An SEO firm can be good at marketing its services – even when they are of only average quality. And since many individuals who use such services are not search engine optimisation experts themselves, they can be deceived by a sales pitch and end up paying for amateurish, unprofessional and incomplete services.
If you’re contemplating hiring the services of a SEO firm, ask the next questions to establish whether you’re indeed getting good value for your money.
• What ranking will you guarantee me?
The answer you’re looking for is ‘a better ranking than the one you have right now’. If you’re told you’ll certainly reach the top ranking, you are being deceived – it’s all sales pitch. No professional firm will ever guarantee that. Be especially wary of firms that promise a number one position without even researching your website primary and secondary keywords. Results are more than just rankings, they need to be rankings for highly targeted, frequently searched keywords.
• How much will you change my website?
You want to know exactly what will change, and how that will affect the way visitors perceive your website. The content and structure of the website are bound to change – page titles and tags, keywords in body text, URLs will all be optimized for search engines.
• How soon will I notice search ranking improvements?
You should get a precise answer – two weeks, four weeks, six weeks, depending on how large your website is. While website optimisation is a continuous process that shows best results in the long term, it’s critical for you to see the benefits of your SEO investment as soon as possible. Otherwise you won’t be committed to investing in SEO.
• Will you do search engine marketing for me as well?
An SEO firm often provides additional services besides on-page optimisation: social media marketing, e-mail marketing, web analytics and PPC. If any of these appeal to you, it’s cost-effective to let the SEO company handle them for you as well, rather than using a separate provider.
• How will you report to me?
Because SEO is always work in progress, and because it relies on many strategies that can be tricky to understand for a non-expert, it’s critical to get regular reports on what the SEO firm is doing to your website. More specifically, you want analytic and ranking reports that explain the cause and effect of each optimisation strategy used.
Finally, when hiring an SEO company, remember to check credentials, portfolios and references.