You should ask an SEO agency any clarifying questions about what SEO is, what resources you may need for SEO to be successful, what results you can expect, and when you can expect to see them.
SEO is the most complex branch of digital marketing. Google’s algorithm alone has over 200 ranking factors – not all of which are explicitly disclosed. Even when publishing the most optimized content on the most optimized website, SEO can take anywhere from 4 weeks to 6 months to start getting you consistent visibility. And even with visibility, the promise of click-through rates and conversions can be difficult to measure and quantify in advance from keyword search volume data alone. The results of SEO can often be effectively predicted only after you already have your first performance data.
Check out these resources to get the 4-1-1 of why SEO is so complex, and who can benefit from investing in SEO:
Ten Questions to Ask Your SEO Agency
To ensure you and your agency are setting the right expectations, you should ask the following:
1) What is SEO, and what can SEO do for my business?
The simple answer is – SEO is the act of creating and optimizing content to make your website easy to find on search engines, like Google and Bing. The complex answer is that there are tens of thousands of other websites out there that are trying to do the exact same thing, so doing SEO is more complex than just creating new content and optimizing your website for best practices. Ask your agency about any nuances regarding SEO before you invest in it.
2) What resources do I need to make the SEO campaign successful?
Resources can include developers, designers, in-house writers, webmasters, tools… Oftentimes, SEO agencies can provide these for you if you don’t have them, but they’re not included in the base strategy and campaign management.
3) How much does SEO cost?
Your agency will obviously disclose their retainer to you. However, if you do need additional external resources, like writers and developers, you can expect to pay more than that retainer. SEO, unlike PPC, is usually not billed according to ROAS, but according to resources spent.
4) Who is going to do the actual optimizations and publishing?
SEOs are proficient in using most modern Content Management Systems and, if given backend access, can implement optimizations themselves. However, if you have a custom-coded website and a webmaster, or you don’t feel comfortable sharing editorial backend access, then your in-house team will actively have to work with your SEO team to implement any recommendations on time.
5) What results can I expect?
You need to clarify your goals to the agency so you and your SEO team can set realistic timelines and KPIs. For some brands, that’s increased brand visibility. For others that’s traffic. For some, however, that may be just conversions, without the focus on traffic.
6) When will I start seeing results?
Depending on the difficulty of the keyword space, the duration strategy sprint, the competition, the time when you first publish new content, and the rate at which you optimize old content and the rest of the site, as well as any PR and link building efforts (if applicable), it may take a few weeks to a few months for you to see your first results.
7) Will the Results be Consistent?
Google will release a core algorithm update at least twice a year which may shake up your rankings and traffic. You may not always see growth month-over-month, but you should be seeing consistent growth year-over-year.
8) Have you worked with other clients in our space?
The approach to SEO can vary from niche to niche. eCommerce SEO success will depend most on product optimization whereas healthcare SEO success will depend most on authority building.
9) How do you think SEO fits with the rest of our current marketing efforts?
If you do PPC and social media marketing, it would be good to connect these departments with your SEO agency. Social media can be a great way to share new site content as it goes live and start creating buzz around it, which may result in more prompt user feedback and conversion data, as well as some shares and natural backlinks. You also want to make sure optimizations done to your website for PPC don’t affect SEO and vice versa, as well as that your PPC and SEO team aren’t bidding for the same keywords and wasting resources.
10) Can you guarantee I’ll rank first?
In certain, competitive niches, ranking first on traditional search results is almost impossible. However, there are other things you can do to achieve great results, like rank in the product grid, rank for featured snippets and People Also Ask boxes, or target keywords your competitors aren’t targeting.
Schedule a free discovery session with Fire&Spark to learn more about SEO and your opportunities with SEO before hiring an agency.