At the end of 2017 I shared a simple offer on Facebook: Donate $5 to a good cause and I’ll spend five minutes auditing your website on screen, with a focus on search engine optimisation.
The response was so overwhelming that I had to close the doors just 72 hours later.
For the next few weeks I would do little else but advise people on how they could improve their websites, resulting in thousands of dollars donated to a dog shelter in Thailand.
The same shelter which sent the street dog I rescued to her new home in Canada.
While the videos were fun, recording them gave me little time for anything else.
18 months later I decided to see if the initial popularity was sustainable and opened the doors again.
This time I doubled the time I would review each site to 10 minutes, and increased the price to $30, while still donating a portion of the proceeds to a great cause.
Once again the number of orders was immense, and once again I did little else but spend weeks offering suggestions on how people could improve their online businesses.
Unlike the first time however, something interesting happened. I received a lot of requests for more in-depth feedback.
(I presume this didn’t happen the first time as it had a purely charitable angle, and people didn’t realise I might be open to doing more work).
While pointing out problems people had no idea existed, they would often want to know what else they were missing. This later spawned a new business venture: Once-off, in-depth website audits for a much more substantial fee.
Instead of looking at hundreds of sites as quickly as possible, as a team we would look at just a few websites per month, and spend dozens of hours getting into the nitty gritty details of how they could increase their search traffic.
Note: We aren’t currently selling video or in-depth audits so this blog post is absolutely not a pitch for them (though I recorded hundreds as recently as December 2020, so I promise this model is still wildly viable).
The cheapest detailed audit we ever sold was $4,000, and I believe the most expensive was $8,000.
The average was around $5,500 per site.
A significant percentage of in-depth audits we sold first started with a $40 video audit.
We’ve personally made over six-figures with this model so far (a pretty even mix of $40 video audits and $4,000+ in-depth audits that came because of videos).
This is perhaps more impressive when you know that we only sold video audits for around 30 days – spread out between openings – in total.
This Gaps Playbook is going to document:
- The exact process I used to deliver video audits that you can personally follow
- The mental side of reviewing so many sites (what I loved, and what I hated)
- How we upsold full audits — showing actual emails and requests from potential customers
- Why I’m not currently following this model (it has nothing to do with its potential)
- Why I believe someone can make a 7-figure business from this
- And of course, some gaps in the market to take my idea further
While our own process has an SEO-focus, if you’ve ever wanted to help someone improve their online business in another form (email marketing, PPC, social media management, etc.) you’ll learn a ton of insights you can apply to your own endeavours here.
It’s good to be back. Let’s dive in.
The Entire $40 Audit Process, Step-by-Step
If we’re going to be specific, we’ve sold audits at $5, $10, $15, $40, $49 and $59.
100% of proceeds from five, ten and fifteen dollar audits were donated.
While raising the price from $40 to $49 did not appear to impact sales, there was definitely a decrease in conversions when jumping to $59.
I stuck with the $40 price point mostly because it “felt right” based on how long myself or someone on our team looked at a site.
I’ll discuss more about not raising our rates in the mental side of this playbook, because there’s a surprising psychological element to this entire business model.
Auditing 1,000+ Websites: The Offer That Clicked
A private HD upload of me personally finding issues with your website, on screen.
And a 100% money-back guarantee if you’re not happy for whatever reason.
If it’s true that the sweetest sound to anyone is their own name, then the sweetest video anyone can watch on YouTube is someone going through their own website and telling them how to improve it.
I would later find people on Fiverr with similar offerings, but I had genuinely never heard of anyone doing this before we originally opened the offer.
This is going to sound egotistical but we joked internally that we could still profit from this offer if we paid $5M for a Superbowl ad. That’s how easy these videos have been to sell.
I’m not sure we all felt it was a joke.
After all, the price point is right, it applies to anyone with a website or anyone working for a website, and the upsell potential is limitless.
I could easily sell another 1,000 video audits (and lots of in-depth audits) in 2021 if I was going to do so again.
I sold 200+ as recently as December 2020.
I clearly wasn’t the first person to think about this because, as I say, many people on Fiverr offer similar services (some with 1,000+ reviews — meaning many thousands more sales).
That said, I know we inspired a number of other similar services since, and I’ve seen some great revenue numbers to go with them.
Forgetting how good the actual service might be, the offer just “makes sense” for anyone to quickly pick up and try. It’s a no-brainer.
And with a money back guarantee (which I think I used three times out of 1,500+ orders), I genuinely don’t think I’ve found anything easier to sell online.
Getting Customers: (Mostly) Capitalising on Years of Writing
The reason I was able to get our initial customers was likely as much goodwill as it was a good offer.
As I was donating the funds to a dog shelter, people were doing good by ordering, and didn’t necessarily have much interest in what I had to say about their website.
Over 1,000 non-donation-orders later prove that not only is the offer very well received, but I’ve been able to build up enough trust from my audience over years and years of writing online that I would have good advice to give.
Primarily by putting my all into articles such as this one.
If you are going to try and mimic my success then it will certainly help initial sales if you have an audience who expect you have value to offer them.
Though I didn’t need to purchase any advertising, a single $100 newsletter promotion returned $400 in sales within the first 48 hours of it going live. I’ll talk more about advertising in the leveling-up portion of this playbook, but I personally just never needed to use it.
I don’t have any specific numbers because not everyone tells you how they found something, but I would estimate 20% of total orders were either return customers (some people have a lot of personal sites / SEO clients they would like a second opinion on) or from word of mouth.
In other words, if you end up paying $40 to acquire a single $40 customer, you can still profit through multiple orders per person, or from them recommending the service to others.
I should add here that I dabbled with getting customers on Fiverr, but only processed a few dozen orders through the platform.
The upside of Fiverr is getting your offer in front of their audience without having to pay for any marketing.
The downsides include their fee, competition from others on the platform with more reviews and ratings than you, and your limited ability to really ‘sell’ your offer and make it stand out.
I never had any problems selling things on our own site (again, it’s not open so this is not a pitch) so I didn’t need to push Fiverr much further.
Delivering the Audits: The Entire Process
As I’m primarily a Mac user, 99% of orders were recorded using Screenflow (not an affiliate link).
There’s a slight irony that their website is not secure, since that’s the first thing I would point out if I used their software to audit their own site.
When I had an issue with Screenflow for a day and had to use Windows, I used Camtasia.
I much prefer Screenflow because while one video is processing, you can start recording another. This especially helps if you’re “in the zone” and want to crank out a few videos in a row.
With Camtasia you have to wait until a video has finished processing before you can record another. It sounds like a small thing, but that five minute wait between recording means it can be easy to get distracted and do other things.
Both of these tools cost money, but if you’re on a budget you could use something like Quicktime (comes pre-installed with Macs) that offers screen recording features.
I’m going to focus on the process of 10-minute audits as they were the most common for me, but I pretty much always followed the same structure. I would:
- Look at a site by clicking around for 5 minutes
- Look through a sites’ Google search results for 3 minutes
- Analyse a site with ScreamingFrog for 2 minutes
This varied – sometimes I could spend 10 minutes just clicking around and find a ton of issues – but I was quite consistent.
For my first 750 or so videos, I had a 30 second intro that I would tell people I was going to:
- Talk fast out of respect for their time (but I wasn’t nervous)
- Try to offer as much help as I can but please respect my time is limited
- Please don’t make a lot of changes to your site at one time
After hundreds of videos, I eventually had enough comments where people had said some variation of “I wish you didn’t have a 30 second intro” that I decided to scrap it.
That really only happened when I couldn’t offer a ton of value for a site – more on that later – but I also felt a bit robotic giving the same speech 10 times per day, so I was fine to stop doing that.
That last point on the bullets above – please don’t make a lot of changes to your site at once – was something I would still try and make sure I said in every single video.
Keeping in mind that I’m primarily doing SEO-focused audits, I didn’t want people to suddenly tweak all of their title tags and overhaul internal linking after such a quick review.
In other words, I don’t want to make people potentially mess up their rankings, rather than improve them, due to a short video audit.
Especially when I don’t get access to anyone’s analytics up front (that might be a hint at a gap in the market).
10 Minutes Broken Down Into What I Actually Look For
I wasn’t sure whether to include this section but I imagine if someone reading goes all in on this business model they would appreciate me getting into the nitty gritty details.
Just please keep in mind what I said earlier about this being a fairly fluid process.
Sometimes I can spend 5 minutes looking at Google search results and sometimes just 5 seconds because a site is so thin. It’s just most common that I will spend 2-3 minutes there.
Clicking Around a Site (Typically 5 Minutes)
This is my favourite half of an audit since I like getting a “feel” for sites which you don’t really get from search results and ScreamingFrog.
If you were one of our 1,000+ customers then you’ll already know that at this stage I don’t just look at SEO issues but often make design and usability suggestions as well.
These design comments varied massively, but I might comment on things like:
- Logos not being retina-optimised (very apparent when you’re a Mac user)
- Multiple social share button placements that felt overwhelming
- Huge blocks of empty space in website footers
- Favicons missing, and so on
It’s hard to really explain my design thought process via text, so in two more H3 tags you’ll see me actually critique a site on video.
I know people never order SEO audits for me to comment on their logo, but SEO is about so much more than just tweaking headlines and building backlinks. It sounds Google-PR-esque, but you really should be building (in most cases) a quality resource that people will talk about and want to come back to.
If I can help make that more likely to happen with a few design and usability comments, then I love to add them in there.
For the SEO side of things, in every audit I tried to find completely different sections of a website to look at, and this is absolutely critical if you’re going to do the same thing.
If you can click around a sites’ navigation bar and find a shop, blog post, directory and forum in one sweep, it will be an incredibly easy audit.
If all you have to look at is 100 blog posts, you’re not going to have much advice to give.
Well, people generally blog on a CMS, so what they’re doing wrong (or right) in one blog post probably applies to all of them at once.
If one blog post has clean titles, self-referencing canonicals and an auto-generated meta description, it’s very unlikely another blog post would not have self-referencing canonicals and be missing a meta description because those things aren’t coded in manually.
On the other hand, if you have totally different types of pages to look at – which often involve using different software, or at least different plugins – then there’s a much higher chance of finding inconsistent on-site SEO.
I would be totally lost recording these videos without our Detailed SEO Extension (it’s free) and I primarily use it to look at:
- Whether certain pages were indexable (especially if they were thin)
- Finding duplicate content across a site – not always an issue – using its Right > Click menu
- Checking whether title tags were being underutilized or excessively written
- Looking at canonical tags
- Checking Schema markup for particular pages
In around 30% of audits I didn’t find major issues in this first half, but even if that was the case many people stated that they loved knowing they were on the right track.
Keep in mind that most people ordering have had little to no exposure to SEO, so even learning that their title tags are 300+ characters too long was interesting to them.
Site-Searching Google (Typically 2-3 Minutes)
Clicking around a website will discover the pages its owners want you to find, but searching Google will make you more likely to find the “junk” that still exists.
I have a few interesting site: searches I perform on sites to help me find the pages that generally shouldn’t exist or be indexable. I also have a private (for now) Chrome extension that makes performing these searches a lot easier.
I often tell people that when I’m performing these queries that I’m looking for the weird stuff.
I’m not looking for the pages you want me to find. I’m not looking to read your best articles.
I’m looking for the articles with 2021 headlines but 2019 dates associated with them.
I’m looking for title tags that don’t match the article whatsoever.
I’m looking for all that demo data you imported when you installed your WordPress theme and forgot to remove.
Sometimes I’ll find something from a site: search in a few seconds that can be worth thousands of dollars to someone.
Through these queries I’ve literally found people exposing their entire database of customer email addresses and which products they ordered.
Again, keep in mind that most people ordering video audits are not SEOs and likely have no idea that site: searches are even a thing.
I talk very fast and click through search results quickly when I’m performing this task, but I’ve done this so many times now that if there’s something odd to find, I’ll find it.
You’ll likely be much slower when you get started, but you’ll quickly get into a good rhythm.
Finishing Up in ScreamingFrog (Around Two Minutes)
ScreamingFrog is by far my favourite SEO auditing tool, even if we have built our own for Blueprint members.
It isn’t free, but it’s so popular and well liked that its yearly fee is often referred to as the “tax” of being an SEO.
The reason ScreamingFrog is the last thing I typically open is because if the other two checks I do (on-site and Google) go longer than usual, then I’ll have to cut something out, and I would prefer it was this.
Though with that said, even if I run over time I pretty much always jump into ScreamingFrog for at least a minute.
There are literally hundreds of things you can check with the tool but the most common for me are:
- Pages missing canonical tags
- Pages with canonicals pointing elsewhere
- Whether pages have mixed content (loading files from unsecure locations)
- Pages with 301, 404 or similar status codes being linked to internally
- Pages with very short or very long title tags
- Pages missing titles and / or meta descriptions
Not all of these are necessarily bad or problems – a short title tag for a Contact Us page is pretty standard – but they’re what I try and jump to so I can investigate things further.
I would love to be able to spend more time looking at things like page speed and internal linking, but the amount of time I have left when I open up the tool means that just isn’t feasible.
I should note at this point that before I start recording any audit, I have already started running ScreamingFrog in the background.
I purposefully crawl sites very slowly (1 or 2 URLs per second) as I’ve had the misfortune of my IP being banned while recording some audits, which makes things a little awkward.
[Video] A Real World Example of What I Look For
I was about as lazy as could be in preparing for this video (I hadn’t originally planned to record it) but I got surprisingly lucky with the issues I pointed out, or at least the kind of things I like to point out.
I really hope you get some value from it.
True Happiness for Me in a Sea of 1,000+ Audits
A lot of people who know I’ve done well financially from the internet often asked me why I would do these videos in the first place.
$160-$200 per hour is certainly not terrible – and would have been an absolute dream for me when I was starting out online – but I’m directly trading time for money, and I have other more financially successful ventures.
Excluding the fact that people didn’t know we have a pretty substantial upsell from these videos (only when asked), I also get to see some of the coolest sites and brands I would likely never look at any other way.
I’ve advised CMOs at billion dollar brands. Audited the official site of a major European football league (one of the big five). Directly connected with the owners of multi-million dollar per month affiliate sites, and spoken with the founders of dozens of TechCrunch-featured companies.
A $40 audit started our interaction, but then so many more things came as a result of these. Especially when people see how I look at their websites and point out things they just hadn’t thought of.
In every batch of ten sites I looked at, there was always one where I thought “I’m so happy I got to look at this site or connect with this site’s owner“.
Often there were some amazing design elements I would bookmark or a content angle I would love to model, or even just an entire niche I had no idea existed and then would later research further.
If I had been doing this solely from a financial point of view there’s absolutely no way I would have recorded so many videos.
The $4,000+ In-Depth Audit: A Summary
While in-depth audits because of videos resulted in a substantial amount of revenue, I would rather this article was focused on the 10 minute videos that we produced.
Our audit process is so custom and different each time that I could genuinely write another 7,000+ word playbook on this section alone.
Something I should add here is that if you are producing shorter video audits with the sole intention of landing larger (or more consistent) SEO clients, you’re going to help a lot of people who can’t be clients.
The truth is that a lot of people who order a $40 video audit:
- Don’t have the budget for anything else
- Are just starting out and don’t need a bigger offering
- Don’t have enough issues to justify more advice
We turned down a lot of potential clients who were fine with our pricing because they just didn’t have enough issues with their websites.
I could be wrong as we’ve worked with a lot of companies, but I don’t think there was ever a case where I proactively tried to get a client after they ordered a $40 audit.
It was always someone asking for more help from me after not knowing what kind of problems they had before.
Once again I would like to add the disclaimer that this is a very time intensive process and not some kind of “get rich quick” offer where we would outsource the work for a fraction of the fee.
I was personally involved in at least 50% of all audits that we put together, and in all but a single case the reaction we got from people was incredibly grateful.
Some people assumed that we were just going to fire off a list of boiler-plate advice and that’s not something we ever did.
The financial upside can be great, but you must truly love finding issues with websites or you will go crazy looking at the same brand(s) for weeks at a time.
Still, the potential financial upside is great, and this alone can be a multi six-figure per year revenue source.
An Interim, Because one of the Coolest Parts of This Whole Process for Me…
…was being able to launch what I think is an incredible Chrome and Firefox extension.
In hundreds upon hundreds of videos I used a Chrome extension called 1-Click Meta SEO Extension to help with auditing websites, but felt it lacked many little features I needed.
For instance, it tells you if a page has a no-index meta robots tag, but it doesn’t check for X-Robots http headers. So the extension may tell you a page is indexable when in fact it isn’t.
It also doesn’t show Schema markup or highlight nofollow links on a page.
For that reason and a few others, we created the Detailed SEO Extension (giving credit to 1-Click meta on that page for the inspiration) to include all of those features and more.
One of my favourite additions is our right-click menu, which allows you to open the page you’re in in your favourite SEO tool, or even take the current website you’re on and head straight to Google search results with a site: search.
I use it dozens of times per day, and now with 25,000+ weekly active users, it has become a staple of many people’s daily SEO activities.
It’s fair to say that if I hadn’t started doing these video audits, I would not have been as motivated to have it developed.
Some of the world’s most prominent SEO’s use it daily, which is pretty damn cool to me.
I would love for you to check it out if you haven’t already.
The Unexpected Mental Side of Things
Being able to consistently make $160-$200 per hour sounds pretty cool – especially when you consider the potential four-figure clients you’ll get out of it – but recording audits was not always fun.
In this section I just want to explore how things felt for me (that you may also experience if you attempt to do something similar).
An hour of recording videos takes two to three hours of mental energy.
As I’ve mentioned in my writing for many years, I’m a self-confessed introvert.
I can be very outgoing and regularly meet new people in the real world, but it’s something I find very draining.
Though I was alone when recording these audits, it was front of mind that I was essentially talking directly to the listener, because only one or two people would be watching the end result.
Knowing this, I often made jokes or just spoke on a really personal level as I was going through a site. To my brain I was essentially having lots of one-sided phone calls throughout the day.
An hour of focus would allow me to record four or five videos (they could often go a little longer than 10 minutes, and I have to “set-up” the next recording in ScreamingFrog). After an hour was done, I would honestly feel exhausted at times.
My brain wouldn’t let me “crank out five more” and get ten done for the day straight after.
While it was only an hour, I often felt like I had worked for much, much longer.
Now that I’m talking about this in the open, I’m very curious if any extroverts will have a similar result (please come back and let me know in the comments!).
Sometimes I really felt like a robot.
When you look at so many sites, you’ll inevitably find the same issues over and over again.
For instance, on around 20% of WordPress sites I found an issue where all of the images they’ve uploaded have individual pages created for them. Something a lot of our Blueprint members were surprised to find on their own sites (or for clients).
These pages essentially have little to no value, and I can’t recall ever wanting to have them indexed.
Whenever I came across it, I would have to explain why it’s an issue and how to fix it. I said the same speech so many times that you could probably overlay the sound files from different videos on top of each other perfectly.
With some common issues it does mean you’re sometimes “going through the motions” when giving advice, which doesn’t always feel fun.
I felt a lot of pressure to deliver.
This was the biggest one for me.
While I don’t think $40 is going to break the bank for anyone, I would feel pressure in every single video audit to have something $40-worthy – or hopefully a lot more – to say.
That was especially the case when people submit their website alongside a story of how their business is their life and they’ve recently lost all search traffic.
In some cases this pressure felt so strong that I would record videos up to 20 minutes long just to make sure I found something worth fixing quickly.
In around thirty videos I’m not ashamed to admit I just didn’t have any value to give at all.
Some websites, even huge, were just so well done SEO-wise that I was having to be nitpicky to say anything at all e.g. “Your logo isn’t optimized for retina screens”.
One example of this was Kinsta, a 7-figure hosting company who (at least at the time) were just doing everything right.
Most of those thirty were still very happy – they said it was reassuring to know they were on the right path – but I still felt like I had failed when I submitted the video.
Going back to the pricing commentary from earlier, another reason I didn’t continue to raise prices is because this pressure I put on myself only increased each time I did so.
Finally, there’s also the pressure in saying something wrong. Sometimes businesses are on the line, and you really don’t want to mess up (and other SEOs can be very critical of recommendations).
While I always tried to be very cautious with my recommendations (when it made sense to do so), this would give even more value in an after-care PDF that you stress people read — more on that in our ‘gaps in the market’ section of this playbook.
Incase This Blows Up, I Want to Confront This Before Anyone Questions It
I try to put my all into my writing so I’m hoping this post is well received and reaches a lot of people.
With that possibility, I have the responsibility to address the elephant in the room.
No, you can not properly do an SEO audit in 10 minutes.
You can’t do much of an audit at all.
While there were a few people who clearly thought a video audit would be all they ever needed for their websites, I’m fortunate that the vast majority of customers understood my feedback was an overview of what their site was doing well, and what could be improved.
If you are going to do anything similar, you will be doing people a disservice if you market this in any way as being the solution to anyone’s SEO problems.
Like me, you’re very much just going to be the starting point for people to see where their sites can be improved.
I’m pretty humble in what I’m able to help others achieve so please don’t think I say this easily, but I genuinely believe 95% of orders received far more than $40 in value. The feedback I received has been nothing short of phenomenal.
This is a Small Plug for SEO Blueprint, But We Got to Do Something Amazing
After recording over 1,000 videos and feeling like I was potentially done with recording SEO audits, I had the worst year of my life.
It’s still very hard for me to talk about, but I lost the closest person I had in my life after a surprise cancer battle.
I doubt I will ever share her story as I don’t think she would want me to, but life and business felt so unimportant throughout the whole thing. They still do at times.
This is why – which some of you noticed – I pretty much disappeared from the internet for most of last year.
We stopped taking on new SEO clients.
I produced pretty much zero content on the web.
I cancelled some huge client projects we had already taken on.
And I let thousands of emails pile up across multiple inboxes, having little to no interest in looking at any messages there.
After months of wondering what I’m doing with my life, I wanted to “get back in the game” so opened up audits again in November of 2020.
There was no upsell – I wouldn’t turn any audits into four or five-figure clients – I simply wanted to get back into work mode and refresh myself on what people were struggling with.
Unfortunately for someone on our team who was going to have to watch the next 100 videos I recorded, I asked that we document the most common issues found in every single audit.
What were the things I pointed out as problems most often?
While it required a minimum of 16 hours of listening to me talk – not including the time to document everything – I thought it would make an incredible module and update for SEO Blueprint one day.
I was right.
Just in case I never record these videos again, I’m so happy we did this, and we’ll be adding it to the course over the next few weeks.
If you ever follow a similar business model to this, it might be worth having someone else go through your finished products to find the most common feedback you give.
I was genuinely surprised I had pointed out some issues multiple times, when they had really felt like once-off advice.
How I Would Level Up This Entire Concept (Scaling to 7-Figures)
This business is still something I could genuinely see myself doing, and doing very successfully, but I would have to go all-in.
It doesn’t make sense to do these random bursts of videos for weeks at a time while neglecting other items on my to do list.
I’ll cover why I’m not likely to go all-in on this in a moment, but I’ve considered it many times so have a few ideas on how I would continue to improve our offering and processes.
I genuinely think someone could sell 100,000+ of these video audits – just think about how many hundreds of millions of websites get actively updated – and I hope this advice helps you get there.
Create an incredible after-care PDF (worth far more than the audit price).
Something I really wanted to do was provide all audit customers with a ‘Thank You’ PDF which essentially outlined many of the recommendations we give in our videos.
So if we’re commonly telling people “All of the images you upload on your WordPress site have individual pages created for them“, I would love the PDF to include step-by-step instructions on how to fix that.
Similarly, I would include free SEO advice that could apply to most sites, and also reiterate my points about not changing too many on-site elements at once to make traffic losses less likely.
I would take the time to make this beautiful, probably using a premade inDesign template from the likes of GraphicRiver, and make it alone feel like a $100 PDF.
It’s worth the effort when you only have to make it once.
Finally, this PDF would also remove the need for me to give the same speeches in videos, as I could simply say “We’ll talk about this more in the PDF we send with your video.”
Train more people to do the same work.
This one is quite obvious – I could build a brand around this concept and have other people do the audits – but I have only tested it on a limited scale.
While I’ve personally recorded 1,500+ videos (yes, really), I’ve had two people help me with around 300 more.
If this business was going to be at the point where I can easily sell thousands of videos per year, I would need a few people in place who could easily take on videos if there was a big influx of orders.
The main reason I never took this idea further is because I never went all-in on the model. It was always just a “let’s record some videos for a few weeks then do something else” event for me.
One potential downside is that if you’ve built a personal brand – like myself – then it will be much easier to sell you personally recording the videos than anyone else.
That said, you could mitigate this by offering packages of multiple people auditing the same website and get people familiar with other members of your team.
Build the entire brand around this.
The audits have always just been an extra page on Detailed.com, rather than the focus of the business (which has primarily been the content).
If someone is going to go all-in on this model, I think the entire brand (including your homepage) should be selling the audits.
It should be so focused on this model that this is what you are known for, and little else.
Create more offers: Our $70 for two videos angle worked really well.
Until recently, the only option to get an audit from us was a $40 video or a $4,000+ in-depth audit.
There’s a lot of middle revenue that we missed out on.
I should also add that I never let someone submit the same website twice — it just isn’t fun for me to watch my previous audit to make sure I say something different the second time.
This made it a no-brainer for us to recently offer a $70 audit option where people could get the same site reviewed by two different people. It wasn’t as popular as the $40 option, but was chosen around 20% of the time.
I’m going to cover other potential angles and services in the gaps in the market section of this playbook, so I’ll keep this simple by saying I think there’s definitely a market for high $XX and low $XXX offers as well.
Upload videos to their own dedicated page (I already built this).
We already built this solution in November of 2020 but never actually got around to using it.
For the life of these audits, we uploaded videos to YouTube (unlisted) and then had a pre-written description which varied during each batch that I completed.
Using YouTube is free and uploads are quick, but it doesn’t feel super professional to me.
We actually coded a solution where every video I upload can have its own page on our site, such as https://detailed.com/w34rsfd (not an actual URL).
My thinking was that not only does this look better than sending people to YouTube, but I could place more prominent calls to action on the final page, such as for ordering another video or downloading the extension you see me frequently use.
My best marketing idea, for free (I really, really like this)
I love this idea so much that I was hesitant to share it, because it will really help establish the first brand that does this properly.
They will undoubtedly become more memorable in the space.
Right now we’re all in on our content creation and courses (such as SEO Blueprint), so I’m passing the marketing torch to someone else to take this on properly.
I like to think it could apply to a lot of other similar services as well (not just SEO audits) so I really hope you get value from this.
One thing I was always fearful someone would do before me is once-off audit “bursts” from prominent names in an industry.
Ideally these would be done in limited quantities, and done with a charitable focus.
They wouldn’t necessarily be SEO-focused, but just giving overall feedback about a sites’ design, messaging and conversion elements.
These people clearly wouldn’t need the money, but for $200 per video, you could raise $5,000 for charity per special guest.
With the right names involved, I just know the 25 spots would sell out in minutes.
From there, you could have messaging on the page which states “Missed out this time, or want another audit option? Check out our $40 SEO-focused audits and get feedback in the next 72 hours.”
Essentially all the marketing you do for the offer where you aren’t making money (because it all goes to charity) could still result in a lot of sales for your own service.
It also looks good for the people involved, who set aside a few hours of their time for a great cause.
Do this once per month and offer people a waiting list for the next one, and you become the brand for this type of audit.
Once you get big names involved, and you promote the offering prominently, it will just feel like everyone else is copying you.
I hope I’ve been able to get across in words how well I think this would work, as I’m just insanely confident it would be well received and help establish any brand who is able to pull it off properly (and consistently).
this is what we’re known for
Gaps in the SEO Audit Market
— Noah 🤙🏼 (@noahpbrinker) April 15, 2020
Below this box is the text we’re famous for, but out of respect for you, we do have a disclaimer in place.
We spend dozens of hours preparing these reports and coming up with opportunities you can capitalise on, but we also don’t want to put your life-savings into an idea just because we wrote about it.
For that reason, we have an $8.88 request: Please don’t spend more than that testing out an idea (it’s the cost of a .com on Namecheap) to see if it has legs and makes sense for your business.
We’ve made many successful predictions and even ran our own case study, but we’ve also invested time and money into ideas that didn’t pay off. We’re not directly making money from this report, but still want to be respectful of your own finances.
Fiverr Going Public = A Goldmine of Motivation
One of the most exciting things to me since launching our video audit option was Fiverr becoming a publicly listed company.
While I started offering video audits before I knew other people on Fiverr offered them as well, there are a lot of people with similar services on the platform.
Now that Fiverr are a public company, they have to share updates with investors, and we can get an idea of how big their gig economy really is.
In their most recent quarter update (announced on February 18th, 2021), they stated that:
- They have 3.4 million active buyers on the site (a 45% YoY increase)
- Spend per buyer increased to $205 from $170
- They now offer digital services in 500+ categories
- Revenue has grown 77% YoY
This video audit offering – or any kind of once-off service offering – is exactly the kind of thing that thrives on Fiverr.
Knowing that they are growing so well, you can see why I think selling 100,000 audits as the brand in this space is not that far-fetched.
I would be willing to bet almost all of those 3.4 million active Fiverr buyers either own a website or work for a website and could benefit from feedback on improving it.
If you aren’t in the world of SEO and aren’t interested in offering SEO feedback, then the obvious next step is to just go and see what other ‘gigs’ are the most popular on the platform.
Then establish yourself as a non-Fiverr brand for exactly that.
If you click on any category on the site, gigs are automatically listed by those that are best-selling.
You can even get inspiration from new categories which have been added to their menu, as it likely there’s increasing demand for them.
Note that Fiverr mention new categories being added in each quarterly investor report, so they view it as a big deal.
If you’ve made it this far into this article, you’re probably already thinking “I would love to do SEO video audits” or “I could do X that might work really well”, rather than planning to learn a new skill like Photoshop.
With that in mind, just head to Fiverr and see if what you’re considering already exists. If someone has a ton of reviews, they’ve likely made 4-5x more sales than that.
So many categories on the site already have huge brands built solely around them.
For instance, voiceover work is huge on Fiverr, but Voices.com still makes millions offering the same thing as an independent brand.
Two Things I Couldn’t Do, But You Could: Screaming Frog and Search Console Audits
There were two failings that I pointed out with my own audits.
The first is that I sometimes ran out of time before I got to look at a site in ScreamingFrog, or even if I did, there’s so many more aspects of a site I could look at in the tool.
The other is that I never had access to anyone’s analytics so I wasn’t sure if I was always commenting on important pages or on pages where traffic had recently been lost.
Anyone reading this could solve these two problems.
You would have to make sure you’re extremely proficient with ScreamingFrog (or a similar tool) before you sell your offering, but it wouldn’t be too hard to establish a process of what issues you try to diagnose for each website.
Be wary of how you market yourself in terms of not claiming to associate yourself with the tools, but I imagine the software makers themselves might even send customers your way (it’s good for them when you’re showing how useful their software can be).
Search Console audits would be a little more tricky – people need to trust you with their private data – but enough people proactively offered us access to their analytics that I know this could work.
Just make sure that once again you’re incredibly proficient with the platform and have a step-by-step process of what you’ll click on.
You don’t want to be ‘winging it’ on video.
You’ll have to make the NDA process as easy as possible to reduce friction, but you could likely charge much more than $40 per audit here.
I Speak One and a Half Languages, But the World Speaks Many More
Despite having an FAQ item stating that we can only help English-language websites, we still received a lot of orders from sites published in German, Dutch, Swedish and more.
They pretty much always tended to be in European languages, rather than Russian or Hindi or similar.
Our shortcoming is your opportunity here.
If you’re fluent in another language or have family / team members who are, there’s no reason you couldn’t do our exact same offer but for an alternative language audience.
At this point you may be wondering why I only help websites in English, because a lot of our customers who ordered a review for a non-English language site were as well.
Put simply, the biggest hurdle for me was not knowing what pages on a site should or shouldn’t exist.
I couldn’t always tell if I was looking at a great resource or a page stuffed with filler content that was also on many other pages of the site.
It also made my Google site: searches 10x more difficult, because whereas in English sites it’s easy to find the ‘weird’ pages. In other languages, everything looked weird to me.
Finally, I just didn’t enjoy it. I don’t like looking at websites I don’t fully understand, so my loss can be your gain.
I’m Totally Fine If You Go and Do The Same Thing
One of the articles I’m most proud of on this website is our guide to the SEO industry.
In the gaps in the market section I gave a few unique ideas but I also said:
I don’t mean to be boring, but I don’t think you need a gap at all.
In fact, I think your best chance of success in such a huge market is just to model what people are clearly happy to pay for already.
There are hundreds of rank trackers.
Dozens of tools to find domains for your private blog network.
More site audit tools than anyone could wish to use.
If they can exist and thrive now, I’m sure there’s room for one more.
In this situation, there are enough things that I did right (the offer, and the delivery) and enough things that I missed out on (branding, more offers, advertising) that you can simply take what I did and improve upon it.
Especially with that marketing angle I’m pretty proud of. CMD / CTRL + F “really, really like” if you’re a skim reader. I forgive you.
8,000+ words later it’s still entirely possible I’ve missed something out here, so if that’s the case, please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.
It’s great to be back. There’s much more on the way.