SEO is the practice of making a site more visible and because of that driving more traffic to it. More traffic means more business and with that more money. With the current number of websites currently on the internet standing at approximately two billion as of 2020 your business needs to put a strong effort into being seen and ranking above the rest. An effective, time-efficient strategy is hiring an SEO agency and developing a working relationship with their team. To make the vetting process easier we have provided the proper questions to ask before making the commitment.
Explain to Us Your Approach to SEO in a Broad Strokes Sense
This is basically a “getting to know you” introduction but is essential to understand how an agency operates and where their mind is when it comes to the world of SEO. You need to see if they operate in the proper holistic SEO manner when hiring an SEO agency.
An effective SEO service set will consist of three items;
Off-Page SEO is where link building falls into. This is building the brand reputation online and increasing its popularity. Primarily networking and providing links into the site.
User Experience (UX)
This is the optimization of facing (user-side) aspects of your website by a designer. They will review the site and its content, navigation options, keyword structure, and other elements as needed.
Reviewing the back-end aspects of your website, all the things the user does not see. Testing the site structure, site speed, making sure that search engines are able to “crawl” and can properly redirect if needed.
While there is a good chance that an agency may specialize in one or more and may have specific talents within the varying departments it is important to find an agency that has a plan on how to offer the three.
SEO can not effectively operate without all of its parts. A single element acting alone is little to no good as SEO is a holistic effort. Sadly, many agencies still offer piecemeal services.
Building on That: How Can You Adapt to Our Business
It is wise, when talking with a potential agency, to inquire if they had worked with other businesses like yours. However, if they say that they have no _exactly_ that should not be a deal-breaker. This is especially true if they can illustrate other companies that may have been in a circumstance that yours is in.
A successful business should, however, be able to give you an idea of how they can develop a strategy to work with your business and your niche.
Ultimately the reasoning for this line of questioning is to save both yourself and the agency time. You want to assure you that both of you are the right fit for each other.
What is Your Timeline for Results?
The answer should never be, instantly. This should immediately set off alarms in your head. No business should be able to legitimately promise this, especially in a field such as SEO.
A promising outlook for a campaign to start showing real results should be looking at about 3 to 6 months, it can take longer. But it is a marathon, not a sprint.
The time frame can also change based upon the community the business falls into.
Can You Give Us an Idea of Your Toolset
You may or may not know what the pieces of software are or how to work them but that isn’t the most important part. You want to see that the people you are hiring can talk to you clearly about them.
It is important that they can describe what they use and for what reason(s) they use it for. If some of them have more benefits than others and why they picked them for said uses, amongst other things.
For example, “What tool or tools do you use to perform keyword research? Why did you choose it?” or “How do you monitor rankings? What makes that service different?”
When hiring an SEO agency, ensure the agency your interviewing does not simply provide vague answers and is able to illustrate examples of use.
Which Metrics are Most Important to Measure, in Your Opinion?
This ties in with finding a proper-fit. Arguably working on all aspects of SEO is important but depending on your needs certain things will take priority.
Having effective SEO also means more than just jumping up the ladder on the search rankings. If you aren’t increasing things like conversion rates, for example, that ranking is doing little for you.
Make sure that you are pairing your goals with the measurements of success that the agency holds as well.
See where you may stand and compare with the potential agency you are looking to work with.
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How Do You Present Progress Reports and Are They Available
This is another red flag if the agency refuses you a progress report. Transparency is key to a positive work relationship, especially with a team that you have fired.
It needs to be presented in an understandable, timely manner. You originally made clear what metrics you both shared as important and at the very least these reports should cover those things.
A general set of details that it should cover as well as figures should include;
– What has been done since the last report?
– Results of any previous actions
– Returns on efforts?
– Any challenges? Strategies to address them?
– Moving forward.
This is a very straightforward idea but it covers everything, outside of the actual numbers, that you should expect from an agency you are working with.
What Is Your Strategy Involving Mobile
Just as there was a huge movement to mobile-first web design, with the advent of more popular and more powerful cell phones, there is the development coming for a focus on mobile SEO.
Google has released a “mobile” index and those who have a specialized mobile design for its site and optimize for mobile will end up ranking higher.
It should be a priority to find an agency that is versed in working with mobile and ready to help optimize for mobile. This is only going to be more and more important as the world becomes more mobile-centric
In What Ways Can You Optimize Our Content?
This expands on the services offered and allows for you to get an even better picture of how they intend on actually making the changes. It tells more about the process and can give a bit more peace of mind.
Whoever is tasked with the changing of content has your work in their hands, you need to know what they are doing with it, and if it is safe.
You should know if they are making things from scratch, making backups and duplicates, find out what is so important about the optimization process, or maybe stipulate what exactly they would be getting for the fee.
How Much of Our Time Will Be Required and How Often Will We Meet
These details are important to establish from the get-go as it will set the environment for the entire working relationship with the agency.
It helps establish your expectations and establish an understanding of how to manage a shared schedule.
Having a discussion about how much will be done independently and how much may require help from your in-house will ensure there will be no surprises down the road if they need the support.
A meeting schedule helps to keep both sides to a routine of transparency. Knowing that there will be, for example, weekly roundtable aid in proper reporting and keeps information flowing.
Luckily with the influx of video conferencing and collaborative software this has been made progressively easier.
Do You Regularly Make Technical or Back-End Changes
An effective agency should understand how coding and specific technical changes play a role in a strong SEO strategy plan.
Web design and development options should be on the table and up for discussion. When choosing an SEO agency to work with you need to feel comfortable with their abilities to do both front and backend changes.
By optimizing the technical details of the site itself, the ranking of your page will be aided more than just by the content on the page.
Can You Touch on Your Link Building Strategies? Keyword Research?
Despite link-building is a very effective strategy when utilized properly it can be a disaster if done improperly. In fact, if you misuse the methods it can have a worse effect than if you never did anything at all
You want to make sure that the strategy being implemented will not cause a penalty or hit to your business’ rankings.
Some of the major considerations that should be addressed are;
– The language used in the anchor text is organic and natural
– Link sources are relevant to your business or organization
– Automation is not suggested, software link blasts can cause ranking errors
Another, more recent, strategy for link building is referred to as “_link-earning” _, this is forming relationships with other organizations while link building. Somewhat like networking at a business mixer, taken to the digital level.
You should pay attention to how the agency refers to the quality of the linking they do not simply the number of links they can “gather”
Understanding this quality carries over to the keyword research they should be doing as well. The importance of finding high traffic level keywords is always a major piece of the puzzle but there is more to it.
There are more factors that play into it and the thinking of the viewer needs to be understood at the same time. The word choices need to aid with how directed a search is.
Are they a very niche selection or is it a broad-strokes selection and with that, there will be a larger competition for the phrase. Which comes with the next problem to address.
A high traffic search phrase or keyword will ensure that something will be relevant to the search but if the business’ site isn’t ranking the effort was lost.
The agency can not rely on simply one aspect or a couple. All pieces equally contribute to keyword research and link building.
The online community is always changing, how do you stay relevant?
Education is everything, no matter the field. This is even more important in the tech fields. With evolving standards and technology these are fields that specialists need to constantly be learning.
If you are potentially hiring someone that is not consistently engaged with the SEO and web community this is something that needs to be fleshed out. They should be up to date with Google standards and reading and writing on industry outlets.
This is not work that can be learned once and be done with and stay effective. That is why hiring an SEO agency is so essential.
Jumping the Ranks by Hiring an SEO Agency
Gaining spots in the rankings can seem like a daunting task, especially if you are in a highly competitive field. But if done right, especially by hiring an SEO agency, you can see your business show up on that first page of results.
It is important that you take these questions with you when meeting with potentials. Just because an agency can do the work does not always mean they should do YOUR work.
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