I am a big believer in the quality of an answer depending on the quality of the question. This is definitely true about shopping for an SEO company and trying to find out which one will be best to work with your business.
It is more than ten years since I began Rank First. Guess what? I still can not tell you which other SEO companies are good at what they do or not. We hear rumours. We get more clients who come to us after being disgruntled with other particular providers, some more than others. But who is good to work with? I am not sure.
What I am sure about, is that there are better quality questions than others when you are trying to work out who to deal with. People can write anything on the internet really, so don’t believe everything you read. Ask specific questions. Below I will list some good questions I would ask along with points about the answers that may be given.
In the next post in this series I will list questions you should be asked by the SEO sales person and then finally, a post about questions that aren’t important, that will include debunking some things I think are tricks used in our industry.
Just to be clear. I love the SEO industry. I understand it can be hard for a customer to navigate and understand the process. I know there can be disappointments. Communication is what is often most important to get a good result and to build a long-lasting, win-win relationship.
If you ask this question, you should be able to get a good answer. How good the salesperson is can have a big affect on your result. It is the salesperson that often communicates the goals for the project and any concerns a business owner might have. They need to know what they are talking about when it comes to websites and marketing. If they are just regurgitating a script and can’t give proactive and practical answers, then I would be suspicious about how well they can perform.
Many SEO companies will send an audit too. These are almost always auto generated by a program like SEMRush or something similar. That’s fine, but they should also be able to explain which audit issues are important or relevant to ranking your site, and which ones are not.
This does not mean rankings. When you get into an SEO relationship, you must assume it will be for a longer term. Like any relationship, trust can only be built over time. In the short term, it is great to have a list of visible tasks to be completed on your website, along with a clear time table that the tasks will be completed by.
What tasks are these? Well that will vary between websites. But they should make sense. There will be the generic things like updating page titles and meta descriptions and so on. But what are some other things that will be done? Will they create new pages specific to key products or services? Will they add content? Create a blog? Decrease load speeds? Remap your site navigation?
At least if you have a timeline of sorts, you can see planned action is being taken with goals in mind.
It is very important to know what sort of reporting you will receive. There should be ranking reports. There should be traffic reports. There should be audit reports. There should be conversational written reports about tasks completed as per the plan and what is coming up next. That is what I would want if I was a client.
Along with this, who is going to send the report? They should understand what you expect, and you should be confident they too know what they are talking about beyond just the script.
Part of search engine optimisation has to be editing and writing content. ‘Content is king’ has always been a saying in the industry. It sounds naff to me, but it is true. Content is king.
So, who will it be writing it for you? They don’t need to be Banjo Patterson, but they need to be able to write well. With good grammar and some personality. They will need some flexibility to write in a way that is search engine friendly, but it must make sense. You should also be able to edit it if you like. Also, make sure that the content they publish on your site is yours, and not held under their intellectual property (IP). This is rare, but it happens!
Just asking this question could put the sales person on alert that you know what you are talking about and that you won’t tolerate fools easily.
Content is important. In some industries the client as the business owner, manager or another person may have to contribute content. This applies to services where the business is selling themselves and culture primarily. Architects for example can be difficult to write for, if you are a third party. But that’s maybe going off topic a little.
I know SEO companies often put logos up of clients they have worked with. Well guess what? That does not mean they have helped them rank well on Google. I know one with a Qantas logo. That looks nice. I also know that all they did was create one landing page for a newsletter campaign for them six years ago. Not so relevant to SEO.
For me, big names and recognisable brands don’t mean a lot. Unless you know they rank really well for what they do. We don’t put clients on our website. Why? Because in our industry, our competitors will contact them and try to convince them we are no good and try to poach them. It is that brutal out here. It’s happened.
What you want here is a small list of client websites, that rank well for proper search terms that get traffic. I wouldn’t just call them up, that would be rude. But with permission, maybe call one or two and get feedback on the service they are receiving.
Part Two of this post will be about Questions An SEO Salesperson Should Ask
Part Three will be on questions for SEO companies that are not so powerful for you as the client.