If you are at the stage where you are thinking about how to hire the right type of search engine optimization [SEO] agency, then you may already be convinced by how important SEO is for your online market positioning. There are various types of SEO agencies. This is perhaps one of the first things you need to understand as a potential SEO client. Even though SEO is only the beginning of your business’s overall online marketing strategy, organic search optimization is not a ‘one size fits all’, by far.
Hence the conundrum of how you go about selecting the right one for you. Organic or ‘natural’ SEO refers to the means you use to obtain a naturally high placement in the organic search engine results pages [SERPs]. Some of these include using keyword analysis, publishing relevant contents, and improving link popularity. It’s also important to understand that just because your search engine is optimized, it may not necessarily attract visitors [do not forget it merely gets your ranking up on the SERPs], and even if you do, the visitors may not necessarily convert [into sales or business leads].
So knowing that, you still want to focus on choosing the right type of SEO agency to begin with. Here’s a list of the common questions people usually ask about SEO agencies and what they do.
1. What analysis do SEO agencies use to determine what keywords to focus on?
They should obviously have some sort of research programme or keyword analysis. This is a crucial element in the process of SEO. If it’s reasonable, you may want them to show you what kind of approach and methodology they adopt.
2. Will the SEO agency be writing your content?
Where the discrete selection of keywords is involved, you have to ask how much influence they have on the writing of your content. It will be good if the SEO agency has people who specialize in SEO copywriting. It’s the art of writing copies that would rank well in SERPs.
3. Will the SEO agency also analyse your competitors?
A good SEO agency should be able to pick out your competitors, and determine what sites in your area are performing well and why. If they can do that, they will know how to target your main competitors online.
4. What is the scope of analysis?
This is a very general question. A good SEO agency will be able to include a wide scope of analysis, including your web design, ease of navigation, coding, content and incoming links. They will be able to provide you with recommendations on improving other areas of your website that either affects your SERPs placement or even the online visitor’s experience on using the website’s interface. Website coding, your content, and the incoming/outgoing links DO have some degree of bearing on where your website place in SERPs.
5. What is their Focus?
Does the SEO firm specializes in working only with your area of business, or is it a generalist agency that works with a heterogeneous client base. Depending on the business area you compete in, how specialized and established the business industry is, you may want to lean towards one over the other. If you work in a well-established industry where there is a high level of similarity between your competitors and you, then you may want to go with a specialist firm that focuses mainly on your industry. Of course, there are exceptions, as always. Your business may be so specialized that you are not able to find an SEO agency that specializes in your area. In that case, you will have to engage a generalist SEO agency.
6. What is their level of service?
One way to think of the vast amount of SEO agencies is to segment by their cost/service level. The two are used interchangeably assuming some sort of correlation between service and cost. Like many things, you tend to get what you pay for, but that does not mean that you need to get the best one. You may want need car, but you are not going to go out and buy a Lamborghini Roadster. If you’re starting a small local business for example, and wish to target mainly the local demographic [at least for now], then there is no need for you to go out and hire the best [and costliest] SEO agency to get the results you want.
An entry level firm however, may provide fewer services, and even choose to automate most of them. This is not an issue if your industry has low competition and it can achieve SEO success. If the SEO process is more challenging however, you can still have the option of upgrading to a higher end SEO agency that can customize the strategy and execution for you as needed. After all, you have a budget to think about.
Once you home in on one or two potential SEO agencies that you want to actually engage, you can start to ask specific questions.
- Ask For Their References – Don’t just look at their website, or even their website’s SERPs ranking. Ask them how about previous projects, the approach they take, how they solved problems, and their line of thinking. Get them to show you their client list [if possible]. It’s important that they can do more than just the technical side of SEO, that they also have an intuition for marketing, and understand what it’s like to be a consumer.
- Similarly, ask for samples of successful SERPs ranking of their SEO projects for clients, in the major search engines, such as Google, Bing or Yahoo.
- How long they have been in the SEO business, and what experience they have in online marketing in Singapore?
- How will they be charging you? How many pages will they be optimizing for the price that you/they have quoted?
- Will they continue to monitor and maintain your website after the initial phase, if so, how will they do that?
- What kind of feedback and report you will receive to measure the success of the SEO project?
- Do they have any strategies beyond SEO? Do they offer things like traffic generation, or conversion rate optimization?
Remember again that SEO does not guarantee more visitors [traffic], nor does it guarantee an automatic increase in sales or leads [conversion]. These questions are only a guide on what to ask, and they need not be exhaustive. Feel free to come up with questions for your potential SEO agency in order to help you decide on the correct match.
Identify and Engage Your Potential Match
Signing up with an incompetent SEO agency can do your business considerably more harm than you may expect. If you’re not familiar with SEO and its basics, then identifying the right SEO agency can be a very challenging task indeed. Having a bad SEO agency may not only fail to improve your SERPs standings significantly, it can make your site’s standing go down. There are no doubt conflicts about the advice on choosing your right SEO agency, but asking the above questions can go a long way in eliminating the confusion. A simple recommendation is to rely on networking or word of mouth. Maybe your entrepreneurial partners, your business associates, or friends can help you out with their own past experience with SEO agencies. With information, it should be easy to tell what kind of agency they are.
Challenges aside, SEO is still one of the most important elements of online marketing right now, and in the future. If you understand your own business and industry well, and the different types of SEO agencies out there, you will be much closer to SEO success.