The SEO industry is a competitive gladiatorial arena with many SEO agencies all promising the earth and offering promises of being able to get your website to the ‘position one in google’ using a variety of methods, some being more dubious than others.
Many of these claims are hugely inaccurate and are made by agencies without a full knowledge of how complex managing an SEO campaign can be, however if you find the right SEO agency, the benefits to your companies online presence and resultantly your companies bottom line, can be very significant indeed.
So What is this SEO then?
SEO or search engine optimisation relates to the optimisation of your website and its digital presence to boost the prominence of the website for a given set of search queries with search engines (commonly referred to as keywords)
When most people refer to SEO they are targeting their suggestions and efforts in the main towards the Search Engine giants Google, but smaller efforts like Microsofts Bing still require some effort to rank highly in, even though traffic as a percentage is far less through Bing as over 90% of the internet uses Google.
Google continually updates and changes their algorithms to reward good quality content and on page factors and good quality inbound links to a site. Conversely, poorly coded websites, with weak or copied content and poor-quality inbound links, will fall on the opposite side of the Google curve.
When you consider these factors there are a few things to consider when you choose an SEO company.
Questions to consider when hiring an SEO Company?
It can be a difficult thing to choose out of the myriad of options in the digital agency world. One of the main problems being that to many MDs or managers, SEO is an ‘invisible’ service and product. This can lead some agencies trying to baffle the decision maker with technical terms and technologies in order to convince them that their service is worth paying for. So, what are the main questions to ask then?
What experience does the SEO agency have?
Clues can be taken from the age of staff at the agency (or if they are a freelancer, their age) . Someone saying they have over 10 years experience but are only 20 years old, is not likely to be telling the truth!
Also, always ask what credentials and success stories does the agency have, ideally with some facts and figures to back it up. To be fair to other agencies on this though, it is often not so simple as it is common for NDAs to be signed by both parties prior to SEO work being undertaken.
How much of the SEO work is done in-house?
It is common for some agencies to outsource some if not all of an SEO projects workload. This can reduce costs but also most importantly control over the project, not a good thing in our experience. In house is always best, even if it costs more.
What contact will the agency account person have with you?
How frequent are updates? Are there any monthly reports? What is in the reports? Can I phone up when I want? Is the time billed for phone calls? (usually yes!) All important questions to ask.
Is there any input I can give?
It is always best to be involved in your own seo project at least to some degree. For example, you are the expert on your own site, you may want to provide some content yourself for a content marketing campaign, or tell the agency the average client that you currently service.
Can you guarantee results? And how long do they take?
No viable agency will be able to guarantee results. That’s not how SEO works but they can give a very good idea of expected results, and a timescale that would normally be applicable to your website and goals.
How do you choose my keywords?
This is a critical and often overlooked factor by many SEO agencies and website owners alike. It is easy to rank for a random keyword that you ‘think’ your customers may search for. Without concrete research you may be ranking for a search term that nobody uses (wondering why your sales are down?!!). So make sure that keyword research and user intent is fully planned by anyone about to undertake a campaign
Consider the Local SEO
Yes, that’s right, you need to engage the help of a local SEO expert if you are a small business that is mainly involved in local business activities. For example, if you are a locksmith based in York, you want to be ranking high in the Maps 3 pack and local search as your users will be coming from your local area and not nationally. They will also be pressed for time, meaning they will usually only ring someone who is in the top 3 positions of the local maps pack. Local SEO is a whole speciality unto itself, and you need to engage an agency who are experienced in this facet of SEO to maximise your bang per buck and get effective results (and not get penalised by Google from poor work by an amateur).
Do you have real business experience?
This comes back to the similar angle as the SEO experience of the agency. Do the people have real world business experience, have they ever worked in real B2B or B2C marketing? (non internet based). Aspects like this can bring a whole world of skills and knowledge to a digital agencies efforts.
The key to finding a perfect fit with an seo company for your business involves you doing due diligence. Speaking to humans at the company in question (not just emails).
For example, do you get on with them? Are they helpful and not rushing you through your questions and concerns? If they are just racing for a signature on a cheque, walk away!
Do they have the experience in this savage arena? Do they rank well themselves for big keywords on services they are offering? (not always an accurate factor as it could be a new company founded by experienced SEOs)
Last but not least, does the price fit with your budget? Is there a contract? If so are you comfortable with that.
Consider carefully, because picking the wrong seo company for your business can have dire consequences for your digital presence, ones that can potentially last for digital eons in Google! And can cost a huge amount more to put right, than had you picked a better company from the instance.
Our last words on the matter; don’t shop on price. Buy cheap , buy twice, but the second time could prove far more expensive if you get it wrong the first try!