Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a highly efficient technique when used well and one that is often best left to the professionals. However, it can be very hard to know whether you’re picking the right SEO agency or not to handle your precious campaign. Here are a few questions you can ask to ensure the company you are choosing knows what they are doing.
First, be sure to ask your SEO company what tactics they prefer to use in terms of increasing search rankings and overall visibility. Some agencies could use techniques that take greater risks than you need to be associating yourself with, and broadly speaking for longer term projects, these are not recommended; certainly not without being aware of the risks associated with these activities. It’s important to check if they play by the rules search engines set, or if greater risks are taken – and to be aware of the potential consequences if there are risks involved.
Secondly, ask to see a client list, along with the resultant testimonials and case studies. By ensuring that other clients are highly satisfied with the service and that the agency boasts a wide range of clients, in a variety of niches, you can feel more secure in handing over your money.
Next, it’s important to ask what support they can give you in optimising your website’s existing content. They may offer professional content services as an add-on, or may be willing to give you some advice as to how you yourself can optimise it, by altering what is currently in place, by recommending areas where content needs to be extended, or even when new pages may be required.
Another important step to take is asking if they work for any of your competitors, as if they do, it could be that a potential conflict of interest will arise. The counter argument to this however is the marketplace experience – so it’s worth being aware that this question can be something of a double-edged sword.
If they do work with clients you would consider competitors, how will they ensure that they give your website the appropriate attention it deserves? And what information will be shared internally about these sites?
It sounds obvious, but be sure to ask about time, money and results. How long will it take, how much will it costs you with all add-ons, not just the basic fee and what sort of results can you expect to see? Ask to see some case studies from other clients, demonstrating that the agency has managed to accomplish what their other clients have asked for.
These are difficult questions to answer – and there isn’t always a “right” answer, as every agency will have their own approach tailored to what has worked for their clients. But it can help you to understand how they work towards achieving the goals you need to be achieving from undertaking this SEO work.
Also – ask what their policy is on guarantees; quite often agencies will offer unrealistic guarantees, such as increased rankings in five days, so do your research beforehand and be on the look-out for any deals that sound too good to be true – as generally they will be.
Guarantees of results in this area are a clear warning sign to stay away from an agency – by all means guarantees of activity levels and effort are sensible, but guarantees of any form of result in this field cannot be given much credence.
There are many variables outside of any SEO agencies control on a project, and search engines can change the goalposts at any time – so never trust a guarantee of any result.
Finally, make sure you determine what will be considered a successful campaign with that company. Rankings for the sake of it are not enough in the online world – if you rank for obscure phrases that no one ever searches for, how does that benefit you?
You need to be found on phrases that people do search for, and increase the visibility of the website on a wide variety of terms. Traffic and resulting conversions are much stronger metrics for the success of any search marketing campaign than a ranking, for that rankings sake.