Either you’ve gotten online and found yourself an SEO provider, or you’ve been mysteriously approached by an SEO agency cold-caller, how do you know if you’re going with the right agency?
SEO is a high competition space – and with dozens of providers fighting for potential customers, they’ll say just about anything to get you in the door and signing the next 6 months away on the dotted line. So before you allow yourself to take the leap, how can you be sure that you’re going with the right team? SEO, in general, is still a bit of a mystery even to marketing professionals. With so many newly coined terms and a constantly moving targets set by Google’s search algorithm, it’s no wonder that many people find themselves caught out getting little ROI on their SEO campaigns.
We’ve created a few tips on how to avoid having a negative experience with a sub-par agency. Following these tips can help you to avoid complete disaster. A little-known fact to many SMEs is that poor quality SEO can actually hurt your website’s search presence in a way that can be very hard to recover from. Meaning that the wrong choice can land you needing to spend more money to fix the problem than it would have cost to get it done right in the first place.
So put your sceptic-hat on, find a good-cop to your bad, and fire a few of these straight at the SEO agency who’s currently courting you for your business:
1. What is the SEO Supplier’s experience in the online space?
As a young industry, SEOs have come from a variety of other job functions before working within this space. The previous experience/background of these individuals is important for ensuring that you’re getting someone who knows what they’re doing and is able to complete some of the technical tasks needed for a proper SEO campaign. Preferably, you will want to work with an agency with a marketing and web design background, not just one or the other. An agency with both of these skill sets will understand not only what it takes to build your presence online, but also how to execute it effectively.
2. Do they offer any other similar services?
In the same vein, check if the agency offers any other related services such as PPC advertising, display advertising, web development or social media. An agency with a full arsenal of digital marketing tools will more likely advise you on the right digital channel for your business instead of trying to force you into a solution that just matches their skill set.
3. Is their pricing structure transparent? And, are there clear deliverables?
Does the agency breakdown the components of your SEO campaign to explain exactly what you’re getting? SEO is the culmination of a number of techniques, brought together to make an impact on your business. Just using 1 or 2 techniques puts all of your eggs in one basket and makes for average performance. Breaking down the components of an SEO package and creating a clear set of deliverables is the only way to be sure you’re getting what you’re paying for. For example, a certain package might include 4-6 backlinks, 1 blog post, 2 citations and a report (just as an example).
4. Ask about their approach to link building
Just as you’d check which engine you’re getting in your car, checking what sort of backlinks your getting can help you to figure out the quality of your SEO campaign. Make sure that backlinks are being created in reputable directories and websites that are relevant to your business. As well, make sure that these backlinks are primarily coming from the same countries that your business serves. For example, if you only serve customers in Australia, you’ll want to mainly have .com.au sites linking to yours. This is what we call “Geographically Relevant Links”. Also, make sure that links aren’t being created by an automated tool and that there will be variety in the types of links that are created.
5. Do they have any case studies, success stories or testimonials?
See if your provider can give you any case studies or examples of their work. Make sure that this material is recent, because someone who was effective 12 months ago isn’t necessarily effective now. It can also pay to do your research. Search for reviews about a business on Google to see what others are saying about them to get a truly independent snapshot of an agency.
6. Ask them if they have a client portfolio
Who has trusted this agency in the past? Do they have a list of customers who are happy enough to have their name put on the agency’s website? A healthy client list is the sign of a healthy agency.
7. Which techniques do they plan to use to increase your traffic?
Is your SEO plan just focused around backlink building or will there be an element of content creation, onsite optimisation and social activity. A wide range of techniques are needed to have a successful campaign. A wider scope of techniques can imply a higher level of knowledge, commitment to your success and a thorough approach to SEO.
8. What measurement/reporting practices are in place? What is their reporting frequency?
The true test of an SEO agency is how well they provide reporting and how they measure your success. A good SEO agency will be forthcoming with data to show you their target keywords, their KPIs and how they are achieving them for you. A less successful agency may like to keep your results a bit more ambiguous.
9. Are they forcing you into a long-term lock-in contract?
A good agency doesn’t feel the need to lock you into any long term contracts. Instead, a good agency might offer a discount for a longer term commitment rather than making a 6 or 12 month agreement mandatory if you take up their services.
10. Are they making quantitative promises without a guarantee?
In SEO it’s impossible to make quantitative claims about performance due to the many external factors that affect your results. Be wary of anyone claiming to get you the number 1 position within X amount of time. This is sometimes a sticking point for customers, because naturally they want to see results immediately! All we can do is show our clients the record of proven success that we have in generating traffic from the search engines. We assure our customers that we will improve their rankings and this is backed up by a guarantee that we will “get to the first page for at least 1 of your keywords within 3 months or we will continue working for free until we achieve this”. We don’t guarantee the time frame or the positions, but we always deliver, because we target keywords that we can rank for within a realistic and achievable time frame.
If you are looking for an SEO agency that ticks all of these boxes, talk to us about arranging a free SEO consultation.