Hiring an SEO Agency: Questions To Ask
It’s a well-known fact that marketing is essential to the success of a business. It’s through marketing that a business can engage with new customers, inform them of an available product or service, and help them make a purchase. Without an effective marketing strategy, it’s virtually impossible for a business to expand or sustain its current profit margins.
In the modern age, the new key to a successful business is utilizing digital marketing. Business owners from all around the world have learned the hard way that billboards, fliers, and radio ads just aren’t as effective as they used to be. These days it’s all about digital marketing and more specifically, using SEO strategies to boost awareness of your brand.
The most effective way to employ such strategies is to hire a high-qualitySEO agency.
Why Should You Hire an SEO Agency?
The word SEO is short for search engine optimization. The idea is to make a few modifications to various parts of your website that will help optimize its performance in organic search results.
In other words, SEO is all about improving where your website ranks on any given search engine. The higher your page appears, the more people will see it, and the more likely they’ll click on it, resulting in higher organic traffic to your website.
Search engines receive billions of queries per day and trillions every year. It’s estimated that search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo are responsible for driving 93% of all web traffic.
Google, unsurprisingly, is the undisputed king of global search enginesas it claims 85.5 percent of the market share. So if you want your business to get noticed, then you’ll need to appear on Google’s search results.
Research suggests that 68 percent of online experiences start out with someone using a search engine.
That means billions of people will rely on search engines to help them navigate the internet every day. Each one of those billions is a potential customer for your business. Just imagine how much of a boost in web traffic you would receive by ranking near the top of a Google search.
That’s exactly what SEO is all about and a good SEO agency can land you firmly on the first page of results.
9 Questions To Ask When Hiring an SEO Agency
SEO is a multi-faceted marketing approach. It’s much more involved than simply buying a billboard, rolling some prints onto it, and hoping for the best. For that reason, you’ll need to look for the best SEO agency that you can find. Ideally, you should bring in your webmaster or whoever maintains your company's websites.
Together, you can ask the following nine questions that will determine the right SEO agency for you:
What Is Their Reputation?
Few things are more important to a business than their reputation. A poor reputation can sink even the most powerful financial empire. It’s one of the main reasons why you’ll see a seemingly unstoppable business suddenly rebrand into something else. The same is true for SEO agencies and a little vetting can help you weed out the inferior options that possess a poor reputation.
Naturally, if you ask this question directly then you’re sure to get an extremely positive response. For that reason, you’ll need to do a little of your own research into the SEO services offered by the agency you’re considering.
Customer reviews are an essential part of SEO, so a good SEO agency should have plenty of them available. A quick Google search of their name should be all it takes to give you a variety of information about the agency.
It’s a good idea to start with professional reviewing sites such as Google My Business, Glassdoor, Comparably, and Clutch. You should also be sure to check out social media posts from Linkedin, Facebook, and Yelp to give you additional insight.
You can expect to find a wide array of differing opinions about the agency on these sites. Read a handful of reviews ranging from overly negative to overwhelmingly positive. You need all the information available to paint the most accurate picture of the agency's reputation.
How Much Do They Charge?
If you want a high-quality agency to meet your SEO needs, then it’s going to cost you some money. The good news is that the return on investment for a successful SEO campaign should more than cover the initial costs. The exact pricing will vary significantly for each agency and their respective services. You’ll have to inquire with each agency to see if their price fits your budget.
One of the key things to listen for in their pricing is whether or not they mention PPC marketing. PPC stands for “pay per click” and it’s become a shortcut for SEO marketing. The way that PPC works is simple. Basically, the link to your webpage is displayed prominently on a search engine’s results lists. In return, every click on your page will cost you a set fee. It’s quite a gamble for a business as the increased traffic would need to yield an increase in sales to justify the ongoing costs.
In many ways, PPC is almost diametrically opposed to SEO. The goal of SEO is to drive traffic to your website via organic search. PPC forgoes the concept of SEO and just pays for a better position outright. While the two strategies are seemingly at odds with one another, there are ways to incorporate both for a highly effective marketing strategy. It would be up to you and the SEO agency to decide what the best option is for your business.
Can They Tell You About Previous Campaigns?
As mentioned above, creating an effective SEO strategy can be highly complicated. Each SEO company will have its own preferred method of creating and deploying them. Not only that, but SEO campaigns will vary dramatically from business to business.
What worked for one brand might not work for another. However, you can learn a lot by going over some of the previous marketing strategies implemented by an SEO agency.
The top SEO agencies will have plenty of case studies that can prove what they’re capable of achieving. Agencies will be eager to show you their best results from previous campaigns.
You should let them tell you about their greatest success stories, but be sure to inquire about less successful campaigns. Specifically, what went wrong with them, what the agency learned from the experience, and how they plan to avoid similar issues in the future. Just looking at the trophy case won’t give you an accurate picture of the team’s potential.
You should also be wary of case studies that are more than five years old. The world of SEO changes rapidly (more on that later) and any strategy implemented more than five years ago is practically obsolete.
If an SEO agency hasn’t had several successful campaigns within even the year, it likely means they’ve fallen behind on the times.
How Do They Find Keywords for SEO Content?
Keyword research is the cornerstone of every high-qualitySEO strategy. The entire concept of SEO hinges on the strategic use of various keywords within the created content. These keywords appeal to the search enginealgorithms that are responsible for ranking content. Without effective keywords, the content won’t rank very high and will be buried on search engine results lists.
Generally, keyword research starts with an in-houseSEO audit of your existing content. The agency will go through what you already have and determine which keywords are most successful.
If you’re a new business, then the agency will review the most effective keywords for your competitors. The more detailed research into keywords, the more effective strategy that the agency can create.
Be sure to find out exactly how they plan to conduct said research and whether or not they take advantage of SEO audits.
What Is Their Plan for Link Building?
Keywords aren’t the only factor involved with SERPS (search engine results page) ranking. Link building is another essential part of improving your overall ranking. The more websites that link to your pages, the higher you’ll appear on SERPS.
There are a few potential red flags that can appear when discussing link building.
Some agencies will tell you that link building is risky and they don’t do it. However, link building really carries the most risk for inexperienced SEO agencies.
Another red flag involves using private blog networks (PBNs), keyword stuffing, link buying, and content cloaking for link building. These tactics (and others) are known as black hat SEO and can land you in a lot of hot water with Google. If the agency mentions anything about using them, it’s worth moving on to the next option.
What Are Their Expectations for Your Campaign?
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are effective SEO campaigns. Naturally, every marketing agency will be trying to sell themselves and their services to you. However, any SEO consultant that promises results within a few weeks is lying to you.
At its very best, you’ll start to see results somewhere around three to six months down the line. A good SEO agency will be transparent about what you can expect from your campaign and how long it will take. Be wary of any pitch that sounds too good to be true because it probably is.
Do They Offer SEO Reporting?
As mentioned above, SEO campaigns can take some time before the results start to roll in. Instead of having to do Google searches on your own to see these results, the agency should provide SEO reporting.
These reports should provide up-to-date search engine results for the contents of your page and identify options for improving them. You should specifically ask which SEO reporting tools the agency uses.
The most common options for SEO reporting are Google Analytics, Ahrefs, Moz, and Semrush. You should ask which one the agency uses and whether you would have access to monitor the different metrics of your SEO campaign.
A good SEO report will include information about the organic traffic changes since the strategy was implemented, the number of backlinks associated with your page, and the search engine rankings for the most relevant keywords.
What Do They Expect From You?
It’s important to remember that marketing strategies are a partnership. Both parties will need to work together for the strategy to be most effective. Some SEO companies barely need anything from you. Others might prefer a much more involved partnership — working more closely together is especially the case if you’re a small business that’s just starting in the world of e-commerce.
For example, the user experience of a website will have a significant impact on the conversation rate of turning browsers into buyers. A successful SEO strategy can help drive more traffic to your site, but it won’t do any good if the site crashes frequently. You’ll need to work closely with the SEO agency to ensure that you can handle the anticipated uptick in web traffic.
What Is the Future of SEO?
Earlier, we touched on the rapidly evolving world of SEO. Any SEO expert can tell you about the history of SEO. It only takes a little while to look into it and understand the basics.
However, the best SEO specialists will be able to tell you about the future — as unpredictable as SEO can be, your SEO agency should always be up to date on trends and analytics in order to give your SEO campaign the best possible chance of doing well in the long-term.
For example, the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to dramatically change content marketing and SEO strategies. The agency that you hire needs to have a plan in place for how AI will affect their SEO services so they can meet your business needs in the future.
Hire the Agency That Checks the Most Boxes
The history of marketing can be traced back to the earliest transactions between humans. As technology has evolved, so too have the marketing strategies of businesses. In the digital age, the main focus has been digital marketing. Specifically, the use of SEO campaigns to drive more traffic to the business's website.
The list above is an excellent starting point for finding the right SEO agency. You should look for an agency that has an honest answer for each of the questions listed above and has experience in a variety of industries. It may take a while to find the right agency for you, but the benefits are well worth the effort.
On the other hand, you could schedule a consultation with GR0 and end your search before it even begins. GR0 is one of the fastest-growing digital marketing agencies in the country. Our innovative and proven SEO strategies can help scale your brand and take your business to new heights. Join our long list of partners so that we can help your business "GR0" to its full potential.
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