08 Jul 12 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an SEO Agency
Every single business owner wants to find a way to succeed. It’s part of the job description to do all things possible to keep costs low, keep leads coming in, and thus revenue high. It’s not easy. So that’s where tasks like SEO and other digital marketing comes in. They help keep business coming in.
In our Boostability Blog, before we’ve talked about what questions you need to ask a potential SEO customer to make sure they’re a right fit for your agency. But this is a two-way street. They want to know just as much about you as you do about them.
As a business leader, you want to make sure that those who help you along the way have your best interest at heart and will do the job you hire them to do. That’s the case with anyone you hire to do a job. But with SEO or digital marketing, you’re literally handing them a piece of your business and telling them to help it thrive. You want to make sure you’re hiring the right people for the job.
Consider our list of 12 questions you want to ask any SEO or Digital Marketing Agency before hiring them.
How do you go about improving my website rankings?
This is a perfect first question to start with when vetting a potential SEO agency. This question, out of the gate, helps you understand their SEO process. Each agency does things a little differently depending on the types of customers they service. A Boutique SEO agency is different from an Enterprise Agency, which is different from an SMB agency. Know the difference.
You need to start to understand their process very early on to make sure you know what kinds of tasks and the process for optimizing your website. You’ll need to listen for answers like “we’ll start with a thorough audit of your website and begin the process of keyword research.” Good agencies likely won’t get into specifics of “we’ll post links on A,B,C websites”. But they will talk about the process they take to help your site succeed. This means they have a tried and true method for helping websites rank.
How do you keep me informed about the progress made to my campaign and the changes made to my website? And how often do we communicate about progress?
This is a very telling question. It will likely set the tone for the remainder of the conversation. Every good SEO agency makes the entire process completely transparent. They will make it so you can track your progress anytime and they are open with the changes made to your website. Some agencies set up monthly calls. Others talk more regularly with a more boutique-level agency where more communication is required.
You need to balance out the needs of your business with what will be required. Good agencies will keep you informed at your convenience. But perhaps you like a more hands off approach where a monthly call will suffice. Others like to be in the details. Judge what works best for your agency before signing up with a new company.
Who will be working on my campaign?
Like each agency caters to a different kind of audience, each agency also has a different way of doing things. Some larger agency have fulfillment teams that perform different specialized tasks. Enterprise agencies have SEO specialists who spend their time on the entire campaign. Both definitely have their pros and cons. But both are done by experts. It just depends on what method you prefer. But you should understand up front who will be doing the actual work. It also doesn’t hurt to ask to speak or talk with the team members who will be working on your website and your campaign.
What parts of your SEO process do you outsource?
This is an answer you need to take special care to watch. You will often find that many agencies outsource some work to other countries in order to cut costs. WATCH OUT for these kinds of practices. This often means shoddy back links or articles written by those who are not native speakers of your language. Good SEO agencies won’t outsource anything and will do everything entirely in house by their own teams. This is what you should be listening for. Avoid agencies that don’t directly answer the questions.
How many pages on my website will you optimize? And at what stage?
Your first answer may seem like “all of them”. But listen for the order in which they organize these page optimizations. Campaigns should start by optimizing your home and key pages for your website. Then as you find success and growth in the rankings, we can move to to additional secondary and tertiary pages on the website.
Also find out if adding additional pages is an extra charge if that’s part of the monthly ongoing SEO charges. Are all pages started at once or are more pages on a website added to a campaign as you move along? These are all important pages.
How is my campaign billed?
This could be the most important question you ask during an initial phone call (besides how does the work get done). Some agencies charge by task. Others charge by hours. Some give a flat monthly fee and work up until that fee is met. There’s lots of different ways to manage the campaign. And you need to make sure it works best for your business. And that’s not to say one way is correct and the others are wrong.
Boostability charges in hours. There’s various campaign level costs that depend on the number of hours. For every single level, there’s optimization tasks that help a website rise in the rankings. We optimize at every level and achieve success for our customers at every level.
How many internal and external blogs can we expect per month? Backlinks?
Good content and quality backlinks are central to an SEO campaign. These tasks help both on and off your website. Often the number of links and blogs depends on the budget. But as you set a budget level with your SEO agency, you should know what to expect from that budget. Will you get two onsite and two offsite blogs? How many links will get placed pointing back to your site? Make sure you understand what comes in your SEO package before you buy.
How do you measure the success of a campaign?
SEO can be difficult at times because there’s not a measurable ROI. Increased traffic doesn’t necessarily mean increased conversions, though we hope so. But there are certain KPIs that can indicate success of a campaign. First off, you can see the rankings of certain keywords moving up on Google. But you need to see other key trackers. You need to know if they measure by the number of links, the CTR from a website, by increased traffic numbers? Find this out early and make sure you understand these indicators.
What do you need from me or my team to ensure success?
Often at the start of a campaign, you will need to turn over logins and relevant information that they can use to help your campaign succeed. They will need to be able to access your website to improve the code and onsite keywords. But there are other services like Google My Business and sometimes your Facebook logins as well.
Find out who on your team will need to be apart of the check in team. And who will be the main point of contact, as well as the hours required on your part every single week. Make sure you can live up to what is needed by the agency you’re working with. It might be more of a hands off approach or a hands approach. You want to make sure that it lines up with your business and leadership style.
How long will it take before I start to see results?
This is another key question. Be extremely wary of any agency that promises instant results. They will likely go through unethical and condemned practices to achieve quick results that will end up hurting your website in the long run. Good agencies will say that it takes around six months or longer to achieve page one rankings. It depends on the competitiveness of the keywords, location, and industry. But make sure you understand the timeline and the process that it takes to get your website to rank. No one can get instantaneous results in an SEO campaign.
Do you have experience in my industry?
Some agencies service specific industry niches. You can look for that for extremely specialized help. However, good agencies have experience in many different industries and specialty businesses. You can ask for case studies or more information on previous campaigns they’ve had success with in your same area of expertise. Good agencies will be open with that information.
How has SEO changed in the past few years?
Good SEO agencies monitor the changes that go on in SEO and can often see changes to the Google algorithms before they’re even announced. By being able to tell you about how the SEO industry and best practices evolve, you can tell their expertise level. Good agencies have been at this for a while and know what it takes to get your website ranking.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. But this should put you on the right track to have a meaningful conversation with a potential SEO agency you want to hire to help your website.