Many business owners understand the importance of having a professional SEO company on your side, but don’t know how to go about finding the right fit. Outstanding agencies won’t be offended when you ask questions: they’ll welcome it. This gives them a chance to shine compared to the competition, to brag about their past successes, and to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they know their stuff, can help you achieve your online goals, and are the right choice.
So ask these following seven questions so you can know you’re getting a top notch SEO agency that has the tools, experience, and knowledge to get your website to the top of the search engines!
Question #1: What was your favorite creative solution to helping out a client?
While the same general strategies are going to apply in some way or another because of different niches, different competition level, and just some seemingly randomness from Google’s Algorithm, there are always going to be examples of time where an SEO agency will need to do some creative or different to get that authority, to build trust, or to get those all important backlinks.
This can be an extremely illuminating question that shows you their ability to adapt, to try new things, and that they really understand search engine optimization enough to tackle rankings from another angle if one method doesn’t get the results they were originally expecting.
Question #2: Which past or current clients will vouch for you?
Any experienced SEO agency will ask for permission to use client testimonials after they do a good job, and most customers are happy to give them. If a company can’t provide you with multiple references, that’s a clear red flag. Business owners know how important good testimonials are and generally speaking are more than happy to give an outstanding reference if they have been truly helped out.
This is especially true with things like advertising, marketing, and SEO.
Question #3: Can you guarantee me the top ratings in Google?
As counter-intuitive as it seems, if the answer is an unconditional yes or a “yes, with a large enough budget,” that isn’t a good sign: it’s a clear red flag. SEO specialists know there are over 200 different factors that go into determining rank, but no matter how much testing is done no one is ever going to know 100% of what makes one website rank #1 versus #10.
SEO agencies can be confident they are going to get you results and they can be confident that they will make you competitive, but as far as outright guarantees, no one can give that in the SEO world unless they plan on doing something shady – and that always gets caught and the website punished, leaving the webmaster worse off than before.
Beware the #1 spot guarantee.
Question #4: Do you have your own PBN?
The strange part about this question is that there are actually several answers that can be a positive response. PBNs are a bit controversial. Poorly hidden or developed ones can be a hazard to ranking while other SEO agencies who take the proper steps to develop a legitimate portfolio of websites may be h4 believers in providing quality backlinks.
The most important thing is you want an answer that shows thought and adjustment. If an SEO agency has their own sites or PBNs, but are quick to assure you theirs are built correctly, get traffic, and have never been penalized by Google, then that’s a good answer. If the SEO agency says they always want to fall on the better safe than sorry route so they never use PBNs but still gather good links through social media strategies and guest posting requests, that is still valuable, as well!
Question #5: What would your main strategy be to help rank my website?
The right answer is always some form of “It is a multi-faceted process.” There are both on site and off site factors to tackle, the need to build trust and authority, a social footprint, and linking both off site and getting links to your website. That means a truly good SEO campaign is going to tackle multiple areas of concern at the same time.
Question #6: How are you going to keep me informed with what you’re doing to rank my site?
Let’s be clear: there are no “secret” SEO methods. The exact URLs for linking, or the exact strategies for getting social media attention might vary, but the same general processes are going to be the same. That means any on the level SEO agency should be able to provide weekly or monthly reports to let you know what work has been done in helping your website to rank higher in the search engine rankings.
Question #7: How does traffic break down on the first page?
This question does two things: it makes sure that the agency you’re talking with understands some very basic things about SEO, and it helps you figure out if the agency is shooting straight and honest or trying to gouge you for as much money as possible.
The answer is never you must be #1. Generally speaking being on the front page will get you far more traffic from any position, but anything 5 or below is around 10% of traffic. The top three spots are far above all others with numbers being as high as 50% for spot one and 20% to 30% for two and three.
First page gets well over 90% of all search engine inquiry traffic, but space one is a lot different from space three and space ten. An honest assessment will explain this general setup.
Bonus Question: Who owns any additional blog posts or optimized content if/when the contract ends?
For the amount that a business needs to pay for good SEO work, the client should still own any blog posts on their on-site blog or any optimized content on their website. Some SEO agencies will claim to own that content and take it back if the contract is broken. This isn’t a good policy for the client – make sure you own the content in this situation.
If you ask these seven questions (or eight if you include the bonus), you’ll truly have all the information you need in order to make the right decision on a great SEO consulting agency.