SEO Retainer: How to Know You’re Getting Your Money’s Worth

November 20, 2017//1,848 words

Are you currently paying a fee for a SEO retainer? If so, I commend you for recognizing the importance. The quality of traffic achieved through SEO is by far the best – 10 times better conversion/close rates on average.

Do you know what you are getting for the money you are spending? Have you seen a detailed report of services performed, goals and results (not just website traffic to your home page)?

Like any investment, you should be tracking, measuring and analyzing your SEO.

The majority of my clients today have previously been in negative SEO retainer relationships. Once upon a time, someone told them that they could achieve the number one spot on Google guaranteed. These ambitious companies knew the tremendous benefits that this would bring to their website, so – wanting to assume the best – trusted that the “SEO Expert” would certainly deliver.

One, two, sometimes three or more years later, after having received nothing in terms of increased traffic or period reports detailing the work being performed and results achieved, these website owners decide enough is enough.

I’m going to walk you through some simple tools that you can leverage that can and should be used to keep your SEO company accountable. These tools are quick, simple and free. Can’t beat that!

Let’s go.


Screaming Frog SEO Spider for a Complete Scan

seo retainer website audit

Screaming Frog is the most basic and perhaps fundamental tool you can use to scan your website and audit the individual or company that you’re paying an SEO retainer. There is a variety of information that you can gain from one of these scans, including …


Title Tag, Meta-Description, and Header Tag Information

A scan of your website takes one to two minutes depending on size. As you can see in the image below, there are many tabs on the top of the page that refer to different pieces of information from your website and those include the title tag, meta-description and header tag.

seo retainer website audit

As you can see, I can see each URL and the title tag assigned to each page. I can also view the length in characters of each title. Vital information.

In addition to what you see on the screen, through the filter drop down on the left hand side I can also see results for title tags that are too long (generally over 60-65 characters), duplicate to other pages, too short (30 characters) and missing.

You can verify similar information in regards to the meta-description and header tags (H1 to H6).

Screaming Frog SEO Spider makes it very easy if you are starting to perform SEO strategy for a new client or if you want to check in on the work being performed by someone you have hired.

What to watch for: Are the page results within the proper length brackets? Is every piece of information unique? Does every page simply have one? All of these are key and very fundamental SEO contributors. If these are not cleaned up, I would be concerned. Save these results as a .CSV file and share with your SEO company.


Siteliner for Duplicate Content

seo retainer website audit

Siteliner is another tremendous (and free!) tool that you can use to return a lot of valuable information, mainly duplicate content.

In case you haven’t heard before, duplicate content is a big negative in the world of websites.

And it’s not what you think.

Sure, there are those content creators who might steal content from other reliable sources, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m suggesting that your website duplicates its own content automatically.

Think about it, does your website URL show both the “www” and non-“www” in the address bar if that’s how you type them in?

It shouldn’t.

You see, if the canonicalization (the representation of your website) hasn’t been determined as EITHER / OR, than you have at least two different versions of your website.

That’s not all.

Is your website housed on a CMS platform such as WordPress or Joomla?

If so, then you likely have at least one or more plugins/extensions installed for added features.

Did you know that these automatically duplicate content as well?

Here is a snippet that I grabbed from an article about common WordPress duplicate content issues:

seo retainer website audit

You can see the canonicalization issues (www vs non-www) but take a look at lines three and five.

Do you see the “/tag” and “/category” text added?

You see, WordPress segments everything into categories and layers in the back-end to make everything more simple for the user.

Which is good.

However, it can’t be ignored.

There isn’t an easier tool to use than Siteliner. In fact, this is what you see as soon as you go to

seo retainer website audit

Can’t beat that.

Simply type in your home address of your website and click “Go.”

After the scan is complete you will see what percentage of your website is duplicated as well as what specific pages and paragraphs are duplicated.

What to watch for: Obviously, you’re hoping to find very little duplicate content. In fact, according to Siteliner, the average amount of duplicated content on the websites that it has scanned is around 15%. Make it your goal to get below that, and then take it from there as you have more time. Additionally, you will see what content you have that is considered “similar.” Let’s say that you have the same footer on every single one of your pages or a particular sidebar item. Not a bad idea, but the goal is unique pages and unique content all the while producing a solid user experience.


SEO Quake for Quick and Overall Scanning

seo retainer website audit

The last free tool that I’m going to share with you today is called SEO Quake.

This SEO tool is very helpful because you can install it as an extension in your Firefox or Chrome browser, visit your website or anyone else’s for that matter, and get a ton of great info.

For example, if I go to say, and then after I arrive I click on my SEO Quake button, this is what I will see:

seo retainer website audit

Rankings, social media likes, website age, and so on.

Then I can dive further by clicking on the “Diagnosis” tab on the top and see this:

seo retainer website audit

I can scroll down the page and see a full list of 18 SEO factors determined by SEO Quake and how this specific page is doing as far as being compliant with each of them.

This is a good spying tool to use on your competitor’s websites as well.

You may find out after studying this tool that you may not even need an SEO expert anymore as SEO Quake will give you tips on how to fix each of these issues.

Very handy. Very easy to use. Fast.

What to watch for: Go through the list and see how your page is doing. Keep in mind, this is just for the specific page that you were on when you first clicked on the SQ button. Feel free to scan your other pages as well. While there are some advanced items on this list, there are also some very basic and fundamental ones as well. If you don’t see checkmarks all of the way down, question your SEO company.


There you have it, three easy tools that you can use to be in-the-know of your website’s SEO.

SEO can be a big investment so you need to be sure that you know where your money is going.

Don’t leave it up to your SEO company to keep you informed. Be proactive. Be interested. Ask questions.

And if they are doing a good job – let them know!

There’s something else you should make sure that they optimize for you – and it’s really important for SEO.