You might have heard the saying “If you want something done right, do it yourself!” more than once. Before agreeing or disagreeing on it, indulge me while I tell you a bit of its origins. A French writer named Charles Étienne is the “father” of this world wide used phrase but the literal translation is actually – ” One is never served so well as by oneself “- . And with this literal transcription we might be on the same page. And this is because we do believe that each professional has his own defined role in every complex business strategy. Although it’s sometimes hard to leave our business in someone’s else hands, this is necessary for so many reasons we are not going to bore you with.
It might happen more than once to get to a point where you’d need a SEO company to take care of your business. The world of internet is full with appealing suggestions; yet, from all the offers, what should you choose to be sure you’ve made the correct decision? Here is where we are going to give you a helpful hand (hopefully) by suggesting you some of the most important questions you should address to a prospect SEO company:
Below there is the list of the questions we’ve founded critical to find an answer for, to make sure one has taken the correct decision when it comes to hiring a SEO company
- Can You Guarantee that Our Site Will Rank #1 for a Major Search Term?
- Can You Share Information on Some of Your Past SEO Customers and Their Results?
- Will You Provide Me with an SEO Audit? And If Yes What Kind of Information Do You Usually Include in the Audit?
- How Fast Can I Start Seeing Results from this SEO Campaign?
- What Kind of Link Building Strategies Does Your SEO Company Use?
- What Do You Need from Me to Implement the SEO Campaign?
1. Can You Guarantee that Our Site Will Rank #1 for a Major Search Term?
This is a really good question, but not for the reason one might suspect.
If a company says yes to this question, that’s a sure sign you might want to stay away from them.
While getting ranked #1 is an entirely desirable outcome, no one can guarantee that it will actually happen. It’s not that SEO companies aren’t trying hard enough. Rather, there are so many factors influencing the ranking that it would be impossible for anyone to be able to proficiently control all of them. There might be upwards of 200 measurements that influence a website’s rank. Even if someone could verify with absolute certainty that Google’s algorithm was made up entirely of some known measurements , it would be impossible for them to control each and every factor.
So for a company to boast that it will get you to number 1 with absolute is suggests either folly (in which case you don’t need them) or charlatanry (in which case you don’t want them).
Below you can see a screenshot of two companies that guarantee high rankings in record time and the prices are not even that high. Just like a chocolate cake when you are on diet, this sounds very tempting, doesn’t it?
2. Can You Share Information on Some of Your Past SEO Customers and Their Results?
While privacy is a big deal for any client, most would be OK with some of their positive results being shown to the world. Of course, you won’t be able to see what happened specifically in each case, but a SEO company should be able to show some names and bring up some numbers.
If they can’t share any info at all, it could be a pretty big warning sign.
Clients should generally be pretty open to having their success stories disclosed as good practice examples, because it boosts their success narrative.
SEO companies should definitely want to list other clients, because it represents their portfolio and speaks to their ability to attract and maintain satisfied customers.
If such a list already exists, you can also try to find out more about them (the time spent with the SEO firm, the variety they show) and even to contact some of the clients to try and get some first-hand references.
3. Will You Provide Me with an SEO Audit? And If Yes What Kind of Information Do You Usually Include in the Audit?
This question is meant to make you understand any SEO company’s level of transparency.
If they are PRO, they should share with you information such as: SEO Visibility, New Links and Lost Links, Keywords Tracked Improvements and Declines, Onpage Analysis with all the whistles and bells (architecture,content,mobile,indexability). It’s important that you know what you’ll be able to get from them and how quickly. Are going to get everything in real time or will some information be available only at certain times?
If the company is vague when it comes to what kind of info are included on the audit, their level of professionalism is probably low.
Also, it is very important for you, as a digital marketer pro, to understand the data presented in the audit. Otherwise, the audit might not serve you much.
You don’t need just a collection of fancy data but real actionable insights that you properly understand and need.
There is a widely held belief that the word “kangaroo” comes from an Australian Aboriginal word meaning “I don’t know.” There is not enough evidence to sustain this matter, yet, the story has a strong moral and goes like this: It is said that Captain James Cook, when he landed to make repairs along the northeast coast of Australia, while trying to understand the way the marsupial animal was named in the Aboriginal language, he misunderstood it and what he had heard was the word “kangaroo”which actually means “I don’t know”. Then again, the story might not be true, yet, what is important to keep in mind is that a proper understanding of the link audit you are provided with is highly important.
4. How Fast Can I Start Seeing Results from this SEO Campaign?
This question is a highly important and a bit tricky one. Although you might be tempted to be glad if you received an answer such as: “your ranks will increase in now-time” or “in max one month we’ll get you there”, the truth is that if you get such an answer you should be looking for a new company.
If the company provides you with a milestone plan letting you know where you will be in 3 months, 6 months and so on, then you might be with a good company.
Once upon a time the trend was to identify the most important 5 – 10 keywords for a business, highly optimize for them and easily improve your ranks. The SEO world looks completely different today as it’s driven by natural language search. We are not talking about ranking for a few keywords anymore; the focus is now on the natural language searches that are growing and changing rapidly.
Higher rankings nowadays cannot be reached in a matter of weeks.
The screenshot below is taken from a SEO company website that promises great results within “great” time.
5. What Kind of Link Building Strategies Does Your SEO Company Use?
Luckily or not, links are still an important signal for Google.
Even if you have the best on page optimization, a killer content and amazing social presence, those juicy backlinks are still a must.
And most of the times links are also hard to achieve. Especially high quality links. You need to keep this in mind when talking to an SEO company.
If they start talking about getting thousands of links in 2 weeks or if they start talking about web directories, paid links, link scheme or any other technique mentioned on this exhaustive list of black hat techniques, run fast and don’t look behind.
Google’s Guidelines are pretty clear when it comes to link schemes, just as you can see in the screenshot below. Therefore, if you don’t want to get a penalty you should be really clear and straightforward when talking about the link building strategy the prospect company is going to use while working on your website.
The screenshot below is taken from a SEO company’s website which makes a stellar offer, somewhat hard to refuse, you must admit. Yet, as we do cherish our beloved cognitives, we’d recommend you to closely analyze such offers as they might get you into big troubles.
6. What Do You Need from Me to Implement the SEO Campaign?
Although it might look like an obvious question, please don’t overlook it. You need to understand exactly what kind of requirements the company has and how much of your/your team time will be needed.
If you have to make all the changes and basically all the work, than what you are getting is a consultation and not a SEO service.
And we are not saying that consultancy is a bad thing; yet, you need to know what you are paying for.
Also, keep in mind the privacy matter. There might be data you don’t want tot share. There is absolutely no problem. Just keep in mind that by doing so, you might have to do some extra work. Another matter you should keep in mind is how the changes suggested by the SEO company will be presented to your team and who much time will be required by your staff to do those updates. Surely, important amount of time might be invested along with the SEO company that you hired, yet, you need to make things clear and now exactly how many hours you will need to dedicate on this.