Hiring An SEO Company? Ask These Questions

Your company’s website stats are not looking good, traffic is dripping along, sales inquiries have hit a new low and you feel devastated.

To avert this crisis, these are your best options,

But, both the options are same!

It’s because, at this stage, only an SEO company can save your sinking ship.

These days it is not hard to find an SEO company. The truth is they are kind of hard to miss!

When you start the SEO hunt, it is natural to get bombarded by SEO companies via emails and phone calls on a regular basis. But, it is hard to hire an SEO expert who is experienced and reliable.

So how do you decide which firm to work with?

Hiring an SEO Company? 17 DIY Questions to Ask Before

1. What is your SEO approach?

Before hiring an SEO company, you must have a clear picture of what they’ll be doing. If they don’t properly explain their SEO approach, it is a red flag.

Do not be happy with answers like “We will get a top ranking for your website within few weeks.” This answer is not good enough and sadly such type of companies end up violating search engine terms and policies.

Dig a little deeper and ask what practices they follow for technical SEO, user experience optimization, and off-page SEO. If they refuse to elaborate or give an answer that doesn’t suit your goals, choose another company.

And many SEO companies offer one solution (link-building) or will research, formulate a strategy and struggle to implement it.

Modern SEO requires a holistic plan and approach.

Make sure the SEO company you choose does all the three, (technical, UX, off-page), and are able to balance between them.

Plus, it is a good idea to have a good understanding of the SEO mistakes companies make before hiring an SEO company. This way, you will have some kind of an understanding and identify if the company will do a good job.

2. How will you adapt a strategy to our business/field?

SEO is not a one pill solution to your problems. The SEO experts you choose must have some idea as to how they are going to modify the approach according to your business and goals.

For example, you might want immediate lead generation, or top ranking on organic search, or more website traffic or region specific SEO. All of these require a very different approach.

If the SEO Company is experienced in your niche, it is an added advantage. But, it is not necessarily a requirement.

Above all, it depends on their ability to adapt the general approach to specifically cater to your needs. Just make sure to know how the general approach varies for your business.

3. How long will it take to see results?

After hiring an SEO company, businesses hope to see quick results. To a certain extent, SEO gives immediate results in the form of fresh content.

To see visible and long term results, it usually takes some time. For legitimate SEO techniques to work, a minimum of six months is required.

There are a lot of variables involved when SEO work is started.

Baseline traffic, website design, domain age, geographic location, competition, and target market, are some of the major factors involved on how quickly you can get SEO traffic.

If the SEO Company assures quick results, ask the reason

See if the answer includes technical factors that require attention. If not, they might use outdated and spammy techniques that could penalise your website.

SEO will begin to multiply over time. The longer you do, the greater will be the results.

4. What is your mobile approach?

No matter the strategy you discuss, when hiring an SEO company, mobile should be a part of the conversation.

With the increasing number of mobile users, mobile optimization is inevitable. It can help customers to reach you easily when they are on the go.

Mobile Approach : DIY SEO Agency Questions - ColorWhistle

For users to have a good mobile experience, mobile SEO must consider website design, site structure, page speed and more.

Even if your website is fully equipped for mobile, ask the SEO Company for additional suggestions.

5. How do you define success?

From an SEO point of view, this is a tricky question.

No SEO company can guarantee a number one ranking on search engines. If a company makes such a promise, they will likely use techniques that are not recommended by search engines (black-hat).

These techniques show results for a short period of time but, in the long run, your website may get a penalty along with reduced ranking and traffic.

A genuine SEO company will formulate a plan according to your company goals.

If you want to increase traffic, they will focus on keyword optimization and content creation. For an increase in local traffic, they will suggest optimizing your local business profile on directory and review websites.

Look for companies that take the time to understand your business goals and seek answers from you.

6. Will you give a free SEO audit?

An SEO audit will determine where your website currently stands.

It will give you detailed information on what’s working for your website, where your website lags, and how you can improve your website and red flags that could hurt your website ranking.

On the whole, SEO audit is a really good thing as it will empower your business with real and actionable insights.

Only an SEO agency is better equipped to help you make those changes. Some do it for free and some charge, discuss it before you proceed further.

SEO Audit : DIY SEO Agency Questions - ColorWhistle

While you’re at it don’t forget about mobile audit.

SEO experts MOZ and Search Engine Land have published detailed guides on how to perform audits internally.

After the SEO Company gives you an audit report, with the help of the guides even you do a check. This will help you verify the work of the company.

7. What are the strategies you follow for link building?

Link building is one of the major aspects of SEO as it helps to get links to your website.

It not only increases SEO ranking, but it provides other advantages as well.

With the help of link building, you can establish relationships, increases referral businesses, and promotes your brand.

You must know that link building is organic and changes continuously.

Before hiring an SEO company, check if they follow best link building practices and are willing to make changes when required.

Some companies will promise to get thousands of backlinks within few weeks. Stay away from them!

One high-quality link can work wonders for your website rather than hundreds of low-quality ones.

The SEO Company you choose must prefer quality over quantity.

8. How do you conduct keyword research?

Keyword research is the most important part of SEO.

It is the process of researching words and phrases a user will likely search and is related to your business as well.

Until your SEO Company knows what phrases and words are important for your website, they cannot properly optimize your page or formulate a content strategy.

And if they choose a wrong set of keywords for your website, you will still get traffic but, it will be unqualified.

This will be frustrating for your business as you won’t get proper leads and frustrating to the user as they will land on a website they were not looking for.

When hiring an SEO company, make sure they refer to user intent, methodologies, and tools that determine a user based keyword intent.

9. What are the tools you use?

Some companies do certain tasks manually rather automating it. This could mean more expenses for you. It’s important to know the tools they use.

On the other hand, they must not be using tools to outreach, automatically build links, produce content, and generate ideas.

It is not necessary to know the tools the company uses, but they must give you a legit reason as to why they prefer it over others.

They must not simply give a list of best tools used.

Ask them about the tools they use for, conducting keyword research, monitoring ranking, monitoring backlinks, analyzing competitors, and crawler analysis.

10. How often do you give reports?

Status reports improve internal communication. It is valuable to you as it ensures everyone is on the same page.

And as you have already discussed your goals with them, ask how they would customize the report accordingly. Beware of companies that cannot provide a detailed report on how progress will be measured.

Note: You can find out the reporting style of a company when they conduct an audit.

The frequency at which the company provides a report may depend on your project.

However, it is better if you prefer a more detailed report and a follow-up phone call.

As the project steps forward, weekly summaries may feel too much. But that will prevent unwanted surprises and you’ll be glad you asked for it.

11. What is the information you need from me?

A legitimate SEO company will compile a long list of questions to ask you.

For example, they might need information about your audience, industry, goals and key performance indicators. They might also want to know the digital marketing platforms you use to see how content is affecting and access to your Google analytics too.

Keep in mind that an SEO company that doesn’t get much information from you will not put together a successful SEO plan.

12. How will you communicate?

It goes without saying that communication is important. If you hire a big SEO company, ask them in advance to employ a single person in charge for clarifying doubts.

Usually, in big concerns, they will assign a project number to you and someone will be available round the clock to answer your doubts.

In case of startups and smaller companies, communication will be easier as you will be directly talking to the person who does your SEO works. Unlike big companies, you will not be just another client for them.

And no matter the company you choose, find out how often they will reach out to you with status updates

13. How does your pricing work?

Always remember that SEO is not a low-cost solution to your problems.

Some of the SEO consultants charge $50 to $130 for an hour for their services.

The harsh truth is that to get good results, you have to make an investment in quality services.

If you think about it, one of the major goals of SEO is to generate traffic and increase your business revenue. Therefore, it naturally comes at a price.

While hiring an SEO company, you have to be very clear about how their pricing works.

How do they charge for the work? Is it on a project basis, hourly or monthly? When you have to pay them? And will they provide a report on tasks performed along with the cost incurred?

It is better if you pay every month rather than paying in advance.

14. Do you have a client portfolio?

When hiring an SEO company, it is important that you look at their client portfolio.

If they don’t have a portfolio on their website, ask them. When you browse through the given list, you will get an idea of their work and how they do SEO for your niche.

15. Do you provide SEO content writing services?

Quick Sprout says, Content Marketing is the New SEO.

As internet marketing and search engines have evolved, it is becoming more clear that content is an integral part of online success.

Content has to be consistent, trustworthy, relevant, and tailored to brand your voice.

Content Writing : SEO Questions - ColorWhistle

Some of the SEO companies will offer holistic content marketing services while others will want you to provide the content.

If you are providing the content ask if they will edit it according to SEO standards.

And if they provide, ask about their pricing and sample content to know if you’re comfortable with the quality.

16. Is website maintenance part of SEO?

Completely relying on SEO is not enough to compete in the online world.

A combination of website maintenance services plus SEO will make your website stand out.

If your website has slow loading images, broken links, more HTTP requests, browser compatibility issues etc users will get agitated and go to another website.

Website Maintenance : SEO Questions - ColorWhistle

On the other hand, a well-maintained website will attract more visitors and increase time spent on the website.

An SEO packages with website maintenance can increase the popularity of your website in an effective manner.

Before hiring an SEO company, find out if they provide these services as well.

A good company will not ask you to blindly get a website maintenance packages.

They will analyze your website and tell why you need it. For example, your website may have high server response time or problem with coding.

If they give you proper report that backs up all of their claims, you can go ahead and get the service.

17. What happens when we go our separate ways?

When your contract expires or if you choose to end it early, in most cases you will maintain ownership of all the work you paid for.

Subsequently, your contract must also state that when you part ways, the SEO company will not modify the work done.

Also, ask them if they charge any special fees for terminating the contract before the said date, and if it is the case, it has to be mentioned in the contract.

Hiring an SEO Company? 17+ Questions to Ask - ColorWhistle

Choose a company that delivers

At some point, every business might decide to hire an SEO company to get a better search engine ranking.

In the past, SEO had a fair image.

You have to go back to the early 2000’s to understand why there are so many mishaps circling the SEO industry.

Marketers knew how to manipulate rankings. They would magically raise website position using black-hat tricks, or cash in on AdSense revenue.

Such type of marketers served clients from their living room, over-charging, following forbidden practices and also earned extra income by selling stuff like soaps for pimple cures.

This small group of people gave the entire industry a bad name.

It is not only the past that makes business owners skeptical about hiring an SEO company.

The fact is, SEO is an intricate process which can be faked easily or doesn’t require much at all.

On top of this business owners don’t know how to choose an SEO company and how to interview them before hiring.

Ask these above questions and evaluate their answers. You’ll definitely be able to find an agency that delivers long-term results.

At any point, if you don’t feel comfortable with the answers, move on to the next company.

Any trustworthy company will be more than happy to walk you through all of the above questions and make sure you understand it.

What other questions should companies ask before hiring an SEO company? We’d love to hear your comments. Thank you for reading!

About the Author - Anjana

Anjana is a full-time Copywriter at ColorWhistle managing content-related projects. She writes about website technologies, digital marketing, and industries such as travel. Plus, she has an unhealthy addiction towards online marketing, watching crime shows, and chocolates.

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