If the answer to those questions is a resounding yes then this article was written for you.
Recently I’ve been teaming up with a web development agency here in Brighton. I had a meeting with their director who asked me this very question. A client of his was concerned with an SEO agency they had been working with, and he wanted to know if it was possible to get to the bottom of what the agency were doing for his client.
I’m always keen to help a friend so I started penning down a few questions for him to ask at their next meeting, I actually intended on giving him three but ended up with way, way more. The meeting was good and his client was happy. For the first time he was able to identify and understand the depth of service that this SEO agency was doing for his business.
My list of questions to ask is by no means a comprehensive list if your leads aren’t increasing, and of course, there are variables to consider before jumping down your SEO agency’s neck. However, they should have a comprehensive understanding of your company, which you can find out by asking them the following questions:
10 Questions to ask your SEO agency:
- How do they measure the success of your SEO campaigns?
- Does success mean increased levels of organic traffic? Improved keyword positions? Increased online conversions?
- Do they have a local SEO strategy? If so, what phrases are they targeting?
- How do they structure your SEO campaigns? Do they begin with an SEO audit? Do they maintain the site on an ongoing basis?
- Do they suggest content for new landing pages and keyword growth? What’s their ongoing work consist of if they’re on a retainer?
- How much value is their ongoing work adding to your company?
- What’s the current SEO health state of your website? They should be keeping your website inline with Google’s best practice recommendations at all times.
- How do they intend to build backlinks to your website?
They shouldn’t be building links but, actually earn them by encouraging and helping you to regularly create fantastic content and promote it effectively via social media, PPC, email marketing, etc.
In recent years, PR has been an under-utilised tool for developing a strong backlink profile. You need to get lots of people, relevant businesses and websites talking about your brand in order to achieve better search engine rankings. But you’re not going to do that if your SEO agency is purchasing backlinks, or something else as detrimental to your overall marketing efforts.
- Do they understand your brand?
- Can they tell you what your company mission, vision and core values are?
- Have they researched and fully understood your brand’s tone of voice and personality?
- Can they list your company’s USPs?
- Does your agency have a good understanding your audience?
- Who are they, what are their needs, fears, online habits, etc?
- If they know who your customers are, have they considered and then used this research within their SEO strategy?
- Have they created customer personas that fully reflect your different customer types?
- Do they have a list of keywords that they’re targeting and tracking?
- Are those keywords too competitive, or are they too generic?
- Are their targeted keywords relevant to your business, products and services?
- Are the search frequencies too low?
- Are they transactional keywords? Informational keywords? Navigational keywords?
- Is there an opportunity to rank your website for localised keywords? If so, how do they intend on doing that?
- Who will have access to your site?
- Who will be working on your site?
- Who is your main point of contact each week? How often do you hear from them?
- What are their KPIs? How are they measuring success or failure?
It’s important to sniff out whether or not they’re going to keep it all in-house or cheaply outsource it. Nothing wrong with that as outsourcing jobs like data entry is fairly common, but it’s important for agencies to be transparent that sort of information.
Asking these two questions enables you to ensure the right level of security and version control is maintained on your site, and even prevent them from outsourcing the work if you wish.
Bonus Questions – Let’s make ’em sweat…
- If they guarantee page 1 rankings I’d be hesitant to work with them. Nothing is certain with Google – nobody can guarantee results, particularly with organic search.
- How long do they expect the ROI of their SEO work to take?
- Do they have agreed goals and targets to meet? If so, what are their long-term targets? What are their short-term targets?
- Are those targets realistic?
- Will they use PPC to supplement the lack of traffic from organic search when you begin working with them?
If so, get them to talk about their PPC campaigns – are they ultra specific or more generic in their keyword targeting? What are they going for – general awareness or conversions?
Although organic search sends the majority of traffic to most websites, it does take time for Google to effectively index websites.