SEO is a rather daunting and sometimes fickle aspect of the web. Let’s face it, some of us might not even know what it stands for (Search Engine Optimization for the uninitiated). But hiring a quality SEO professional or agency will ultimately determine the success of your online presence and inevitably your business. But with the growing pool of people claiming to be experts in SEO, how do you know how to weed out the real experts from those using outdated or ineffective tactics?
Whether you’re looking for your next SEO agency or you’re just entering the arena and don’t know anything about search engine optimization, there are some key questions to ask about SEO that will help you determine the right fit for your business.
Don’t waste your marketing budget on “experts” that can’t deliver the goods. Check out these questions to ask SEO agencies so you can make an informed decision and start seeing results.
1. What is SEO?
A basic question, so it would seem. But SEO is still a relatively young concept that is constantly shifting and evolving. The birth of SEO is estimated to be around 1991, and in its short lifespan it has evolved rapidly, weeding out those who can’t keep up.
You’re going to an agency for the answers you don’t have. It’s important to know the SEO experts you seek out have knowledge and expertise regarding what SEO is, what it involves, and how it will improve your business — and can explain it clearly to you.
2. What are your methods for improving my search engine rankings?
Every agency or SEO consultant will use somewhat different techniques, but there are foundational principles and best practices every agency should follow. Clients should be wary of anyone who doesn’t share their methods for how they plan to improve your rankings.
Make sure they intend to audit your current site for areas of improvement such as broken links, duplicate content, and other items that could be contributing to a low search ranking. More than likely, your SEO partner will want to incorporate “on page optimization” to make your site as SEO friendly as possible. This includes adding relevant, strategic keywords to your content so Google can find it easily, as well as other tactics such as expanding content to provide more value to the user.
Some specific tactics may be kept private until you enter into a service agreement, but make sure they have an overarching plan that includes auditing your site and planning their tactics accordingly.
3. Do you adhere to Google’s Webmaster guidelines and best practices?
It’s important to have an agency or consultant that follows the proper guidelines set forth by the search engine that determines the quality and ranking of your site.
Google Webmaster guidelines and best practices outline website do’s and don’ts, including illicit practices that could result in either a penalty or the removal of your site from the Google Index — meaning you won’t see it on a Google search. Google best practices mainly focus on keeping your site user-friendly and avoiding any sort of deceptive act for the purpose of increasing your search rankings.
You want an SEO expert that knows and understands these guidelines and creates an SEO plan for you accordingly.
4. How will you communicate changes made to my site, and how often?
Effective SEO tactics will likely translate to a number of changes to your site, all of which you should be kept aware of and give approval for. Whether your SEO plan is being updated or created from scratch, it’s important to know what adjustments are being made and on which pages.
Additionally, the frequency of updates made to your website should be pre-determined by your SEO agency or consultant, but feel free to let them know if you prefer less or more communication and how you would like to communicate (email versus phone, for example). It’s typical to receive a monthly report including a summary of all changes as well as information on any increases or decreases in search traffic and recommendations for next steps.
5. What value do backlinks provide?
While businesses are experts in their industries, many understandably do not fully understand the ins and outs of SEO and the best ways to make their site more valuable to consumers. What backlinks are and the value they add to your site is a good example.
Backlinks are a link back to your site from another website or web directory, and getting backlinks from high-quality sources improves the overall visibility, authority, and “trustworthiness” of your site in the eyes of search engines. An expert SEO consultant should have a plan for how to obtain more meaningful backlinks.
6. When will my site start seeing results?
A tricky question, but one that any SEO expert will be asked. An important thing to remember is that good SEO practices are a continual process, and Google may pick up on those in a week, a month, or even longer than that. Since there are so many contributing factors, it’s hard to determine exactly how long it will take to see results.
A quality SEO expert understands that you will continue to see improvements in your site over time, and anyone who gives you an exact number or promises immediate results is someone to avoid.
7. Have you worked with clients in my industry before?
Many clients will want to know if their potential agency or consultant has experience engaging with their customer base and if they understand their business. Many industries have specific language they use and even more specific markets they target, and an SEO expert will work diligently with you and through their own research to understand your business to make your SEO successful.
If your SEO expert doesn’t understand what your business does or who it serves, neither will Google.
8. What does a typical engagement with you look like?
Clients should have a full understanding of how their SEO expert works, what they will be doing for them, and the typical schedule they should expect.
A quality SEO agency or consultant will always offer a detailed layout of how their engagement with you will be handled.
9. Have you worked with penalized sites? If so, how have you fixed them?
An SEO specialist or agency will likely have worked with a site that has been penalized in the past, mainly due to the fact that manual and algorithmic penalties have skyrocketed in the last ten years. Once a site has been penalized, recovery isn’t always easy.
An experienced and effective SEO consultant will have a high success rate in recovering penalized sites and have the proper tactics set in place to prevent penalties in the future.
10. When will we reach the #1 search ranking on Google?
This is one of the easiest ways to find out the quality of your SEO consultant or agency. If they are simply looking to make a quick buck, they’ll guarantee #1 rankings. But here’s the rub — no one can guarantee #1 rankings. Here are a few reasons why:
– No one knows when or how Google’s algorithms will change (only how to handle changes after the fact)
– New penalties arise all the time which may result in changes to strategy
– “Doing everything right” within Google’s algorithms is still not an exact science
Plainly put, Google changes or tweaks its algorithms often and pushes out more than one change per day on average. Keeping up with the changes is a challenge, but predicting them is all but impossible. A quality SEO professional will work diligently to stay on top of any changes Google dishes out, run tests, and understand how crucial it is to continuously seek ways to improve the performance of your site.
11. What happens if I’m not happy with your services?
Any reputable agency or SEO consultant is going to put customer satisfaction first, and if you are truly unhappy with their work or the performance of your site, you should be able to sever the relationship without putting your site in any sort of jeopardy.
If you’re looking to hire SEO experts that truly know their stuff and put the customer first, Rocket55 guarantees that if you are not satisfied with the results of our work after one year, we will refund a portion of your total billings.
Have a different SEO question? We have answers.
Better yet, get a FREE Opportunity Analysis to see what it will take to push your SEO to the next level.