7 Questions to Ask Before You Appoint Your SEO Agency
Many business owners understand the importance of having a professional SEO agency on side but don’t always know how to go about finding the right fit.
Any agency worth their salt won’t be offended when you ask questions: if anything they’ll welcome them. As it gives them a chance to shine compared to the competition, to brag about their past successes, and to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they know their stuff, can help you achieve your online goals, and why they are absolutely the right choice.
By getting them to answer the following seven questions you’ll know if you’re getting a top-notch SEO agency that has the tools, experience, and knowledge to get your website to the top of the search engines.
Question 1: What was your favourite creative solution for helping a client?
While the same general strategies are going to apply in some way or another because of different niches, different competition level, and just some seeming randomness from Google’s Algorithm, there are always going to be examples of a time when the SEO agency had to do something creative or different to get that authority, to build trust, or to get those all-important backlinks.
This can be an extremely illuminating question because it shows you their ability to adapt, to try new things, and that they fully understand search engine optimization enough to tackle rankings from another angle if one method doesn’t get the results they were originally looking to achieve.
Question 2: Which previous or current client will vouch for you?
Any experienced SEO agency will seek permission to use client testimonials, and most clients are happy to do so – as it’s a reflection on them and confirms that they made the right choice. If the agency can’t provide you with multiple references, then it’s a clear red flag. Client’s know how important good testimonials are and, will usually be more than happy to give an outstanding reference if they have been truly helped out. This is especially true with things like advertising, marketing, and SEO.
Question 3: Can you guarantee me top ratings in Google?
If the answer to this question is an unequivocal yes, then it’s probably time to grab your coat and head for the door. Any serious SEO specialist knows that there are over 200 different factors that go into determining rank, and no matter how much testing is done no one is ever going to know 100% of what makes one website rank #1 versus #10.
Yes, SEO agencies can be confident they are going to get you results and they can be confident that they will make you competitive, but as far as outright guarantees, no one in their right mind can give you that unless they plan on doing something suspicious – and that always gets caught and the website gets punished, leaving the webmaster worse off than before.
Question 4: Do you have your own PBN?
This is an interesting question to ask because several answers can all be a positive response. PBNs (Private Blog Networks) is a bit controversial. Poorly hidden or developed ones can be a hazard to ranking while other SEO agencies who take the proper steps to develop a legitimate portfolio of websites may be h4 (header tags) believers in providing quality backlinks.
The most important thing is you want an answer that shows thought and adjustment. If the agency has its own sites or PBNs, but are quick to assure you theirs are built correctly, get traffic, and have never been penalized by Google, then that’s a good answer.
If the agency says they always want to fall on the better safe than sorry route so they never use PBNs but still gather good links through social media strategies and guest posting requests, that’s also a good answer.
Question 5: What would be your main strategy to help rank my website?
The right answer needs to be some form of “multi-disciplined strategy” There are both on-site and off-site factors that need to be considered, there is also the need to build trust and authority, a social footprint, and linking both off-site and getting links to your website. That means a truly good SEO campaign is going to tackle multiple areas of concern all at the same time.
Question 6: How are you going to keep me with what you’re doing to rank my site?
Straight off the bat; there are no “secret” SEO methods. The exact URLs for linking, or the exact strategies for getting social media attention might vary, but the same general processes are always going to be the same. That means that on any level the SEO agency should be able to provide weekly or monthly reports to let you know what works and what is being done in helping your website rank higher in the search engine rankings.
Question 7: How does traffic break down on the first page?
This question does two things: firstly it makes sure that the agency you’re talking with understands some very basic things about SEO, and secondly, it helps you figure out whether the agency is straight and honest or are trying to extort you for as much money as possible.
The answer is never you must be number1. Generally speaking, being on the front page will get you far more traffic from any position, but anything 5 or below is around 10% of traffic. The top three spots are far above all others with numbers being as high as 50% for spot one and 20% to 30% for spots two and three.
The first page always gets well over 90% of all search engine inquiry traffic, but space one is a lot different from space three and space ten. An honest assessment will explain this general setup.
Bonus Question: Who owns any additional blog posts or optimized content if/when the contract ends?
This is a great closing question and one that tests if the agency sees you as a partner or simply a cash-paying client because, for the amount that any business needs to pay for good SEO work, the client should always still own any blog posts on their on-site blog or any optimized content on their website.
Some SEO agencies will claim that they own the content and have the right to take it back if the contract is broken. Which isn’t a good policy for any client – so make sure whatever happens, you always maintain ownership of the content.
The Last Word
If you ask these seven questions (or eight if you include the bonus), and you receive honest, open responses you’ll truly have all the information you need to go ahead make the right decision on a great SEO consulting agency.