Top 10 Questions To Ask Before Hiring An SEO Agency
It’s a dog-eat-dog world out on the internet. If you don’t have the right strategy, your results will tank and your business will suffer.
In order to rank on the search engines, your website needs effective search engine optimization to stand out from the competition.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is more than having the right strategy, content, and marketing initiatives. It’s about choosing the right SEO agency.
Today, just about every marketing agency has taken on SEO as part of an effective strategy. How can you ensure an agency is the real deal?
Partnering with another agency is a frightening endeavor. After all, making the wrong choice can have detrimental impacts on your business. Protect your business, your team, and your customers by choosing the right agency.
Whether you’ve been burned or are new to the wide world of SEO, Squawkia is here to guide you through the process of finding an agency that’s worth your business.
Before you sign on the dotted line, ask these 10 questions that will weed out the amateurs and leave only professionals.
1.) “What is Your Agency’s SEO Strategy?”
SEO is an ever-changing landscape and as a result, successful SEO companies should be self-proclaimed shapeshifters. They will adapt to the changes on the web and work tirelessly to shift their processes if need be.
An agency cannot just “wing it”. SEO is a careful process that requires constant hands-on management, tests, and of course a good strategy.
You simply cannot ignore the importance of search.
Google alone processes more than 40,000 search queries a second. That translates to more than 3.5 billion searches daily and 1.2 searches annually.
Is your business showing up in the search results?
Do your own research on your potential SEO agency and specialist before meeting with them. Are they practicing what they preach? Do they rank high on Google?
Before you make a decision, check if they have:
- Published articles
- High Alexa ranking
- Proven track record
- Mobile-responsive website
- Engaging social media presence
2.) “How Do You Track Progress?”
You will want updates.
SEO is a windy, sometimes frustrating road. It’s vital to track progress and this means regular reporting.
Before you sign your name on the dotted line, ask your SEO agency how they will provide reporting and in what frequency (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.).
Also, ask how progress will be tracked, including successes and failures. The way agencies deal with failure will say a lot about their process and how frequently they work on your business.
Ideally, the agency should have a sample report that they can show you. You should expect to see:
- Keyword research
- Content marketing
- Summary of activity
- Digital marketing campaign development
- Web traffic reporting (amount of visitors, bounce rates, competitor comparisons)
3.) “What Kind of SEO Does Your Agency Use?”
There are several types of SEO but the most prominent are referred to as “White Hat” and “Black Hat”.
White Hat SEO is the agreed upon best practice route. This SEO uses content marketing, digital marketing, and honest hard work to get your website ranking.
Black Hat SEO, on the other hand, is the seedy underbelly of the wide world of search engine optimization. Companies that use Black Hat practices commonly use spam links, hidden text and links, as well as keyword stuffing. Frankly, it’s the worst.
These practices are so frowned upon and Google penalizes sites that use them.
If your potential SEO agency mentions that they use any Black Hat SEO, run!
4. “How Soon Will My Website Rank #1 on Google?”
This is a slightly sneaky question but it is one of the most important questions to ask.
If an SEO agency guarantees a time-period, squint and ask whether or not they are omniscient.
Simply put, Google has no guarantees and that means an honest SEO agency will not be able to make guarantees either.
Google, especially in recent years, has undergone significant changes. The search engine giant is dedicated to making search easy, relevant, and convenient. To better themselves, they frequently update their algorithm.
According to Moz, Google updates its search engine between 500 to 600 times a year.
There isn’t a super secret email newsletter telling agencies when a change will happen either. Unless you’re holed up in Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, you’re not going to know when or how the update will affect your website.
There are predictions, of course, but no guarantees.
Many of these predictions come from studying past algorithm updates. A few of the “game changers” have been:
- Google Panda
- Google Pigeon
- Google Penguin
- Google Hummingbird
- Google Mobile Friendly
Your SEO agency should have a plan for these updates, whenever they may occur. While they won’t know how the algorithm will update, there should still be a plan of attack.
5.) “Who Should I Contact about SEO?”
You should always know who the SEO point of contact is for questions, website emergencies, or company updates. You should have regular meetings with your SEO agency but sometimes, a simple call or email will do the trick.
It may sound simple but in all the bustling of developing the right strategy and planning, many companies forget to ask for the contact person’s information and preferred communication method.
Trust us, knowing this information in the beginning will eliminate a headache in the future.
6.) “Where Will SEO Fall in Our Marketing Strategy?”
Today, SEO and marketing are intertwined together. A renewed focus on SEO will affect your current marketing strategies. It’s important to plan for the future and how these new SEO strategies will impact digital advertising, content marketing, and your social media platforms.
Many SEO agencies have become, if they weren’t already, full marketing agencies to tackle every aspect of SEO.
That means relieving some stress on your shoulders while also knowing your marketing is in good hands.
7.) “How Will Your Agency Optimize Our Content?”
Content is, and always will be, king.
You cannot have an SEO strategy that works without content marketing.
Consider this: 72 percent of marketers say that creatively crafted original content has been their most effective SEO strategy.
Ask your potential agency,
- “How will you create new content?”
- “How will you optimize old content?”
- “How will you use landing pages to benefit our business?”
Content marketing is an indispensable tool that will be applicable to wherever content is on your site. This includes product and service pages, as well as your blog.
8.) “Will You Need to Make Technical Changes to Our Website?”
An effective SEO strategy will include some coding and technical changes to your website. You will need to choose an SEO agency that you can trust with the back-end of your site.
We know that can be a potentially frightening endeavor but a few snippets of code here and there can really impact your website’s search ranking.
Decide whether you’d like to leave the coding to your agency or if you’d like an internal team member to take on the task.
Your agency should be receptive to both options and willing to work with your team for a comfortable, confident experience. Schedule a meeting with your agency and the team or individuals that will be working closely together.
A good SEO team will understand that one of the most important factors of effective search engine optimization is an easy and honest working relationship.
9.) “What Can We Do to Help?”
An effective SEO agency will frequently use the word “partner” and for good reason!
The right agency should be an extension of your business, complete with some suggestions for you.
Don’t worry, an agency won’t tell you how to run your business. Instead, they will offer small task suggestions or a shift in focus to improve your SEO performance and your bottom line. Some of these suggestions may be:
- Generating reviews
- Incorporating social media
- Getting on board with Google My Business
Working as a team will benefit both of your goals and, as a result, your customers. These should be small tasks that are easy to implement.
Of course, if an agency is suggesting that you do most of the work, that is some cause for concern.
10.) “Why Should We Hire Your Company?”
The question we’ve all been waiting for! You can tell a lot about an organization by how they answer this question. There are a few red-flag answers that should have you running to the hills!
“You won’t find anyone cheaper than us!”
“You will rank #1 within a month!”
On a spectrum of amateur to professional, these answers are at lemonade stand level. They are price-focused instead of results-focused and unrealistic.
A confident SEO partner will ensure hard work, progress, reliable reporting, and–most importantly–results.
Your All-In-One SEO Agency
SEO is a creative blend of services that, when used correctly, can skyrocket your business to the top of the rankings. Finding the right rocket though can be a little tricky.
Squawkia is a one-stop shop for SEO strategy and services that work. Choose from flexible packages for your business level. Check out our SEO services and take the first step towards the stars!