Search engine optimization (SEO), is an ever-evolving practice. Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms to offer a better user experience. Modern SEO is not a standalone strategy. Instead, it should be an integral part of an in-depth digital marketing approach.
Companies that used to internally handle their SEO are finding it more difficult to obtain measurable success. Effective backlinks require engaging content, influencer marketing, as well as a little bit of PR knowledge. A keyword method requires user intent research, experience in content marketing, and knowledge of the ranking priorities of Google. A few brands choose to work with professional SEO agencies, as it might take more than two SEO professionals.
It can be daunting to hire an SEO agency or company. Your partner will increase organic traffic to your website, improve your search rankings, and help you generate more leads or sales through effective online marketing techniques. Your SEO partner may engage in black-hat tactics that appear to be successful, but then disappear before the penalties kick in. This leaves you with less traffic and months or even years of cleaning up.
It doesn’t take much to hire someone to help you create and implement an SEO plan. It doesn’t take an SEO expert to hire one. All you need is a basic understanding of what questions to ask and the answers to expect. To find an SEO company that is proficient and follows best practices, consider the following 12 questions (and what you should look for in the responses):
How do you approach SEO to achieve results?
SEO has three primary facets. The most successful SEO and small business marketing companies take all three into consideration when making a comprehensive SEO approach.
Technical SEO includes code, site structure, speed, and any other metrics that may impact your search traffic. An SEO professional will perform a technical SEO review. This will make sure that search engines could crawl your website and its content. They would also review 404 errors and analyze redirects.
UX (user experience) refers to the optimization of your digital properties’ content. An SEO expert will review your site’s user-facing elements, such as navigation and content.
Off-page SEO is about improving your SEO presence through earning links, strengthening your brand online, improving the popularity and content of the site. An SEO agency will search for ways to boost your domain authority as well as page authority by channeling incoming links to your website from high-quality sites.
There are two main ways that SEO agencies can operate:
They might only provide a single aspect of SEO, like link-building.
They can do all the research and strategizing but not be able to implement it.
Modern SEO needs and in-depth method and skilled execution. You should make sure that the SEO agency you are thinking of could do all three (technical and UX) and have a concise and clear method to balance them.
How would you adapt that method to our brand/business/industry/niche?
SEO is not a one-size fits all solution. Your partner in SEO must be able to provide you some recommendations about how your business can benefit from a customized approach that suits your industry, goals, and business model. SEO for local businesses that want to attract clients from more than one zip code needs a different approach than SEO for major corporations with global markets.
Although experience in the industry is great, it’s not a prerequisite. It is more important for the SEO agency to clearly articulate how they would tailor the general method to be suitable your niche. It is important that the company could identify specific areas where their general method might differ.
What are your metrics for defining success?
This is a trick question. Although SEO companies might have some general goals, they should be guided by your success metrics. There is no guarantee that a SEO company will rank on page one. Those who make such promises are likely to be using black-hat methods. Although these techniques might get you some traffic, they will eventually lead to a penalty and significantly lower rankings.
SEO professionals who are legitimate will tailor their plans to your goals. They may recommend content creation or keyword optimization if you are looking to increase traffic. They might recommend optimizing local business profiles on review and directory sites if you are looking for increased traffic. Your business objectives must directly influence the success metrics of an SEO agency. Look for companies that could help you answer this question.
When can we expect to see results?
While SEO is a process that will take time, an agency with experience could give you a timeline for your results. You could see results using legitimate SEO methods in just six months.
Your site’s health will determine if you can see results sooner. Fixing technical errors and oversights could lead to legitimate SEO gains within a short time. If your site is well-structured and free of technical problems, however, you may need to wait for the results.
If your SEO expert promises fast results, ask why. If they couldpoint out technical issues that need to be fixed, great. Be wary if they don’t point out technical issues that need to be fixed. They might be utilizing spammy, past techniques that could eventually result in to your website being penalized.
What is the best way to approach mobile?
Mobile should be discussed when discussing the overall strategy. Google last year announced that they are moving to a mobile first index. This renders mobile optimization much more essential. You should search for firms that provide a mobile auditing service. This will ensure that your preferred SEO company is able to explain why mobile optimization is important.
What should SEO be integrated with our overall marketing strategy.
Companies that think they could do SEO alone are likely to fail. SEO is a part of content marketing. Public relations and social media marketing can also be used to build links. Your SEO partner should be open to collaboration with other marketing teams, as well as other teams such as web development or sales teams. They should also have a plan for integrating your efforts with existing marketing initiatives.
How can you do keyword research?
Keyword research used to be as simple as entering a term in a keyword research tool and then creating content using keywords placed at different places. Modern keyword research is more difficult. It’s a process of understanding the user’s intent. It aims to determine what information a user seeks when searching for a keyword phrase, and then provides content that is relevant to that intent.
When interviewing potential SEO companies, ensure that you refer to user intent. Also make sure to ask about the methods and tools they use to know the keyword intent. When the conversation moves around keyword density as well as the number of keywords searched, it’s possible that they are using outdated methods.
How can you approach influencer marketing and link-building?
Although SEO companies might promise thousands of links in just a few weeks, the truth is that these links are not high-quality. A high-quality link from an authoritative, credible site is better than hundreds of low quality links purchased or created by machine in blog comments. It is important to focus on quality links rather than quantity.
Link-building can also be called link-earning in modern times. This is achieved by creating high-quality content and building relationships with editors and influencers. Your SEO company should describe their link-building efforts in terms of relationship-building and quality–not quantity and expediency.
Which tools do you use to accomplish this?
It is not essential to know exactly which tools an SEO company uses, but it’s important that they can to explain why they use them. SEO professionals who are legitimate will use a variety of tools to complete their tasks and conduct audits. They will also have tried multiple tools to determine which one is the best. Ask the following questions: Which tools are you using to do keyword research?
- What are you using to monitor rankings and why?
- Which crawler do your use and why?
- What are you using to monitor backlinks and why?
- What tools do you use for competitor analysis?
Your SEO partner should be capable of explaining why their favorite tools are chosen and how they can impact your business. Not just reciting a list of “great tools”,
What is the best way to report on progress?
To ensure that your SEO company is able to report on their progress towards your shared goals, ask to see a sample report they have created for another client. After you have discussed your goals, ask the company how they will customize the progress report to meet your goals. Companies that do not provide details about how progress will be measured or reported should be avoided.
The size of your project will determine how often an SEO agency updates you on progress. A majority of brands will receive monthly updates. Larger companies or projects that are short-term may require more frequent updates. However, it is important to remember that tracking progress week-to-week can be misleading and ineffective.
Search results can fluctuate due to a variety reasons, including Google changing its algorithm, changes made by competitors to their content, and so on. SEO is a long-term strategy. Companies that do not monitor closely often make drastic changes that can end up harming their efforts.
How can you keep up to date with industry changes and Google updates.
You’ll need someone who keeps up with Google’s Webmaster Central Blog information. This is Google’s official outlet for news about how to position sites for search engines. It is a good idea to follow popular blogs in your industry and take part in discussions and forums about SEO. SEO professionals are able to do both the latter and conduct their own research. They look for signs of algorithm changes in the properties they manage and examine possible shifts to SEO best practices.
What are you looking for to make us more effective?
A long list of questions should be asked and answered by legitimate SEO companies. They will need to know everything about you, your industry, goals, and key performance indicators in order to do their job effectively. They will need to be able to access any other digital marketing platforms that may have an impact on your content. Access to your Google Analytics will also be required. An effective SEO strategy requires collaboration between many people and leaders of companies. Agencies that require very little from you will not be able to create an SEO plan that will lead you to long-term success.
Find an SEO Company That Delivers
SEO is a complicated field. Since Google’s machine learning program, RankBrain was introduced, the search engine has been constantly improving and updating itself 24/7/365. The best SEO companies keep up-to-date with key changes and adapt their plans and strategies accordingly. Search engines are designed to deliver quality results to users. Effective SEOs must be concerned more with user satisfaction than ranking factors or the quantity of links.
These questions will help you to identify the practices and policies of an SEO company and to find one that is reliable and long-lasting.