This question comes up, well… not as much as it should. What questions should I ask an SEO company before hiring them? When you are being approached by an SEO company or prospecting for one, you need to perform due diligence and make sure the company is the best fit for you. In this article, I’ll walk you through the top 10 questions to ask a SEO company before hiring them and how to weed out the bad apples.
1. Do you work with and know our industry?
This should be the first question you ask. Why? Because while SEO is generally the same across the board, you want someone who has knowledge and experience in your industry. Someone who knows the specific industry terms has a general knowledge of the systems and processes used in your industry, and a company who has prior experience can add a lot of value. They generally can write better content for your website, have more resources within that industry, more digital assets and more content that can be tweaked to be used for your site or blog posts.
2. Do you currently work with any of our competitors?
This is a question that can really give you a lot of insight into the type of company you are dealing with. Generally, within the SEO community, we offer exclusivity and only work with one client per industry in any given service location. Now, when it comes to larger demographics or major cities, it might be common to work with a couple of clients since there is so much opportunity for each. Generally, an SEO company will ask for permission to work with a competitor and get a proper agreement before moving forward. If the SEO company didn’t share this info with you without you having to ask, or they failed to answer the question honestly, be concerned as this could be a red flag moving forward. You generally want to be the only client the company is working with within a specified and agreed upon service area.
3. What sort of ranking increase can we expect?
Here’s where things get fun. This question is sure to trip up even the most sales savvy SEOs. This is probably the most asked question to SEOs and rightfully so, you want to know how long it’s going to take to get on page 1 for specific keywords in your location. The truth is, there isn’t a real answer to this. It’s not 3 months, it’s not a year… it’s never!
A good SEO will never make a guarantee that you will be in the first page, especially on the first page within “x” weeks. This is a red flag, drop the phone and run!
Seriously though, SEOs don’t have control over organic search positioning and there are so many factors that come into play. A good SEO should be able to explain this to you and mention the variables that could impact performance such as; competition within your service area, where a searcher is located when searching for your service, your website, and previous history, and Google algorithm changes. A good SEO should be able to help you understand that there isn’t a guarantee but rather a solid method to work towards getting you ranked.
4. What services are included as part of the overall SEO strategy?
It’s good to know what you are going to get and the expectation moving forward. Ask what the exact services and quantities of each they plan to deliver each month. Be prepared for a vague answer though. Many SEOs don’t work per hour, but rather for results. For instance, the first 3 months of an SEO campaign can be very time consuming, especially if it is a new website or company they are building the campaign for.
Be sure to get an itemized list of what you can expect them to work on. Are they going to be working on your GMB listing, are they going to be building citations, backlinks, blog posts, etc…
A good SEO should be able to put some type of timeframe to each. For instance, if you need a GMB listing built and optimized, they should be able to give you an expectation of when that is going to be complete. If you are going to have citations built, they should give you reference to the number of citations per month you can expect, etc, etc.
5. How will you optimize our website?
A good SEO company who has experience in your industry should have no problem answering this. Ask questions like, are you going to create new content or use our existing content? This is a great way to find out what the SEO really knows about your industry. Most SEOs that have a lot of experience in a particular industry will have a gameplan already and most likely know what works for your industry in terms of SEO and on page optimization and conversions. Another great question to ask is, how do you optimize content and why is it important? Again, a good SEO should not have an
issue with this question and should be able to have an upfront solid answer. If they start sounding “salesy” or stumbling words, a red flag should be raised, after all, a large portion of SEO is based on on-site optimization.
6. Are you going to optimize our website for conversions?
Yes! This is an important question. Many SEOs only care about getting your website in front of those looking for your service, but a great SEO will understand the value of getting a visitor to call or fill out a form on-site. If the SEO cannot answer this or is not willing to do conversion optimization on your website, this should raise a red flag. There are too many amazing SEO companies out there who have this built into their SEO regimen.
7. How much time is needed from me?
It’s always good to ask this question. This is great to gauge the amount of involvement you will need each month. This excludes monthly meetings with them. This is generally for tasks you are responsible for, specifically if you have your own in house writers, designers, or developers.
8. How often will we meet or have a call?
This will differ from agency to agency and is something that should be defined in the beginning. Some SEOs might have weekly or monthly calls, while others might just give weekly status reports with monthly ranking reports or a dashboard for you to log into to see all the relevant Key Point Indicators. It’s up to you to drive how often you’d like to be contacted…most SEOs just want to be left alone 🙂
9. How can we track progress and analyze the campaign?
This again will be different from agency to agency. Also, this can differ from client to client. Some folks want to see every bit of detail and understand every metric while others only want to see the number of phone calls and form fills they received that month.
Be sure to let them know what you want. Most companies use reporting tools and dashboards that allow you to log in and see all of the information at any given time. Most of these tools can be adjusted to fit your preference.
10. Is there a contract to work with you?
Most agencies and SEO companies will have some sort of contract or agreement. Most range from 6 months to a year. A 6-month contract gives you both enough time to see results and to also make sure they are a good fit for you. Just remember, results can vary and some can take more time than others.
When discussing the contract, also ask if they have an out clause. This will give you some cushion in case you are not completely satisfied or something drastic happens.