If you want your customers to know that your business exists, then it’s crucial that your website shows up on Google, Bing or Yahoo. By showing up in the top search engines, not only do you make people aware of your brand, but you also get more visits to your site. And this leads to a greater return on investment.
But what do you do if you don’t have the time to plan out the best search engine strategy? Even more important, what do you do if you don’t have the knowledge or expertise to make sure that you’re visible? Well, the answer is simple, you hire an experienced SEO consultant. In order to choose the right agency, you need to make sure that you ask these questions before hiring them.
1. Who have you worked with?
If you want to get a better idea of how much experience the company has and how effective they are at on-site SEO then you should ask for a list of their previous clients. Any reputable SEO agency will be happy to provide you with this information. Preferably the list will be extensive and include a few recognisable brands. And don’t just review the names, reach out to a few of their clients to find out if the company made a significant impact. They may not be able to provide you with analytics, but that should at least be able to tell you if the company was able to increase their conversion rates.
2. What’s your strategy for improving my rankings?
Your SEO expert should be able to freely discuss what plans that have for improving your website rankings. They should be able to give you a clear idea of what goals they have for your website and how they align with yours. Ideally, their plan should start with an audit. In this way, they will be able to pick out all of the things that need to be changed and improved–including things like error pages and broken links. Their goal should be to make your website as search engine friendly as possible. They may also recommend a few off-page SEO tips as well.
3. Do you follow Google’s guidelines?
If you want to make sure that you are always on Google’s good side, then it’s important to find use SEO company that works according to webmaster best practices. This means that avoid the black hat SEO tricks, including things like hidden text and content that could be viewed as spam. Good on-site SEO will never get you penalised.
4. Do you guarantee a number #1 ranking?
Professional SEO companies will never guarantee a number one ranking in Google. Sure, they may promise to get you a higher ranking or even to the first page of Google, but a reputable site will never promise spot number one. And if they do, you should consider it a red flag. There is a good chance that they may use black hat practises to manipulate the search engines. Even if it works, it’s only temporary and it will very likely get your website penalised.
5. Are you good with local SEO?
Local SEO is extremely important if you are a brick and mortar business owner. This is the best way to attract nearby traffic. A professional SEO consultant will add your business name and information to Google’s, Bing’s, and Yahoo’s local listings and directories. This makes it easier for people to find you–especially those on their phones.
6. Will you communicate the website changes you make?
When the agency makes changes to your website, you need to know. This means they should update you on work they have done on your code, title tags, and content. If they plan to do a website redesign, then you need to be in the know about it.
7. What are your metrics for success?
One of the most important questions that you could ask the company is how exactly do they measure your SEO success. Do they go by the amount of traffic that you earn? Do they go by the number of leads you earn? Do they go by the increase in your conversion rates? You need to make sure that you have the same measurements that your goals will align. It’s idea good idea to find out if the company has any experience with Google Analytics. Not only that, but you should find out how often they check this tool.
8. How do you communicate with your clients and how often?
When searching for the best on-site SEO services, you need to keep in mind that every company has a different communication style. So you need to be on the lookout for one that best suits your specific needs. Does the company expect to communicate with you over the phone or do they prefer to speak to you in person? Are they a fan of Skype or do they text their customers? Perhaps they are old school emailers. Once you find out how they communicate, find out how often you should expect to hear from them.
9. What are your payment terms?
Another way in which companies tend to differ is their pay scale and the terms. It’s important to know on the front end how much you will be charged for their services. However, just as equally important, you need to know how and when they expect to be compensated. For instance, does the company request customers to pay them by the hour? Does the company expect a retainer? Perhaps they would prefer that you pay them by the project.
In most cases, business owners should expect SEO companies to charge them by the project. However, it depends on how complex your specific project is. If the company requires a contract, research suggests that you could be charged anywhere from $1,000 to $7,000. Retainers can range from as little $200 to $500 per month to as much as $2,500 to $5,000 per month. Hourly rates are estimated to be between $70 to $200. You should also find out how often their invoice payments will be due. Do they charge late fees?
10. What happens when the project is over?
Last but not least, you need to find out what happens when your contract is up with this business. This is especially the case if you eventually choose to terminate the contract early. Ask the company if you will still have all of the rights to your optimised web content. It’s a good idea to pay attention to the fine print in your contract. It should clearly state what you should expect should you choose to end the contract. You should also ask if the consultant charges a fee for early termination.
Finding the best SEO specialist isn’t always an easy task. However, there are a few things that you can do in order to make your search easier. Specifically, there are questions that you can ask that will help you to narrow down your amount of choices. By asking the above questions during the shopping around phases, you can save yourself a lot of time and frustrations in the long run.