Being a full time blogger can be very time consuming, which is why I like to outsource my SEO. This is not always the case, only when I have a full schedule ahead. Over the years, I have learned a lot about outsourcing, and what to look for when choosing the right company to take care of your organic work. These days, with so many updates, Google now targets poor quality links, content, and private blog networks, ultimately banning sites that don’t meet the quality threshold. In short, you have to be very careful when selecting SEO companies in the future, making sure they do a solid job on your blog.
Today, I’d like to go over a few things to look for when hiring an SEO company. I’ll also explore how asking the right questions can help you select a reputable company. I believe with content marketers getting so busy writing in-depth content, it’s hard to find time to build natural links for organic SEO. Please provide your feedback, and input so we can start a debate on this topic.
Let’s jump right in…
What They Provide
Whenever I’m going to hire a company, I skim through their website, looking for special services in what they provide. For example, SEO is more than just building links so it’s important to me to find a company that provides a complete package. What does this mean? For those of you who have never hired an SEO company, it’s important they provide:
Content writing –
Building links has to come from other content so it’s important that they write quality posts to be added to other websites. They must be high quality and relevant because this is important to Google.
Social Media Optimization –
Social media is very important so I want the SEO company to have experience on popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. This means being able to use the right #hashtags, post during popular times, have a huge following themselves, etc.
On-Page SEO –
It’s all about relevance so I ensure they know how to tweak my pages to fit specific keywords. The company should skim through, looking for areas for improvement on my website. If they can’t, then they definitely won’t perform off-page…right?
Off-Page SEO –
I would like a breakdown of how their company will build links and at what ratio. Its important links are relevant, but are a variety like URK, EXACT, Phrase, etc.
I can go on about this section, however, let me clarify my point….
Before hiring the SEO company, it’s important that you have a complete breakdown of what they offer in their package.
How Will They Improve Rankings?
I like to get a clear cut explanation about the improvement I can expect to see. It’s important they tell me how they’ll improve my SEO and search rankings. For example,
- Will I improve page rank?
- Will I improve domain authority?
- How long will I see an increase?
- How long before an increase?
Having answers to these questions is very important because this way, you’ll understand what you’re paying for long-term. It’s very important to ask about links and how the ones they’ve built will improve your rankings over time.
A solid SEO campaign is nothing without an accurate way to track results. I ask the SEO company upfront how they’ll keep me informed of the changes. I want a clear and accurate way to find changes in SERP rank, content rankings, and domain and page authority. I also want to see how many new links I have pointing to my website, and from what location they are coming from. Next, I’d like to see the work they have performed throughout the month, usually in spreadsheet format.
Two things to keep in mind:
First, never let them track changes internally because they can have a system that is inaccurate. It also gives them control to manipulate the results if they don’t provide what they told you they would. Secondly, it’s important to have control for yourself because if the company you’ve hired doesn’t complete the work, then you’re NOT left hanging, completely lost. In the worst case scenario, you’ll have a complete breakdown, and can continue working if you choose to at a later time. You’ll also have a breakdown to hand over to another company if you’ve hired one instead of continuing on your own.
Look Over Their Portfolio
A reputable SEO company will have a list of clients they’ve worked with in the past, and you can learn a lot the company by viewing their results. You should ask the company if you can contact some of them to find out about the quality of their work. A solid company usually will give you authority to do so because they have nothing to hide except awesome results. For example,
Just like asking an attorney about the cases they’ve won and closed in the past, it’s important to get a good idea of the quality of work performed by the SEO company. As mentioned, I’ve dealt with 4 different companies with all of them being more than happy to share past client information.
Following Google’s Quality Control
Every year, you hear about changes being made to search engines and the algorithm. This means you have to be extra careful when doing organic SEO because what once used to be acceptable may NOT be going forward. If you’re doing the SEO yourself, then you can make tweaks right after researching what changes have been made. However, hiring an SEO company requires a different approach.
First, it’s important to ask them if they follow Google best practices, and how they know what changes have been made. Secondly, it’s important to get a breakdown of the changes so you know they keep up-to-date with the search algorithm. Third, it’s important they have a clear-cut way to ensure the best practices are followed by the entire team. The manager might know about the changes, but they might NOT have a clear way to implement them into their system. I always ask the company how they ensure the right practices are taken throughout their SEO process, and what guarantee they give me if they don’t follow them.
These days, it’s NOT uncommon to have SEO companies use tools in their strategy but it’s very important to me that they use the right ones. For example, I don’t want them using tools that automate back-linking or even the content writing because this is NOT following Google’s quality control. To protect myself going forward, I like to get a complete breakdown of the tools they use, and for what. This will allow me to do two things:
First, I can do research on my own understanding of how important the tools are in SEO. It will also give me a chance to determine if the tool should be used or if it’s causing more damage than benefit. Secondly, when I decide to continue the SEO on my own, I’ll know EXACTLY what tools I can rely on going forward to ensure the campaign stays right on track.
Always ask the company for a breakdown of the tools and they should be fully compliant in giving them to you.
The Payment Structure
I’m a true believer that the COST should not be an issue as long as you’re getting quality work done. It’s hard to find good help if you’re NOT willing to pay for it but it’s important that you do understand the payment structure. For example, ask the SEO company the following questions:
- What do you charge?
- Is it per month or year?
- What payment methods do you accept?
- What is your refund policy?
- How long does it take to process a refund request?
These are simple, but fundamental questions that should be asked before hiring the company to begin work. It’s hard to determine what a fair price is, however, this comes down to the quality of work and level of package. If, after reviewing previous work, you’re happy with their reputation, then paying more than usual is NOT a bad idea.
From my experience, you can expect to pay on average $1,500-$2,000 for a high quality job.
Contact and Communication
This is something I need to know and the communication MUST be clear and concise from the beginning. Especially when paying for work to be done, it’s important that they are available during the times they tell me. In most cases, communication will be conducted through email, however, local companies will work an on-call basis.
It’s also a good idea to suggest some other communication methods if you feel more comfortable proceeding that way.
Niche Specific Experience
The one thing with SEO is that it can be tailored to all types of niches but it’s still important to find out how much experience they have in your industry. This will help you determine how well they know your industry, and if they know where to focus while progressing.
An easy way to find out about their experience within your niche is to ask about previous clientele or even general questions about your niche. Anyone with experience in every niche should be able to answer questions related to your industry. Even though this doesn’t mean they can’t get the work done, it’s still good to know how much experience they have working within your industry.
Why Should We Hire You?
I left this as the last thing to ask or think about because it’s truly optional but I’ve always asked this question. You’re hiring the company so they should prove to you why they are worth getting your business. This is their time to shine, and tell you about the past and present accomplishments. I like to give the company a chance to go over what they can do for my business that others won’t be able to. This is a good time to see what they can come up with, and pay close attention to red flag answers like:
- We are cheaper
- We don’t know
- Or lengthy delays in answering
It’s a good way to catch them off guard and slip up, which, in the end, gives you a sense of trustworthiness. I guarantee, the way they answer this question will determine if you hire them or NOT.
Now that you have a few things to keep in mind, I’d like to close with these thoughts…
Even though I’m a true believer that SEO work should be done by you, it’s also a good idea to hire someone if you don’t have the time. Doing it yourself is important because it’s the best way to learn and understand the fundamentals as it applies to organic SEO. However, sometimes, getting others to do the work can be awesome to pick up a few hidden secrets. For example, it was through hiring a company I learned…
- Do correct on-page SEO
- Write relevant content
- Find article websites
- Build relationships
- Do strategic social marketing
- And much more
Keep in mind, you also have the option to do both – work yourself and hire someone to help out. Using this approach will help you get a better grasp when it comes to organic search rankings and optimization. I know hiring someone can be expensive so pay close attention to the price and what you get in your package. The high cost MUST out-weigh the negatives, and you should truly know you’re getting your money’s worth.
In the end, your entire experience should account to results in search engine rankings, authority, profits, and influence.