The demand for Search Engine Optimization is approaching a $65 Billion dollar industry. To properly catch prospective buyers online, companies are aggressively competing for their websites to populate on the front page of Google, Bing or Yahoo.
With $65 Billion dollars on the table, there are unethical companies that prey on consumer’s lack of SEO knowledge, so BUYER BEWARE! Doing the proper research upfront can ensure you are making the right choice for your investment.
When you partner with an experienced agency equipped with a proven track record of success, profitable inbound leads can come pouring in. However, if you choose poorly, your website could plummet down the ranks and become virtually irrelevant overnight.
Fortunately, there are a series of questions you can ask during the interview process to weed out the novices from the true professionals. Whether you are a dentist office looking to utilize Search Engine Optimization to attract new patients, or a residential carpet cleaning company differentiating yourself from the pack, teaming up with the right SEO agency can be critical to your digital marketing success.
7 Questions to ask when hiring an SEO Consultant
So how do you know if the agencies you are evaluating are legit? What are the best questions to ask?
Being in the industry myself for nearly 20 years, I have successfully worked with a vast number of clients and have helped them achieve tremendous success in their business. Read on for the most valuable conversations to have when vetting SEO agencies.
1. Can you promise me number one rankings?
The quickest way to sniff out a fraud is when the agency undoubtedly promises they can quickly get you to the top of any major search engine. Especially with Google’s new standards, it takes time to achieve the top rank, and is not something that can happen overnight. Agencies that can quickly achieve a top ranking quickly are most likely manipulating the system; which can cause your site to get shut down and lose valuable business along the way.
2. Will you include me in the SEO process?
You want your SEO agency to keep you in the loop and include you in their process for each of your campaigns. This way, you can understand what it takes to gain a strong position within Google, Yahoo, Bing and Firefox.
If the agency seems to have a hidden agenda, and is not willing to share how they are making your organization successful, that may be a warning sign.
3. What is your process for improving your client’s rankings?
A follow up question to the previous question, here you can dive deeper and understand how the SEO agency will improve your rank. Do they take a content driven approach? Do they research keywords for you? What have they done in the past to help other clients become successful?
You aren’t asking them to give you their secret sauce, but they should be able to give you enough information for you to understand how they can help you achieve your SEO goals.
4. How do you measure success for your clients?
Success is defined in many different ways. I would look for the agency turning the question around on you to see how YOU define success. A trick question? Maybe. But what if they define success by a number one ranking, and you define success by the number of inbound leads? Make sure your agency cares about YOUR agenda, and strives to achieve the success metric for your company.
5. What are your Payment Terms and Fees?
Keep in mind that in order to successfully utilize SEO for your business, it can take 3-6 months to achieve your intended goal. Find out from your agency how much time they recommend and what their payment terms and fees look like.
A few areas to clarify are as follows: How will this agency bill for their services? Is it a one-time fee? Monthly subscription fee? Do you need to sign an annual contract, and are there any fees associated for ending the contract prematurely?
Compare and contrast to other companies you are vetting and see how each agency responds to this area. You may be glad you asked!
6. How can you boost my presence locally?
For small businesses, a local presence on the major search engines is necessary. Find out how each agency will strive to increase your local presence on each of the search engines. Do they upload high quality photos? Properly prioritize your company page? Will they make a point to accurately convey your business citations?
These are a few of the basic steps. Explore this topic with your SEO agency, and see if they can help you on a local scale. For service based businesses such as dentist offices, carpet cleaners or restoration companies, an effective SEO campaign targeting your local market is the key to success. Make sure the agency will put an emphasis on positioning you positively on the local market.
7. Can you share with me a list of current and past clients?
Last but certainly not least, see if they will provide you a list of their current and past clients. Current because you want to speak with organizations who are working with the agency now, and past clients will shed a great amount of light on the effectiveness of each SEO campaign. Here you will be able to gauge relatively quickly how satisfied the client was, and if in fact the agency delivered the results that were promised.
In an industry where $65 Billion dollars are on the table, you are going to encounter novices, mediocre agencies, or worse, scam artists. To be sure your hard-earned marketing dollars work for you, it is essential to choose a reputable, honest agency for your search engine optimization efforts.
The good news, is when properly vetted, you can find the right agency to strongly position your company to stand out from the crowd, gain valuable inbound leads, and increase your overall yearly revenues.