What questions should a prospect ask to hold their SEO agency accountable?
What kind of questions should a prospect ask to ensure they won't get screwed over and ensure they're hiring the right agency?
There are no questions. You only need to see backlinks that they have built for their clients.
I worked with a lot of SEO agencies in the past, and only one worked for me. And that is out of more than 10.
It's very easy to scam people in the SEO industry. Most of them are lairs. They say that their link building technique is safe (Penguin and Panda) but they are just saying that to get you to work with them.
For SEO agencies, if they want to acquire a new client all they have to say is that they have ranked many websites in the past. And that they guarantee 1st page ranking in 6 months.
But the truth is they build spammy links. And they rank your site for irrelevant keywords.
If you have let's say 30 hr a month to build links, I would rather spend that time building quality content that are linkable. And if you are spending $500 Dollars a month on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), I would rather pay that for promotion.
Sorry to burst your bubbles but as an SEO Agency you never guarantee a 1st-page ranking to your client. It is better to say you can help them to have better visibility in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).
So you measure successful SEO by the number of backlinks and that's all a prospect should examine? Wow I don't even know where to start.
I found it quite funny you say "I would rather pay that for promotion". When what SEO actually the whole basis is to establish what your Promotion strategy should be.
You can't do a Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign without firstly conducting SEO based research on keywords. You shouldn't start a PPC campaign if you haven't defined your target customer, understanding what they want, and where they actually are.
It's funny how people think that Google is only a Search Engine, when in actual fact it is the Biggest and most profitable Advertising network the planet has ever known. The second biggest Advertising network is Facebook, although it is only the third largest search engine after YouTube, which also makes it money from selling adverts!
You'll find good SEO users and bad ones, the best ones will start by asking what your goals are, what are your Key Performance Indicators (KPI)s, how do you track them and then they'll be able to show you a Return of Investment (RoI).
SEO users to stay away from are the ones that offer you x links per month, give no reports and charge an arbitrary figure ($50 a month for directory submissions etc)
Ask them for case studies, ask them for a sample report etc.
As the saying goes, pay peanuts get monkies. If your budget is too low for the vertical that you're in, then don't expect a quality service.
As an example, I used to work agency side and we had no input in the sales side of things, so you'd have the sales team closing a £200/month contract for someone wanting to rank for "acai berries". Of course you're never going to rank for that term with no budget but it's not always in the hands of the Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
I don't agree with above answers.If you really want to get results then you should expect real results.If you have a new website then building backlinks is not a smart strategy. Even this can ruin your rankings and Google suppose this spamming. First year, you should focus on writing content and on page SEO that includes website indexing on search console and Google analytics. After that you should focus on natural backlinks.Even 5 to 10 dofollow backlinks are enough to get ranking. Try to do local seo first.For example if your business is in newyork then target local audience first and offer services or information specific to them.
Most important question is about contract release. Anyone that ties you in should be avoided.
The reality for most companies is SEO should be broken into technical and social. Technical side should be reviewed every 6-12 months barring a new site etc.
Social should be ongoing and then it's largely pay per article/post agreement with tracking on core keywords to see if they are performing. Add in some blogger outreach and other ad-hoc once you have confidence in the agency.
It's not about the questions to ask an SEO agency, it is more about defining what your criteria for success is and what your expectations are.
So many businesses and SEO agencies enter into a relationship based on false expectations. Neither really have a clearly defined set of criteria.
The most common misconceptions is that both believe the old "1st page on Google" myth and second "more traffic leads to more sales" lie, and thirdly "more links leads to greater authority".
All of those statements are only ever partly true, and should never be used as definition of what success looks like.
The truth is an average successful SEO campaign takes between 6 – 18 months and there are many variables encountered in between.
You can experience small benefits in SEO improvements within a couple of weeks, but you may not notice them unless you're specifically looking for them.
In total, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is actually just a component of your Digital Marketing strategy, it's an important component, but it also relies on other important components and they all feed into each other.
So if you're going to work with an SEO agency, both you and the agency should work to SMART goals
S – specific, significant, stretching
M – measurable, meaningful, motivational
A – agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
R – realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
T – time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable
Clearly defining what you expect and the agency telling you if they agree with your expectations.
There is no "right answer" on this. I've seen many "not decent" companies through the years. I think if they show interest in your business before you start working with them it's a good sign. some companies will just give you a contract and tell you "don't worry, we will do a great job for you".
If you want, you can ask for companies that they did SEO job for them. try contacting those companies and ask for recommendations.
Ask for montly reports and see for yourself what they have done. not ranking or statistics reports, but "what did they do" reports, even if it's mostly analysys and research.
The key thing is that you can't give the agency a free pass. When you screen agencies, you need to consider then as an "extra employee" that has an expertise and time to deliver something, but also the same kind of accountability. Why do they want to do one thing? What do they recommend? Why?
Screen them like you screen an new employee. If they can answer convincingly and you feel you can trust them, go. A top agency with cookie cutter solutions and no accountability is worse than a small one that knows its shit, discuss the action plan and act as a stakeholder.
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