13 Questions to Ask Before You Hire an SEO Agency
SEO is not a fancy buzzword anymore. It can increase tens and thousands of dollars in your bottom line. If your company is looking to hire an agency for SEO, you may be in a fix like many other business owners out there. It is a tricky situation to be in, especially while we exist in a digital world where spammy SEO is going on like a raging storm. How do you choose an SEO agency that is efficient yet affordable?
Although good SEO does not come cheap, there are some qualified entities out there which can improve your bottom line while keeping you on a budget. If you end up sealing the deal for more, the agency must have a good reason to make that happen. Here are some questions you should ask an SEO agency before making a formal contract:
What is your link building procedure?
Some SEO agencies promise that they will make your link game skyrocket within a few weeks. These promises can land you in hot waters. It is not possible to rank high for links within a few weeks. The right agency will tell you that one high-quality link from a high authority website is very efficient as compared to hundreds of other links with no authority. Machine-created links harm the rankings of a website more, and the penalties by Google are harsh for the rankings of those sites.
If the conversation is shifting towards building high-quality links, you can rest assured that the agency is moving in the right direction. The modern form of link building in SEO means that you focus more on earning high-quality links through credible sources that can keep paying you in the long run.
High-quality content is something that can make it easier for you to earn more links. A good SEO agency is going to tell you to invest more in content that is boosted organically. This will also open new doors of relationship building for your website through influencers and market leaders. Focus on quality over quantity of links so you can gain unique traffic that keeps paying off in more conversions.
Which tools do you apply?
It is essential to know about the tools the agency needs to keep up with your SEO needs. Your business is directly related to the system a company uses to fix your SEO. Legitimate organizations have a set of tools they deploy for every client. Legitimate agencies also use auditing tools to measure their SEO efforts on the client’s website. Modern tools have a whole package of features to fix your SEO.
Do your research about these tools and ask the agency about old features that can potentially harm your site’s SEO. It is evident that they use the best tools after experimentation, but you should ask the following questions anyway:
- How do you check keyword research and through which tool?
- Which tool do you use to monitor site rankings?
- Which website crawling tool do you deploy?
- Which tool do you use to monitor backlinks on a website?
- How do you perform competitor analysis through a tool?
- Ask them ‘why’ at the end of every question so they can update you on the importance of their tools as well.
Your potential agency must reason with you about the choice of tools and be able to explain how they use specific tools at certain times.
What is your documentation procedure?
It is the era of cloud storage and soft copy reporting. Is your potential SEO agency keeping up with the latest methods of reporting?
The best way to find out is to ask for a sample report or a report they created for a former client. This will familiarize you with the agency’s reporting procedure. By this point, you must be aware of shared goals, so it is good to know about the documentation procedure. Ask them how they are going to customize the sample report according to your company needs.
Stay away from companies who fail to provide you a detailed insight into your SEO plan. Modern tools provide in-depth information about SEO trends, and any SEO professional would know that it is a piece of cake.
Bigger companies which require more detailed or frequent updates need frequent reporting. Ask the agency if they rely on automation for this purpose. Search results often fluctuate overnight. If the experts are not keeping an eye on the performance regularly, your website’s SERPs can be hit with some severe damage. Daily monitoring also leads to devising the best plan for your website or blog.
Can you provide specific results?
Normally, the answer to this question should be an aggressive ‘no.’ It is impossible for any SEO expert to provide results which are spot-on. Google and other search engines have the controls of the SERPs. It is not in control of any SEO company to bring your website to a specific ranking. However, the experts will help you attain first page rankings. If an agency tells you that they can get you “the first rank by xyz week,” they are lying to you.
Your company budget, business goals, and the plan will be analyzed by an agency to present a forecast of likely circumstances.
When will I see ‘xyz’ rankings?
If the agency passes the question mentioned before, it is time to test their expertise a bit more. The best answer to this question should be an exploration of your niche. Agencies work efficiently by charting out your niche and topics related to that niche. According to this information, they can make a plan for the next 3-6 months.
It is no surprise that any niche-related SEO campaign takes at least six months to bear fruit. Ask the agency how they mastered this procedure with former clients and how you can help them in this goal. Every niche is not the same. There is competition in some niches, while some are easier to work with. Your agency will tell you how you are progressing in those domains.
Have you dealt with clients like us before?
Before picking an agency, you must interview them about their experience with clients like you. It can be possible that the company mainly deals with clients from your niche. In case the situation is otherwise, ask them about the variety of work they can exhibit with different clients.
For example, a large company with a big website needs to be dealt with an agency that has relevant experience. Fresh agencies with little or no experience in dealing with bigger websites will struggle to provide faster outcomes. An experienced SEO expert can handle hundreds of pages when they have worked with such clients before. Moreover, if you work in a field like law or medicine, you need to work with an agency which is well aware of governmental regulations and keeps your site safe from an intervention.
How do you stay updated?
When you are looking for an SEO agency, the minimal requirement is to have a well-informed one. Ask them how they collect information about current SEO trends. If they don’t mention places like the Google Webmaster Central Blog, you should be concerned. Google has its update center for every algorithm change. Active SEO agencies keep updated on these trends to craft the best SEO plan for their clients.
The best agencies will be well-read and will also perform their research on SEO news and updates of today. That’s also useful when Google launches a Penguin or Panda update to go after SEO miscreants. SEO agencies stay wary of these penalties and inform their clients in time to recover from them.
Do you outsource?
Is there a part of the SEO process that the agency outsources? Now is the time to find out. Maybe the agency outsources content writing or IT assistance. In this case, your project will be in the hands of two or three separate entities at once. It is your right to know who is dealing with your work. Most agencies outsource some part of their project.
However, if the agency is outsourcing an essential part, like outreach, to third parties which are not capable of dealing with the situation, it can land your business and your budget in hot waters. If the agency is outsourcing link building, outreach or content creation, you must keep an eye on their strategy.
What do you require from us?
SEO agencies that know their job will ask you to cooperate with them on several motives. They will provide you a long list of requirements which you have to help them meet. This helps them function effectively. To reach an SEO goal, you must cooperate with the agency and complete specific KPI’s. If your potential agency is not asking these questions, you should be worried.
Moreover, the agency needs to take over your Google Analytics dashboard. It is as simple as ABC. After talking to some agencies, you will have a fair idea of the importance of collaborating with an agency. Agencies that don’t ask anything from their clients are not going to bring you SEO success. SEO is a very complex field. Google and other search engines post algorithm changes several times in a month. To keep up, you must hire an agency which is well-informed of these trends and does not keep you in the dark.
What is your keyword strategy?
Keyword targeting is the life and soul of an SEO project. Your potential agency must think the same. Ideal SEO’s find out the keywords through Google tools and trend watch. Your niche and competition are some other factors which are necessary to mention. It is essential to be briefed about the exact path the agency is going to take if they are going to handle your website or blog’s SEO.
What are your success metrics?
When you make a deal with an agency for your business, you have some goals in mind. However, you must ask the agency about their goals from your business and how they specify their success metrics. Is it ‘traffic increase in xyz months’ or is it virality? Ask them what success metrics are determined in their terms.
How do you deal with penalties?
Penalties were not directly associated with the SEO agencies until a few years ago. Now it is the job of the agency to fix your website if you run into an unfortunate event like a penalty. Both manual and algorithmic penalties have been a norm for a few years. It is to protect the best content and save websites from spammy links. Spam links lead to the devaluing of pages.
Good SEO agencies know the drill. They know how to revert a page to normal and get the previous rankings back. An ideal SEO agency will also tell you to apply healthy link tactics for SEO and refrain from black-hat SEO at all costs!
What makes you different?
This question will eventually come up after the agency has briefed you about their case studies and methods of SEO. However, if they respond with ‘we are cheaper than others,’ you should be cautious. In the world of SEO, money is not an issue. If someone promises you first rank for a hefty price, they are not doing SEO right.
The best answer to this question should be “we will restructure your website’s SEO’’ and improve your content, etc. They will point out their records and explain to you why their theory will work for your business.
Bonus question: How do you terminate a contract?
It is essential to know this before you get into a formal agreement with any SEO agency. It is for your good to know what happens when you want to terminate a contract. Most SEOs with black-hat techniques would wish to keep a deal for a limited period. Usually, a deal should go on for 5-6 months because it is the time taken by the algorithms to affect the ranking of your site.
Moreover, there can be other reasons to terminate the contract. What if you start feeling disappointed by the work? In those cases, you should know the easiest way out. Ask the agency if they have any fees associated with early termination of a contract.
We hope this guide helped you in finding the best SEO company for your business. Before approaching any company, do your research and finalize the ones who have been an expert in this field for long. Do you have any question that can improve the SEO agency hunt for a business owner? Tell us in the comments section below.