If your business has been or plans to be working with an SEO agency, then you should be aware of whether your agency is right for you. Particularly because you do not want to be spending money on services that do not help your business and you do not want to end up on Google’s bad side without any alternative traffic generators in place. Here are the three most important questions you can ask about your SEO agency and how to find out the answers – with or without their help.
Are they up-to-date on the latest in SEO news?
First off, you will want your SEO agency to be current on SEO news. This is extremely important now that it has been two years since Google started enforcing penalties (Panda & Penguin) on low quality content, low quality link building, and over optimization. You do not want your agency using bad techniques that could send your rankings plummeting. You need to know if your agency is keeping up with the following.
- New strategies in search marketing. Has your SEO agency let you know about new tactics they are implementing into your SEO campaign, or suggested that you try some new strategies? Each year, SEO’s are discovering new ways to build links and optimize your web presence both on-site and off. Your SEO agency should be applying these new strategies on your campaign.
- Strategies that no longer work. Thanks to the above mentioned Google penalties, there are a lot of strategies that are no longer working. If your SEO agency is still building links through low quality link exchanges and article submissions, for example, you may want to question whether these services are helping or harming your website.
- Penalties. Your SEO agency should be keeping up with the latest changes to the Google algorithm. Outside of major updates like Panda and Penguin, Google is constantly updating their algorithm. And it’s no secret – they share the changes they’ve made on the Google Webmaster Central Blog.
So how can you find out if your SEO agency knows the latest? Here are some ways to check up on their knowledge. If you haven’t already chosen an SEO agency to work with, this can help you get to know potential candidates better.
- Check their blog. Most SEO agencies that know their stuff have a regularly updated blog covering new SEO trends. Especially be on the lookout for blogs where employees of the agency contribute to the blog along with outside authors – this means that the agency knows their stuff internally and has outside resources to turn to for additional information.
- Sign up for their email newsletter. If the agency doesn’t have a blog, you can also sign up for their email newsletter where they may share the latest information privately to potential and current customers.
- Follow their tweets. No time to read long blog articles? Follow the agency’s tweets for bite-sized pieces of information. If they are updating links to SEO articles regularly, chances are they are reading them too.
Can’t find any content from your agency? It may not be a bad thing – some agencies have enough people to handle the client workload, but not enough to maintain a blog or social community. Here are some alternative options.
- Follow the latest SEO news yourself. Subscribe to the top SEO blogs. Glance over the headlines and scan through articles that interest you the most.
- Review your services. If you have a detailed list of the services your agency is providing for you, review that list to see if new strategies are included and out of date ones are not.
- Quiz the project manager in charge of your account. The next time you talk to the person in charge of your account, run some topics that you read about by them to see if they are familiar with the latest news.
Do they incorporate other online marketing strategies?
If you are only working with one agency, you may want to make sure you are getting a rounded approach to your online marketing. Here are some things that need to be included beyond just SEO.
- Content Marketing Having great content on your website can be a huge help to your SEO campaign. Google will love your site for having high quality content, and other websites will love your content enough to link to it.
- Social Media Marketing Social media can help you gain exposure for your business which is great for driving traffic back to your website. This is especially important if you do find yourself in the Google penalty box. It can also help you attain links as the more exposure you receive for your content, the easier it is for others to discover and link to you.
- Paid Advertising For some industries, content, SEO, and social media just are not enough immediately. You’ll want to make sure your agency is familiar with paid advertising strategies that can help boost your traffic until the other areas kick in.
Are you getting results?
Sure, your SEO agency might be sending you a report with the tasks they are completing every month (such as a list of links acquired), but are they actually getting you measurable results? Here are a few ways to find out.
- Whoosh Traffic – Rankings If your agency doesn’t provide you access to a reporting tool that monitors your rankings, then WhooshTraffic is a good service to try. Starting at $49 a month, you can track up to 300 keyword rankings for an unlimited number of websites.
- Google Analytics – Organic Search Traffic While seeing an improvement in keyword rankings can show the progress of your agency, it doesn’t always help you see the effect on your bottom line. If you look under Traffic Sources > Sources > Search > Organic, you can see which keywords are driving traffic to your website. Better yet, if you have goals enabled in Google Analytics, you can see which keyword visitors lead to conversions.
- Google Webmaster Tools – All of Your Links If you don’t want to pay for expensive SEO tools, you can track the links coming to your website for free using Google Webmaster Tools. Once you have set up Webmaster Tools, you can look at Links to Your Site under the Traffic section. you can download a list of the top 1,000 links to your website or you can download a list of the latest links to your website. This can help you see some of the latest work your agency has been doing. If you see anything that looks suspicious or low quality, you may want to confront your agency about it.
What other ways can you determine if an SEO agency is right for you and make sure they are getting you results? Please share in the comments!