So your business has a website, and it’s not doing well in the SERPs. That is to be expected if you haven’t really done SEO on it because you have no idea how to do it, or you do have an understanding of SEO, but your efforts are simply too basic to have an impact.
When you’re facing this situation, and you need to make your brand visible to more people, the only real way to go about it is if you hire an SEO firm to optimize your website for you.
Hiring an experienced and reliable SEO firm, however, is trickier than you think. After all, not all SEO professionals are equal. Not all of them can be trusted either. When searching for an SEO to which you’d entrust your website’s fate in the search engines, there are several questions you need to ask to make sure you’re hiring the right people. Here are some of those questions.
Can you guarantee that my website will be on top of the SERPs?
This is a trick question. You could have started with any other question, but this should be a good first question to ask because if the company answered in the affirmative, you could end the whole thing right then and there. That’s because there is no such thing as guaranteed SEO results, much less guaranteed number one rank in the SERPs. Full control of how sites rank is with the search engines, so if an SEO company makes such a guarantee, you know they’re lying to you.
How long will it take you to get my site ranked on Google?
This is another trick question. You can end the interview immediately if the SEO consultant says that he or she can do it in a month.
Just like guaranteed SEO results, there is no such thing as quick SEO results. It could take anywhere between four to six months for any campaign by a legitimate and reputable SEO company to bear fruit. Ditch any prospective SEO firm that says they can do it faster than that.
Can I have a list of your clients, past and present?
Some SEOs may not be open to the idea of sharing a list of clients, but a client list can help you gauge how good the company is when it comes to SEO. You can do your own due diligence on clients’ sites and see for yourself if the work the SEO guy you’re talking to has helped boost their ranking, among other things.
How will you do your link building?
Link building is an integral part of any SEO strategy, and you should know how they plan to go about it for your website. You need to make sure that their link building strategy is in keeping with Google’s guidelines. You wouldn’t want the SEO firm that you hire to put your website at risk of getting penalized by building spammy links. If anything, they should assure you that the backlinks they will get are high-quality ones.
How’s your local SEO?
If your business is a small, brick-and-mortar type, you will certainly want the SEO firm you will hire to be adept at local SEO so you can attract customers in the area where you operate. The SEO consultant should tell you how he or she intends to get your site listed in the local listings of the major search engines, as well as tweaking the title tags and meta description of your website to include the city and state where your business is located.
Will you be making technical changes to my site?
More often than not, an SEO consultant will need to tweak some of the coding on your website. If this is the case, the SEO firm should tell you exactly the kind of changes that will be implemented. In most cases, clients would require their SEO to ask permission first before making any changes, so if this is more comfortable for you, then make sure the SEO you hire will be clear on that requirement.
What do you know about our industry?
If you’re in the HVAC industry, you would want an SEO firm that has a least a surface knowledge about air conditioners and heaters. They don’t really have to be experts at it though. They just have to know what works well for the HVAC industry so they can come up with the appropriate content and build the appropriate links, among other things. It would also be great if your SEO has other clients within your industry, as it means the company already has a network with assets in place, all of which would be of use to your own business.
How, and how often, should we communicate?
The communication styles of SEO consultants are as varied as the modes of communication available to the both of you, so it’s important that you hire an SEO whose approach to communication jibes with yours. If possible, ask prospective SEO consultants if they can communicate with you the way you want, whether in person, by phone, email, texting, or Skype. You also need to express how often you want status updates so you can both decide on the ideal frequency for both parties.
Considering how busy you both would be, we recommend that you use tools like Asana or even Basecamp to make mapping out the tasks and providing reports and updates even easier.
How much will your services cost?
Of course, you need to know how much the whole thing is going to cost you. You have to find out the payment terms as well because some SEOs prefer to be paid by the hour, while some want it to be done by project. The actual cost is going to vary widely depending on the size of the project or how complex the work is going to be.
These are just some of the most basic questions you need to ask an SEO firm before deciding to hire. When you finally make your choice, there will be many more questions you can ask as you go along, all to help you get the best results possible.