For most businesses, being number one on Google usually ranks pretty high on the wishlist for their service or product.
After all, who doesn’t want to be ranked #1? Plus, it’s easy, right? A few keywords here, a link from a website there and hey presto! After a week or two of waiting in eager anticipation and countless searches?
If this sounds like you then It’s time to bring in the experts. Don’t worry, you’re not alone, this is a scenario we’ve encountered all too often.
SEO is a vital part of any business’ marketing strategy, but ensuring that you beat your competitors to that coveted #1 spot requires an expert approach. But of all the thousands of SEO agencies that seem to be popping up left, right and centre, which ones are truly experts?
Here are 11 essential questions you’ll need to ask in order to find the right SEO agency for you!
1. What experience do you have?
Of course, this is a tricky question to start with.
A successful SEO agency will have experience with clients from a variety of different industries, and be able to show their results. What you really need to look for is the scale of the results achieved, i.e. what the average performance increase over 12 months, and how that is applicable to your business.
If you choose an SEO agency that has achieved great results in the past but has no experience in your industry, then be prepared to go through a significant learning curve in the early stages of a campaign.
You can also benchmark your business against the size of the companies on display. If an SEO agency shows you case studies of companies that are a similar size to yours, it’s likely they understand the service levels expected.
2. How will you understand my business?
It can take years to truly understand a business.
Most successful SEO agencies have tried and tested methods of getting to the core of what makes a business so unique. They may not know all the in’s and out’s like a long-serving employee, but a good SEO agency will probe your senior leadership team with questions they know visitors to your site will want an answer to.
But, trading information is a two-way street.
As a client, you should be prepared to share the following with your chosen SEO agency:
- Business plans
- Commercial goals
- Sales strategy
If you provide them with an understanding of where you want your business to be in 5 years, alongside financial information such as which areas drive the biggest return, this can help both of companies to sign from the same sheet.
3. What’s your process once we sign up?
Once the contracts are signed and hands have been shaken, it’s time to get to work.
What happens next? Maybe you’re unsure what process your business will be taken through once you’ve signed on the dotted line? A good SEO agency will have developed a process over time that increases their chances of success, and share a detailed campaign plan with you.
4. How long will it take for us to rank?
Ah, the million-dollar question.
And one that is almost impossible to answer, for any reputable SEO company at least. Let us provide some context.
There are all sorts of factors at play when it comes to ranking on search engines. These factors, along with the fact that nobody knows exactly how Google ranks websites, means that rankings are incredibly difficult to predict.
That’s why you should always be wary of an SEO agency that guarantees #1 rankings in a short space of time.
Well, if a website can rank #1 in a matter of weeks for a given search, what does that say about the phrase or keyword involved? Ranking #1 for something that nobody is searching for isn’t much use to your business!
SEO is extremely competitive. Any opportunity that can be exploited, probably already has been. Which means that other businesses will be reaching for the most lucrative searches, resulting in a constant battle between them all.
The correct answer to this question lies in an SEO agency’s experience. If they respond by making reference to a particular case study or a related product/service, this demonstrates both their credibility and skill.
5. Will there be a local SEO strategy?
Local SEO is incredible.
The power of appearing in the infamous ‘local pack’ with numerous 5-star ratings is a powerful brand message. This should form a central part of a good SEO agency’s strategy if a business gains most of its work based on locality,
However, if you’re a national company or looking to target multiple countries, local SEO may not be a worthy use of your time and budget.
If your chosen agency can identify your business strategy from the outset, they’ll be able to advise on whether this is something you should focus on, or leave it as a ‘nice to have.’
6. What’s your link building strategy?
For businesses that have never done any digital marketing before, links are an integral part to their SEO strategy. This is how it works.
Essentially, Google uses links as votes of confidence. When a trustworthy website adds a link to another, it’s sending a clear signal to Google that says:
‘We trust this website enough to send our visitors there.’
However, not all links are the same. A good SEO agency will look to gain links from the most authoritative websites in your industry, which as a result boosts the reputation of your own website.
The key thing to watch out for is when an agency may not be adhering to best practices. This can come in the form of building links as a result of ‘black hat techniques’ such as purchasing backlinks or bulk-directory listings. Avoid these tactics at all cost as it could damage your website in the long-term.
7. Can you optimise the content we already have?
The best way to boost a business’ SEO from the get-go is by focusing on some of the content that is already on a website.
While it may have been written with customers in mind, a great agency will know what’s missing, and where improvements could be made that will increase its visibility.
8. How much time do you need from us?
Striking the balance between gaining knowledge and being self-sufficient will separate good SEO companies from the rest.
You should expect a lot of communication in the early stages of the campaign, as your chosen agency will want to discuss everything from what product or service to focus on, to your biggest USP’s. This is all in an effort to provide your agency with as much insight into your business as possible.
From then on, apart from fact-checking and signing off on content, don’t be surprised if contact is relatively short.
9. Who will be my main point of contact?
Building strong relationships with your SEO agency is critical to the partnership. A good SEO agency will ensure that throughout the onboarding process, the person that will handle the relationship on a day-to-day basis is always present.
That person might not be the managing director or one of the senior leadership team, but an account executive who will provide progress reports and feedback to the wider team.
The main goal here is to establish a single point of contact and to know the procedure for reporting things to a more senior team member when needed.
10. Will I get a report, and how often?
100%! A good SEO agency will undoubtedly provide you with a monthly report, providing metrics on all of the objectives outlined from the start. This should include:
- The ranking of focus keywords
- Amount of traffic generated
- Backlinks gained
- Technical changes implemented
Any agency that suggests reports are a waste of time should make you run for the hills!
11. What is it going to cost?
Cost depends entirely on the amount of work that needs to be done and the budget you have. On average, SEO costs between £500-£1500 per month on a retainer basis.
That might seem quite excessive, but you can’t expect a good quality SEO strategy without a bit of cost. We’d suggest looking at SEO another way: by assessing the current conversion rate of a website, and figuring out how much a lead/sale is worth.
While SEO is a significant cost, it could provide multiple sources of revenue that would previously have been untapped.
At List & Found, we’ll improve your Google rankings, drive more of your ideal customers to your site, and turn your visitors into customers.
We understand that every customer, every job, every industry is different. But the results you can expect from us never change. We’ll do our best for you, from start to finish. We’ll find you customers, win you business, and we’ll always try to overdeliver.
We’ll create a custom digital marketing campaign that’ll get your business found, and get customers through the door. Organic SEO, PPC, email marketing and social media – we’ll find the right channels to connect you and your customers.
Working with List & Found, you can expect big results, clever processes, and all your t’s and i’s crossed and dotted. We do things properly, and we’ll keep you informed (with no jargon or buzzwords) every step of the way.
If you’re looking to get more from your website, get in touch with us via phone on 0161 820 2221 or by emailing direct to firstname.lastname@example.org