For a business looking to hire a reputable SEO firm, it is important to ask the right questions. There are hundreds of SEO firms that when you look behind the curtain you find out that they are a one man shop, working out of their basement.
1. Do you guarantee #1 rankings?
Any SEO firm that promises rankings or immediate results right from the beginning, is a major red flag. For one, it is dishonest to promise something that is beyond their control. Basically, claiming that your site will rank #1 or show up on the 1st page for a specific keyword or set of keywords is not accurate. The reason is that nobody but the major search engines (Google , Yahoo and MSN) control how websites rank in their organic search results. No SEO firm can guarantee results because they have no control over the search engines algorithms. It is true that a reputable SEO firm understands what factors go into ranking websites and can help increase search engine visibility, but no quality firm will ever promise rankings.
2. What is involved in a successful SEO strategy?
A legitimate SEO firm is able to explain what goes into a successful SEO strategy in plain English; not some overly technical industry jargon that a typical business owner wouldn’t understand. Every strategy should mention important on-page and off-page optimization, tracking results through website analytics, content development, link building, and continuous tweaking/testing to increase rankings and conversion rates.
3. When can I expect to see results?
Probably the most important part of finding the right SEO firm is setting the proper expectations. Any firm that says you will be fully optimized in 2 weeks is lying. A successful SEO campaign is ongoing and always improving. The first thing the SEO firm should ask you is what are you goals? Without understanding what you are trying to accomplish, there is no way anyway can give proper expectations. Once your goals are established, the following can be determined: realistic expectations based on the current condition of your website, recognize your competition, and how much time/money/resources you have devoted towards your SEO efforts. A good SEO firm will not necessary be able to say that you will see results in exactly 2 months, however they should be able to give you a range as to when you will start to see a noticable increase in traffic and conversions.
4. How do you measure our SEO efforts?
In order to track whether your SEO efforts are successful or not, you need to monitor your website analytics, ranking reporting, and any other type of marketing measurements your company has readily available. For ecommerce sites, it may be easier to track ROI because your conversions are all online. For brick and mortar stores or companies that do a combination of online and offline sales it can be a bit more challenging. To truly track all conversions, the SEO firm may need your help in tracking phone calls, store sales, etc.
5. How often do we meet to discuss our progress/reports/strategy?
Since SEO consists of an initial SEO setup and then ongoing monthly maintenance, it is important that the SEO firm outlines when and how often you will meet to discuss your SEO strategy. As the search engine’s algorithms change your SEO firm will need to get creative, try new strategies, and make adjustments as required. In an effort to have both marketing and SEO strategies running in line meeting regularly is recommended. It is not uncommon to meet on a monthly or quarterly basis to talk about your website analytics, conversion goals, and to make recommendations to improve your SEO. It is also important to see what the firm has been doing to improve traffic, conversions, etc. It also goes both ways. A good SEO firm knows that they will require the assistance of their client to get them where they need to be. It is a true partnership between client and SEO firm. Because content development is such a big part of SEO, the company should devote some resources into writting articles, blogging, and press releases. Ask the firm how you can help to increase results faster.
You can also find our whitepaper on 6 Smart Questions to Ask Your Prospective Web Developer