Hiring an SEO Agency? Don’t Forget to Ask These 12 Questions

Posted at 15/11/2021

To deliver a better user experience, search engines are always updating their algorithms, which means that search engine optimisation (SEO) is a continuously developing discipline.

Companies who used to perform their SEO in-house are finding it more difficult to achieve real SEO success in the current day as a result of the rise of outsourced SEO. Creating good backlinks today requires the use of interesting content, influencer marketing, and, at least, a smattering of public relations knowledge. 

A modern keyword strategy must include user intent research, content marketing skills as well as an understanding of Google’s ranking factors. When it comes to search engine optimisation, a marketing team may need more than one or two SEO specialists to do the task successfully. As a result, more businesses are opting to collaborate with a professional search engine optimisation service.

Even the top SEO services won’t have a faultless track record, but some are far better than others in this regard. 

SEO continues to be one of the most effective marketing tactics for businesses seeking to boost their online presence. Below, we’ll go through a few different questions you could have regarding this marketing strategy before getting into the specifics of the what to ask agencies.

 

Before you begin, you should determine your local SEO objectives

It is critical to plan before beginning your search for a local SEO agency.

You need to do the following first:

  • Understand the objectives of your organisation.
  • Recognise your competitors.
  • Before you enter, make sure you have adequate local SEO expertise to be able to assess prospects.
  • Recognise your alternatives (for example, individual vs. company).
  • Prepare a timeline or an ideal method for tracking progress and collaborate with the organisation that you ultimately choose.

A search engine optimisation plan does not have to be hard when you hire someone to develop and implement it. To hire an expert, you do not need to be an expert yourself; all you need to know is how to ask the right questions and anticipate the appropriate replies. 

Analyse the answers to the following 12 questions—as well as the characteristics to look for in the responses—to know if a search engine optimisation agency sticks to standard practices while also getting the results you need:

1. What is your SEO strategy and how do you ensure that it produces results?

There are 3 major parts of search engine optimisation that are worth mentioning and the most effective SEO companies consider all three to be necessary components of a comprehensive search engine optimisation strategy. 

Technical SEO takes into consideration factors such as code, site structure, site performance, and other elements that may have an impact on your search traffic and conversion rates, among other things. A technical SEO examination of your website and its content is required in order for search engines to crawl your website and its content. It must also examine and analyse redirections, too.

The practice of optimising your digital assets’ content for your target audience is known as user experience (UX). During an on-page SEO audit, an SEO expert examines the visible portions of your website, such as the content, navigation and keyword optimisation, and makes suggestions for appropriate changes.

When you use off-page SEO (search engine optimisation), you build links, expand your brand online, and increase the visibility of your website and the material on it. To improve your results, an SEO company will hunt for possibilities to build your domain and page authority by getting inbound links from other high-quality websites.

Many SEO businesses operate in one of two ways: 

First, they charge a flat fee for their services, for example, they will do all of the research and develop all of the strategies, but they will be unable to properly execute any of them.

Or second, they charge a per-click fee, for example, they will only provide one aspect of search engine optimisation (such as link-building).

Modern SEO needs a comprehensive plan as well as skilled execution. Make certain that the SEO agency you are considering can handle all three aspects of SEO (technical, user experience, and off-page), and that they have a clear plan for balancing them all.

2. How are you going to tailor a plan for our brand/business/industry/niche?

When it comes to SEO, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution and your SEO partner should understand why your agency needs a personalised plan that is specific to your industry, business model, and goal. 

SEO for a small company looking to attract clients from a dozen zip codes demands a different strategy than SEO for a multinational conglomerate, indeed.

While experience in the field is desirable, it is not required. More importantly, the SEO service must be able to communicate how they will tailor the overall strategy to your specialty. Ascertain that the agency can articulate particular instances in which the overall strategy will differ.

3. What are the measures that you use to define “success”?

This is a trick question. While SEO agencies may arrive at the meeting with some core goals in mind, their success metrics should be decided by what success means to you personally and professionally.

A guarantee of first-page rankings cannot be made by an SEO company and those that make such guarantees are most likely using black-hat SEO techniques. However, although the adoption of these tactics may momentarily improve traffic, they will ultimately result in a penalty, in addition to a significant decrease in traffic and rankings. 

Legitimate search engine optimisation agencies will build methods that are customised to your unique aims and objectives. They may prioritise keyword optimisation or content production if you want to improve traffic.

If you are looking to enhance local traffic, they may recommend that you raise your local business profiles on directory and review sites, among other things. When it comes to measuring an SEO agency’s performance, it should be directly related to your company’s objectives. Look for agencies that ask themselves this question and then seek your response.

4. How long do you think it will take before we see any tangible results?

Effective search engine optimisation takes time, but it shouldn’t prevent an experienced SEO firm from giving you a time frame in which to anticipate results. 

You should expect to see results from credible SEO strategies within six months of commencing your campaign, according to standard criteria. If your website is in good health, it will have an impact on whether you will enjoy the benefits sooner than you planned in the future or not. 

For example, correcting technical errors and oversights might result in considerable actual SEO benefits in a very short time.

If, on the other hand, your site is already well-structured and devoid of technical concerns, you will have to wait a little longer before you see meaningful results.

If your SEO business claims speedy results, find out why they are making such a claim. If they bring up technical issues that need to be addressed, it’s a good thing. If they do not, be cautious since they may be using out-of-date, spammy practices that can ultimately result in your site being punished by search engines.

5. How do you approach the mobile environment?

The topic of mobile technology should, in an ideal world, be brought up during discussions on the overall strategy. Because of Google’s announcement last year that they are transitioning to a mobile-first index, mobile optimisation is now more vital than it has ever been before.

Seek SEO agencies that have a process in place for doing a mobile audit of your website and ensure that your SEO agency can convey clearly why mobile is a critical SEO hurdle for your company.

6. What methods do you use to undertake keyword research?

It used to be that doing keyword research simply involved typing in the terms to be researched into a keyword research tool, creating a list of relevant keywords, and producing content with the keywords placed at different points throughout. 

Modern keyword research, on the other hand, takes a significant amount of work since it is an exercise in determining user intent. While searching for a keyword phrase, it tries to detect what information a user is seeking and then provides content that is suited to the user’s reason for searching.

Keep in mind that while you’re interviewing prospective SEO companies, you should make sure they make reference to user intent and detail the tools and techniques they use to determine keyword intent throughout the interview. If the whole discussion focuses on the number of searches for a term and the density of that keyword, they may be still using out-of-date methods.

7. How do you incorporate search engine optimisation into the whole marketing strategy?

The most effective SEO campaigns are integrated into a comprehensive marketing strategy; thus, avoid working with organisations that intend to do their job in a vacuum. 

Other activities such as public relations and social media marketing may be utilised to develop links in a more cost-effective and time-efficient way than SEO and content marketing. 

Before commencing work with your SEO partner, ensure that they are enthusiastic about collaborating with the rest of your marketing teams—as well as with other departments as needed, such as your web development and sales departments—and that they have a basic plan for integrating their efforts into your existing marketing initiatives in place.

To be successful, your SEO partner should be open to collaborating with your other marketing teams—as well as with any other teams that may be required, such as your web development and sales teams—and should have a basic plan in place for integrating their efforts with those of your other marketing teams.

8. How do you go about establishing links and using influencer marketing?

Although certain SEO businesses may guarantee you thousands of links in a matter of weeks, most of these connections will be of low quality. One high-quality link from a reputable, authoritative site is more potent than hundreds of low-quality purchased or machine-created connections in blog comments.

The effort should be centred on developing high-quality connections rather than a big number of links.

In today’s world, link-building is more correctly characterised as link-earning, rather than link-building. To do this, high-quality material must be created that will organically produce inbound links. 

Additionally, relationships with influencers and editors must be established. While link-building, your SEO agency should characterise its efforts in terms of relationship-building and quality as opposed to quantity and expediency alone.

9. What equipment do you have?

Knowing exactly what tools an SEO company uses isn’t required for understanding their skills; but, knowing that they can explain why they use those tools is critical for understanding their capabilities. 

To conduct audits and complete assignments, the legal SEO professional will have a range of tools at their disposal and they will have tested several different tools to establish which are the most successful. Inquire about the following issues:

  • What tools do you use to undertake keyword research and why do you choose them?
  • To maintain track of your rankings, what tools do you use and why do you utilise them?
  • What crawler do you use and why do you use it? What is the purpose of your crawler?
  • To keep track of backlinks, knowing what tools they use and why they like their choices are important questions to ask.
  • To do a competitive analysis, what instruments do you use and why do you employ them?

 

When asked why their preferred tools are employed and what influence those tools may have when correctly used, your SEO partner should be able to communicate the reasoning behind their choice of tools, rather than just regurgitate a lengthy list of “excellent tools.”

10. How do you provide progress updates and what does it look like when you do so?

Obtain a sample report generated for another customer to verify whether or not the SEO business has a valid technique for recording their success towards your agreed-upon goals.

Ask how they would modify the progress report to match your unique goals and key performance metrics (KPIs). Organisations that are unable to provide specific information on how success will be measured and reported on should be avoided.

The frequency with which an SEO service updates you on the status of your project will most likely be determined by the size of your project. The majority of brands may anticipate monthly updates. 

It is possible that larger organisations, or projects that are shorter in duration and more particular, may need more regular reports on the work being done. However, keep in mind that monitoring real progress week to week is unproductive and can be deceiving.

Search results vary for several reasons, including Google testing new algorithm adjustments, rivals making drastic changes to their content, and so on. Google tests new algorithm modifications every month. 

SEO is a long-term strategy, and businesses who just pay attention to short-term developments are more likely to make reckless decisions that end up damaging their efforts.

11. What do you use to keep up with the latest industry developments and Google updates?

The very least you’ll want is someone who follows up with the content published by Google on its webmaster central blog—which is Google’s primary source of information on how to successfully position a site for their search engines. 

An SEO expert who reads well-known industry blogs and participates in SEO forums and chats is regarded to be more knowledgeable and skilled. The best SEO pros will take care of all of the aforementioned tasks as well as do their individual investigation. 

They keep an eye on the sites they manage for any indicators of algorithm adjustments, and they look into any alterations in SEO best practices that could be taking place.

12. What do you need from us to be successful?

A large list of inquiries and requirements should be provided by legitimate SEO businesses. They will want extensive information about your audience, industry, objectives, and key performance indicators (KPIs) to do their job efficiently. 

They’ll want to know whether you’re utilising any other digital marketing tools that will have an impact on your content, such as marketing automation, and if so, which ones. They will also demand you have a Google Analytics account with them. 

Cooperation between numerous teams and business executives is required for effective SEO. As a result, firms that demand minimal input from you are unlikely to develop an SEO strategy that will assist you in achieving long-term success.

 

Invest in an SEO Company that Produces Results

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a complicated discipline. Since the introduction of Google’s machine learning algorithm, RankBrain, the search engine has been constantly upgrading and improving—24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. 

To stay competitive, effective SEO organisations keep ahead of important advancements and adjust their tactics and processes as needed. 

It is also important to remember that the ultimate goal of a search engine is to provide high-quality results to customers, which implies that effective SEOs should be more concerned with the quality of results provided to users rather than with ranking factors and the number of links in their campaign. 

When you ask these questions and carefully consider the responses to discover the methods and policies followed by a certain SEO business, you will be better equipped to filter out black-hat SEOs and choose an agency that offers long-term success.

 

Conclusion

Before you decide to outsource your local SEO, make sure you’re well-informed and careful. The finest and most effective agency partnerships are collaborative and cooperative, and they can be a real partner who can be relied on in any situation.

If you ask these aforementioned questions, however, you should be able to determine whether or not the local SEO agency you are considering is a suitable match for your company.

 

As tough as it is to search for the most reputable search engine optimisation agency around, you can rest easy in the knowledge that you’re on the right page. TopRankings has built the reputation as Australia’s leading SEO agency and you can simply give us a call to find out why businesses entrust their SEO campaigns to us!


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