If you starting in business and have never used an SEO agency before then you are in for a hell of a ride.
Finding the right SEO agency is going to be extremely challenging and probably one of the most important tasks you will have to undertake.
As the owner of an SEO agency, I get phone calls every day from small to medium size business owners all asking the same type of questions. So, as a helpful tool, I thought I would provide you with some basic questions that should be grilling your potential SEO partner before you decide to sign up with them.
The stakes and risks for your business at this stage are really high. If you make the wrong decision boy o boy are you going to pay for it later. There are tons of cowboys out there looking to completely rip you off and they are experts at the deceptive sales pitch. If you make the right choice when you are well on your way to getting lots of web traffic from the search engines; especially Google.
Q 1. Do you outsource any of your SEO work?
This question is really important as your SEO campaign should really be done by local agencies (preferably within your capital city) who have a thorough understanding of the local economy, and business conditions and can write copy targeted to your audience. Far too often businesses (especially those in the SEO space) are somewhat naive when it comes to internet marketing and will believe anything they are told. Unfortunately, it is hard to tell if your SEO is done locally or not but a good barometer of this is to see the type of content they publish for your site. If it sounds gibberish it’s probably been outsourced. Effective web copy should only be done by professional copywriters and these are NOT found in third-world countries where blogs and web pages are spewed out en masse. They should also be concentrating on your ‘on-page’ SEO which includes your web copy. I’ve outlined some essential factors your SEO agency should be implemented in the article The On-Page SEO Cheat Sheet for beginners. Have a read of these and see if any of these points are being carried out on your website.
The reason outsourcing takes place is purely cost-related. What happens is that the SEO environment is so competitive that under-quoting is rampant in order to get clients. We see agencies quoting ridiculously low prices in order to get business and in order for them to make some money out of this, they just outsource it. You as the business owner think you are getting a good deal but in fact, you are the one that’s going to suffer. You will never end up getting any Google rankings and you are just bleeding money out on a monthly basis to a group of people that are blatantly lying, misleading and being extremely shifty. If you are happy to pay peanuts for your SEO well I’m afraid you are going to end up getting zero results.
It is so hard to prove that they are not outsourcing your work but you will know after 2 or 3 months when your rankings are stagnating and you start to hear all those excuses, coverups and rationalisation that this is Google’s fault that the rankings are dormant, idle and really sluggish. Those SEO agencies like ours at SEO Sydney Experts who do everything in-house will show you immediate online gains and improvements in traffic. We are one of the very few that do all our own SEO. Outsourcing is simply not in our DNA.
Q 2. How long have you been in business?
If they have been doing SEO for less than say three years I would be very dubious and wary about working with them. The barriers to entry are really low in this environment and there are new SEO start-ups every week. Most of them have absolutely no idea about Google or its algorithmic demands and want to enter the market to make a quick buck. again, they will probably tell you they have been in this game for years but the reality is they were probably working in another SEO agency as a sales rep. They built their site using some dodgy WIX or free website and are now operating their own agency looking for the next sucker to come along.
Truth is YOU MUST work with people that have been around for longer than 5 years. The reason being is that they have seen Google’s algorithm changes over the years and know the nuances that are needed to be compliant. It is so difficult nowadays to be competitive online that you really need an agency that is exceptionally proficient in this space. Newbies ( and I’m not saying they do not have a right to be there) need to be transparent with you and tell you exactly the age of their business.
A good idea is to actually meet with them and suss out their office. If they look transient, an amateur even freelancer style I would give them a wide berth. Sure, they may be cheaper but again, at the end of the day, you are going to want tangible and measurable results which these guys will most likely not be able to deliver. Search Engine Journal has a great article titled 5 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Cheap SEO Packages which clearly explains the dangers of using cheap SEO agencies.
Q 3. Why are you offering a page 1 Google ranking guarantee?
I have spoken a lot about this on my blogs as it really bugs me how many people fall for this scam. Most SEO agencies who say this are simply doing it to reassure you that the money you are paying them month after month has some guarantee behind it. Unfortunately, guarantees are impossible when it comes to Google rankings. Why? Because (and I have stated this many times in the past) Google is a third party and they will never divulge their ranking patterns. Who the hell is any SEO agency going to know what Google is going to do next. Google, with the flick of a switch, can completely transform their ranking criteria ( and they do slight modifications constantly) leaving those useless, impotent guarantees null and void!
My tip here is to stay well clear of any agency even remotely talking about guarantees or pay on performance rankings. Remember these are said to lull you into a false sense of security. They are throw-away lines bleeped out by salespeople under pressure to meet targets and the only loser will be you.
If you feel as though you need these types of guarantees to feel secure I urge you to read their terms and conditions and fine print regarding these guarantees. You will find that I am right and I know what I’m talking about. Basically, they will guarantee to rank those keywords that are either branded or super easy to rank. You are probably already on page 1 already and don’t even know it. These guys are well-trained scammers and their job is to prey on the vulnerable small business market who are completely naive about these sorts of things. For god’s sake, I beg you to please watch out for this and call me before you do any signing up with them. I can be reached in my Sydney office on 02 9360 8514.
Related article: The dangers of Pay on Performance SEO
Q 4. Are your reviews real?
When doing your research about your next SEO agency, look at the reviews and I will bet most of them are fake. There are tons of SEO agencies who will immediately write 10 fake great reviews for themselves following 1 real bad one. Be on the lookout for this and don’t take all positive reviews on their merit.
Q 5. Why do you have to pay to be on page 1 using Adwords when you are an SEO company?
Well, this is a no-brainer! Why the hell would you use any SEO company that is paying upwards of $20 per click to do your SEO? This is so counterintuitive and absolutely crazy. These SEO fraudsters who are up there ( in the top 4 paid results) have to justify their spending and will say almost anything (remember my point about guarantees) to get your business and justify their spending. Their salespeople are the best in the business at getting you to sign up with them for a year and they are under some serious pressure from their bosses to meet hefty targets as they will spend thousands per month to be up there. Please if you are unsure about this speak to me and I will explain this in greater detail as it’s vital you know their sales tricks.
A golden rule here is if they have to pay to be there, forget about even calling them. These ‘so-called’ agencies are the worst of the worst and are going to completely rip you off.
Most of the calls I get are from people saying that they went with ‘company xyz’ who they saw on the top of Google and are now paying the ultimate price for this bad decision. Be smart and know the difference between paid ads and organic results. This will save you a lot of heartaches.
Basically, if you venturing into the SEO space for the first time or have used a company in the past and were cheated, defrauded, duped and swindled, don’t make the same mistake again! You really only get 1 shot at this so make it worth your while.