The Top 10 Questions To Ask A Potential SEO Agency

The Top 10 Questions To Ask A  Potential SEO Agency

The quest to find a suitable SEO / Digital Marketing company isn’t an easy one. Let’s face it: You probably don’t know too much about how the search engines work. Plus, you’re busy doing your job, and keeping up with the Google updates is a full time job.

Unfortunately, this informational chasm has created an opportunity for bad search engine optimizers (SEOs) to pull the wool over the eyes of unsuspecting business owners and marketing managers.

To the uninitiated, hearing lofty pitches about “keyword research” supported with Google Analytics reports can give the appearance of the kind of competency you’re looking for.

But dive in too quickly, and you could find yourself stuck with an agency that charges you an exorbitant sum for their own ineptitude.

In your search for an SEO agency, these questions should be at the forefront of every conversation:

1. Please explain the last 2 major Google updates and how they affect search rankings. (Here’s a helpful link that shows all the Google updates.)

2. Please show us at least 3 recent successful campaigns that are similar in nature to what you’re proposing for us.

3. Please explain your process for building search engine friendly code based on our needs (new site / existing site / merging sites).

4. Please explain your process for link building with examples.

5. Please explain your process for content creation / recommendations with examples.

6. Please explain your process for content syndication.

7. What else would you propose we do with our web presence to drive qualified traffic while the SEO campaign is building value?

8. Beyond Google Analytics, how do you track performance?

9. Are you exclusive?

10. Does your process start with a full technical SEO site audit? If so, what does it consist of?

 

Chances are, you don’t understand everything in those questions. But, your new SEO agency should. It can be helpful, however, to become familiar with the basics of SEO and digital marketing in general so you have a good idea of whether the agency you’re considering knows what they’re doing. Here’s a quick rundown of SEO and digital marketing, and what you should look for in a good agency:

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the work of getting your website to appear as highly as possible on query results from search engines such as Google and Bing. This is traditional SEO. New forms of SEO focus on also improving your Videos ranking on platforms such as YouTube and, in some cases, getting those videos to rank on Google and Bing.

Digital Marketing is the work of using the internet to obtain more business. One of the largest parts of Digital Marketing is SEM (Search Engine Marketing), which includes techniques such as Paid Search Advertising. This includes various techniques beyond traditional PPC such as ‘retargeting’, ‘geo fencing’ and ‘mobile click to call’.

Social Media and Digital PR are also part of Digital Marketing.

So there are a lot of moving parts.

This graphic should help you with the SEO piece of the puzzle:

The Top 10 Questions To Ask A  Potential SEO Agency

The Four Elements of SEO, In-Depth

While it’s convenient to look at a graphic, it only serves as a basic guideline to SEO. The real competency of an SEO agency is being able to execute on the details within each of the elements:

Element 1: Code

Good SEO CodeBad SEO Code
Starts with Keyword researchDoes basic or no keyword research
Includes Topic Conversation researchBuilds basic html
Includes Competitor Reverse Engineering
Considers all topic keywords for each page
Builds an SEO Site Plan
Includes 301 redirects from Old to new URLs
Includes ‘Gap Pages’ for future content
Page sculpting with internal links
Includes schema markup language
Adheres to the 1 keyword / topic per page rule

Element 2: Content

Good ContentBad Content
Builds a strategy for ‘ranking pages’ to have the very best content possible for the search query with a view to being able to build meaningful links into the pageSimple content that only focuses on the keyword - bad agencies will prompt you to ‘write a lot of content’ and won’t address volume or quality of content
Has a strategy for Algorithmic content, such as News + Glossary ContentCreates content that is too short and therefore is penalized by search engines
Has a strategy for Growth Content, such as expanding the geographic footprint of the companyPractices “keyword stuffing,” a poor SEO strategy that will be penalized by search engines
Understands that Google no longer likes simple content - that it’s better to spend 2 weeks building 1 great piece of content than 2 weeks building 5 simplistic blog posts
Creates a monthly content calendar
Builds an SEO Site Plan
Includes 301 redirects from Old to new URLs
Includes ‘Gap Pages’ for future content
Page sculpting with internal links
Adheres to the 1 keyword / topic per page rule

Element 3: Links

Good Link BuildingBad Link Building

Foundational Links - links from relevant directories
Spammy ‘Comment’ Links
Influencer Outreach LinksLink Farms
Guest Writing Links Paid-for Links
Links through proper content syndication
.EDU Link Building
Media Link Placement

Element 4: Syndication

Good Content SyndicationBad Content Syndication
Press releasesRelies on social media to push every blog post written by the company
Proper use of content platforms
Influencer Outreach for content promotion
Strategic Social Media
RSS feed to Proper Channels (ie: Google+)

As you can see, a good SEO agency takes many steps to ensure your online presence is as strong as possible. Weak agencies do the bare minimum (at best), which almost never helps and can even be detrimental to your brand.

Another critical factor that hasn’t been discussed yet is, “What Phase of SEO You’re In.”

An established website with a decent backlink profile is in a completely different phase of SEO than one just created, so also keep these phases in mind as you ask your questions.

The Three Phases of SEO

The Top 10 Questions To Ask A  Potential SEO Agency

Phase 1: Introductory SEO 

In this phase, you’re just starting out. You don’t yet have the proper content or domain authority to outrank your competition. During this phase, your SEO agency should be focused on your core competencies and building out a strong foundation for code and content strategy that illustrates your company’s unique value proposition.

Phase 2: Expansion SEO 

In this phase, you’ve gotten your site to generate leads via SEO and other digital marketing strategies. Now you need to expand on that success. It helps if you think of SEO like a tree that is starting to fill out with leaves. With proper research, your agency should be able to help you build more and more targeted content and get backlinks to it through content syndication (social + content platforms) and influencer outreach. It’s also a good phase to do an existing content audit and bring your assets to a wider audience.

Phase 3: Payoff SEO

By now, your website is the centerpiece of your online marketing. It’s time to focus on converting your search traffic into paying customers. Your agency should be focused on installing heat maps, tracking click-through rates (CTR) and getting the most out of your existing traffic. This doesn’t mean to say that you don’t keep expanding, you never stop expanding, it’s more a question of getting the most out of all the hard work you’ve put in over the years to get your site to where it is now.

With That in Mind, Let the Search Begin!

Narrowing this process down to 10 questions doesn’t cover the entire spectrum of your interaction with your new agency, but it should get you pointed in the right direction.

In addition to the questions listed above, you may also want to ask your potential SEO agency these questions:

  • How well does your agency rank?
  • Does the agency also build websites / landing pages?
  • What 3rd party tools do you recommend we use to track performance?
  • Do you recommend call tracking?
  • Can you help with setting up conversion analytics?
  • Can you help with testing and improving user experience? (UX)
  • Do you handle local and national campaigns? How do you handle each one, specifically?
  • What’s your cancellation policy?
  • Do you do screen share consulting?
  • When do you recommend https protocol?
  • What schema markup language do you recommend for my industry?

 

While it may seem like searching for an SEO agency is akin to the Spanish Inquisition, a solid agency will be able to answer each of these questions with ease.

Moreover, an agency should be able to give you answers that are easy enough to understand, even if you aren’t familiar with the technical side of SEO and digital marketing. As the old saying goes, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Perhaps the most important factor in your search for an SEO agency is finding one that won’t sell you services you don’t need. At EverSpark Interactive, we offer free site audits so you know exactly what needs to be fixed — and what doesn’t. Contact us today to learn more about our free site audits and the other services we provide.

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