In this week’s video, I talk about why site grader tools are misleading and typically don’t provide helpful information. Once you realize what the tools are really made for, and why the info isn’t going to provide much insight, you’ll understand why the reports can be dangerous…


Welcome back to another episode of Local Search Tuesdays. This week, I’m following up last week’s mythbusting episode with advice about something else you should be wary of – site grader tools.

There are tons of different site graders out there. Hubspot’s site grader is probably the most well-known, but there are too many to actually count. It’s important to realize that in nearly every case, those free site grader tools are really just there to gather leads. Or in many cases, sucky vendors will use these tools to “show you that you need help.” They’re sales tools, and not much else.

I could talk about this for hours, and go through each reason why these tools aren’t accurate and shouldn’t be trusted, but I always try to keep these Local Search Tuesday episodes short – So I’ll just hit the high points. Even still, it should be enough to make it incredibly obvious that these site graders aren’t tools you should be paying attention to.

When you put your URL into one of these site graders, you get an automated report about the “quality of your site” or the “quality of your SEO”. Seems like a great idea, until you really think about how it works. Even if a lot of data is returned by the report, it’s an automated report that is generated by a machine.

Sure, there are lots of tools out there that assist with SEO, but you can’t automate a site audit. Everyone will use tools to assist with a site audit – but those tools only provide data. A human brain is necessary for the interpretation of that data.

It’s also important to understand that these site graders are all incredibly generic. All sites are not created equal. An ecommerce site is totally different than a car dealer’s website, which is totally different from a lawyer’s website, which is totally different from a plumber’s website. Every vertical has specific needs. A car dealership’s site will be much more image-heavy than an attorney’s site. A generic site grader doesn’t take your vertical into account and treats all sites as equals.

Site graders don’t look at the whole picture either. SEO isn’t only the technical issues, or only your content, or only your inbound links. SEO success comes from all the parts of the whole working together, and a site grader is only taking a high level look at a few parts.

Is it possible to gain valuable insights from a site grader tool? Sure – they’re meant to give you quick insights at a high level. But again, you should never take the human brain out of the equation. As soon as you let a generic, automated tool take on the role of judge, you’re going to be in trouble.

Without that human level of evaluation, the site grader tools don’t mean much. In fact, in most cases, the site graders will mislead you. It’s totally possible to get a “good score” on a site grader when you actually have very serious problems. It happens all the time. It’s also common to get a “bad score” on a site grader when you don’t really have any problems at all.

This is one of the biggest issues. In the first scenario, you’ll get a “good score” from the site grader and think you’re OK. You’ll have problems that are preventing good visibility in search results, or problems that hinder conversions on your site, but you’ll just keep on trucking, cause the site grader told you that all is good.

Or if you get a bad score, you’ll freak out and scramble to fix the problem, or call your digital marketing partner and raise hell, when in reality, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with your site. You’ll waste time and effort to try to fix some little score that doesn’t matter, or doesn’t even apply to your site.

So now you know why you shouldn’t trust site grader tools. Always ask for an expert’s opinion before you make snap judgements based on one of these free tools.

That’s all the time we’ve got for today, so you know what that means.
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Thanks for watching, and we’ll see you again next week for another episode of Local Search Tuesdays.