What are your goals?
Do you want more phone calls? More sales? More exposure? Immediate attention? Long term growth?
If they don’t ask you this, then nothing else they say or do will have any direction or relevant measurability. This is the single most important factor to be aligned with your SEO company on.
If you start here, you’re probably in pretty good hands. Want to be a bit more sure? Ask them these…
So, what do you suggest?
Hopefully they’ve done some quick research into your online situation and have a few high-level observations and suggestions which align with your goals.
If you haven’t talked goals yet, they should be bringing it up before answering this question. If not, you might just want to start at the top with another company.
A good suggestion might be “do some keyword research, implement some on-site optimization, and do some authority building.” To which I encourage you to ask:
How do you do that?
A good SEO company can communicate in plain English what they’re doing and why, virtually at all times (don’t ask us too often though, unless you want an earful).
If they have to hide behind obscure buzzwords and don’t want to “reveal their secrets”, it’s usually a bad sign.
Here’s the secret: SEO is hard. The answer to the question should be some variation of “I’m going to spend time and effort on this activity which aligns with your needs/goals in this manner, and here’s why…”
Do you need me for any of this?
In almost all cases their answer should be a resounding “YES!” You’re the one who knows your business, your customers, your competition. The more involved an SEO company is with you, the more likely the output will align with your needs and values.
Beware the company that disappears for 3 months while they “do your SEO”.
Do you keep track of your activities?
The obvious reason you’d want them to do this is to keep tabs on the work you’re paying them for, and that’s an excellent reason. While it’s not plausible to record or communicate every single activity that takes place in a project, it should be expected that they can walk you through their general activities and reasoning at any point in your engagement.
A conscientious SEO provider will also keep historical records of activities in order to offer insight if anything unexpected arises (penalties, traffic surges, etc.).
Can you provide a few examples of great content you’ve created/consulted on?
A good SEO company will be equipped to help you create or acquire the content their users are looking for (copy, graphics, video, etc). Hopefully they can provide past examples, explain how what they did aligned with the client’s goals, and how they measured it.
Can you provide a few examples of great links you’ve earned, and how?
Modern day SEO companies build links the hard way, without pulling any tricks. That means we focus overwhelmingly on quality over quantity, and that means we remember our big wins.
Any SEO who’s paid their dues will answer this with a twinkle in their eye.
How do you represent results?
SEO companies should generally have two deliverables:
- A detailed explanation of those results, how they were achieved, and to what degree.
Some will try to get away with the first one only. Just like jr. high math though, it’s the cheaters that don’t show their work.
Here though, the cheater sends you a bill long before you get slapped with a penalty from Google. Worst detention ever.
Those questions should give you a good idea of whether you’re dealing with a quality-minded SEO expert, or… not.
If you’re feeling a bit more sneaky, here are a few trick questions you can also use to thin out the herd.[/su_note]
How many links can you build for 0?
You should get an awkward silence, and then an explanation of how it doesn’t really work like that.
An answer of “we could build a list of opportunities, and maybe land a few links” would also be acceptable.
Anything along the lines of “$500 gets you 2,000 quality links!” is a red flag.
How quickly could you get me to #1 in Google?
Again, “it doesn’t really work like that” or “I would suggest trying this strategy” are what you want to hear.
What kinds of tools do you use?
I think it was Forest Gump who said you can judge a lot about an SEO by the tools they use… No?
Well you can. If they use tools to
• measure traffic and results,
• evaluate competition, or
• research opportunities & keywords
that’s awesome! But be weary if they use tools to
• automatically build links,
• automatically generate content,
• post content to many places at once, or
• create link wheels, content networks, etc.
Have any other simple questions or tips when hiring an SEO provider? Or any impressive/hilarious answers you’ve received from would-be SEO consultants? Let us know in the comments! Or perhaps you already have us on your radar? Contact Top Draw to see what our SEO services can do for you.