A high ranking on search engines is extremely advantageous for any business. Among many others things, SEO can generate a higher return on investment (ROI), increased brand awareness and a better reputation for your business online. Hiring the right SEO agency can help you achieve these things, but a poor choice in agency can have the opposite effect. Here are the questions we recommend asking when you look at which agency to hire.
Can you explain your SEO process to me?
Good SEOs will want their clients to understand what they’re doing and how they do it. Having a clear explanation of this process to clients also helps to build trust and assure you as the customer that the SEO firm is working hard for your business. Your involvement in the process is important- after all, you are the expert on your business, so the more you can be involved the better.
Are you guaranteeing results?
Any SEO firm that guarantees anything to do with rankings is not a company you want to do business with. According to Google, a number one position in search engine results cannot be guaranteed by an SEO firm – this is something only the search engines themselves are capable of. A good SEO company will be up-to-date with the everchanging SEO strategies and algorithms and will know what strategies are effective while also understanding that many variables are outside of the agency and clients control, meaning that nothing can be guaranteed in the world of SEO.
How do you approach link building?
Good link building will emphasise the importance of quality over quantity. It takes time to build these links up and any SEO agency that is promising a certain number of links for a given period of time should be approached skeptically. Anyone who talks about buying links, exchanging reciprocal links or submitting your links via a system to quickly obtain links should definitely be avoided. Quality link building takes time. To better understand the link building process, many resources are available online.
What will success look like in a year from now?
Measurement is a key challenge in the SEO industry. An agency needs to think about what success actually looks like and be sure that they are on the same page as the client from the start and be clear about what that is.
Can I speak to some of your past customers?
Some SEO firms keep their client list confidential but a good agency should be excited to share a list of their contacts. Although it is highly unlikely firms will refer you to unhappy clients, if they can give you at least three or four genuinely positive references this is a good sign. Speaking directly with these past clients about how they found the work ethic of the company and its processes can be very useful in getting a feel for the agency.
Who will be undertaking the work?
It is still very common for agencies to outsource the link building, social element and content writing aspects of their SEO services. It is important to consider that outsourcing your work may lead to a lack of control over the quality of the work. It is very important to be wary of scams when looking to hire an SEO firm. Get a name, number and the social media accounts of the person who will be doing your SEO so that you can verify that the vendor is a real person and not just a front to accept your business and then outsource. Your safest bet is to stay with a local company that takes pride in the talents of its local staff.
Finally, it is important to note that the questions an agency ask you and their interest in your company is just as important as the questions you have for them. The right company will be eager to learn about your business, your customers and their needs and your long term business goals.
David is Studio Culture’s Head of Digital Marketing.