To Hire an SEO agency For E-Commerce, e.g., Shopify



u/dharaney

Hiring SEO agency

I'm looking to hire the SEO agency for my Shopify site. What's the key point to ask before hiring an agency for the job? Thanks
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donnyslade
β€’ Get an audit.
β€’ See if you agree with their main points. If you feel strongly about there being a disconnect, challenge them on their "priorities". Get a timeline attached to each facet of their recommendations. Ask how they will show a deliverable.
β€’ If they try to tell you they guarantee a ranking or placement, run.
β€’ Ask them how long you will need to have them work on the project before you will see an Return of Investment (RoI) (this is a very very difficult question to answer – it has nuance, and most should be up front and tell you it's hard to say. But press them for details about how each portion of the project will contribute to overall ROI – Make sure that you understand how many hours are going to be involved short term, intermediate term and long-term)
β€’ Don't go into this thinking that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a thing you can do once and then you don't need to manage it going forward. Any good team will be explaining the long-term scope of any project.
β€’ Ask them to give you quotes based on shops that you see that espouse the same kind of user experience that you want. This will give them a goal to shoot for, and give you a more accurate price and timeline.
β€’ Make sure you are working with someone that can educate you on your industry at some level. SEO professionals don't need to know your industry perfectly to implement best practices, but they should understand the order flow, the basic dynamics of what you do on a daily basis, your core target demographics and the nuances that come with your specific product/service mix. They should know the proprietary tools and stacks used in your industry on the tech side without a doubt.
β€’ You should ask them about their general business knowledge too. Do they have a good grasp of how you run a business? Are you just talking to a junior? are you being given oversight by an agency leader? are you getting whole team interaction, or just being handed off to a feel-good person to manage expectations.
β€’ Are they too quick to say yes? Or do they temper expectations with real world information and show you that they have handled a site substantially similar to yours in the past.
β€’ Ask how they intend to get backlinks, what they will need from you and get a list of keywords they feel make sense to build pillars around for your business.
β€’ Ask them how important an Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page is, and get some insight into how they go after long-tail keywords in your industry. This will make them have to show you some creativity and they will need to do some research unless they specialize in your industry now. If they say things like "we get backlinks in social profiles and forums", you may want to ask for a better understanding of that, as that is not a very powerful way to utilize resources compared to options now.
β€’ Set specific communications requirements, and the less facetime they want with you, you should be less willing to work with them as a provider. Providers who want facetime want it to gain valuable insight, and aren't afraid to communicate with clients regularly to provide updates.
β€’ If it's super easy to get to signing a contract, that may not be the best route. The best professionals won't be hard to work with, but they WILL want to ensure transparency – they will be up front about struggles in certain areas to make results occur. We cannot deliver great results just magically. You should be aware of what the process looks like. Similarly, don't just accept that certain aspects take a huge amount of hours to accomplish. Ask why.
β€’ Lastly, and possibly most importantly can they show success on a big ecomm project? Ecomm websites are not as easy to run, there are a lot of moving parts. AND the SEO person will frequently not have access to some of the analytics they need to run the site properly. Be forthcoming (never give access to client data or full sales data, but you should expect to share screens and give approximates). Can they show you on third party programs that they have had increases in traffic, conversions, ROAS (if they are handling your ads too), etc. in the past with other clients?

I provide 2-3, 1 hour "audits" each week to Redditors in this space to help them understand what they need, before they get an audit from someone else in their geographical area. I do this pro-bono, and do not expect to work with these people, nor do I ask to work with them. If you feel this may be a help to you, I invite you to Direct Message (DM) me and I can set up a time to go over some basics to be aware of before you engage an agency, or a freelancer.

I have done this will dozens of redditors, and they seem to get value from it. It's sort of a way to give back.

Above all, I think it is important for business owners to understand that they must be in charge of oversight. You WILL need to get educated at a moderate level into trends in the industry, how to utilize best practices, and what those best practices are. Also, you must, as a business owner provide insights, planning time and sometimes lead content initiatives *(unless working with a bona fide subject matter expert). Without adding these resources to the mix from your end, you are not setting up for a future success in that project.
soundmeditation
First step, Change your site from Shopify. Second step, change your site from Shopify.. third step, find someone to do an audit and recommend techinical SEO on your site. Choose the one that makes the most sense.. Once your technical SEO is completed.. then do off page SEO either with same agency or go through step 3 again.

methodmtb
Why do you suggest the change from Shopify?

soundmeditation
Not the easiest platforms to do Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on.. also there are theories that site like Shopify and Wix are bundled and so the crawl rate is less then if you had a stand alone site on your own server / hosting. End of the day, you will be putting lots of efforts on your site and I think I personally would have more peace of mind to know I own everything on my site. That said there are still lots of people who can at least get your site on Shopify to its highest SEO potential if you end up keeping it, but again not ideal.
methodmtb
I agree with you that I would prefer to own my stack, but there aren't better e-commerce options for high-volume sellers is there?

What would you use for high-volume complex e-commerce?

SEO is about content and structure. Both seem possible on Shopify.
soundmeditation
Have you considered WooCommerce with WordPress
methodmtb
I owned a company building WordPress and WooCommerce for entrepreneurs and businesses from 2005-<year> and believe in the product for a lot of applications. We developed more than a dozen high quality WooCommerce sites between <year>-<year>. Currently (or at least as of <year>-<year>), WooCommerce is not a competitive tool for high volume and complex e-commerce websites. Or, to make it competitive(ish) for large and complex catalogs significant development is required. At least that was our experience.
soundmeditation

complex e-commerce websites

I have heard good things about Bigcommerce with WordPress, perhaps look into that as well. But with big websites like yours, taking shortcuts to simplify the site setup in my opinion, may come more costly to maintain in the long run.
methodmtb
I appreciate the conversation!

I do miss WP on the content creation side and we would like to integrate more content with products without rolling our own using something like Webflow.

Everything is going to move headless eventually, at least, in the next couple of years. The BigCommerce integration with WordPress is interesting.

We aren't spending a ton of time and money optimizing for Shopify, but we are focused and investing in our catalog integration and logistics, and our data portability. There's likely to be quite a bit more innovation in platforms in the near future.

Ultimately, content, customer service, product, and pricing will deliver the results.

nibinseo
Tbh, there's no need to change the platform. Shopify is SEO friendly and it's easier to handle than any other ecom platforms out there.

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mifthikar
Probably they will provide a package. Ask them what it includes.

For our company website, we tried to hire TheHoth (I still have their proposal). They did a quick audit and said we had a few tech SEO issues, which they will fix. Then asked about ranking, I said them we needed to rank for [xyz] keyword, which was as per Ahrefs , Super Hard, and still, it is.

We said sorry to TheHoth and did SEO ourselves. In 5 months, we could rank for the same keyword 5th position in the UK (Google). In the next 5 weeks 8th in the US. All we did was regular blog posts, 4 long articles with 5k+ words well-optimized (and now each one ranks for over 150 keywords), good internal link structure, and guest posts linking back to the domain and URLs. We fixed the onsite issues and time to time Public Relations (PR). Blogs and long posts increased good keywords for the site while guest posts on relevant high Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR) sites increased our domain auth.

You need to be careful dealing with SEO agencies because their aim is to target their monthly fees while the value for money is questionable. Also, they keep 10x or more profit margins for guest posts and onsite content because most of these SEO agencies outsource tasks.
stillyoinkgasp
What I'd be asking candidates:
β€’ Walk me through how an SEO strategy for a Shopify site is different than one for a small business?
β€’ How do you manage SEO for hundreds of products/skus?
β€’ What are the metrics that you'll be tracking and why?
β€’ Who will be actioning on-site changes?
β€’ What is involved in a SEO strategy and when?

Shopify implies ecom. SMB SEO (small-to-medium-sized businesses, think plumbers, lawyers, etc.) is not the same as ecom/content site SEO. Some workflows carry over, but they are pretty distinct. Be wary of hiring someone with "SEO experience" unless they can speak to who ecom/content SEO work work.
abdraaz
Hmm,, just sharing my last week's experience,,

A man who have some clients and saw my posts on a Facebook group. He came and asked me about my previous projects and showed some of his client's website and asked me what can I do for him to dominate Google map.

I simply did these:
β€’ Took an in-depth audit with my own template
β€’ Analyzed their main keywords and positions
β€’ Analyzed their top competitors and their activities
β€’ Setup a proper plan for a month
β€’ And sent them a document with audit report, analysis report and a plan for a month. And sent them a document with an audit report, analysis report and a plan for a month.

after a day, he came to me and said, can you do the work for me? I said sure, why not. I would love to help like my other clients though. And then started work for them.

So, ask them about their recent projects and do the same with a few more agencies. Compare them to each other and try to figure out the best one.

I think, hmm, look at the phone calls, conversions, etc rather than only ranking. If they bring phone calls, leads that would be better.
seobyprofession
β€’ What is their Experience and if they have worked with same businesses as yours, especially with your cms (Shopify)
β€’ Cases with screens of Analytics
β€’ What do they plan to do with your project (stages, approaches, tools, strategy, Key Performance Indicator (KPI))
β€’ Budgets: for what and why
β€’ What ate the guaranties for success and why
β€’ What are main goals for them and do they understand your main goals
β€’ Why SEO is good for your business, do you really need it
β€’ How do they plan to communicate with you and report

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