Darren Taylor: If you’re a small business, you have more than likely been pitched by an SEO agency. I’s inevitable. It’s going to happen. So how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? How do you find out what a good agency is and who would work for your business?
So, I’m going to show you six questions you need to ask your SEO agency before hiring them, that’s coming up.
Darren: Hi guys, my name is Darren Taylor, AKA the Big Marketer, and today I’m going to highlight six questions you need to ask your SEO agency or consultant before taking them on board. So, first of all, what’s SEO anyway? Essentially, SEO is the process of making your website more appealing to Google, in order for them to rank you higher up in the search results for any given search term. I know that is a very simplistic definition as to what SEO is, and I’ll cover in full what SEO is another day, but today we’re going to focus on the six questions you should definitely ask your SEO agency, before hiring them.
Okay, so question number one. Ask them what they will do specifically to optimize your website. Now I know as a small business owner or somebody who’s starting up that you probably have a limited knowledge of SEO, so there are key things to look out for and those are, to look at how they’re going to run content strategies on your website. So what kind of content they’re going to create, how they’re going to do it, how they’re going to outreach other websites to link back to you, those are absolutely key sides of SEO.
Another thing to look out for is that on page advice, so how are they going to optimize your website in terms of actually on the site. What keywords are they going to target, how they’re going to do that, what are they going to change specifically on your website. Listen to what they say, it gives a good indication as to what they’re going to do and how they’re going to help you as an SEO company.
Now, the big red flag is if your agency doesn’t go into the methods they use, whether you understand them or not. If they don’t mention how are they going to do it, it’s a massive red flag. SEO isn’t witchcraft, it’s not something they can’t talk about. it’s not Voldemort. They can say what they’re going to do. Number two, ask them what kind of report you should expect from them on a regular basis. Now this question is really important, because you’re going to want to see over time how they’ve been operating and what they’ve been doing, what new traffic are they going to bring to you. So reporting wise you’re looking out for traffic reports, in terms of traffic growth over time, well, growth, hopefully, and you want to look at things like keywords ranking over time, to make sure that you’re actually climbing up those Google search rankings.
Now, here’s a horror story. I had a friend reach out to me not long ago, because he was working with an SEO agency for his business, and he said his traffic was going up but he didn’t really see much in terms of new customers to his website, or any quality from the visitors, in terms of the visit duration. So I looked into it and it was gang-traffic, from a dodgy referral site, so these sites are simply to pass traffic off, so these agency were acting very badly. Asking this kinds of question are going to help stop you from getting burned like my friend did, so listen on because I got a bonus point number seven as well.
Question to ask, number three. Ask you get access to Google analytics and Google search console, formally known as web masters tools. Now web masters tools is a good tool for SEO, because it provides you with great feedback from Google, as to how they see your website, and also a lot of crucial data for SEO. Google Analytics is a bit more self-explanatory, it gives you all the traffic data on your website over time, and all the reporting you need as well. So the red flag for this question to look out for is if they don’t actually use Google search console; that’s the huge concern.
I don’t know any SEO in the world that doesn’t use that tool. Even if you don’t fully understand what it is, definitely ask them about it, because it’s an absolutely crucial too to SEO on Google.
Question to ask number four is, how are you going to keep me in the loop with any changes you make to my website. Now we’ve already covered reporting, so any reporting SEO-wise, you’ll get hopefully from your agency, but in terms of the actual changes to your website, SEO involves a lot of changes to text, images, headings, all sorts of things on your site you won’t even probably think of.
Now, the changes they’ll make to the website can actually impact your business directly, so be sure you always get on the same page in terms of how they’re going to change your website. The other side of things of course is, if you update your website yourself, it’s important to let the SEO agency know as well, because your changes are going to definitely impact the SEO performance as well. So make sure there’s a nice two-way communication stream and that it keeps everyone on the same page, and keep the SEO moving in the right direction.
The fifth thing to ask your SEO agency, before hiring the, is, do you have any reviews, case studies or testimonials? So if the agency can’t provide any reviews or testimonials, you have to ask the question as to why? Now it’s very unlikely you’re getting pitched by a brand new agency who are actually operating in SEO for the first time ever, so you’d expect at least, at minimum, some kind of review, even if it’s just a couple of sentences around the service they received.
But much better than that is a full testimonial from somebody. Whether it’s a video testimonial, or written testimonial, and even beyond that, it’s better to have a case study so actually look at the issues of the business faced before, what results were achieved, and how they did it, and how they moved on to become more successful.
Onto number six, now, number six is a trick question. Ask the agency, can you guarantee me number one position on Google? Now you may think that’s probably a good question, and that the answer should be, “Yes we can.” Otherwise why do SEO anyway? But in actual fact, answering yes to this question shows it’s a rouge SEO agency and you should run for the hills, because guaranteeing a position one on Google is impossible, because nobody but Google know the algorithm.
Nobody knows how it’s going to change, nobody knows the impact of changes 100%. What we can do as SEOs is follow best practice, and look at what Google likes, what it doesn’t like, and optimize towards the goal of position one, but not guaranteeing position one.
And finally, we move onto bonus question number seven, which is to ask the agency, what do you know about my business? Now this isn’t an SEO question at all, it’s a marketing question. There is no way a professional marketer, which an SEO is, should not know anything about the business they’re pitching the business from.
So if I’m an SEO agency and I speak to your business, I should know your competitors, I should know where you’re sitting in the market, I should know where your website is at the current position now, I should know enough to have a conversation about your industry and your niche. They’re not going to know everything about your business, there’s no way, just with a bit of Googling and going to your website, that they’re going to know everything. So, it’s really, really important that they ask you questions.
To summarize, SEO is very complex, but a good SEO should be able to break things down and layman’s terms to make you get a full understanding of how they work and the methods they use as well. If they are hiding things, keeping things from you, not being fully articulate in what they’re saying, and most importantly, if they don’t ask any questions at all about your business and your position in the market, then run for the hills.
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