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The Five Best Questions to Ask Before You Hire an SEO Agency
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The Five Best Questions to Ask Before You Hire an SEO Agency

by Philip Armstrong12th January 2015

The process of selecting a search engine optimisation (SEO) agency to help market your website can be a complex one. It can be difficult to compare the various agencies out there and determine which one is likely to get you the results that you want, for the right price.

Many SEO agencies don’t actually produce the results for their clients that they promise, but are very well versed in the art of persuasion. Their business model revolves around the following:

  1. constantly acquiring new clients
  2. convincing those clients to sign an agreement which absolves the agency of any real responsibility
  3. charging an extremely high fee for their services
  4. spending little or no time, money, or resources on attaining results for the client’s website

In order to achieve the first step, these ruthless companies often use aesthetically pleasing, but substance lacking proposals; and slick sounding sales staff sporting silver tongues. For business owners who are not extremely tech savvy, it can be extremely difficult to tell which companies are the real McCoy, and which are trying to fleece them.

For this reason we’ve laid out a list of questions you can ask prospective SEO agencies to determine which company you’re dealing with.

Making A Sale

If you’re an SEO worth your salt, why do rank in __ position for the keyword “SEO Agency”?

The first thing to do when determining the legitimacy of an SEO company is to gauge the effectiveness of the SEO marketing campaign that is being conducted on their own website. If they don’t appear at least on the second page for SEO related keywords in their target area, then you need to question whether or not they are going to be capable of ranking your website.

Can you give me examples of clients of yours that have seen success with their website rankings?

It’s important to see if the SEO campaigns for their current and past clients have been successful or not. It is best that the examples of client websites are in sectors which are not too dissimilar to yours. You may be given the excuse that they keep their client’s details private to protect them. But if you can’t get any evidence of any success with past clients, you should be very wary about hiring them.

Can you give me a rough idea of your link-building / marketing strategy?

You’re not expecting them to tell you where they are going to build every single link, but it is important to know what their general strategy is. Which types of sites are they going to be building links on? Building you hundreds of thousands of links from poor quality, unrelated websites is not going to benefit your website rankings in the long term. The right SEO agency will have a good idea of which large authority sites they are going to build links from to your website. Remember, that with SEO quality is the key to high rankings, not quantity.

Also ask if they are they going to be building links to your site in the first month? Some agencies propose a plan of not building links within the first or second month, and use this time to conduct research only. With such an arrangement, you are essentially paying the agency to do zero marketing for the first couple of months.

How long until I begin seeing results?

Depending on the current position of your website, seeing first page or top three rankings for your chosen keywords may take anywhere from three months to a year. SEO is generally a long term strategy, and building authority and consistent high rankings in a way that is or at least looks natural is a process that takes time. If you are being promised high rankings in an unrealistically short space of time, then you should err or the side of scepticism. It may mean you are being lied to in order to tie you in to a contract, or it may mean that the agency is using a short term “churn and burn” strategy in order to gain high rankings at the risk of having your website penalised by Google.

How do you formulate your pricing structure?

SEO is a service which is unique to each website. Some websites will require additional content, and changes to their structure or Meta Data; some sites will require a disavow in Webmasters, and manual removal of toxic links; while others may require a lot of expensive to acquire links and a big social media effort in order to meet its goals. For every website, the requirements, strategy and the pricing will be different. If the agency you are considering offers fixed fee packages, then run for the hills. A good SEO agency should be able to itemise exactly what is required for your individual SEO campaign, and be able to break-down the costs in the same way. If the SEO agency you are speaking with cannot or won’t do this, you have to question the validity of the campaign they planned for you.

Many businesses, big and small, purchasing SEO do not ask any of these questions before choosing an SEO agency. They assume that the agency they have hired are reputable, and possess the skills or know how required to achieve the results that they have provided. However the problem is that the SEO and internet marketing industry as a whole is largely unregulated, and there is very little to prevent unscrupulous companies from promising the world for a high price, and then delivering little to no results in return. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you like to your SEO agency, and don’t allow yourself to be coerced into hiring them until you are sure of their legitimacy, and reputability.

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About The Author
Philip Armstrong
Philip Armstrong is a content writer for the Just SEO newsroom. Having served as an Adword's manager for a number of paid search campaigns, he is an expert in spending money to make money, and regularly contributes in-depth articles on the latest news and updates on pay-per-click (PPC) matters.

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