We all want our website to do well in the Search Engine Results Pages, but if our personal SEO skills aren’t up to par, the only real alternative available to us is to hire SEO professionals to help our sites rank.
However, we need to keep in mind that just like everything else in the real world, not all SEO companies offer the same level of skill, experience, and commitment to their optimization jobs. Some are even downright shady in their dealings. To determine whether an SEO firm is good at what it does and is trustworthy, you need to ask them the following questions:
Can you tell us what you know about our industry?
Of course, we can’t really expect them to have a deep and intimate knowledge of the industry of their clients, but they should at least have a basic understanding of what works for them SEO-wise. With that knowledge, they should be able to, among other things, develop the right kind of content and build high-quality links. If the prospective SEO firm has other clients within your industry, the better it would be for you since you would be able to benefit from the same assets that they’re using for their other clients.
What’s your timetable for getting my site ranked?
Normally, an SEO campaign will take four to six months before it gets a website ranked. So if the SEO agency you’re addressing the above question to says something along the lines of a month or two, you can move on to the next prospective SEO services provider. Do the same thing to any SEO firm that promises results even quicker than that.
Can you assure me of the top ranking in the SERPs?
In very much the same way as there are no quick results in SEO, there is also no way any SEO company can truthfully guarantee that they will get the top spot in the SERPs for you. They have no control over search engines to make such an assurance. If the SEO you’re talking to says yes to the above question, you at least already know who not to hire.
Can you give me a list of past and present clients?
While it’s true that client confidentiality is essential, it’s also very important for SEOs to prove their track record, and the clearest evidence of that track record is the performance of websites on which they have worked. By getting a list of clients, you would be able to conduct your own analysis of those sites and see for yourself if the efforts of the company you’re talking to actually worked.
Will you do local SEO?
Local SEO is a must if your business has a local shop that provides products or services. We recommend this because many SEO firms don’t do or even bother with local SEO. You would want to hire one who knows how to get your site to appear in the local listings of Google and other search engines or make changes to your website’s title tags and meta description to include the city and state where your business operates.
What is your link-building strategy?
Knowing how your SEO builds links is crucial. You don’t want to be stuck with an SEO firm that resorts to questionable methods of acquiring links because your website will be at the receiving end of a penalty from Google once you get caught (and you will get caught). You need to get an assurance that their link-building strategy will follow Google’s very strict guidelines and that they will work on getting high-quality backlinks.
Are you going to make technical changes to my website?
Changes to your website’s coding are often par for the course when you take on the services of an SEO company, so it’s likely that the answer to the above question would be a yes. So you should follow it up with an assertion that you will require them to ask permission from you before tweaking the coding.
Will you be giving me status updates?
When you’re working with an outside service on a project, you will want to be constantly updated on its status. That’s why you have to an SEO firm that will communicate with you the way you want it. If you prefer everything to be done by email, Skype, phone, text, or in person, just say so, and you can both agree on the best way to discuss the progress of the project, as well as on how often it should be done.
How much will you charge for your services?
The cost of doing business with an SEO company will depend on the size and scope of the project as well as on its complexity, so you have to know upfront how much you will expect to spend. The payment terms and modes may also vary widely. Some charge an hourly rate, while others prefer to be paid on a project basis.
Believe us when we say that you will be asking more questions as the project goes along, but the above questions should be enough to give you an idea about an SEO firm’s competence and trustworthiness and help you decide whether or not to get its services.