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6 Questions You Must Ask an SEO Company before You Hire
Perhaps, one of the most challenging tasks of being in charge of a company is the decision in hiring the appropriate personnel or group to do a particular job for you. The online industry is more dynamic than ever, therefore as entrepreneurs in this industry we need to make sure we ask the right questions and approach the right individuals for us to gain enough leverage against internal challenges as well as tough competition. So how do we make sure that we are hiring the right SEO Company to do the job we intend them to do? Consider these 6 essential questions we should ask an SEO company before hiring one.
1. What types of techniques and methods do you use to achieve rankings?
A quality SEO service provider should not only have the impeccable ability to optimize local keywords and assist your company to achieve visibility but more importantly have the necessary tools to set up Google and Bing maps to go along with strategies to take advantage of accessory sites such as FourSquare and Yelp.
Moreover, as the adjudicator in hiring an SEO provider you would basically want to have a clear picture of what exactly they’ll be doing. Don’t simply be satisfied with simple answers like the practice of “white hat techniques” and more importantly probe deeper into their practices on how they get their clients good ranking. A contentious SEO company will hardly disclose their full methods and a credible one is transparent with their clients.
Here are some trustworthy tools a desired SEO firm should have.
For keyword research: Woodtracker, Keyword Discovery and Google Keyword Tool
For general tools: Optilink, Optispider, IBP and SEO Elite
2. How will you gauge the success of your methods
Personally, I am very much meticulous in asking for benchmark data of potential SEO firms to be contracted. Methodologies and processes are only as good when there is a reputable determining standard on how successful a method is proven. It is vital for an SEO company to have a tool for measuring the effectiveness of their techniques linking to their clients’ success. Ask them their existing track records and milestones as these are clear indications on how an SEO firm monitors its success. A few names that can vouch a company’s remarkable record include SEO Clarity and SEOmoz.
In other words, you basically need to have two goals to achieve in this question. First, simply search for high rank results they have generated for their clients which will already be a reputable gauge of their success. Secondly, you might want to look on a company’s definition of success in terms of SEO. There are a lot of companies out there that embody success in terms of rank standards and credibility. However, I strongly suggest that you work with an SEO company that embodies success in terms of increasing sales and not merely focusing increasing traffic and rank
3. Can you provide references?
Once you have narrowed down the list of the potential SEO companies you would consider working with, ask them to give out referrals to satisfied clients they have worked with to testify on the agency’s success. Any good company human resource manager or head of outsourcing knows that asking a potential SEO service provider with references is a golden rule before hiring. If an SEO firm can’t give at least 3 references of successful and satisfied clients with their names and contact details then better keep searching for other candidates. And if they willingly provide with references, I suggest that you ask them about their experiences and ask for feedback on how long have they contracted the company and whether they were satisfied with the services and the results.
Although some successful companies wouldn’t want to disclose their choice of consultants in order to have a more competitive edge, but majority of satisfied companies will typically have no problems endorsing and giving good testimonials to an SEO firm under selection.
4. Do you have blog posts that discuss up-to-date SEO guidelines?
SEO is fluid and dynamic, always changing its course and taking a new shape. This is attributable to a lot of things, but primarily due to Google constantly changing their guidelines, requirements and algorithms when ranking thousands if not millions of websites online. It is very crucial that you ask a potential SEO firm on how their agency constantly tackle and keep up-to-date with such changes. Although there are conventions and webinars to help keep up with the changes, I personally would want to ask if they have an active blog or thread that is purely dedicated to talking about updates and changes in SEO.
There are plenty of SEO agencies which would simply post in their site the conferences industry articles regarding SEO updates. Surprisingly, you will certainly find that these companies are still using outdated SEO practices. Attending conventions and seminars related to SEO in my opinion is passively updating one’s knowledge but keeping a live feed and blog post with active threads is arguably is a more active means to actively stay updated in SEO. Make sure you ask SEO companies on their practices in keeping up-to-date with their knowledge in SEO as this is a very important element to remain competitive in the online industry.
5. How much do you charge SEO projects?
This question is much likely one of the first ones you’ll probably ask since it would be rather pointless to pursue further interest if the company’s fee is way out of your intended budget. Be sure to understand exactly what you are getting back for your investment. When you ask an SEO company their cost of procurement, don’t simply choose a provider that charges the cheapest service because most probably you’d get a cheap return in your investment. My guide is pretty much straightforward, it is better to look for good value which is neither cheap nor expensive. It might turn out that an agency that charges a hefty amount for their services provides the best value, but always remember to quantify the value if permissible.
Obviously, all SEO companies have a price for their services. But try to consider the existing heuristics of your company. If your company has a stable operation, I would suggest you go for retainer contracts which your company and the SEO agency work for longer periods of time and basically get paid a flat fee every month. Whereas if your company is fresh from the block, consider all the options at your disposal as well as your budget.
But beyond the charges and fees, I would strongly encourage for a contracting company to see past the price regardless if it is cheap or expensive and focus more in the likelihood of the return of investment first hand. You might want to talk about estimated future results so that you could have a reasonable expectation in the coming months should you hire that particular agency of your liking.
6. What types of clients do you prefer to work with?
Finally, you need to consider what type of clients an SEO agency is best suited to work with. Like any agencies for hire that will happily provide their services at the right price, you need to be keen in examining an SEO company in terms of their experience more importantly their attitude. You want to contract a company that has the necessary experience with the particular SEO campaign that fits your company’s profile.
Furthermore, it would be prudent to also ask if the company you wish to hire the length of time they need to be contracted. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to be locked into a long-term agreement as much as possible. Although there is no concrete reason to be worried from long-term agreements, but both parties should essentially have a realistic time frame of results which usually appears in a few months.
These are my personal opinions on the most essential questions you need to discuss with a potential SEO company before hiring them. Although there are dozens of other criteria that a specific company might look for in an SEO service provider, I am open to other comments and suggestions that you might find vital other than what I have discussed.