We live in an age where keeping SEO in-house is a thing of the past as companies now look to the experts to focus on creating engaging content, effective backlinks and the right networks.
It may seem a daunting task when hiring an SEO company, particularly when dealing with what may seem unfamiliar jargon. These days there are so many different companies out there claiming to be the most professional SEO company on the market, how do you identify a good one?
Arrive armed with questions!
As long as you’re prepped with the right questions to ask and the answers to expect to hear back, you can feel confident in making the right choice.
Have you worked with a business like mine before?
You want to know that your SEO company can handle your campaign and whether they’ve achieved demonstrable returns in that specific niche. If they have, they will be able to explain how they got those results, and how they can deliver for your project.
SEO goes hand-in-hand with content marketing, social media marketing and PR and should integrate well with your overall strategy. If you’re a very large company with a great deal of content on your website, a company used to working with smaller businesses may struggle to keep up with the scope of work you have.
It may not be an immediate disqualification if they haven’t worked in your niche before, but a good SEO company should at least have ideas on your business’ specific requirements. They should be capable of tailoring a unique approach that’s specific to your industry, business model and goals -e.g. a local food delivery service will require a very different approach than SEO for a huge global corporation.
How will you improve my rankings?
The main thing to look out for here is that they are open to explaining their methods. A professional SEO company will have a solid process and will be able to communicate this to you easily. Steer clear of anyone being secretive or hiding behind jargon!
An SEO company should mention the following techniques:
- SEO/Website Audit– analyzing your website to identify issues hurting your search engine rankings, e.g. broken links or non-mobile-friendly pages.
- Keyword Research– You want to be ranking for the keywords that are relevant to your business. Your SEO company should be researching a list of targeted keywords to get the right people to your website.
- On-page Optimization– After the audit, a good SEO company should have a process for improving and optimizing the pages on your website.
- Link-building – A key component to getting seen by Google, which relies heavily on quality content. Your SEO company should have a strategy for building high-quality content and backlinks.
Can you guarantee rankings?
If the answer to this question is “yes”, then make a swift escape!
Of course, it’s the answer you would like to hear, but it’s simply not possible to guarantee rankings in a short space of time, and no reputable SEO company would make this claim.
There are many factors and changes when it comes to ranking, which means SEO is not always a stable growth right from the start. Results can vary depending on location, device, and search history of each person, not to mention algorithms causing fluctuations daily.
Your SEO company should tell you the sort of results you can expect to see, and how they would measure and report this to you. Ultimately, you want to attract organic search traffic to your site, which then converts into customers.
This makes SEO a case of quality and authenticity.
How long will it take to see results?
Good SEO requires time – A good SEO company will know that it takes about 3 to 6 months to deliver effective results.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! In the same way that high rankings cannot be guaranteed, any company that tells you they can deliver results instantly should also warrant a raised eyebrow. In these cases, they’re likely not professional and could even be using black hat techniques resulting in a penalty from search engines.
For sustainable SEO that is effective, there are measurable metrics that need to be influenced in order to improve your rankings. The level of competition in your market will be dependant on your niche; some could take months, others even longer.
…..6 months seems a long time to wait for results?
Ask to be sent reports from the start detailing what they are doing and how this impact is measured. You want to know what changes are being made, which links are being built and what content is being produced.
Which leads onto the next question . . . .
How do you report on progress?
Ensure the SEO company has a valid method for reporting their progress in the first place and ask to see a sample report created for another client.
One shoe doesn’t fit all – By now, you will have clarified your own specific goals and KPIs and will want to see how they can tailor the report to meet your needs.
Note: SEO companies that cannot provide detailed information on how they measure and report progress should be avoided!
What are the reports?
You should expect reporting on the following:
- Strategy Document
- Keyword mapping document
- Rankings – Keeping tabs on what target keywords are moving up or down.
- Traffic – A traffic report should show search traffic for a specific time frame (e.g. a month) compared against a previous range.
- Tech improvements recommendations (e.g load time, site architecture e.t.c)
- Links – what have they managed to secure?
- Conversions – without these, there’s no return on an investment after all!
This will depend on the size of your project; however, most would require monthly updates. Bigger companies or more specific projects may require more frequent updates, but tracking progress on a weekly basis would not be very effective. Search results can fluctuate for various reasons, e.g. competitors making changes to their own content or search engine algorithm updates.
How do you approach Link-building?
Link-building is the process of obtaining backlinks (which is when another website links back to yours). It’s one of the main tactics used in SEO as links are a signal to Google that your site is worth making some space for.
Quality over quantity
Some phrases really can be applied to most things, and SEO is no exception here!
The goal with link-building is to get credible, high-quality links from authoritative sites opposed to hundreds of low-quality machine-created links in blog comments. If an SEO company promise to get you thousands of links within weeks, the reality is that they will not be the type you want for your business and could hurt your website in the long run.
When an SEO company tells you their link-building approach, you should expect to hear lots of ‘relationship-building’, ‘quality’ and ‘link-earning’ being thrown out there.
It’s useful to think of link-building as ‘link-earning’ instead. High-quality content that drives incoming links organically, whilst building relationships with influencers and editors. A good SEO company will be focused on building quality backlinks. This will require extensive networking with high authority websites.
There are countless ways to approach backlinks; however, with any mention of “link directories” or “Forum Signatures” – make a run for it! Both of these involve worthless links that do not involve relationships of any sort. It’s unlikely an SEO company using these methods would admit to it, so if they say they can’t discuss their methods, they are unlikely to be professionals. A good SEO company should communicate openly about its link-building strategies.
How do you stay up-to-date with Google?
Google is the top dog in the world of SEO, and as you are no doubt well aware, you will have to abide by their rules. Your SEO provider should, therefore be able to give you an idea of how well it follows Google’s recommended best practice.
At a minimum, a good SEO company should stay up to date with information posted by Google on its Webmaster Central Blog– Google’s own outlet for news on how to best position a site for their search algorithms. A truly professional SEO company would follow popular industry blogs and participate in SEO forums, whilst also conducting their own research.
Most Google algorithm updates will have a minor impact on any one site, but your SEO company should be familiar with most.
What do you need from us to be effective?
Similar to the classic end-of-interview question….. ‘Do you have any questions for us?’
A professional SEO company should, of course, respond with a long list of questions for you. In order to carry out their work effectively, they will need detailed information about your audience, industry, goals and KPIs.
Ideally, they will ask about other digital marketing platforms you’re using that affects your content along with access to your Google Analytics.
Effective SEO can really make or break your site, and it’s worth doing your business justice when outsourcing. Whilst a successful SEO campaign can double your traffic and sales, a bad one could have the opposite effect.
Take the time to find a reputable digital marketing agency who’s right for your business. By doing your research and asking the right questions, you can look forward to building an SEO plan that will help you achieve long-term success.
If you would like to ask us any questions, the Pearl Lemon SEO team is ready and waiting. We have over 25 years of SEO experience, so don’t hesitate to book a call with us today.