questions to ask an seo company

11 Key Questions to Ask When Hiring an SEO Company

By Matt Cayless - SEO Director

Posted on January, 22, 2019

Being number one on Google usually ranks pretty high on the list of wish-list of businesses for their service or product.

I mean, it’s easy, right?

A few keywords here, a link from a website there, and voila!

After a months of eager anticipation and countless searches? Nothing.

It’s time to bring in an expert.

Forgive us for the role play, but it’s a scenario we’ve encountered all too often.

SEO is an integral part of any digital marketing strategy but beating competitors to the 1st page requires an expert approach.

But of all the SEO agencies out there, which ones truly are experts?

Well.

Here are 11 essential questions you’ll need to ask in order to find the right SEO company for you.

1) What experience do you have?

Granted, that’s a tricky first question.

A successful SEO company will typically have clients from a range of industries and be able to display their results.

What you’re really looking out for is the scale of the results achieved i.e. what’s the average performance increase over 12 months, and how that is applicable to your business.

There may be a significant learning curve to go through in the early stages of a campaign if you’ve engaged an agency in the past.

During the pitch or research stage of choosing an agency, they may uncover links that could be harming the reputation of the website, which would affect campaign performance.

It’s common practice to check for this, to ensure the website is clean and brought to a good standard to build on.

You can also benchmark your business against the size of the clients on display.

If an SEO agency presents case studies of businesses of a similar size to yours, it’s likely they understand the service levels expected.

2) How will you understand my business?

Truly understanding a business can take years.

A successful SEO agency will have tried and tested methods of getting to the core of what makes a business unique.

That’s not to say they’ll know the in’s and out’s like a long-serving employee, but a good SEO company will probe your senior leadership team with questions that they know visitors to your website will want to answer to and truly understand your challenges and goals.

But this is a two-way street.

As a client, you should be expected to:

Share business plans.

Share commercial goals.

Share sales strategy.

Providing an understanding of where a business wants to be in 5 years, alongside financial information such as which areas drive the biggest return, can help both companies sing from the same sheet.

3) What’s your process once we sign up?

The contracts are signed.

Hands have been shaken.

It’s time to get to work.

But what does that look like?

What is the process a business will be taken through once they’ve signed on the dotted line?

A good SEO agency will have developed a process over time that increases their chances of success and can share a detailed campaign plan & strategy with you.

4) How long will it take for us to rank?

Ah, the million-dollar question.

And one that is almost impossible to answer, for any reputable SEO company at least.

Let us provide some context.

There are many factors at play when it comes to ranking on search engines. Which alongside the fact that nobody knows exactly how Google ranks websites, leads to rankings being incredibly difficult to predict.

Which is why anyone that’s talking to an SEO agency who guarantees #1 rankings in a short space of time should run for the hills.

Why?

Well, if a website can rank #1 in a matter of weeks for a search query, what does that say about the phrase involved? Ranking #1 for a phrase that nobody is searching for isn’t much use.

As SEO is being adopted by many businesses, competition for the terms that actually provide conversions is fierce.

Realistically, it could take months for your business to appear in the search results, but the investment is worthwhile, and importantly – measurable!

5) Will there be a local SEO strategy?

Local SEO is incredible. The power of appearing in the infamous “local pack” with numerous 5-star ratings is a powerful brand message.

For any business that gains most of its work based on locality, this should form a central part of a good SEO agency’s strategy.

However, for national companies or those targeting multiple countries, local SEO may not be a worthy use of time and budget.

If an agency can identify the business strategy from the outset, they’ll be able to advise on whether this is a strategy you should focus on or leave as a ‘nice to have’.

 6) What’s your link building strategy?

Links are integral to an SEO strategy, especially for businesses that haven’t done any digital marketing before.

Essentially, Google uses links as votes of confidence. When a trustworthy website adds a link to another, it’s sending a clear signal to Google that says, “we trust this website enough to send our visitors there”.

However, not all links are the same.

A good SEO company will look to gain links from the most authoritative websites in your industry, which as a result boosts the reputation of your own website.

The key thing to watch out for is when an agency may not be adhering to best practices, by building links as a result of “black hat techniques” that could damage your website in the long-term, such as purchasing spammy backlink or bulk-directory listings.

7) Can you optimise the content we already have?

Often the quickest win when it comes to SEO, is providing the content currently on a website with some focus.

While it may have been written with customers in mind, a great SEO company will know what’s missing, and where improvements could be made that will increase its visibility.

8) How much time do you need from us?

Striking the balance between gaining knowledge and being self-sufficient will separate good SEO companies from the rest.

In the early stages of a campaign, you should be taken through an effective onboarding process that engages all of the stakeholders within your business.

This could range from the senior leadership team, to junior marketing executives that will be the day to day point of contact.

Exchanging information is vital.

Expect to be quizzed by an agency on your USPs, the markets you serve, the types of customer that buy your product, and more. This is all in an effort to gain an in-depth understanding of your business.

You’ll also be asked to share logins to various tools, such as your website’s content management system, Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

This forms the basis of a great onboarding process. By engaging all the parties involved, and sharing the information required to succeed, everyone should feel confident about the upcoming campaign.

Following the onboarding process, apart from fact-checking and sign-off on content, don’t be surprised if contact is relatively short. You should expect monthly reports, typically summarising work completed and key SEO Metrics improvements, alongside a catch-up call to explain those results, but aside from that, trust your agency to deliver the results.

9) Who will be my main point of contact?

Establishing service levels is critical in forming a new relationship.

The right SEO company will ensure that throughout onboarding a company, the person that will handle the relationship on a day to day basis is present.

That might not be the Managing Director or the Senior Leadership team, but an account manager who will provide progress reports and feed back to the wider team.

The main goal here is to establish a single point of contact, and to know the procedure for reporting things to a more senior team member where appropriate.

10) Will I get a report, and how often?

Yes. A good SEO company will undoubtedly provide you with a monthly report, providing metrics on all of the objectives outlined from the start.

This should include:

  • The ranking of primary keywords
  • Amount of organic traffic generated
  • Any backlinks earned
  • Technical changes implemented
  • Increase in leads/ sales / revenue

Any agency that suggests a report might be hitting your inbox less often, or not at all, should be considered at your own peril!

11) What is it going to cost?

Of course, this depends on your needs and goals, and the budget you have.

On average, good SEO costs between £1,000-£15,000 per month on a retainer basis.

But we’d suggest looking at the cost of SEO another way.

As part of an SEO campaign, your existing website will be optimised for the most relevant keywords, you’ll regularly receive engaging content, plus you’ll gain high quality backlinks.

All of these are assets that will continue to provide value long-term and are centred around giving you return on investment by driving relevant traffic to your website.

Which results in conversions being generated over a long period of time.

In fact, a good SEO company will aim to provide clients with 10 to 20 times ROI.

If they achieve that consistently, does it really matter what the cost is?

——

Here at Bubblegum Search, our aim is to generate results through integrated SEO & Content Marketing.

That means you don’t find us trying to increase the visitors to your website if they’re not your targeted audience.

We’ll identify how we can improve your visibility by optimising your website for keywords that convert visitors into customers, by creating remarkable content that not only establishes your brand, but powers top-ranking search engine results.

And better yet, we’re so committed to getting an exceptional ROI and because we are so confident in our expertise and systems, if you’re not 100% satisfied with our SEO services, you can cancel at the end of the month.

So, if you’re looking to get more from your website, get in touch with us today, for a free consultation.

Matt Cayless is the Director of SEO at Bubblegum Search. He is an expert in Search Engine Optimisation having worked on campaigns for some of the world’s biggest brands and has a passion for helping businesses grow online. When he’s not chasing the Google algorithm he can be found training for his next marathon. Follow him on Twitter

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