What you Need to ask Your new SEO Agency
An on-staff search-engine-optimization (SEO) expert is one of those business luxuries that few companies can shoehorn into an operating budget. The obvious alternative is to seek out an SEO agency that can take on this critical job for you. But choosing wisely takes a lot more time and forethought than plucking a name out of a Web search. What follows are 10 (+1) big questions to ask so that your SEO agency is the right match for you.
Who are You and What Have You Done?
Is your prospective SEO firm an established organization, or are they just getting started? Experience is important, of course. But start-ups are often spin-offs from other companies and may offer highly-professional results at greater economy. Old-hands or up-and-comer, judge a prospective SEO firm the way you’d judge any potential supplier: Do they present themselves as professionals or as full-time online gamers? How long have the company and its staff been involved in SEO as individuals? Is SEO all they do, or are they part of an advertising or PR agency? Finally, and possibly most relevant to your choice, do they have experience that is relevant to your company?
Where are You?
An SEO firm that’s around the corner always sounds ideal. They’re usually quicker to respond and could save you some money. But unless you’re in a tech-savvy area, their employees may not have all the education and real-world experience that you’re trying to find. A more far-flung SEO firm can do a lot over the phone and via the Web. But if they’re going to join you on a regular basis, the cost of travel and lodging is gong to be an ongoing issue.
What are Your Ethics?
Does your prospective SEO firm wear a white hat or a black one? If you suspect them of using, or they even hint at, unsavory tactics such as buying links or stuffing keywords, it’s best to move on – quickly. Sticking to Google’s webmaster guidelines one-hundred-percent is a painless way to avoid the disaster a ban on your site brings with it.
Who Have You Helped?
Any prospective SEO firm should be happy to talk about its wins. But be prepared to dig a little deeper. Ask for a client list and spend some time surfing their sites. Is there any black hat trickery afoot? Don’t be afraid to ask for references, either. Any responsible firm will be happy to provide them. Then get on the phone and ask about the areas that interest you the most, from excessive billing to response time.
Can You Show Me Specifics?
Again, almost every firm loves to talk about its biggest victories. Although any firm that’s willing to share much information about another client can be problematic, a firm without major successes can be, too. Just remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be sure that any statistics quoted to you are meaningful in the real world, not just in a presentation.
What Approaches Have Worked for You?
Until you’re a bona fide client, don’t expect even the most aggressive SEO firm to give you all the answers. However, you can ask for a general idea about what strategies should and should not be implemented for your site. You can ask for specifics, but don’t be too surprised if they aren’t always available to you.
What’s this Going to Cost?
It depends. It depends on who you are, what you need and what you expect. It also depends on who your SEO firm is, where they’re located, who works for them, who else they work for, and all the other factors that go into pricing a service. An industry insider recently study conducted a study of SEO firm pricing. They found most firms charge in the neighborhood of $75 and $200 an hour. Some larger firms may also offer you monthly pricing.
How Do I Know if I’m Successful?
Your SEO firm must use your terms to define success. Whether your goal is leads, links, or revenue, be sure they know what you expect of and from them.
What About Implementation?
Ask yourself the same question. Will you need your SEO firm to roll up its sleeves and do the work for you? Or will your employees implement strategy and tactics your SEO firm has devised? The correct answer lies in the relationship between your firm and theirs.
Can You Meet My Deadlines?
A timeline should be part of any proposal. Expect some milestones to change, but start- and end-dates can help define and drive an SEO project.
Keep asking these questions as you solicit and review the services of SEO agencies. Whatever you do, don’t make a snap judgment centered on pricing or reputation. Learn as much as you can about the companies you consider and you will have taken the first step to finding the right firm to make your SEO efforts successful.
About the Author: This post has been provided by Neil Jones who is head of marketing for a specialist ecommerce site called eMobileScan. Who are a dedicated B2B provider. Their solution set includes handheld devices like the Linea pro and Motorola MC9190 which help their customer base increase productivity by removing paper processing and human error.