SEO trends have been known to change frequently, so partnering up with an SEO agency is a smart idea if you want your business to rank on the first page of Google’s Search Engine Results. Perfecting your SEO strategy makes a tremendous impact on the visibility of your website; the methodologies and tools you use make a difference as well. A well-equipped SEO company can help point potential customers to your website, promote products and incentives, and increase your bottom line.Success depends on knowing which SEO company to stick with, when you might not have all the insider knowledge. Below are some questions you should be asking a prospective SEO agency once you have made the decision not to go it alone.
Do you Offer Web Development for Businesses?
- Will you show me any changes that you plan to make to my site?
- Will you be implementing technical changes and/or content changes?
- How much time is needed from our in-house team?
- Can we see examples of your website work?
Web development is an important part of any SEO strategy. You could use the top trending keywords, have the best looking images, and even have links to other websites, but if the site itself isn’t functional, especially on mobile devices, customers will not want to use it. As engagement is a Google ranking factor, development and SEO should go hand in hand in order to make your presence known while giving a great brand experience once the reader gets to your website. The amount of time an agency may require from your in-house team varies by each company. More time may be needed in the initial onboarding stages to get everyone on the same page, but the amount of time required going forward would depend on how independent you want the SEO agency to be. That’s why it’s important to establish a level of trust with the SEO Company in the beginning, so you feel comfortable letting them take the reins in your website’s development. Before work gets started, see if they need to utilize your content writers, designers or developers. Establishing this now will help you plan out that time for your in-house team later on down the road.
Have you worked with a business like mine before?
- What do you know about our industry?
- Do you currently work for any of our competitors?
- Do you have a network of resources relevant to our industry?
This is definitely a good question to ask. Your business has a lot of intricacies and tends to come with its own industry specific language. Will the SEO agency already have an idea of what you need? Having an SEO company with prior experience in your industry will be beneficial. However, even if a company hasn’t worked with a business like yours in the past, they may still be beneficial to your SEO efforts. This is just another factor to weigh.
How will you optimize our content?
- Will you create new copy or work with our existing content?
- How do you optimize content and why is it important?
- Will you be creating new landing pages as part of the contract?
- Do your writers have experience in our industry and can we see writing examples?
Whether the content is rewritten from existing but outdated copy or it's brand new, Google ranks unique, creative and informative content higher in the Search Engine Results Page. Another way an SEO company can help optimize content, point traffic to your website and increase your rankings is by using external inbound backlinks. However, it’s important to make sure that the links are not based on spam, which could get your website penalized by Google. Ask how many new links the company wants to shoot for each month. If a company is not willing to show you writing examples or go into detail about their writer's experience in your industry, that is a big red flag. Also, don’t expect a set number of landing pages each month as a strategy from a technical or local standpoint. Content should change each month based on analytics insights unless it is specified in the contract.
How will you help me improve my local search results?
- What sort of ranking increases can I expect?
- Do you utilize the latest Google Business features like Google Posts
If you’re a company that services those around you, then that is the audience you want to focus on. You want to build leads that can turn into paying customers in order to get the largest ROI (Return on Investment) possible. When your website is optimized for local SEO, it means local residents will be able to find you and receive accurate information about your business quickly and easily. Look for a company that uses local listings, keywords, and social media to help your search results grow. Every company wants to rank in the top-half of the Search Results Page as soon as possible, but no reputable SEO company should guarantee good rankings right away because they depend on various external factors. These include what the competition is doing, where the searcher is located, what their previous search history looks like, daily/weekly/monthly fluxes, and Google algorithm changes.
What are the details of the contract?
- What are the payment terms?
- What happens after the contract?
- What technical aspects of the website will you be auditing and fixing?
- How many pages of the website will you optimize initially?
- How much time is dedicated to campaign analysis and reporting?
One thing you will want to understand about your SEO firm is how the payments work. Some will do a monthly retainer and then work on whatever needs to be fixed or updated that month. You might receive different services depending on the needs of your website and SEO campaign. Find out if the company will charge for the number of hours worked or the number of services they will provide each month. Also, keep in mind that strategies used and services provided will evolve as your company grows and your business needs change. Some places will charge based on the services you are receiving, and also consider whether or not they are ongoing. Understanding this will help you trust your business's SEO company, because this is something to be upfront about!
Things happen and sometimes life takes you in a different direction. While your company would be sad to see you go, sometimes it’s unavoidable. The question then would be "what happens when I go?" You "will" want to have control over your site and be able to pick up the work that your company started. Any content that has been optimized on your site should remain unchanged. It’s also a good idea to ask ahead of time if there are any extra fees for terminating your contract early.
How do you deliver reports?
- Can I meet the team assigned to my project?
- Do you currently work for any of our competitors?
- How often will we be having meetings?
Many companies will promise monthly reports but then they don’t deliver. It’s important to be receiving reports regularly so that both parties can see the advancements that are being made. And, if you don’t understand something about the report, your company should take the time to explain it to you. If the SEO company works with other clients in your industry, that is not necessarily a bad thing because it means the agency has experience and knows what works and doesn't work. They will also likely have a well-rounded network of resources in your industry, which could be beneficial to you.
Could I look at some case studies to see how you’ve handled past issues?
- May I contact your references?
- Could I speak with your other clients you’ve worked with in the past?
To make sure the SEO company isn’t giving you a fancy, well-spoken proposal without the means to back it up, ask to speak to past clients and see if you can contact their references. You wouldn’t hire a new team member without doing this first, so it shouldn’t be any different when hiring an outside company for your website. Past case studies should give you valuable insight into how the SEO company handles certain issues and what type of solution they may come up with. You should also be able to gauge how proactive and responsive they are and get a feel for how they’ll fit into your business strategy.
How will you analyze the campaign?
- Will you explain what you’re including in the report?
- What will you include in the report?
- How often will I get a report?
- What programs do you use?
It is beneficial to you and the SEO company for them to take some time to explain what they’re looking for and analyzing on your website. This will make meetings and check-ins with the SEO company run more smoothly because everyone involved will have at least some core knowledge of what the campaign is trying to accomplish, and learning about your website’s rankings, conversions and traffic will make more sense overall.
What is your approach to link-building?
- How fast can you build links?
- Do you use a link-building service?
- Are quality links necessary or are you more concerned with quantity?
There is no quick way to build quality links. If an SEO company tries to sell you on this strategy, they could be using illegitimate ways to create links that could get your website punished by Google. The only real way to build credible links that Google will not ding you for is to link to reputable and informative sources. If an agency is using a link-building service, this is something to be wary of. Link-building services went out of style years ago when Google began placing a greater emphasis on high quality and unique content.
How do you measure success?
- What do you consider your KPI (Key Performance Indicators)?
- If something isn’t working, how do you determine what to try next?
- How up to date on Google’s latest algorithm are you?
Since Google changes its algorithm and “rules” for SEO agencies frequently, it’s vital for the SEO company to be aware of Google’s latest requirements so your website doesn’t get punished and you have a heightened chance of ranking higher in the Search Engine Results Page. Asking the company about its strategy if something isn’t working is a good way to determine how responsive they are to your needs, and whether or not you have similar working styles. To directly know how the SEO company measures success, ask about their KPIs. These could include keyword rankings; conversion types such as sales, new customers, impressions, subscriptions, downloads, or event sign-ups; organic traffic growth, or visitor engagement and referrals.
What pages do you plan to target with keywords?
- What page is your SEO company ranking on Google for its keywords?
- Do you plan to target one page or multiple ones?
- How many keywords do you typically target per page?
- How do you consider keywords for a campaign?
The SEO company should target a variety of unique pages, rather than focusing entirely on the homepage. If an SEO company tells you they will only target all possible keywords to your homepage; this should make you apprehensive. An SEO agency should not target more than three keywords per page (and ideally stick to one) because Google will consider that keyword stuffing. To see how successful the SEO company is in ranking for its own content, see how far up they are for keywords associated with their location. Keyword research is critical and should be strategic and based on the industry, your website and link profile, competitors, search volume, and your budget.
What do you need to know before starting a campaign?
- What aspects of my business are you concerned with?
- How do you determine whether you need a PPC (Pay Per Click) or SEO strategy or both?
- How will you make sure you provide a Return on Investment (ROI)?
This is a good way to separate the good SEO companies from the great ones. The agency should ask what your best selling products or services are, about the retail value of those products and services, and inquire about the profit margin of those products and services. This information will help the SEO company come up with a paid keyword bidding strategy (PPC) or determine how much revenue is needed to generate organic traffic via SEO tactics. These are just a couple of ways the SEO company provides an ROI for the client.
How will we communicate and how frequently will we be in touch?
- How quickly do you respond to texts, emails, and phone calls?
- Do you make it a point to reach out once a day, week or month?
- What method of communication do you prefer?
- How important is it to you to be responsive?
This is important to ask right out of the gate because you’ll want to analyze the SEO company’s communication style and see how it vibes with your business because every business approaches communication differently. Some companies prefer to be in touch regularly throughout the day while others are ok with checkups once a week or once a month. If you prefer to use the phone and they like to communicate through email, these are things you’ll want to know before you start doing business.
What is your local SEO strategy?
- How important is NAP?
- How will you use local reviews in your local SEO strategy?
- Is metadata useful?
To employ a successful local SEO strategy an SEO company should make sure your Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) is the same on your website and across the internet. It is important to monitor and sort through local Yelp, Facebook, and Google My Business reviews because they can increase your website's ranking in search results. Detailed metadata can also help improve rankings while giving local customers a better idea what the page is about. The metadata description appears in the Search Engine Results Page as a snippet to enhance the page and entices searchers to click through to your website.
What is your social media strategy?
- Are social media profiles helpful in ranking?
- How will you use social media to boost brand awareness?
- What does a good social media strategy mean for advertising?
Having a solid presence on a variety of social media platforms can help increase your website’s ranking in the Search Engine Results Page. Social media can help boost brand awareness because it is an easy tool to help make the company stand out and it can directly reach potential customers. However, most importantly, it helps the company manage their perception on the Web. Make sure you inquire about the SEO company’s social media strategy because a good social media following and secure brand presence can be a low-cost way to advertise directly to your customers.
What metric do you think is most important?
- Why is this metric the one you focus on the most?
- Which is more important? Growing your website’s traffic or gaining new customers?
- How does this help the bottom line?
While an SEO company should focus on increasing traffic, rankings and links, a seasoned SEO company will primarily focus on customer leads, and sales or conversions of potential customers into clients--as well as growing traffic, links, and rankings. This will also help you improve your bottom line because you can see what's working and keep doing it, or evaluate what's not working and create opportunities for improvement.
What other services do you offer and how can they help boost your SEO strategy?
- Why is it best to use an all-inclusive SEO company?
- How will other services help the SEO strategy?
- Will this help me get more customers?
Sometimes SEO companies offer more services, and if that’s the case, it’s usually best to have one company manage multiple aspects of the campaign so everyone is on the same page and important information doesn't get lost in translation. Some other services offered could include web design, content marketing, paid search advertising, marketing automation, social media or conversion-rate optimization. When the same company is managing multiple aspects of the campaign, valuable data is being shared that could help enhance other factors of the SEO strategy. Using various advertising strategies in association with SEO is also another way to grow your business and gain new clients.
What types of content can you produce?
- Is there an advantage to creating content other than website copy and blog posts?
- What do you charge for other types of content?
- How will this help my website?
It is an advantage if the SEO company can produce other types of content such as infographics, videos, video scripts, short animations, graphs and charts, email campaigns, newsletters and eBooks. This will ensure that all of the content will have the same voice, tone and brand presence. Videos, infographics, animations, charts, and graphs will help enhance your website copy and blog posts by making your website stand out even more to potential clients, making it more appealing to anyone interested in your products and services.
How will you help improve my website’s conversion rate?
- What is the conversion rate and why is it important?
- What are some cost effective ways to increase the conversion rate?
- What else affects the conversion rate?
The conversion rate is the amount of customers who take action on your website whether it’s purchasing a product or service or signing up for a newsletter. It helps measure success and shows you what people visiting your website are really doing. A few simple ways to improve your site’s conversion rate is to pay particular attention to headlines and make sure they are eye catching with a call to action. Writing your metadata descriptions organically and creatively, so they entice the customer and make them want to buy your product or service is also an excellent strategy to enhance conversation rates. If the SEO company recommends multiple ways to increase it, you’re off to a good start because everything can influence it. For example, making specific landing pages for the product or service, targeted social media campaigns to draw attention to a call to action, or using high-quality images and videos.
What is your honest opinion of my website?
- Will you be upfront about my website’s issues?
- Will we communicate effectively?
- How do you work under pressure?
Asking an SEO company to evaluate your website before hiring them is a good way to tell how they think under pressure, and you will also be able to determine how creative they can be on the spot. If they are honest about any potential issues now, they will likely be transparent with you in the future. Asking an unexpected question is also an easy way to get a glimpse into what your working relationship might be like in the future.
How do you stay up to date on industry news?
- What blogs and websites do you read?
- Can you tell me about the latest news from Google?
- Do you think it’s important to keep up with industry trends?
Asking an SEO company this question will help you determine if they can talk the talk and walk the walk. If they have no problem telling you what blogs and websites they use to keep up without hesitation, that’s a good sign they’ll be able to deliver. Any reputable SEO company should know the latest news from Google and other search engines like Bing and Yahoo. After all, that goes hand in hand with being able to understand what’s needed to increase rankings and drive traffic. It is a warning sign if they have a relaxed attitude about being in the know with current SEO practices. It’s beneficial to everyone if all parties are passionate and excited about the work that's being done.
What are some types of meta tags? Can you provide me with their character limits?
- Why are meta tags important?
- Why is their function?
Asking an SEO company this question is a good way to determine whether or not they know their stuff.
A meta description tag has a limit of 156 characters. This will let searchers know what the page is about before they click on it. A meta keyword tag can be inserted into a page to give search engines information about pages that is not visible on the page itself. A title tag has a 600 pixels limit, and it’s the blue clickable link headline in the Search Engine Results Page. Meta Robots tags tell search engines what page paths to follow and what not to follow while crawling your website.
What is on-page optimization versus off-page optimization?
- What is the difference?
- How is on-page optimization beneficial?
- Why would you use off-page optimization?
On-page SEO means you’re managing and controlling all of the aspects of your website to help increase search engine rankings. Off-page focuses on domain authority and acquiring links through other websites. They are both beneficial because they each provide different ways to increase rankings, traffic, and conversions. A good SEO company will know the value of each and how to make an on-page and off-page strategy work together to bring you maximum conversions and leads.
Ready to Ask the SEO Experts Some Questions?
The company you’re working with should have your best interests in mind. At Get YOU Found, we help businesses target the right audience and grow their company. If you have any questions about choosing an SEO agency for your business, contact us today.