We've Helped You Ask Before You Hire that SEO Agency
Digital marketing is becoming a more complex landscape along with more frequent changes in the search algorithm and further competition business owners now face online. Hiring an SEO or web marketing agency that lives up to your expectations, is up to date on the latest trends, and can perform the tasks within a budget is oftentimes easier said than done.
Websites that hesitate to adopt the latest modern digital strategies will eventually fail without bringing on the marketing professionals to carry them out. For companies that don’t have the resources to expand their internal teams to create an in-house marketing department usually partner with specific expertise of a service which they sought after. Digital agencies are then a perfect solution. A majority of businesses now use marketing agencies, also known as SEO Agencies and/or Online Marketing Companies.
So given businesses now require the help of SEO agencies, what should they be asking before hiring that firm to undertake their search engine optimization? We’ve compiled a list of questions businesses should ask when seeking a new digital marketing agency to optimize their website.
1. What’s Included in an SEO Plan
The first thing to look out for before working with an SEO vendor is to simply ask, what the plans they have for your specific website would like audited and analyzed for SEO. Based on the SEO agency’s analysis, you’ll understand what they will be doing for SEO and why. As SEO has two sections, the on-page and off-page SEO strategy will require the vendor to clearly explain their recommendations based on valid reasoning. Each section of the proposed contract offered has to go into detail on what strategy they have in place for each section of the SEO service.
Say for instance the on-page strategy takes 4 months to build. If it takes 4 months, the contract should outline what will be done within the 4 months period and why it would need to be accomplished. We say on and off-page strategies should have to be laid out in detail because with everything your business has to offer, its goals, and the turnaround time, no set package the SEO agency offers will be of the exact match with your criteria. Each website, business, goals, and expectations are different.
A red flag in our industry is ‘cookie cutter’ SEO plans which oftentimes offered to businesses that are mass-produced to thousands of businesses undermining what it actually takes to rank your site for competitive search keywords.
Therefore avoid SEO companies that offer:
- Generic SEO plans that are not customized to your business
- Are heavily reliant on a salesperson to bring you in as a client
- Don’t offer the plans upfront for the on and off-page SEO strategy
2. Ask About the SEO Companies Track Record
Most SEO vendors have some sort of track record with proven results that their SEO service works based on a current or previous client they brought success to. We highly advise before working with an SEO vendor to see the track record results and any case studies related to the success of another business. Now, this other business shouldn’t necessarily have to be in the same line of businesses like yours, but we advise looking at the case study to determine if that business’s goals were met based on the rankings and if they’re still a satisfied client with that SEO firm.
It’s understandable if the SEO vendor does not want to produce a conflict of interest by sharing results of a competitor especially if it’s in your area but most SEO agencies will have a case study or at least a reference to another business that they can proudly present to you during the sales process of having you become their client.
3. How Do You Measure SEO Results
When most businesses think of SEO they simply think of rankings and keywords that come up on Google. While this might be the case and what SEO stands for, it’s not necessarily the only thing you should be looking at when performing SEO. The measurement if SEO is working for your businesses comes down to if your business is receiving the ROI from hiring the SEO agency.
Let’s say for instance, the SEO agency performs its service and is ranking for the keyword that you’ve signed up for, but you’re not necessarily getting business leads from their service. If you’re doing SEO but your business is not producing leads online on the organic search results, then what good is the SEO service to begin with? This brings up the question then, how do you measure the success of SEO marketing? While rankings are a great initial report on where you stand, a reputable SEO agency will be able to advise on some sort of measurement that tracks calls and contact form emails that arise from their efforts of marketing, in this case, search engine optimization which targets organic search results. This measurement of tracking is important because differentiated leads tell you where the business your receiving is coming from.
Call tracking measurements are available now for organic traffic. It is highly advisable if you do SEO, you track the success of the service by differentiating the calls you receive from Google’s organic search with the SEO vendor.
4. SEO Contract. Know Before You Sign
Just like any other business, SEO companies do have their own contracts and their own rules and regulations on how they conduct their business. We advise before signing an SEO contract to look out for clues that lead you to pay for only the labor that goes within the SEO project. Never pay for ‘results’ such as second or third-page results where you only pay for where you rank. By paying for the labor that’s involved, you’ll have a clearer mindset knowing the service which is being performed is supposed to yield greater results and overtime is supposed to be a more valuable asset for your business. Second, see the terms and conditions when it comes to the length of the contract. We know SEO can take six months or more to undertake but most SEO vendors can and should offer a month-to-month service with no long-term contracts. If a long-term contract is being offered, you may want to ask the following questions.
- What if I’m not happy with the results after 6 to 12 months what do I do?
- Do I own the content within the website that’s being optimized after the contract is completed?
- Why is there a long-term contract versus other companies that offer a month-to-month deal?
- When do you expect results? Short and long-term goals you have in mind?
Given digital marketing is a vast field with countless strategies, outlooks, and guidance it’s fair to say you can have more than one company give you an estimate on what should be done. Even some of the largest corporations in the world have huge teams of marketers, all of which must be at the top of their ever-changing industry to stay ahead of the latest trends. As each discipline and digital platform evolves, so does your business’s marketing plan. Keeping up with it all ends up being extremely challenging for smaller businesses that can’t maintain such large teams. This is why acquiring new business online requires having seasoned talent with hands-on knowledge regarding the benefits and strengths of different platforms. Not only that, but these individuals also need to know how to execute and be prepared to explain why they know your business will succeed with having them onboard. Strategy and consultations are oftentimes meaningless without the marketing plans which drive leads you to need to make sales.
The above highlight just a few of the challenges in choosing the right SEO agency. Ultimately, results are what matter, and getting an agency on board that meets your expectation and fits well is key. While there’s no way of telling for sure whether investing with a specific agency will generate a positive return, vetting an agency is extremely important with the questions asked in this article. Be sure to ask and receive the answers in advance to the following questions as part of your vetting process.