There are thousands of SEO specialists out there. Some have done incredible work with small business. Others with large corporations. Both markets require different SEO strategies. Some SEO firms are in the US – and some outsource the basics overseas. It’s a lot to sort through.
Plus, you never know if they’re legit. Are they going to get you ranked for your chosen keywords? Heck, do they even know how to do extensive keyword research?
Do your due diligence and dig. Find as much information as you can. Ask around. Talk with previous clients to see what their experience was. Most importantly, get to know your firm by asking these five questions.
What questions should you ask?
1. How many years of experience do you have?
You get what you pay for. A newbie to SEO is going to know basics – and maybe pre and post-penguin strategies. But someone with 5-10+ years experience has endured the SEO roller coaster. They’ve seen the industry develop, tactics evolve, and are more likely to know works and what doesn’t. Get a feel for the experience of the whole firm – specifically who you’ll be working with. Not everyone gets to work directly with the founding partners.
2. How do you stay updated with what’s going on in the industry?
An SEO expert who thinks buying 50,000 links (of which you should neverdo) on a wing and a prayer is someone to steer clear of. Get your firm to list a couple books they’ve read or blogs in their feed reader. SEO changes every day. Staying up-to-date with the latest linking strategies, content ideas, and social signals is crucial to any optimization strategy. Make sure your firm has been doing their homework.
3. Who are some of your successes?
You want results, right? Then a firm without case studies may not be the best fit for your business. You want to see how long it took the firm to improve rankings, what tactics were used, and the budget to achieve those results. If you’re working with an individual who is just starting out, and may not have any case studies, expect to pay less, but don’t expect a ton of results.
4. Do you outsource your services?
Outsourcing is all the rage. Sure, it’s cheap and fast, but it can be low quality. And it just means more profit for the firm. Here are a couple tactics that should not be outsourced: link-building, content creation, and blog commenting. You ultimately want high-authority links from well-known sites in your industry. With outsourcing, you’re never sure if that’s exactly what you’re getting. If it’s anything different, it could be detrimental to your site’s rankings.
5. What are your passions outside of SEO?
Thought this was a curveball, didn’t you? In fact, it’s a critical question. You’re going to work with your chosen firm for several months – not to mention shelling out a pretty penny. It would be beneficial to you to know you share several common interests outside of your partnership agreement. Talking about sailing, hiking, or interior design with your SEO company helps establish a human relationship. And that’s what business is all about – relationships.
It’s tough to pull the trigger on an SEO strategy.
With Google’s algorithm updates, what worked yesterday, may not work today. Be careful choosing a firm or individual and make sure to ask these questions and more before you sign the dotted line.
Michael Adams is the Marketing Manager for Fourtopper. Fourtopper builds stunning websites for restaurants. For more information on how you can bring more to the table with your website, visit the Fourtopper blog.