If you Google the phrase “search engine optimisation services,” you are bound to find hundreds of companies battling for domination. While some take shortcuts that can temporarily boost rankings but ultimately hurt your rankings in the long run, others lack experience and fail to provide the value you are looking for.
There are many factors that differentiate good companies from bad and ignorant ones. In addition to experience, the right SEO firm should have a very good understanding of Google’s ever-changing ranking algorithm, as well as the tools and resources necessary for employing a successful SEO campaign. We’ve put together a list of 5 questions you should ask when hiring an SEO agency. 1. Can I Have a List of References? One of the simplest ways to identify a good SEO company is asking for references. In other words, a list of past customers that you can contact to hear what they have to say about their experience working with the company. Reliable agencies providing online marketing services in the UK should have no problem providing a list of three to four references along with their contact details.
Once you receive it, use the list to get in touch with the clients. A few questions you should consider asking are:
- Have you ever worked with an SEO company before Company X?
- Were they easy to work with?
- How long did it take to see palpable results?
- What was your goal? Has Company X helped you achieve it? In addition to contacting them, consider looking at their website to see whether they have good SEO, easy navigation and quality content. Use a tool like SEOptimer to conduct an SEO audit of the clients’ website and see whether there is anything wrong – e.g. broken backlinks.
2. What Is Your Approach to Link Building? Long believed to be a fundamental part of SEO, link building is now trickier than ever, and can get websites penalised if the wrong techniques are being employed. According to Search Metrics, backlinks are the third most important factor of Google’s ranking algorithm.
A strategic approach to link building is of paramount importance to ranking higher in search engines. The SEO company you hire should know that the focus is on quality and no longer on quantity. Meaning, building relationships with authoritative and influential websites in your niche can help you earn natural links that will be given more weight by Google.
Stay away from companies that claim to bring you hundreds or thousands of backlinks. They are usually of a low quality that will only hurt your rankings. Needless to say, a sudden increase in backlinks will be a red flag for search engines, possibly resulting in a Google penalty.
3. Do You Have Any Technical SEO Experience? One of the factors that set good companies apart from bad ones is their experience dealing with technical issues. Think of a Google penalty – it can happen at any time, and be caused by a wide range of factors, from excessive internal links to the lack of outbound links. Usually, the penalty occurs at the time Google rolls out a new algorithm update – but since they rarely announce changes to the algorithm, it’s difficult to predict whether and when a website will get penalised.
Reliable agencies providing SEO services should always be prepared to address a penalty (or a similar issue). They should explain how they anticipate algorithm updates, and also share stories about how they have helped websites recover from a penalty. This is one of the most valuable qualities of an SEO company, and usually one of the factors that differentiate seasoned agencies from unreliable, inexperienced ones.
4. How Will You Keep Me Updated About Your Activities and Progress?
Search engine optimisation is an extremely complex process that focuses on much more than just content marketing, social media marketing, website design or back linking. Most of the time, SEO experts need to make changes to the HTML code of your website, and also take care of other important aspects that matter just as much. Due to the nature of these changes, the company should keep you in the loop of all their activities, and also ask for permission for making specific changes to your website.
As such, it’s a good idea to ask about how they will keep you updated about their activities and progress. Many agencies have their own dashboard or portal where they list down everything they have been doing, as well as their current progress. At the very least, you should expect your company to have a weekly call with you to discuss their progress, as well as an online person made available to you at all times in case that you have any questions or concerns.
5. Do You Use Any Third-Party Tools to Gather Data and Track Results? There is an increasing number of SEO tools that can help companies gather data about your website and track results. Such tools include Moz, Screaming Front, Ahrefs, SEMRush and Majestic, which all analyse different aspects of your website and provide in-depth reports that help them implement better strategies. Ask them about the tools they use, and take the time to look into the offerings of each tool to see what features they provide. Some companies may use several tools for different purposes: for example, Ahrefs is great for identifying bad backlinks and creating a disavow file for submission to Google.
A Word of Caution: Never Shop for Price Alone
SEO services tend to be very expensive, sometimes going above a few thousand dollars per month. But as we’ve shown, good SEO companies are worth the money; they are dedicated to helping your website rank higher, outshining competitors, and gaining authority. Moreover, they also have the tools, resources, and experience to employ efficient campaigns tailored to your specific needs and consistently provide detailed metrics.
Stay away from companies that claim that they can get you at the top of SERPs in just 24, 42 or 72 hours, as they will likely employ unethical SEO practices that might temporarily show good results, but then get your website penalised by Google.