Congratulations! You have realized that investing in SEO is part of your internet growth strategy. I reassure you that you are making a wise decision as more and more consumers search and purchase online. You likely do not have someone in-house to do this, so you now begin the daunting task of finding an SEO agency.
Before Talking to the SEO Agency
Before you actually begin talking to SEO agencies, I recommend that you write down a list of goals you would like to accomplish with your SEO strategy. Let me give you some examples of good goals and bad goals:
1. Increase site traffic by X%.
2. Have 1st-page rankings on our key terms in X months.
3. Have X% of sales coming from organic traffic in 6 months.
1. Be #1 for “insert extremely broad term here” in 3 months.
2. Be able to turn off PPC and paid traffic sources.
3. Rank higher than “insert industry leader here” on every term.
Now I’m sure that all of you may not agree with my examples, but I have heard these bad goals on more than one occasion and they most often led to dissatisfied customers. SEO is difficult and becoming increasingly competitive. You need to have realistic expectations.
Questions to Ask Your Potential SEO Agency
When you first talk to an SEO agency you will likely get the standard pitch about how important SEO is (which you already know), how competitive your industry is (and therefore expensive), and how SEO is the golden goose (metaphorically speaking) you’ve been seeking. This is great, but you need to move past this to really see what your agency can do for you. I suggest the following questions might help you see through the smoke and mirrors:
- How long have you been in business?
- Can you provide us with references?
- What do you guarantee? (This is a trick question. There are no guarantees in SEO except the price tag.)
- Explain to me the steps you’ll be taking.
- What reporting to you provide?
The answers to these questions will do a lot of sorting for you. Look for companies that have a distinct plan and transparent reporting. Metrics might not be as exact as PPC, but even Google Analytics can give you a good idea of the direction your organic traffic is going and what terms are driving it. Lastly, you need to trust your agency. Good SEO agencies realize that their reputation, and therefore your satisfaction, are their main asset. They want to see your rankings, traffic, leads and sales improve. They really do. So as you make your decision, be cautious, but once you’ve signed the contract, be confident.