The following summarises the first points to bear in mind when thinking about hiring an SEO Agency:
Corroborate recommendations – ask the SEO to corroborate all recommendations with a documented statement from Google (help centre article, video, or Googler response in a forum) that supports the issues raised and approach recommended.
This will help prevent hiring a poor SEO marketer who may advise such useless things as
If you search for Google advice on these two topics, you will see blog posts and videos explaining the above tactics will not work, and could cause your site major problems.
Good for SEO also good for visitors - in most cases, doing what is good for SEO is also good for your online customers, such as
To ensure you maximise the chances of hiring a good SEO, carry out the following 4 steps:
A good SEO does not only focus on good Search Engine Rankings, but how they can help your business, for example:
If an SEO company is not interested in finding out this information, then look elsewhere.
Ask for references from past clients to whom the SEO company provided useful help and guidance. Remember to check that they worked effectively with web developers, designers and marketers.
A good SEO should feel like someone who you can work with, learn from, experiment with, and who genuinely cares about you and your business, not just getting your site the highest rank, as ultimately those techniques rarely last long, if at all.
They will want to educate you and your staff on how search engines work, so that SEO becomes part of your general business operations.
A technical and search audit will help you to get to know your prospective SEO agency better.
Get a prioritised list of what they think should be improved for SEO. If you are a larger business hire multiple SEO’s to run audits, see what all have to say, and determine who you could best work with. The audit should include:
The detailed review of your site should also include:
If they raise duplicate content issues, make sure they provide specific URL’s that have the same content, and that the content needs to be updated for long term site health, not for initial growth.
In the search audit the search agency should look at:
For your customers who already know your business, or website, how easily do they find what they need and potentially convert?
They should make recommendations from what a searcher sees in the search results, to what a searcher sees when they click on your website.
The SEO should help you better make sense of the landscape for search queries relating to your products or services. Identifying the types of queries that it makes sense for your business to rank for. Plus presenting what your competition has done, and why they think they rank where they do.
Their recommendations should include how to improve rankings for these queries and the entire searcher experience, and may include updates such as:
Maybe a page has out of date content, poor navigation, useless page title, or is not mobile friendly. Let’s improve these pages and see if more website visitors convert and purchase? Or if they can micro convert, such as subscribing.
They may say that your site is suffering because your best articles are too far from your home page and users have a hard time finding them. You could better internally link to this content to help it feature more prominently.
The SEO consultant may say that you have great content, but not enough people know, so need to create more user interaction and to generate this via social media and business relationships, and get more visitors to your site and earn natural links.
The SEO may explain what your competitors are doing well, and recommend how to equal or surpass what they are doing, or better show your customers unique value.
One of the biggest hold ups for improvements to a website, is not the SEO’s recommendations, but the businesses making time to implement their ideas. So, before you hire an SEO, ensure you have put aside sufficient resources to ensure their recommendations can be implemented.