Hiring An SEO Agency? Ask These 7 Questions

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hiring an SEO agency

When you finally decide that the warning signs are there and it’s time to invest in SEO, you have to actually make sure you work with a quality SEO agency. Believe it or not, this isn’t always the easiest thing to do. In many cases you are hiring an SEO agency because you either can’t keep up with the work yourself and want to see a change or you simply aren’t sure how to do SEO on your own. In either case, asking the right questions and knowing the correct answers can be difficult. Fortunately, even if you don’t know much about SEO, you can still come across confident when interviewing by using just a few basic questions.

Consider the questions below to help you get started and make sure you’re on track to finding the right SEO company to work with. Any good agency should be able to answer these questions in detail:

Can I Have a List of Your Current and Past Clients and Contact Them?

This should be no problem for a good SEO company because they will have nothing to hide. Once you have a list, actually use that list by contacting them and hearing what they have to say. Do a little bit of analysis on the clients as well to see if they have A). Good SEO and B). An easy to navigate and easy to read website and C). Quality content and reviews.

What is Your Current Link Building Strategy?

A good SEO company will tell you that their link building strategy consists of building relationships with authoritative websites and then earning natural links. You should be building links for users, not for Google.

How do you Measure SEO Success, and What Kind of Results do you Expect for a Company Similar to Mine?

Keep in mind that no quality SEO agency will guarantee results or guarantee any particular rankings at a particular time. SEO takes time to see results, but a good company will have a few tools they use (including Google Analytics) to see which keywords are moving up in the ranks.

Do you use any Third-Party Tools to Gather Data and Analyze Results?

A few great SEO tools include SEMRush, Ahrefs, Screaming Frog, and Majestic, but of course there are many more options out there. I recommend writing down what the agency says and then looking into the tools at a later time. In either case, it’s important that the agency has something to say for this question.

How will you Keep us in the Loop of all Your Activities? In Other Words, How can we Communicate and Keep up With Your Progress and Offer Comments and Suggestions?

Many SEO agencies will actually have their own portal or dashboard to help keep you updated on progress and everything they’ve been doing. At the very least, you should expect an agency to have a weekly call with you to discuss progress as well as one contact person who is made available to you at all times if you have any questions or comments.

When it Comes to Content Marketing, What Tools do you use and What Metrics do you Follow? Why?

Content marketing tools are different than SEO tools (question 4). While there could definitely be some overlap, it’s extremely important to inquire about content marketing specifically because content is becoming so important to Google in 2015. Make sure they follow clicks as well as social engagement with each different article, and then make sure they tell you that they try and find trends through Google Analytics (or another tool) to help determine which content resonates best with your audience.

What is Your Technical SEO Experience? For Example, Have you Ever Dealt With a Google Penalty or a Major Algorithm Change? If so, how did you Deal with It?

Asking an SEO agency how they dealt with a problem is a great way to weed out the OK agencies and leave yourself with the great ones. A Google penalty can happen at any time, so your agency has to be prepared. A good agency will explain how they anticipate algorithm updates before they happen — read SEO blogs, stay up to date with Google announcements, etc. — but will also have a story about a time when they had to help a website recover. After all, recovery is just as important as prevention in the first place.

The Takeaway

Of course, there are many more questions you can ask aside from just these seven. Many find that asking questions such as “Do you know of any quick fixes?” or “How long will it take to see results?” are good questions because the correct answer should be “I don’t know.” There are lots of SEO scams out there, so it’s important that you’re finding a company that is honest as opposed to just having the right answers.

In other words, the questions above are your core questions, but you can get creative and should spend some time picking their brains about what they enjoy and don’t enjoy about SEO.

Google Search Photo via Shutterstock

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6 Reactions
  1. Some good questions there, although sometimes the better SEO agencies have to sign a contract stating they will not discuss their campaigns with other clients. Also worth noting, that when you have an agency working for 2 clients in the same niche, who gets the best links? Who gets the best content? It may be worth only choosing an agency, where there is no comflict with other similar clients.

  2. From my experience, most clients would rather NOT be bothered by strangers so that does not really apply all the time. A good factor to look out for is the marketing companies’ own web presence! How well does that company rank for their own services? If an SEO company is ranking for their own services, that is usually a good indication that they know what they are doing!

  3. Thanks for the post! This is definitely a discussion that people should be having before hiring someone to help them with SEO.

    One of the biggest problems in this industry is the bad reputation from so many “SEO experts” using black hat techniques that will give a customer a big boost in rankings at the beginning, but ultimately hurt them and leave them worse off when they get penalized. That’s why the question of “how long until I see results?” question bothers me a bit. If any results are ever promised, the client should run from that company as soon as possible. The only results that are every guaranteed are those that will not hold up long term, and may ultimately hurt the client more than it helps.