10 Questions To Ask Your Prospective SEO Consultant
There’s no arguing the sheer number of people using Google to research for and buy products and services. It’s the number one place people go when on the hunt for something. If you run a business, and your website doesn't show up on the first page of search results on Google then the reality of that problem is that potential customers don’t know you exist, or what you have to offer them. Having better search engine visibility is critical to increasing the number of eyeballs to your website, which will lead to increased enquiries and sales.
The next step is to actually optimise your website. But what if you lack the time and technical expertise to improve your site's search engine ranking? It might make sense to hire an experienced, reliable search engine optimisation (SEO) consultant. Whether you hire an SEO company in Birmingham, Wales, Shrewsbury or London, it’s crucial they answer the below SEO questions correctly for you.
Here are 10 important questions to ask when considering prospective SEO consultants:
1. Can I have a list of 3 current and 3 past clients?
A reputable SEO company should be very willing to sharing with you a brief list of current and former clients along with contact information.
These references can help you gauge how effective the SEO company is, as well as verify that the company did indeed work on specific SEO campaigns they claim to have. SEO reference clients aren’t about to share their Google Analytics reports with you, but they will be more than likely willing to at least tell you if they saw a positive impact on their search ranking, especially in conversions and in gaining an audience, as a direct result of the SEO companies efforts.
Don’t just accept local companies either, if you are based in Birmingham, don’t just ask for SEO Birmingham references, see what expertise the SEO company has in delivering great Google results for clients further afield.
2. How will you improve my search engine rankings?
Steer clear of SEO consultants and companies that won't freely discuss their methods in detail. Transparency is crucial in this industry and if the SEO company seems to be holding something back, then its likely they have a reason for it and are up to no good and you should avoid them. SEO specialists should be happy to explain the strategies they plan to use to drive up your website's Google ranking, as well as estimate how long it could realistically take to achieve the SEO campaign goals you agree on. The very best SEO companies will actually write a bespoke SEO strategy document for your business, itemising key aspects of the campaign goals, the keywords being targeted and important areas for focus.
A good SEO company should supply you with a proposal that includes an initial technical review of your website to weed out any problems that could lower your search engine ranking, including broken links and error pages. Consultants also should provide what’s known as "on page" optimisation which a process to make your website as search engine friendly as possible. It involves improving your website's URL and internal linking structure, along with developing web page titles, headings and tags. This should be provided to you in the form of a simple, easy to understand report. A key item to be aware of here is to ensure the SEO company will make these changes on your behalf, as part of their fee – that you don’t have to go off and pay someone else to make these changes.
Also, ask the SEO consultant if they provide "off page" SEO strategies to raise awareness of your content on other websites, often via blogs, social media platforms and press releases.
3. Do you adhere to Googles webmaster guidelines?
You want an SEO consultant who strictly abides by Google's publicly posted webmaster best practices, which specifically prohibit 12 common SEO tricks, including automatically generating spammy content and adding bogus hidden text and links. If the SEO company you are considering working with doesn't follow those guidelines, doesn’t know about them or seems a little strange when queried about this item, your website could be penalised meaning it will fall to the bottom of the Google ranks meaning you don’t get found at all, or worst case scenario (Which we have seen happen to companies in the past, and they have come to us for help to repair the damage) is Google could ban the website from search results altogether.
4. Do you guarantee a number-one ranking on Google?
If SEO company or consultant answers yes, run for the hills. As much as we’d all love to be able to reassure new clients about being able to deliver #! Rankings in Google for their most important keywords, this is simply an impossibility to guarantee. Unethical SEO consultants make such bogus guarantees.
A huge red flag is any agency that claims to have a special relationship with Google or any other search engine that will get you priority search results rankings. Only Google, Bing and Yahoo can control how high or low websites appear in their search results, and they don’t offer preferential treatment to “friends”.
The best SEO agencies out there will use white hat, up to date techniques to promote your site and likely deliver Google page 1 & #1 ranks, but what they won’t do is guarantee #1 results.
5. Do you have expertise and proven results in local search listings?
A ranking in the top local search engine results is especially important to small brick-and-mortar businesses trying to attract nearby customers. If you are one of these businesses perhaps selling to customers based in Birmingham then seek an SEO company in Birmingham, that can prove they not only have local listings expertise but can prove their results in local Birmingham SEO techniques.
If your website is optimised for what's known as "local SEO," it should appear when someone nearby is searching for keywords that are relevant to the products and services you offer. To achieve that, an SEO consultant should add your business's address info to your website's title tags and meta descriptions, and get your site listed on Bing, Google and Yahoo's local listings, which are online directories of businesses that cater to a specific geographical area.
This is a crucial aspect of any SEO campaign for small traders, and local city/town businesses supplying to their immediate local area. The difference of having a local listing and not can make a huge difference to your performance in Google.
6. Will you recommend and share with me any changes you want to make to my website?
Once initial strategy and keyword selection has been agreed upon, it is near certain that your website will require a number of what are known as “on page” changes which are handled via the coding of the website. For you, it's important to know exactly what adjustments the SEO consultant plans to make and on how many web pages, and an overview of why they want to make each change. Some critical points here are: who will make the changes, the SEO specialist, or do you have to find someone to make them for you? Have they spelt out all changes in a clear and concise document? Do they have experience working with the platform your website is built on? Can they prove it? What is their process to making changes to your site? The safest way is for them to take a copy of the site, work on it “offline” so they’re not working directly on the live site, and then seek your approval on their offline version of the site before making it live? Are they making copywriting changes? If yes, who will write the copy, and where are they located? Locally based staff are always best suited to writing new content.
Whilst not so much an on page change, we will add this point in here also – keyword selection. Be sure the SEO specialist you chose works with you to recommend the best keywords for your business, but allows you to have final say. You must have control over what keywords are actually selected in the end.
7. How do you measure the success of your SEO campaigns?
Like all advertising, tracking is crucial. You need to track plenty of information, and someone has to be able to decipher it for you into a palatable report that can be consumed easily. As an overview some of the high level items you will want to track are number of total visitors per month, number of unique visitors per month, location of visitors, best & worst performing keywords, best and worst performing pages, bounce rate, and number of conversions.
Be sure to ask how often the SEO company plans to share these important analytics with you and how they will use that data to continually improve your search engine rankings and website traffic.
8. How will we communicate and how often?
SEO consultants' communication styles and customer service standards vary. Find an approach and style that suits you. Ask if the SEO expert prefers to talk in person or via phone, Skype, email. What’s your preference? Does it match with theirs? There’s no use selecting an SEO provider located in Scotland if you are based in Birmingham and would like face to face meetings, select an SEO company located in Birmingham or nearby. Do they offer a custom portal or report dashboard? And find out how often will he or she reach out to you with status updates and detailed reports?
Communication with SEO is absolutely critical and often overlooked by many SEO providers. Campaigns are activated and then reports are only sent when the client asks for an update, and even then the reports sent can be quite vague. Be sure to select an SEO firm that sends fixed monthly reports, ask for a sample report – to see if it makes sense and ask if they come and meet you or are willing to chat on the phone with you to run through the reports.
9. What are the likely costs and payment terms?
You obviously want to know how much an SEO campaign is going to cost you. Avoid any company that is offering SEO as a one hit wonder. Those SEO companies offering SEO as a once off service for a single fee aren’t doing SEO right. It’s not a service that can be performed once and then forgotten about. SEO is all about constant, routine based work month in month out – that’s what yields results. Do they have an hourly fee, or perhaps a range of SEO packages to choose from? Will they advise which is best for you and why?
Be prepared to pay for SEO on an ongoing monthly basis, typically with a fixed monthly fee. Ask if there is a minimum contract term, and if there are any penalties for ending the contract early if there are. Is there a trial period?
10. What happens when we part ways?
This is a big one. When your contract expires or if you terminate it early, you should retain ownership of all of the optimised web content you paid the SEO consultant to provide. Oddly, many SEO providers are being a little naughty and logging into client websites and removing that on page work previously performed. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you.
Ask when the final report will be – will they send one at the end of the contract?
At Digital Marketing UK, we provide you a professional UK SEO Consultant from our team to help you answer all these above mentioned queries. Contact us now at 01584 318 913 for more information.