Optimising your website is critical in bringing in more leads, attracting customers, boosting online visibility, and generating high revenue. The best way to hedge against the competition and make your website visible is by hiring an SEO agency with years of experience and the best services.
But with so many SEO companies claiming that they are the best in the market, finding the one that meets your business needs and suits your budget takes time and effort. Suppose you need clarification about selecting an SEO agency that is an expert in creating and executing winning SEO plans. Here are 15 questions to ask an SEO company before hiring.
What is an SEO company, and who should hire one?
The first organic average search engine results account for 27.6% CTR, which falls drastically for the second and third listings. This makes it more critical for businesses to rank in the first position in Google to generate traffic. However, running a business online and standing ahead of the curve can take time for busy business owners.
This is where an SEO agency comes in. Every business owner — small, medium, or large enterprise, requires SEO services to reach its target audience and acquire the finest leads. An SEO agency helps businesses and brands to create a robust online presence by using a well-planned SEO strategy.
Here are the top advantages of hiring professional SEO services:
- Get quality organic traffic: You need to research the best keywords, create valuable content, and perform on-page optimisation to improve the UX of your website. This involves a lot of time and money. SEO companies have skilled and experienced organic search professionals to help you acquire quality traffic that leads to relevant leads and maximum profits.
- Perform in-depth SEO analysis: A comprehensive website analysis will help determine your business goals, current site performance, and strategies to achieve desired results. An experienced SEO services provider performs deep SEO research to maximise your ROI.
- Save money: SEO agencies are always cheaper compared to in-house SEO experts. Therefore, one of the top advantages of SEO companies is that you save a lot of money and time because you don’t need to subscribe to costlier tools or hire experienced professionals for every specialised service, such as link building, content marketing, or technical SEO.
An SEO agency helps build and maintain a website that attracts quality inbound traffic that leads to profits. Collaborating with an SEO agency means you get access to the latest SEO tools to defeat your organic competitors.
How to hire a reputable SEO company for your business?
Undoubtedly, SEO is the cornerstone in today’s highly competitive world, as more than two-thirds of clicks go to the first five pages of the search results. With so many SEO companies in the market, hiring a company that offers long-term benefits takes time and effort.
15 questions to ask your SEO agency
It would be best if you asked a few questions to SEO agencies before choosing the best search engine optimisation services for your brand. Here are the questions you need to ask these agencies before choosing them.
1. Which is the best way to improve my website rankings?
To begin with, ask them how they are going to start their SEO process. Identify whether or not they have a well-structured plan and strategy to ensure that their clients get positive results from their SEO marketing investment.
Remember, an SMB SEO agency will work differently than an enterprise SEO agency. Hence, it would be best if you focused on your business needs and preferences before you put your hard earned money into hiring one.
Always go ahead with an SEO company that can follow tried and tested methods to rank websites higher rather than a trial and error method. If the respective agency delves deep into the technical jargon without explaining the basics, you should look for other market options. Another vital aspect you must check is whether the company uses Black Hat or White Hat SEO techniques.
A company that uses black hat SEO strategies can lead to Google penalisation, doing more harm to your brand name than good. Therefore, you must ask Google search engine optimisation experts which methods and techniques they will follow to improve your site rankings and organic traffic.
2. How often do you share SEO reports with your clients?
Many business owners need to pay more attention to this question, but this is one of the best ways to understand if the SEO company suits your needs. The more transparent an SEO company is, the more effective results you can expect from them.
Only the right SEO company will understand why sharing progress reports with transparency is vital for its clients. Many companies go with monthly calls, whereas others prefer monthly or weekly report sharing with their clients. Judge the agency based on what works best for your company before you seal the deal.
3. Can you share the success stories of your past clients?
Before hiring an SEO agency, go through their customer success stories to view the results they have achieved for their clients. Always check clients’ success stories from the same market niche as yours. This is the soundest way to assess if the SEO agency understands your business environment and can deliver results.
Testimonials from past clients, detailed case studies, and reports are other ways to understand if the company can generate the desired results from your SEO marketing investment. If the company is hesitant to share past results, it’s a red signal that the agency does not have enough success proof.
4. How do you measure the success of your SEO campaigns?
Only a reliable and transparent SEO agency will share its search engine optimisation process and how it measures the key performance indicators (KPIs) in detail. Several SEO agencies hide accurate data from their clients on their website’s performance in the Google search engine results, wasting time and money. However, this is different with top SEO agencies, who are proud to show their SEO process and results.
5. What is the cost of SEO services?
Another crucial question to ask an SEO agency is how much they charge for their services. Remember, SEO agencies charge differently for their services. Some charge a monthly fee, while others charge an hourly fee. Some companies might charge on a task basis.
Therefore, before choosing an SEO company, discuss your campaign needs and analyse how much they will bill you. Such a proactive approach will help you evaluate the cost beforehand and ensure that you can afford the company in the long run.
6. What type of SEO do you focus on?
If you are looking to choose a well-rounded SEO company, this is another relevant question that you can add to your list. Most reputable companies offer three types of SEO — on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.
Here is a brief explanation of these three types of SEO:
- On-page SEO: An on-page strategy focuses on making changes to your websites, such as website content, meta tags, and internal links. The SEO agency will revamp or edit the content on the website with targeted keywords to boost the rankings.
- Off-page SEO: Unlike on-page SEO, off-page SEO refers to the online presence of your business on the web. The off-page strategy should focus on increasing the authority of your website. A study by Ahrefs states that sites with zero backlinks get zero search traffic. Top SEO companies will build comprehensive strategies to gain backlinks from high-authority websites.
- Technical SEO: A crucial step in a robust SEO strategy is conducting a technical audit of your website to determine the problems that affect its position in the Google search engine results. Conducting technical SEO is an effective way to fix broken links (404s), ensure that your pages are secured by HTTPS, and optimise the metadata of each web page, bringing in more revenue.
Ask your SEO company which strategy and outreach method they focus on to get the desired results.
7. How long will it take to rank my website on the 1st page on Google?
SEO is a long-term process that requires a strategic plan to get the best results. If an SEO company claims to rank your website on the first page within weeks or months, consider it a huge red flag and steer clear of it. An award-winning digital marketing agency would only commit to a short time frame to boost your web rankings.
However, they can give you an estimation depending on the current status of your website and their past results. It will also depend on a wide range of factors, such as:
- Backlink quantity: The number of links built each month.
- Backlink quality: The quality of the backlinks being built.
- TF-IDF optimisation: If a brand’s content is optimised for search engines.
- Page linkability: The quality of a page that an SEO agency builds links to (e.g., a linkable asset v.s. a service or product page).
- A website’s current metrics: Domain rating (DR), organic traffic (OT), and branded search.
- Keyword competitiveness: A long-tail keyword with a low keyword difficulty score is much easier and faster to rank than a commercial short-tail keyword with a high keyword difficulty score.
As a general rule of thumb, it can take approximately 20-30 high-quality links to move a page from page 10 of Google Search to pages 1-3 with a moderate keyword difficulty (KD) score.
8. How many pages will you optimise for better rankings?
Most SEO agencies will answer “all of them,” but for more clarity, you can ask them about the order of page optimisation. Users visit around 3-3.5 pages whenever they land on a new website.
The right page optimisation campaign will start from your home page and move to the other vital pages on your website. Once the rankings of your websites start improving, you can optimise secondary and tertiary pages. While finalising the content for pages, be sure to ask whether additional pages attract an extra charge.
Many agencies include the costs of page addition and optimisation within the monthly ongoing SEO charges, while others charge separately. Clarifying these things beforehand will help you to avoid last-minute surprises.
9. Which SEO tools do you use for effective results?
Even though understanding the nuts and bolts of all the SEO tools is optional, getting an overview can help you finalise your potential agency. Always ask which SEO tools they use to monitor rankings, crawl websites, measure backlinks, and conduct competitor analysis.
Remember, not all SEO agencies will use the same tools. Therefore, be prepared to encounter different tools when speaking with various SEO agencies in your industry niche. When you communicate with the SEO team, ensure the conversation focuses more on the tools and methodologies used to determine different SEO aspects.
In addition, give them time to articulate why they prefer their SEO tools over others and what impact that can have on your business.
10. How do you stay up-to-date with industry trends and the latest Google updates?
SEO is a dynamic and unpredictable industry because of the ever-changing Google algorithms. This makes it more critical for business owners to stay updated with the latest trends. Focus on hiring an SEO agency that is an expert in creating and executing campaigns according to the latest Google updates.
For an SEO agency to stand ahead of the curve, it is vital to stay up-to-date with the industry trends and Google updates by following the latest news closely. Do some homework and jot down the things before getting on a call with the SEO experts. If the search engine optimisation company answers your questions strategically without any smoke and mirrors, you can consider hiring them as your SEO partner.
11. Have you ever faced Google penalties?
When SEO companies use “black hat” or “grey hat” SEO practices to improve their rankings, they will likely be penalised by Google. This is because black hat SEO practices involve manipulating the Google ranking algorithm to generate the desired results.
The Google SERPs system penalises companies that use manipulative measures to grow their rankings. As a result, it can harm your brand name and reduce your website’s authority in the eyes of Google.
Instead of hiring a company that has faced manual action penalties in the past, you should hire a quality SEO company that can make changes and improve the user experience to rank higher in the search results using “white hat” techniques. When your SEO partner makes your website user-friendly, Google will eventually improve its ranking to generate more sales and boost revenue.
12. How long have you been working at an SEO company?
There is no substitute for knowledge gained through experience. Always look for an SEO agency with years of industry experience willing to show their past SEO achievements.
No one can be an all-rounder; the same applies to SEO companies operating for years in the market. Instead of hiring companies skilled in all aspects of marketing, focus on the one who excels in the critical areas of SEO.
Always choose a company with a history of improving search engine result page rankings and organic web traffic through legit measures. Instead of believing in fake claims, ensure they have the data to back their words and team skills.
13. Which type of approach do you follow for your SEO campaigns?
When it comes to SEO, there is no one-fit-for-all approach that works best for all businesses. You should choose an SEO services provider that follows an innovative approach and focuses on your business goals and objectives.
Be wary of SEO companies focusing only on one aspect of SEO, for instance, link building. A quality SEO agency should pay attention to page speed, content marketing, load time, on-page optimisation, user experience, and web design to put your company in the front and centre of the competitive marketplace.
14. Which SEO services are part of your SEO strategy?
Another critical question is the services they add to the SEO strategy. Many companies, as said above, follow black hat SEO techniques that can do more harm than good to your business.
Asking for a detailed explanation of their SEO services will help you understand what exactly you are paying them for. Clarify what services they will deliver monthly, the charges of each service, hours devoted to each service, and the number of external links they will provide each month.
15. How often will you ask for input from my side?
Even though you have hired a company to tackle the SEO part, a few things require your input. Many business owners need to pay more attention to this aspect, leading to communication gaps and undesired results. Therefore, you must ask what level of communication they need from your end.
It would be best if you also asked how often they will send the work for your approval. These small things will help you understand that the SEO campaign is working as it should and generating valuable results for your business. Remember, the better you communicate with the SEO company before and during the campaign, the better results you can expect.
Asking these 15 questions beforehand will help you separate the best SEO company from the rest. Whether you’re planning to target a global clientele or you want to maintain a solid online presence, the company must understand your business goals and should work accordingly.
What are the benefits of hiring an SEO company vs. an in-house team?
Every brand is distinct, and so are its needs related to SEO. Regarding pricing, industry knowledge, and tools, SEO agencies have the upper hand over in-house teams. SEO companies have years of experience offering top-notch results to their clients and have access to the latest digital marketing tools.
As a business owner, you don’t have to spend a single dime on subscribing to separate tools for website auditing, keyword finding, tracking backlinks, etc. All you need is to hire an agency, and they will use the best tools to promote your website. Here are two key benefits of hiring an SEO agency over an in-house SEO team:
- SEO agencies have skilled professionals with years of experience working in your niche. They know the right strategies to supercharge your SEO efforts. Hiring SEO professionals with the same level of experience is costlier.
- In-house SEO teams must be trained regularly to keep them updated on the ever-changing SEO trends. Hence, you need to bear separate funds for training. On the contrary, SEO companies are always on top of the latest trends, and there is no need to spend extra on training. You only need to pay your fixed monthly fee; that cost covers everything.
By asking questions in the first meeting, you can analyse if the SEO agency is legit and worth your money. Check out their case studies, do a little screening, and ask about their experience in the field to determine whether or not you should work with that agency. The last thing to remember is that SEO is a long-term game. Instead of rushing into hiring the first agency you meet, focus on spending your time deciding who is the best.
Nick Brogden leads the company as Founder and CEO of Earned Media, acting as Chief SEO Strategist and primary client contact. Nick provides clients with personalised and expert SEO guidance that aligns with the industry’s best practices and has over 12 years of hands-on SEO experience. Have any SEO questions you’d like to ask Nick? Drop him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.