Businesses understand the value in having prominent search engine rankings for keyword phrases that drive business. This makes hiring an agency or professional who can help boost a company’s search engine optimization valuable. But many don’t always know what they’re getting from an SEO provider beyond that aspirational goal.
For many businesses, rankings is their focus from the Web but talking about what’s involved with search engine optimization can seem like speaking another language. Sure, you may not understand everything you’re getting when you look to buy a new furnace but at least you know you’ll be getting a furnace that works. Nowadays that’s not always the case with SEO.
Below are questions to ask an SEO provider so that you can better understand the services offered and develop a plan for a more successful SEO campaign.
1. Do You Guarantee First Page Google Results?
Even though it may not appear this way, this is more of a filtering question that sheds light on the SEO provider’s approach. To the layman, this seems like a logical question. If you’re paying for a service, the provider should be able to commit to a guaranteed outcome. But SEO is unlike any other business service.
Since Google has a more than 65% market share of search engine traffic and they have their own algorithm, any quality SEO provider should never guarantee first page rankings. They don’t control how Google outputs the rankings. In light of Google’s ever-changing algorithm and SEO practices that used to work no longer working, any company or individual that guarantees first page rankings should be viewed suspiciously.
2. What Do Your Services Include?
Design, content, technical factors on a website, and links are all aspects of SEO. It’s important to understand what services your website needs and what your SEO provider will deliver.
SEO providers should offer best practices and strategies and services that improve your search engine visibility and volume and quality of Web traffic.
3. What Is Your Process for Getting Links?
Gaining quality links from other sites to your website is an important component of improving your search engine rankings. If you’re paying for SEO, it’s important to understand your SEO provider’s process for obtaining new links and the tactics involved with that.
Link building strategies such as obtaining low quality directories or guest posts on non-authoritative, not-industry related sites aren’t likely to be very beneficial for your search engine rankings in the long-run nor provide referral traffic.
4. What is Your Content Creation Process, Can You Provide Examples and Who Writes/Creates the Content?
Unique, targeted, high quality website content can be a good way to market your brand and gain a larger audience, get more social shares, and more links. But creating content just for the hope of high search engine rankings can have diminishing returns from a marketing standpoint.
Having quality writing and creative skills can allow your content to stand out from the crowd. What you don’t want is content prepared by a writer with poor skills or even worse, a machine. Low value content can really tarnish a website and even adversely affect your search engine rankings.
5. How do You Promote New Content?
Hitting publish on your blog doesn’t automatically mean your content work box is checked and it will successfully garner search rankings, traffic and links. A significant amount of time and energy should be spent to effectively promote the content. This is where having a strong following for your business and effective PR capability come into play.
Will it be promoted on social media, used in email marketing, paid content promotion, or even better is there an outreach plan and established contacts that can help get the content on high authority websites or news sites in the businesses niche? The importance of effective content promotion and PR aspects of SEO and content marketing are underrated.
6. What Are The Monthly Deliverables and How do You Measure Success?
For local businesses that get SEO services, too many just ask is my phone ringing or are more people coming through the door? This is the simplest way to measure SEO but it’s less than scientific.
In the past, SEO services for businesses were largely based on targeted keyword rankings, Web traffic//Web sales, and the number of links built. It was easier to get rankings and show more immediate returns on investment. While these metrics may still be important, overly focusing on keywords and quantity of links can hurt your site in the long run.
Other metrics or goals that are important factors and should be considered would include: increased website page speed, bounce rate, new sources of referral traffic, new pages garnering traffic, or more online reviews. Data on social media follows, likes, and shares may also be part of more meaningful, measurable reporting.
Be wary of monthly SEO reports that provide information that is not very specific or measurable, or provide rankings reports on keywords that are low volume or of little value.
7. What’s the Cost?
There’s nothing worse than paying for something and not knowing what you’re getting. While the costs for online marketing services can vary considerably, understanding the type and level/quality of services included and the expected monthly deliverables, you can better comprehend and identify the SEO services your business needs and get better value.