This article was first published on July 8th, 2020 and was last updated in January 2023.
Every single business owner wants to find a way to succeed. It’s part of the job description to do all things possible to keep costs low, keep leads coming in, and thus revenue high. It’s not easy.
So that’s where tasks like search engine optimization (SEO) and other digital marketing efforts can come into play. They help keep business coming in and help SEO strategies become effective overtime.
In our Boostability Blog, before we’ve talked about what questions you need to ask a potential SEO customer to make sure they’re a right fit for your agency. But this is a two-way street. They want to know just as much about you as you do about them.
As a business leader, you want to make sure that those who help you along the way have your best interest at heart and will do the job you hire them to do. That’s the case with anyone you hire to do a job. But with SEO or digital marketing, you’re literally handing them a piece of your business and telling them to help it grow and thrive.
SEO is long term so you want to make sure you’re hiring the right people for the job. One of the best things your business can do is to come up with questions to ask an SEO agency before hiring them.
Business Preparation Before Hiring an SEO Agency
Before your business starts to consider hiring an SEO agency, there are a few things your business should have in mind. SEO has many elements and factors to consider before starting an SEO campaign. When you start an SEO campaign knowing what areas of SEO you’re wanting to focus on can help narrow down and answer questions you may have. Otherwise, you risk wasting time and money on SEO goals that aren’t important to your business.
1. Have a General Understanding of SEO
SEO can be an overwhelming topic for someone who has never heard of it before. There are lots of agencies out there who are willing to help you learn and grow from SEO. However, it’s best to go into any initial meeting with a general understanding of SEO. It helps the agency as well as your business come to a better understanding of what progress you’re wanting to make with SEO.
2. Have Set Goals
Similar to having an understanding of SEO, it’s also important to have set goals of what you’re wanting to achieve with SEO. Whether it be increased website traffic, more conversions, brand recognition, content creation, etc. there are lots of achievements your business can achieve with SEO. However, not every business can afford everything SEO has to offer. Having goals of the things you’re wanting to achieve helps prioritize your business needs.
3. Understand Your Buyer Persona
An SEO agency will be your resource and tool in succeeding with SEO. However, no one knows your business or industry better than you will. With this in mind, it’s important to go in knowing your ideal target audiences and specific information to help increase traffic. Having research or data to back up who your target audience is will help significantly in the beginning stages of an SEO campaign.
4. Know Your Options
After you have an idea on the goals and objectives you’re wanting to achieve with SEO, it’s time to vet through your SEO agency options. You can start by taking a look at the goals you have in mind and matching them with your SEO agency’s website. How do they portray themselves? You can ask yourself:
- Does their website look professional and up-to-date?
- Are there examples of reviews, case studies, or client success stories on their website?
- Can you find them on third party websites as well?
- How is their online presence, reputation, and rankings?
- Do they have a nameless, faceless agency, or is it easy to find the humans behind the brand?
Once you’ve found a few options you’re wanting to consider, you can set some meetings up to get to know them more and see if their SEO goals and strategies align with what you’re wanting to achieve.
11 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an SEO Agency
It can be hard to come up with the right questions to ask an SEO agency before meeting with them. Here is a list of 11 questions you might consider asking any SEO professional or digital marketing agency before hiring them:
1) How will you go about improving my website rankings?
This is a perfect first question to start with when vetting a potential SEO agency. This question, out of the gate, helps you understand their SEO services, process, and strategy right off the bat. Each agency can do things a little differently depending on the types of customers they service.
A Boutique SEO agency is different from an Enterprise Agency, which is different from an SMB agency. Be sure to understand the difference before committing to one.
You need to understand an SEO company’s process early on to make sure you know what kinds of tasks and the process for optimizing your website. You’ll need to listen for answers like “we’ll start with a thorough audit of your website and begin the process of conducting keyword research”.
Good agencies likely won’t get into specifics of “we’ll post links on A,B,C websites”. However, they will talk about the process they take to help your site succeed. This means they have a tried and true method for helping websites rank.
2) How will you keep me informed about the progress made to my campaign and the changes made to my website? And how often would we communicate about progress?
This can be a very telling question. It will likely set the tone for the remainder of the conversation. Every good SEO agency makes the entire process completely transparent. They will make it so you can track your progress anytime and they are open with the changes made to your website.
Some agencies set up monthly calls. Others talk more regularly with a more boutique-level agency where more communication is required.
You need to balance out the needs of your business with what will be required. Good agencies will keep you informed at your convenience. But perhaps you like a more hands off approach where a monthly call will suffice.
Others like to be in the details. Be sure to judge what works best for your agency before signing up with a new company.
3) Who will be working on my campaign?
Like each agency caters to a different kind of audience, each agency will also have a different way of doing things. Some larger agencies have fulfillment teams that perform different specialized tasks. Some enterprise agencies have SEO specialists who spend their time on the entire campaign.
Both definitely have their pros and cons. But both are done by experts. It just depends on what method you prefer. But you should understand up front who will be doing the actual work.
It also doesn’t hurt to ask to speak with the team members who will be working on your website and your campaign. It could help give you a better understanding or idea of what could be for your SEO campaign.
4) How many pages on my website will/could you optimize? And at what stage?
Your first answer may seem like “all of them”. But listen for the order in which they organize these page optimizations. Campaigns should start by optimizing your home and key pages for your website.
Then as you find success and growth in the rankings, we can move to additional secondary and tertiary pages on the website. Starting off by building a strong foundation can be more beneficial than creating a variety of pages at once.
Another question you could ask an SEO agency is to find out if adding additional pages is an extra charge or if that’s part of the monthly ongoing SEO charges. Are all pages started at once or are more pages on a website added to a campaign as you move along? These are all important pages to consider when they are being optimized and built out.
5) How would my campaign be billed?
This could be the most important question you ask during an initial phone call (besides how does the work get done).
Some agencies charge by task. Others charge by hours. Some give a flat monthly fee and work up until that fee is met. There’s always a variety of different ways to manage the campaign.
The most important thing is making sure it works best for your business. And that’s not to say one way is correct and the others are wrong. For example, Boostability charges in hours.
There’s various campaign level costs that depend on the number of hours. For every single level, there’s optimization tasks that help a website rise in the rankings. We prioritize optimizing and achieving success for our customers at every level.
6) How many internal and external blogs can we expect per month? What about high quality backlinks?
Good content and good backlinks are central to a successful SEO campaign. These tasks help both on and off your website. Often the number of links and blogs depends on the budget. But as you set a budget level with your SEO agency, you should know what to expect from that budget.
Will you get two onsite and two offsite blogs? How many links will get placed pointing back to your site? How important is link building to them? Make sure you understand what comes in your SEO package before you decide to buy.
7) How do you measure the success of a campaign?
SEO can be difficult at times because there’s not always a measurable ROI. Increased organic traffic doesn’t necessarily mean increased conversions, though we hope so. But there are certain KPIs that can indicate success of a campaign.
First off, you can see the rankings of certain keywords moving up on Google. But you need to see other key trackers. You need to know if they measure by the number of links, the CTR from a website, or by increased search traffic numbers. Find this out early and make sure you understand these indicators.
8) What do you need from my business or team to ensure long-lasting success?
Often at the start of a campaign, you will need to turn over logins and relevant information that an SEO agency can use to help your campaign succeed. They will need to be able to access your website to improve the code and implement on site keywords. But there could also be additional platforms such as Google Business Profile and sometimes your Facebook logins as well.
Find out who on your team will need to be a part of the check in team. And who will be the main point of contact, as well as the hours required on your part every single week. Make sure you can live up to what is needed by the agency you’re working with.
It might be more of a hands off approach or a hands approach. You want to make sure that it lines up with your business goals and leadership style and that they will be able to deliver the benefits of SEO to your business.
9) How long will it take before I start to see results?
This is another key question that can be difficult for any SEO professional to promise an exact answer. SEO can take anywhere from 6 months to year to see any kind of results. Be extremely wary of any agency that promises instant results. They will likely go through unethical and condemned practices to achieve quick results that will end up hurting your website in the long run.
Good agencies will say that it takes around six months or longer to achieve page one rankings. It all depends on the competitiveness of the keywords, location, and industry.
But make sure you understand the timeline and the process that it takes to get your website to rank. No one can get instantaneous results in an SEO campaign. Knowing this fact right off the bat helps your business be aware of the right expectations and timeline for SEO.
10) Do you have experience in my specific industry?
Some agencies service specific industry niches. You can look for that for extremely specialized help. However, good agencies have experience in multiple, different industries and specialty businesses.
You can ask for case studies or more information on previous campaigns they’ve had success with in your same area of expertise. Good agencies will be open with that information and would be happy to share it.
11) How has SEO changed in the past few years?
Good SEO agencies monitor the changes that go on in SEO and can often see changes to the Google algorithms before they’re even announced. By being able to tell you about how the SEO industry and best practices evolve, you can tell their expertise level and experience. Good agencies have been at this for a while and know what it takes to get your website ranking. Find an SEO agency that is up-to-date and knows how to apply new changes to your business.
Hiring Boostability as Your SEO Company
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but should put you on the right track to have a meaningful conversation with a potential SEO agency you want to hire to help build your website. If you have any additional questions, look at asking the SEO experts here at Boostability!
As the #1 white label SEO company for SMBs in the world, we have the expertise and experience to help you understand SEO goals and expectations for your business and clients. Learn more about our SEO Partner Program and the potential opportunities that could lead to higher rankings and success overtime for your clients!