella term used to describe many different services that are used to drive traffic to a website. Digital marketing includes SEO website auditing, content auditing, content marketing, social media marketing, and more.

You do not have to learn every digital marketing service to become a consultant. In fact, it’s best to niche down and offer clients the services that align best with your interests and your skills.

For example, if you like more structure in your work and less strategy, you’ll enjoy the step-by-step process involved in completing SEO website audits. You could niche down and focus solely on becoming an SEO website auditor for bloggers.

If you are a people person, you might have some interest in online public relations, also known as content marketing. Content marketing is simply a way to drive traffic from one website to your client’s website; it’s one of the best ways to help a website owner increase website traffic.

Content marketing requires an ongoing, monthly commitment; typically, you work a consistent number of hours per month on content marketing, i.e. 10 hours per month for a client. You could focus solely on honing your skills as a content marketer, niching down to focus on a particular industry (depending on the experience you have). In January, I saw an opportunity for content marketing for a homeschool academy, which would be a great fit for parents with some experience in homeschool who are trained in content marketing. Every business, blog and nonprofit organization benefits from help with content marketing.

There are countless combinations of services you could offer potential clients depending on your interests, skills, and experience.

Can you give us some examples?

In one example, a couple decided to focus on providing two services: SEO website audits and content marketing. They focus on working with nonprofit organizations that they are especially interested in helping.

In another example, a mom with three kids and a part-time job decided to focus on providing SEO website audits and content audits. With the limited time she has available, she likes that audits are projects that can be completed in less than a month and that they don’t require any ongoing commitment.

You can combine your skills and experience with digital marketing services, providing a unique combination to small business owners, bloggers, and non-profit organizations. Virtual assisting plus digital marketing. Copywriting plus digital marketing. Bookkeeping plus digital marketing. Just digital marketing. Just SEO website audits. It’s completely up to you!

What kind of skills do you need? Do you need to have prior marketing experience or website building experience?

You don’t need any prior marketing or website experience. As a consultant, you don’t even need to log into a website to provide consulting services–technical skills not required.

All of the digital marketing and SEO fundamentals you need to get started you can learn in online training courses. Notably, customer service experience is helpful, because you know that happy clients refer great consultants to their fellow business owners.

If you like to-do lists, you’ll enjoy completing SEO website audits. To complete the SEO website audit, you simply follow the steps outlined in the SEO website audit course to examine a website and then generate an SEO audit report for the website owner that he/she can use to improve his/her website.

What I love most about digital marketing and SEO is the flexibility. Depending on your skill set, you might be able to offer additional services to your clients beyond the SEO website audit as a content writer or virtual assistant. Digital marketing and SEO also serve as a standalone side hustle or side business.

Realistically, what is the minimum amount of time you would need to devote to this work on a daily basis?

Since you get to choose when you want to work, there is no daily minimum required. You could work 15 minutes a day or 3 hours once a week.

I recommend that small businesses and bloggers invest in 10 hours of digital marketing each month. Thus, my clients pay me to work 10 hours per month.

How many hours you work each week or each month is up to you and your client (and your client’s budget). If you find a client you want to help and you have 5 hours per month, discuss with your client what time you have available and see if it’s a good fit for the client. It’s important that before you talk with a client you know how much time you think you can realistically devote.

Can you make a decent income doing SEO audits part time?

Regardless of location, I coach students to charge no less than $75 per hour (US dollars). Digital marketing and SEO comprise an in-demand skill set, so it is important to expect to be paid well for the value you provide clients.

Earning potential varies by location–rates tend to be higher in major metropolitan areas. However, I recommend charging no less than $75 per hour no matter where you live.

For example, the typical SEO website audit takes about 10 hours to complete. If you charge $75 per hour, you can earn $750 for the SEO website audit.

With a little training, you can easily make $75 per hour by conducting SEO audits and providing digital marketing services to your clients! Find out more about this lucrative, work-from-home industry in this interview with marketing consultant, Claudia PennigtonDoes SEO auditing matter enough that a stay-at-home mom could make into a full-time career once the kids are older and she has more time on her hands?

Definitely. If you wanted to start working full time, you could simply increase your hours by taking enough client work so that you are working 7 to 8 hours a day from home while your kids are at school. You can use your experience in digital marketing in a full-time job, too.

Working for yourself is more lucrative, but having a full-time job is more stable. Consulting on the side is a great way to get started so you can see what might work best for your future.

Do SEO audits really matter to small businesses? Is it hard to get clients and have a steady workflow?

Finding clients is easy for hustlers. If you want clients, you can find them in lots of different places. Everyone you know who has a website they use to sell products or services could become your first clients, including friends, family, bloggers, and small business owners. Depending on how much time you have available each month, you might only be looking for one client (i.e. 10 hours of work per month).

You can also look for warm leads–small business owners who are already looking for SEO help on LinkedIn ProFinder and Craigslist; there are lots of other resources like these, but these are good places to start.

Because there are tens of millions of businesses in the US alone, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the opportunities out there. I recommend starting with someone you know until you are comfortable with completing the work and managing time.

With so many online businesses (blogs included!), there are even more opportunities. You may also consider joining private Facebook groups that align with your interests. For example, if you are a personal finance enthusiast, you can find private Facebook groups for bloggers in personal finance who periodically seek help with their websites.

Do you ever have to go meet clients or can you do everything from home?

With one exception, my clients live in other states, so we do not have in-person meetings. Occasionally, we connect via phone. However, what I’ve found is that everyone is busy wearing many different hats, so email is the best way to connect. Everything I do, I do from home.

What kind of office equipment do you need to do SEO audits?

Other than a computer and an Internet connection, no other office equipment is required. All of the correspondence and documents you share with your clients can be accomplished with free tools offered by Google, including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Docs, and Google Sheets. For calls with clients, you can use a landline, a cell phone, Google Hangouts, or Skype.

What are the basic start-up expenses to run an SEO audit business?

Other than the cost of online training courses, there aren’t any startup expenses. The tools we use for all the work we do are free. Your initial expense is the time you’ll need for training and for finding clients.

What is the best part of this career for you?

As a direct result of my work, my clients’ businesses have grown. Hearing things like “traffic and revenue increased significantly” make this work I do truly rewarding. I feel so fortunate that I’ve been able to help small businesses grow and prosper! There are millions of more businesses out there who need help.

Thank you, Claudia!

Why do SEO Audits matter? Getting these components right helps your biz be visible online.
Paying attention to the components of search engine optimization will help you create SEO audits that matter.

Do you think you'd like to do SEO audits for yourself or other small business owners?

If you'd like to learn how to do an SEO audit, try Neil Patel's free SEO Unlocked course. Neil is the creator of Ubersuggest, and offers many free resources to help business owners with SEO. SEO Unlocked also includes an SEO Audit checklist so you can start off on the right foot.

Another free option is the Semrush Site Audit Course. After completing it, you can choose to take the Semrush Site Audit Exam. Semrush also offers a separate 18-step SEO Audit Checklist. This helpful guide is also free.

Want to learn more about SEO auditing as a career?

Has this post helped you learn why SEO audits matter to small businesses? Can you imagine doing your own audits, or providing digital marketing and SEO services to clients online? Do you still have questions? Do you find this career interesting? Or is it something you've attempted before? We'd love to hear your thoughts below!

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