Questions To Ask Before Hiring Any SEO Agency
Search Engine Optimization is a time-intensive process that requires careful planning, thorough research, regular monitoring, and optimization. This marketing process plays a huge role in establishing an organization or business’ footprint on web and has a direct impact on the bottom line. When it comes to investing in setting up an SEO team, the question should not be “if” but “how”. When it’s not possible for a business to set up an in-house team or to invest their own time in SEO, the best approach is Hiring Any SEO Agency. There are many SEO companies in Australia and specially Melbourne but to find the one whose work align with your business needs; you need to be prepared to sit through and filter your choices and the best way to do it is through a questionnaire. If you are wondering how, you can find the right mix of questions to make the wise choice, we have you covered. In this blog, you will find 21 questions that you can use to interview any company providing SEO services in Melbourne.
Q1. DO THEY HAVE THE EXPERTISE IN YOUR INDUSTRY?
It is not possible for an agency to be well-versed with all the industries, but some agencies do make a choice to limit their services to specific niches. You will need to first assess if the SEO company on your list is providing services in your industry or not. To the ones who do, we recommend asking them specific questions to gauge their understanding including questions around audience behaviour, typical customer journey, frictions to decision making and more. You should also ask for the live examples of the projects they have handled. While it is possible that an agency may not have an expertise or on hands experience but their research approach to understand your industry can also tell you about the extent to which they are willing to go to adapt their marketing expertise to your desired results.
Q2. CAN THEY DEMONSTRATE RESULTS THEY HAVE ACHIEVED FOR THEIR PAST CLIENTS?
Actions speak louder than words. This saying forms the foundation of marketing where mere words without any demonstrable results can jeopardize a business’ performance. The reason why it’s important to ask SEO companies to show their portfolio of past clients and live examples showcasing the impact they have made on clients’ business over the course of their work. Non-disclosure agreement may make it difficult for the companies to reveal the details of their clients, but they should be able to show the numbers for their 2-3 big ones. Another point of assessment is the longevity of their projects. Do they have any long-running clients or if all their projects have been short-term? The latter is a red flag you should use to filter out the companies. SEO is time-consuming and it can take several months before it starts delivering consistent results. To not have a single long-term client puts the SEO company’s credibility into question.
Q3. WHAT OTHER MARKETING SERVICES CAN BE TIED WITH YOUR SEO SERVICE?
Search Engine Optimization is not practiced in isolation. A marketing specialist makes use of web design, development, content, animation, and other departments to make sure the site is user-friendly and running without any error, the content being used is impeccable and is supported by relevant media. Because these services are tied to SEO, you need to enquire if an agency has the right set of resources to perform the tasks. Some agencies outsource their tasks like content creation and website management and outsourcing, though an agency’s choice, can hamper the efficiency and emergency fixing processes. Our recommendation is to hire an agency that can provide all the services in-house.
Q4. CAN THEY ARRANGE ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEW WITH THE ACCOUNT MANAGER?
While interviewing an agency, you might meet the company’s representatives or SEO lead who will take you through their process, the work they have done on their past clients, and the kind of industries and verticals they have worked on. They might be the ones to present their proposal for your requirement. It is important for any agency to close their lead and convert it into sales and team leads do take accountability for the projects, but you will not be spending your time and effort with any of them. The account manager, who will work on your project, also needs to be well-versed with your requirements and industry basics and must have the expertise to drive the results. We recommend having a one-on-one discussion with the assigned account manager to understand if they are aligned to your needs and will be the right fit to your team as you will be working with them for a long time.
Q5. CAN THEY ARRANGE A PHYSICAL OR VIRTUAL MEETING WITH THE TEAM THAT WILL LOOK AFTER YOUR PROJECT?
As SEO involves implementing a series of changes on the website, for the few months, you will need to work in tandem with the team to ensure that only the changes that you sign-off are executed. You will also need to provide support to the content team to review if the content is in alignment with your business’ style guide and if the technical information added is accurate or not. Considering the amount of coordination that will be done on both the sides, it’s important that you know who your team members are, the value they bring to the team individually and how you can work with them to bring the best outcome for your business. We recommend arranging a physical office visit or organizing a virtual meet-up before they start working on your project.
Q6. WHAT STANDARD PROCESS DO THEY FOLLOW FOR SEO?
Every SEO company has its own internal process which they follow to streamline tasks and reporting for their SEO projects. But these processes are based on the standard framework that marketers iterate as per their strategy. Starting with the audit, an SEO specialist makes use of the available data to identify the opportunities. Once they have understood the business objective, industry, competitors, and website, they share their set of recommendations for keywords, technical changes, and on-page and off-page optimization. While interviewing agencies, enquire about their standard SEO process and how would they modify it to drive results for your business in Australia.
Q7. CAN THEY LIST OUT THE MONTHLY DELIVERABLES?
To understand the breakdown of the time requested by the SEO company for your project on daily basis, request them to itemize the list of deliverables. The list should include the number of services, hours required for each of the service on monthly basis, a list of changes on the website that the team plans to execute, the number and the priority of pages for optimization, the number of content pieces that they will work on monthly basis, the number of backlinks they will generate and on which date they will deliver the report.
Q8. HOW LONG DO YOU NEED TO WAIT BEFORE THEIR STRATEGY START DELIVERING RESULTS?
If the company guarantees immediate results, run the other way. SEO does not guarantee quick wins and depending on the industry and competition, it can take a few months before it starts delivering results. You do not need a guarantee but a minimum period of commitment before you start assessing if the work put by your team is making an impact or not.
Q9. WHAT KIND OF CONTENT DELIVERABLES CAN BE EXPECTED? HOW MUCH HELP WOULD THEY NEED FROM YOU?
If you are a B2B business, you need resources like Whitepapers, pre-recorded webinars, and eBooks to establish thought leadership in the market. Whereas in the case of B2C, visual and engaging content will make more impact. A writer must be well-versed with different formats and industries to produce quality content. Ask the agency if they have a network of resources relevant to your industry and if they can show some work samples. If the industry is too technical and your help is needed in drafting the core points, request the number of deliverables on monthly basis.
Q10. WHAT SEO TOOLS DO THEY USE FOR THEIR PROJECTS?
An SEO team uses a set of tools to increase efficiency and automate aspects of their work. Usually, they use a combination of link building tools, technical SEO tools to crawl websites and locate technical issues, research tools to conduct competitor and keyword research and reporting tools to showcase the performance and identify opportunities.
Q11. WHAT PROJECT MANAGEMENT TOOLS DO THEY USE? CAN THEY ADJUST WITH THE ONES WE WORK ON?
Project management tools help in prioritizing the tasks, streamlining communication, storing documents at one place, and providing the bird eye view of the overall productivity of the members. Ask the agency if they use any project management tools and if they will have any issues in shifting the team to yours in case they start working on your project.
Q12. WHAT STRATEGIES WILL THEY USE TO INCREASE YOUR RANKINGS ON SEARCH ENGINES?
There is no definite answer to this question, but a credible SEO company will be able to walk you through the series of steps they follow to improve their clients website’s rankings and drive results. Building right SEO strategy is a key to success and an expert team of SEO strategists can come with many out of the box ideas. To do so, they need to find the right terms and keywords, conduct competitor analysis, optimize the channels including website to create right set of pages as per the business and customer journey, commit to conversion rate optimization and identify opportunities based on the business needs. Every business is different and to achieve better results, it is important to build strategies unique to one’s business model.
Q13. DO THEY ADHERE TO THE GUIDELINES ROLLED OUT BY GOOGLE?
To understand if they are updated on the guidelines rolled out by Google, request them to explain the latest updates and the repercussions it can have on a business online. Ask for the resources they use to get the information and how do they ensure that their own processes are abiding to the rules. A good SEO company will be able to share a list of dos and don’ts they follow for all their clients and tools they use to keep the websites in check.
Q14. HAVE THEY EVER RECOVERED ANY WEBSITE PENALIZED BY GOOGLE? CAN THEY SHOW ANY EXAMPLES?
It’s not necessary for the agencies to take up penalized websites but the ones who do and have been able to recover these websites do score some brownie points. When search engine penalizes a website, it is not easy for the owner to get it back. As a business owner, losing a website has huge repercussions so, you need experts who can ensure that the business adhere to the search engine’s guidelines and who can help resolve issues if there arises a need to do so.
Q15. CAN THEY GUARANTEE RESULTS INCLUDING NUMBER 1 RANKING FOR YOUR WEBSITE?
This question is an important filter that will allow you to identify agencies promising unrealistic results. SEO does not work on guarantees because search engines like Google keep on updating their algorithm every day, meaning that the factors that govern the ranking of a website are only known based on testing and observations made by specialists over the last few years. Any SEO company promising guarantees must be treated as a red flag.
Q16. WHAT KIND OF PRICING STRUCTURE DO THEY FOLLOW?
Budget constraints might stop you from reaching out to high-end agencies, but it shouldn’t force you to accept agencies that offer extremely low prices. Check the market standard for SEO services in Australia and Melbourne and negotiate accordingly. Most of the SEO companies offer project-based pricing while some may offer pre-set plans and packages. We recommend choosing the option that covers most of your requirements including the secondary services tied to SEO.
Q17. WHAT WILL BE INCLUDED IN THE CONTRACT AND HOW DO OPT-OUT CONDITIONS LOOK LIKE?
Contracts are the best way to list down the terms and conditions of the work, acceptable to both the parties. They ensure accountability and save the people involved from an exposure to vulnerabilities that might have a negative impact on the business. Once signed, they can be referred to reach a resolution at the time of conflict. A contract with a marketing agency should at least include the list of deliverables, expected minimum period of commitment, pricing structure, opt-out conditions, and asset transfer terms.
Q18. TO WHAT EXTENT WILL THEY REQUIRE HELP FROM THE IN-HOUSE TEAM?
While the extent of your involvement may vary, but at the very least, your SEO team will require your support in reviewing, sharing feedback, and signing off their recommendations. If your industry is too technical, they might require you to draft the content which they can further optimize to make it SEO-friendly. It’s a good idea to discuss, right at the onset, what kind of intervention will be required from your end. Once the workflow has been established, you can slowly transfer all the responsibilities to the team, making them autonomous, while keeping a track record with yourself for easy reference.
Q19. HOW WILL THEY INFORM ABOUT THE CHANGES THEY MAKE ON THE WEBSITE?
An SEO professional working on your project will require website access to resolve technical issues, implement content related changes on a regular basis, optimize images and more. For some of these tasks, they will require a developer’s help. If you’ve an in-house developer, they can be the point of contact to ensure that the changes executed do not negatively impact the website or create any issues in its functionality. If you end up hiring a developer from the agency itself, then, you need to work alongside the team to understand the proposed modifications and give a sign off for implementation. In any case, the SEO company must provide you with a detailed log of changes made on the website so that in case, there is an impact on the ranking or user experience, the log can be referred to track down the changes against their impact on the website’s performance.
Q 20. WHAT FREQUENCY CAN BE EXPECTED FOR THE MEETINGS?
The luxury of regular face-to-face meetings is not available when your team does not sit in-house. Monthly meetings are the best way to catch up with the team on their tasks, to discuss any pending items on the list and to resolve any issues that might be hampering their efficiency in delivering results. You may also enquire if they company is adaptive to your schedule to make sure that you have ample time to discuss everything through.
Q 21. WHAT KIND OF REPORTING CAN BE EXPECTED?
SEO requires a lot of iterations and reiterations to figure out what works best for a business and all experiments provide useful insights that can be used for future optimization. While your team of specialists will do the heavy lifting, you must invest some time to understand the results they are generating and if it’s creating a positive impact on your company’s bottom line. Better rankings improve an organization’s visibility on the web, increasing its chance to bring in more visitors who would be interested in the products or services offered on the website. A successful SEO campaign will improve audience relevancy and drive more conversions. Therefore, it is important that the SEO company provides a detailed monthly report with the summary of activities, the growth in search traffic, search rankings, and conversions. The team must also provide the areas of improvement and their key action points for the coming months. A marketing team can make or break your business and you need the best SEO team to generate return on the investment you make in the promotions. Sharp Instincts is a digital marketing agency based in Melbourne that provides SEO services based on the business model. Our service range includes eCommerce SEO, local SEO, international SEO, enterprise SEO, mobile SEO, and video SEO. Using bespoke methodologies, we have generated results that have significantly delivered back on our clients’ business’ profitability, and we can do the same for you. Contact us today to discuss your needs.