We welcomed the digital age and all that it has to offer – both the good and the bad. One of the most important innovations with the internet is the emergence of SEO – arguably the best way to make or break a business. Precisely because everything is connected to the internet, integrating SEO into your business is now more crucial than ever. This important decision could either make you a lot of money or lose you your traffic which is equal to losing money – a lot of it. So the debacle for the modern entrepreneur is being able to ascertain which SEO company is the right fit for your company.
I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to choose the right SEO Company. This could be one of the most crucial business decisions that you can make and it can be a little intimidating or overwhelming. Fear not, however, as I’ll give you all the questions that you need to ask and why you should ask them.
Do note that asking all of these questions is important, however, it’s also good to go with a company that you enjoy working with. So use these questions and trust your guts, you’re sure to find the right fit for your company sooner or later.
Three Different SEO Specialists:
There are mainly three different types of SEO specialists and most of the questions here are for the first and second types only. So please keep that in mind. Without further ado, here are the different types of SEO specialists
- SEO Consultant – These are mostly freelance SEO specialists who offer their specialty of their own accord. They are usually unaffiliated with companies because they work individually and sometimes, on a per case basis.
- SEO Agencies – These are the SEO specialists that you see online, offering you their services. More often than not, these agencies work for a company that works alongside yours albeit remotely. A good example of an SEO Agency is SEO Hacker. These agencies usually cost more because they dedicate entire teams to your business and interests.
- In-House SEO Specialists – Usually, a bigger organization will want their own in-house SEO team. What you can do here is that you can either hire people by yourself or hire an SEO consultant who can do the heavy lifting for you. All in all, this is essentially a combination of the first and second option and is a good choice if you have a larger than average organization – or if you’re growing your business really well.
Of course, hiring a competent SEO Specialist (or Agency) will cost you some money – but that money is worth every penny provided that you’re talking to a competent agency. I took the liberty of collating standard SEO industry pricing for specific service packages and directly compare them with SEO Hacker’s pricing of similar packages. Do note that these aren’t exact numbers as the pricing for every service will most definitely differ depending on the scope, duration and other agreement that you may have with your SEO Specialist.
Here’s a simple graph comparing the prices:
Does this mean that more expensive packages are better than more affordable packages? The answer is no. SEO Specialists, especially the good ones, will never charge low prices for their services. Looking for an overly inexpensive SEO Specialist will more often than not cost you more in the long run. The reason for this is because these “low cost SEO specialists” will rely on Black Hat SEO techniques; at the very least, they could simply be not as good as industry known agencies such as SEO Hacker.
On the other hand, it isn’t necessarily good to trust an agency simply because they’re charging for their services at a premium. The thing about SEO is that it takes a specialist to know how to apply it to a business. Chances are, the average consumer will know only the basics with regards to SEO and many agencies take advantage of this fact. They then increase their prices significantly to take advantage of businessmen who are looking to hook their company up with SEO so they could take advantage of people who can’t accurately evaluate SEO work.
The average website owner will fall for their tricks but you’re not the average Joe. You’re someone who’s taking the initiative to learn all about SEO and how it can affect your business. The only skill that you need to know on looking for the perfect SEO Agency for your business is knowing how to ask the right question – and I’ll be guiding you every step of the way.
Let’s get started then!
- What will you do to improve our Search Engine Rankings?
You won’t get anywhere by throwing out keywords and building links – these might help you out in the short run but you won’t get anything consistent out of that. Trust me. Like any decent self-respecting business, a good SEO agency will have a detailed process or an SOP, if you will.Obviously, they won’t tell you the nitty gritty detail on how their process works but they will tell you the gist of what they’re going to do from the start to the end of the SEO process. They might say something like:“Yeah, we’re going to check out your website and we’re going to evaluate your website – just so we can find anything we can fix. We’ll then move on to analysing your keywords and then we can start finding the best keywords we can target.”Of course, results won’t come instantly but you’re already off to a great start.Another thing worth considering is inquiring about links: One of the most important aspects of SEO are backlinks. They were important before and they will continue to serve an important purpose for the foreseeable future. Competent SEOs will definitely try to create links to your website and this is done to try and improve your rankings.You might think that creating numerous links is a good idea – but let me stop you there. Focusing on quantity instead of quality will most definitely be a futile effort. One good link is worth a couple thousand low-quality backlinks – and this isn’t an exaggeration.
Some agencies create a gimmick out of selling hundreds of good links for a low cost. These links are the automated spammy links that you may see all over the internet and these will amount to around $10.00 or so. A single quality backlink would net you around $25.00 but that’s a quality investment in itself.
Pro tip: If someone is offering you an absurd amount of links for a very low cost, the best response is to politely say no and move on.
- How will you keep me updated on changes and updates to our website?
This is a good question because typically, you’re going to have to contact your SEO agency a couple of times a month. Standard agencies will send you a monthly report and that’s that. When you do find an SEO agency that fits your needs, the first thing that you’re going to need to do is give them access to your website. This includes admin access and the like – and this is precisely the reason why you have to find an agency that you can trust.Many SEO Specialists will agree with me when I say that giving your agency admin access is the best and most efficient way to go about things. This gives them the window to make changes with regards to optimization or problem solving instantly. You can try to control these risks by having your in-house developers maintain your website but that will defeat the purpose of hiring an SEO agency to help boost your site. Like I said earlier, there needs to be a certain amount of trust between you and the agency that you will hire.If the agency that you’re hiring is saying that all changes to your website will be done internally then that’s a red flag. These agencies need to be wholly transparent with you through each and every change that they will make to your website.One of the most important things that you should keep in mind is that each and every change made has to be tracked and reported to you. That’s not only your right as the consumer, that’s the SEO Agency’s obligation as the service provider. The reason for this is that if something goes wrong, both you and the agency should be able to pinpoint exactly what happened so you could fix it as soon as possible. The gist is that if anything goes wrong or if any changes were made, the SEO agency must be ready to send you a report. Every. Single. Time.
- Can you tell me about your past clients? How did you do with them?
Going back to transparency, one of the most important things you should ask about are your SEO agency’s past clients. Testimonials and the like make a good measuring stick with regards to their working relationship with the SEO agency. If a client is willing to stake their name by writing a testimonial or a review of the agency’s services, then they must be doing something right.Of course, to protect their clients’ privacy, they won’t necessarily hand over data and the like. They will, however, be happy to show you a couple of testimonials, either written or in video form from their most loyal of clients.If the agency that you’re considering refuses to share some examples of their clients with you, then that’s definitely a red flag.The next big thing to ask is who their longest client is at the moment. If you’re working with a supposedly established SEO agency whose biggest client has only been with them for less than a year then that’s a big red flag. SEO is one of the best ways of growing a business and as sure as the rising and the setting of the sun, a smart company will only stay with an SEO agency for a prolonged period of they’re really good. What this means is that if an SEO company doesn’t have a list of loyal clients who’ve been with them for years, then that means their other clients have been leaving them which could indicate bad things.
- Do you adhere to Google’s standards for best practice?
Google, as well as the other search engine giants have standards to which SEO specialists adhere to. If they don’t then they will be penalized or they won’t even rank at all. Google constantly updates its algorithm in order for them to provide the best user experience that they can provide – and SEO specialists do their best to abide by these best practices.If you don’t play by the rules then Google will most definitely be upset with you and when that happens, your website will not grow its SEO and by extension, their rankings as well as their potential to convert potential customers is culled.When Google is upset with you, your website is penalized and this could happen for a number of reasons. When you are penalized, the traffic that is driven to your website will be directed to better websites that adhere to Google’s standards; This means that you will potentially be helping your competitors – and that’s never good for your business.It takes a lot of work to constantly optimize a website to abide by Google’s ever-changing set of rules; however, simply abiding by these rules will help you grow your website. It takes a severely long period of time and effort to help your website recover from a penalty – and that time could be used for something more productive such as converting potential customers or driving more traffic into your website.
- What kind of SEO can you do for my website?
This is one of the most important questions that you can ask because this will determine what type of service you can get from your SEO agency. One of the things you should look out for is when they mention technical SEO. One of the most basic things that an SEO specialist should do for you is for them to do a basic technical SEO audit done for your website – and this should happen as soon as you hire them for their services.Technical SEO is everything that works behind the scenes of your website. From performance to everything that Google and the other search engines care about. The crux of the matter is that technical SEO is all about fixing or optimizing 404 pages, problems with redirects and these are only the most basic aspects of technical SEO.
- Will we really rank 1 for our keywords?
A confident SEO specialist will smile and say “definitely”, a competent SEO specialist, however, will honestly tell you that they can’t guarantee anything precisely because no one outside of Google know how the algorithm works. Google’s search algorithm is one of their most guarded secrets. It can be argued that their search engine algorithm is large source of their revenue so it is only natural that they’d keep it a secret.Another point worth remembering is that Google will erratically update their algorithm. It doesn’t matter when and it doesn’t matter how, but Google will definitely make some changes. This is another good reason why decent SEO Agencies will NEVER guarantee you a number one ranking.Finally, penalties are a natural occurrence in SEO. It can be because of a deliberate change from Google’s side or it could be an element in your website that is making Google upset but the fact of the matter is that your website can be penalized at any given time. The best way or preventing this from happening is by hiring the right SEO agency.Again, an SEO agency that really knows their stuff will NEVER guarantee you a rank 1 for your keyword because there are many elements that are working against them at any given time. Anyway, while they can’t guarantee you a rank 1 keyword, SEO agencies will at least help you rank your keywords up. It will take dedication and hard work to get your targeted keyword to that number one spot but it’s not impossible. This is the reason why most decent SEO agencies include “Keyword Research’ in their service packages – it’s done just so they know the scope of their work, the difficulty and of course, the feasibility.
- How do you handle payments?
SEO companies will most likely have different approaches with regards to payments – that’s only natural. The reason you’re asking this question is because it’s only natural that you know what you’re getting into, how much you need to pay and how you should allocate your budget. SEO is not an exact science so people do it in many different ways. Some people want to be paid by the hour and some other people prefer to be paid on a project-based pricing.When you’ve settled how you’re going to make payments, determine when you’re going to have make them. It’s important that you know every when so often that you have to pay especially after an invoice. Also, ask if there are penalties or interest fees for late payments. It doesn’t hurt to cover all of your bases especially when it comes to your finances.
- How and when should we contact you?
The thing about SEO is that it’s a kind of job where you don’t need to be in contact with your SEO specialists at all times. The problem, though, is that you need to be able to contact your SEO team the moment something goes wrong or if you have something important that you need to discuss. Typically speaking, SEO agencies will normally contact you and give you an update once a month. It can be done per week or every two weeks; it depends on your arrangement with your SEO agency.The important thing to remember is that you need to ascertain the modes of communication that your SEO agency prefers and that they should know yours. Another important question to ask is how you can contact your SEO team in case of an emergency. These are the important communication issues that you need to solve before settling with the right SEO agency for your business.
- How will your SEO work with our marketing efforts?
SEO and marketing are no longer two separate things – in fact, SEO and marketing should be one fluid system that coexists with one another. That’s not necessarily the reality of things at the moment but that’s what your SEO should become eventually.it is precisely because of this goal that many SEO agencies have taken to calling themselves something like a “digital marketing company” or something similar so don’t be surprised if you try to look up an SEO company and find many “digital marketing company” entries on the SERP.Does this mean that there are no longer any “pure” SEO specialists out there? On the contrary, no. What this means is that the SEO specialists of before have grown and have acquired new skillsets which could prove to be beneficial to your business in the long run.
- What should we expect to happen if we terminate the contract?
Decent SEO companies will offer you a minimum lock-in period of a couple of months upon your initial contract signing. The reason for this is that SEO is a long-term business and any changes made by your SEO agency of choice will not happen overnight. It’s a long process that takes months and months of work.However, if something happens to your company and you find yourself unable to pay for your SEO agency’s services then you need to know how to move forward. You need to understand what your options are. There could also be other reasons for your intent to cancel the contract prematurely such as dissatisfaction with their services or what have you. The important thing to know is if there are clauses or fees in the contract that you need to know about. Make some changes if necessary but the important thing that you know your options.
- Do you keep yourself updated with Google’s algorithm changes?
Now this is an important question that you need to ask because this question will determine whether an SEO agency is good or not. The thing about Google is that they update their algorithm at least 500 times a year. There are many minor changes and there also a number of significant changes that SEO specialists should definitely know about. It’s okay for them to not know about the dozens of minor changes but the major algorithm updates such as Hummingbird or Penguin are a definite must-know for every SEO specialist.Keep a list of Google’s most recent major update and ask your SEO agency questions about the updates. Verify their familiarity with the updates and if they can pass your test, then it means they really know their stuff.it is important for an SEO specialist to keep himself in the know with regards to Google’s algorithm changes because this is the bread and butter of SEO. These changes are what determines what is good and what is bad for SEO. By extension, these changes will determine the state of your website. If your website is good and conforming to Google’s requirements then your SEO is good. If your website is being penalized, then that’s something you should have your SEO agency look into.
- Can you adapt your agency to my industry?
The thing about SEO is that everyone needs it. From fashion designers to computer parts stores, many different businesses from all walks of life will eventually approach an SEO agency for their services. So the crux of the matter is will your SEO agency be able to adapt to your industry? Any decent SEO agency will have an SEO strategy that they use. Most decent SEO agencies will have the know-how to make their strategy work for any business in any industry.This is also another reason why you should ask them about their current clients. If you see that their current clients are happy and that they are actually in different industries, then clearly, that’s a good sign of adaptability.
- The crème de la crème: Why should we hire you as our SEO Agency?
Typically speaking, most SEO agencies will respond with something like they’re cheaper, they can create more backlinks or they can outright lie by telling you that they can get you instant results. If the SEO agency you’re interviewing tells you these things, then the best course of action for you is to politely smile and move on to your next candidate.Good SEO will not come cheap but it doesn’t come without its benefits. Good SEO is an investment that will cost you a considerable sum, however the returns that you will gain will far outweigh your expenses – that is if you choose a competent SEO agency.The ideal answer to this question is proof of their past successes, their track record with their clients and their reputation in the market. Basically speaking, it’s their results that they should be talking about, not what they can do with your website – and that’s something that not many SEO specialists can care to admit.
SEO is an investment that will only bloom in the long-term. It’s not something that should be rushed. The questions that I wrote here are questions that you should ask in order to ascertain whether or not that SEO agency that you’re talking to is a good one or a bad egg. That other questions were structured so that you’d be able to find out if their way of doing business is compatible with the way you handle your business.
I recommend using all of these questions when you talk to an SEO agency that you like. Also, if I may be so forward, why not give SEO Hacker a shot? I’ll answer all of your questions and then some. Send me an email and let’s set a date.
Do you have questions? Comments? Stories that you want to share? Let’s talk in the comments section below!