How much experience do you have?
Determining how much experience your new SEO agency has is a key factor in deciding whether or not to hire them. Whilst everyone has to start somewhere if the person/team running your SEO has minimal experience in SEO, previous employment or otherwise, it simply does not bode well for the success of your campaign.
How do you measure the success of a campaign?
Any SEO agency worth their salt should have appropriate and effective KPIs in place to ensure that your campaign is on the right track. For example, conversions, ROI, organic rankings are all hard metrics to measure campaign performance by. However, if the agency in question is using “traffic” as it’s only KPI, jump ship. Increasing traffic by 300% holds ZERO value if none of that traffic is converting into paying customers.
How often will you report back to us?
This varies a lot from agency to agency, some will contact you once per week for a catch-up, others will be monthly, and some take a far more laid back approach to informing you and will contact you on an ad hoc basis. This is entirely down to how you would like to communicate and how you’d like to be kept in the loop. A good agency will understand that different people, and therefore companies, will have different approaches to communication and will work around your preferences.
What do you do when things go wrong?
As with any complicated project, occasionally things don’t go to plan, however, your agency must be doing everything that they possibly can to prevent this from happening, how they react to the situations when it does is equally as important.
What’s involved in Google’s ranking process?
Bear with me here, I know this might seem like an odd question to ask, even if you do know how Google ranks results. In fact, if you’re well versed in how Google ranks results, then all the more reason to make sure that your prospective agency does, too. If an agency can’t explain how Google ranks websites, even in simple terms, they’re not the agency for you.
Can you send me some case studies?
There’s nothing wrong with asking to see some proof of the expertise that agencies claim to have. It’s just the same as checking the reviews on Amazon when buying a new piece of tech. If an agency pushes back on providing you with some case studies or referring you to previous client’s websites to see for yourself, then that also falls into the red flag category.
This question may seem obvious but it’s a significant one to ask. Scour the market, see what everyone is offering at different price points. If an agency is quoting £500 per month for the same services that another is offering for £5,000 per month, you need to dig a little deeper into each agency to determine whether the first agency isn’t going to deliver on what they’ve promised, or if the second agency is ripping you off.
What does the process look like start to finish?
Directly related to the previous point, this question not only enables you to understand what the campaign will look like, how it’ll run and get a good understanding of general timescales, it also gives you an insight into the workings of each agency that you’re vetting. If their process sounds messy, convoluted or overly complicated to you, then you know that the agency isn’t a right fit. It’s also key to make sure that the agency that you’re working with has a tried and tested method, and that they’ll stick to their schedule and deliver as promised.
I’d like to meet the team?
Naturally, agencies will send their best and brightest to try and win your business, however, it’s unlikely that the Head of SEO and CEO will be working on the campaign from start to finish. Asking to meet the actual people who will be working on your campaign day in, day out is a perfectly reasonable request. You wouldn’t hire an employee if you thought they wouldn’t get on with your existing team, why should an external agency be any different?
How much will you be needing from us?
Whilst you’ve hired the agency to do the work and get the job done, in the early stages you may want to have more input and sign off on completed works before they’re implemented to build up trust. Establishing a good balance between the agency input, and yours and adjusting this over time is essential when it comes to handing your site over to the hands of someone else.
They try to obtain rights to the content that they’ve created for you
When hiring an agency for any purpose, it can be assumed that some part of the works that they’re doing, will legally belong to them. This shouldn’t apply to your SEO agency. If an agency is looking to copywrite the articles that they’ve created for you, this could leave you in the lurch should you decide to either exit the contract or not renew with the agency. If the content legally belongs to the agency, when the contract comes to an end, the agency is within their right to remove the content and undo the work that they’ve completed on your SEO, taking you back to square one.
They “know someone”
This is the equivalent of that kid in the playground who claims his aunt’s best friend is the producer for the Spice Girls. Spoiler alert – she isn’t. All Google employees sign an NDA so I can assure you that no agency is getting insider tips, and if they were, they definitely wouldn’t be making it public information. Additionally, if your agency is relying on the know-how of someone else, then we’d suggest cutting out the middle man and going straight to the source.
Anyone who claims SEO to be magic
For the last time, SEO isn’t magic – it’s a process that takes time, dedication and passion from experienced people. At Yellowball, none of us are pulling optimised rabbits out of hats. We’re working hard on a dedicated, process-driven SEO campaign to deliver first-rate results. Don’t let a prospective agency condescend you into the illusion that SEO is a process that you wouldn’t understand.
It just screams “Black hat”
Black hat SEO is a term used for SEO techniques that are in direct violation of search engine guidelines. Black Hat SEO is also known as spam and utilises completely different tactics to White Hat SEO. Is the agency guaranteeing 500% traffic increase in the first four weeks? There are agencies out there who will achieve this by sending bots to your website. The metric shows that traffic has increased by 500%, but no one’s converting and it’s making absolutely no difference to your business.
Utilising black hat SEO will only result in your website being penalised by Google which can take months to recover from.
Fundamentally, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is
Everything in life abides by this rule, your SEO strategy should be no different. Your website is the most powerful marketing tool in your arsenal, don’t fall victim to an agency that uses pomp and fluff to secure your custom and then can’t follow through.
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