It seems like a new local SEO agency kicks off every week with promises of quick ranking results for a low fee. At first glance this might sound appealing, but like most things you get what you pay for, so knowing what to look for when hiring the right agency is important.
How to separate “white hat agencies” from “black hat agencies”? What red flags should you look for in your research? You may wonder if you even have to worry about the strategies that a local SEO agency uses while your site is ranking. Hiring a local SEO agency that uses black hat tactics could charge your website a Google penalty and destroy your online credibility.
Before hiring an SEO agency, keep these 10 things in mind!
Your marketing strategy should focus on attracting new visitors to your website. You must optimize your site for your buyer’s personality. You will need to employ a diverse strategy to drive targeted and “free” traffic to your website that will help you achieve your business goals. To do this, you may prefer to delegate your digital marketing efforts to local SEO experts while you focus on other aspects of your business. Unfortunately, many of these “experts” are far from it and often do more harm than good. Ask these 10 questions to make sure you’re protecting your investment and getting the most out of your website by hiring the right SEO agency for the job.
1. What is your research process?
Search is the backbone of SEO. Any SEO agency worth hiring will focus on research. When interviewing a potential agency, ask them how they research and what kind of information they collect. The reason research is so important is that without taking the time to identify specific keywords and competitors within your niche or industry, it won’t be possible to create a detailed buyer persona.
One thing to check early on is whether an agency spends more time talking about their services or your needs. If an agency isn’t focused on your needs, they may offer cookie-cutter generic marketing services. Each local SEO campaign is unique. Your marketing strategy should focus on your business, its goals, and the type of consumers you are targeting.
2. Can you support your speech with results?
The results speak for themselves. It’s easy to buy a domain and tell the internet that you are the best. Just because you say you are “Melbourne’s # 1 SEO Agency” doesn’t mean you have the data to prove your claim. Ask to see how they measure their results. Do they have a case study? Agencies that have long term positive results with their clients will have ways to show their work. You can’t trust an SEO agency that won’t share its results!
3. Can I see your ranking and your traffic?
Keyword ranking isn’t everything. However, it’s important to work with people who can show that their strategies are working for clients. It is vital to see that they practice what they preach.
4. Will they tell you the truth?
There is no magic formula to ranking on Google. Every site will have times when their traffic will fluctuate. Many industries have busy seasons and slower seasons; for example, in the summer a swimming pool repair company may have higher traffic than in the winter. An algorithm update can also impact site traffic. As your traffic increases and decreases, a good SEO agency will implement strategies to deal with the drops.
It is important to hire an agency that will be open and honest about the ups and downs of site traffic. They should have a working understanding of the calendar flow for your industry, as well as the impact algorithm changes can have on research. Google performs between 500 and 600 updates each year. Each can cause fluctuations. Look for any agency that promises that you will never lose a ranking position. They can’t make that promise.
5. What is your reporting process?
Communication is vital. Any local SEO agency that you interview should be able to show you how they will communicate with you and that they have performed the various tasks outlined in your contract.
Additionally, an agency should use a tool such as Data Studio, Bright Local, or Google My Business to aggregate analytics and show measurable improvement against predefined KPIs and SMART goals.
6. How do you measure customer success?
Speaking of key performance indicators (KPIs), it’s essential that the agency you work with measures the right analytics and doesn’t send you custom metrics. For local SEO, some of the KPIs to measure include:
- Rebound rate
- Seen pages
- Average duration of sessions
- % of new users
- Search CTR
It is also useful to see where the traffic is coming from. If the majority of your traffic is referral traffic from one source, this is important information you can leverage.
7. Do your customers have to meet certain criteria?
An SEO agency should spend as much time interviewing you as you do. The expectations of both parties must be clear before signing an agreement. If an agency says it will work with any budget, in any industry, and meet any standard, that should set off a wake-up call. It takes a certain number of hours to complete specific tasks, and each task costs a certain amount of money.
Working with an agency that charges you for the value of the tasks will reduce the chances that the majority of the work will be outsourced. When an agency uses internal team members who work with dedicated account manager tasks, the tasks are streamlined and there is continuity with management.
For agencies to provide highly specialized care that does not use a cookie-cutter approach, they will need to limit the types of industries they work with or employ enough account managers to accommodate any. what specialty.
Just because a local SEO agency has improved the rankings and visibility of several B2B companies in your area, doesn’t mean they will have the same success with B2C industries.
8. What is your approach to bonding?
Local SEO agencies need to incorporate link building into their marketing strategies. As we talked about earlier, there are white hat tactics and black hat tactics that SEOs use, and when it comes to bonding, this is one area where many SEOs take shortcuts. that can harm your website.
9. Are there other services offered by your agency?
The fewer agencies you have to interact with, the better. If your intention is to expand and integrate PPC, social media marketing, email marketing, or content marketing in the future, why not work with an agency that will work with you to expand your marketing goals? You will save time reviewing a report each month, and on top of that, you could save money by bundling services.
10. What is a realistic time frame to see results?
Any agency that tells you to expect immediate results is not telling the truth. While they can implement a strategy immediately, there is no guarantee that Google will read your sitemap and record updates as quickly as the agency implements them.
Additionally, as rankings fluctuate, it will take several months to show that the changes made create a lasting positive impact on rankings. The only way to know which updates are working is to deploy A / B tests or make incremental changes one by one and monitor rankings for several weeks.
Hiring a local SEO agency for your marketing goals is a big decision. Take your time and be sure to ask the strategic questions to make sure you’re working with an agency that you can develop a long-term relationship with.
Is your website optimized for local search? Download our Local SEO Website Checklist to learn more about how you can improve your local search rank.