In the digital age, almost every company needs an online presence to survive. When it comes to visibility and reach, search engine optimisation (SEO) is one of the best ways for businesses to get noticed by potential customers. With millions of websites and local directories sprouting up every day, it's getting harder for small businesses to stand out from the crowd.
Luckily, hiring an SEO Company can make all the difference. With their expertise and proven strategies, an SEO firm can help your business dominate its competition in local search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, as well as other prominent sites like Yellow Pages, Insider Pages, and Superpages.
However, with so many companies advertising their services as "SEO experts" in a bid to attract new clients, it's not always easy to find the right company for you
So what do you ask them?
Good question, it depends somewhat on your requirements. If you already have an in-house team, do you need a few freelancers to assist? Or are you looking to hire an SEO company to increase lead generation and online visibility?
Either way, it is essential to have a set of questions ready. This article will focus on some basic questions that will go a long way in finding the right digital marketing partner to move forward with.
Can you Guarantee me Page 1 on the Search Engines?
Oh, there's a guarantee that's great! - Warning signs.
Any SEO agency offering ranking guarantees should alarm you, as SEO can't be quantified. Google doesn't play to an SEO agency's tune. SEO professionals constantly work around Google's changing algorithm, meaning no SEO company can be ahead of Google; they are all reactive.
They must work to ensure that as changes are made, they morph their strategies to align and keep you moving forward without guaranteed ranking positions.
TIP: Instead of looking for guarantees, ask about their experience in your field and if you can see some examples.
What Strategies and Tactics do you Use?
First, they should have asked you about your business goals, objectives, timeframes, and budget. After that, it's time to discuss strategies.
You should have established that they have previous and local knowledge of SEO within your industry so ask them what strategies have worked in the past. Also, asking them during a campaign has had to change strategies.
These questions will help you identify SEO professionals who offer ready-made off-the-shelf solutions.
TIP: One sign of an inexperienced SEO agency is when at this stage, all they focus on are keywords and keyword research. They should look at a much bigger overall picture than just keywords. YES, keywords form the backbone of all SEO. However, there are now 199 other ranking factors to consider.
Have You Dealt with Search Engine Penalties?
Penalties are not as common today as in the past, so some agencies won't have had to deal with them.
In some ways, this isn't bad as it means they are not practising "Grey hat or black hat SEO".
Tactics such as "keyword stuffing" and hiding pages full of keywords should be a thing of the past. These are techniques that were designed to outsmart Google. However, the growth and intellect of Google's algorithm mean it's almost impossible now.
A quality SEO company should be able to identify any incurred penalties and work hard to remove them to get the SEO campaign functioning properly.
The identification process is simple, but the work needed to correct it is not. If they sound competent on this side of SEO, then they know more than companies just offering generic packages.
How Will You Grow Backlinks?
Backlinks are still a significant cog in the SEO wheel. But they are becoming more challenging to obtain.
In the past, there were many link-building and link-swapping schemes, many of which were designed to deceive Google.
There were other ways, too, such as link farms and purchasing links; in both, Google will find the trends and penalise you.
In today's SEO, having a massive amount of backlinks doesn't necessarily equate to your rankings being higher; in some cases, it is now the opposite.
Backlinks must now be earned. This is done by producing quality articles and outreaching out to other relevant websites within your industry to post on their sites; this creates healthy backlinks that are authoritative and relevant.
A reputable SEO company will discuss how they will build healthy backlinks and increase your visibility.
Do I get a Designated Account Manager?
Remember when you are searching and making your short list of companies you think may be a good fit to look at their size.
Suppose a company is used to only dealing with large established businesses and you are a small start-up company. Is that going to be a good fit for you?
Probably not. Suppose you get involved with an SEO company that takes on predominantly large corporations. In that case, you could get left behind as you spend less.
TIP: Remember, some companies look at a customer like an airline. If you are paying for 1st Class, you get extra privileges to Economy Class. Having a designated Account Manager means there is always someone to go to that knows your campaign inside out and is constantly working with you.
There is no definitive way of knowing if an SEO company is a good fit for you until you get underway. But there are tell-tale signs that you are dealing with a small, new or generic company that is not at the cutting-edge of SEO techniques. Hopefully, these pointers will stand you in good stead to find the right one. Good luck in your endeavours.