Following on from a previous post Questions to ask a web designer before you use them, I thought I would expand the idea to another area a lot of website owners consider outsourcing, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation ). This list is by no means exhaustive but it should hopefully point you in the right direction if you are thinking about taking the leap…

1. Can you provide examples of sites you have worked on before and any performance stats?
When it comes to SEO, every man and his dog claims to be an expert. To avoid taking on someone who talks a good game but has never used their ‘skills’ in anger, ask for specific examples of sites they have worked on and how they increased those site’s rankings.

2. How do you monitor performance?
Just checking Google every so often isn’t good enough. There are dozen’s of good quality tracking software solutions out there which will tell you exactly where you are ranked for each keyword you are targeting. Also, ask for access to that data so you have complete visibility, be it through regular reports or direct access to the control panel to check your self.

3. What areas of off-site and on-site optimisation will you be looking at?
For on-site I would expect to see some of the following highlighted (in no order):
- Page titles
- H1, H2 etc tags
- Keywords in opening paragraph
- Link structure of the site
- Keywords used in the anchor text
- Your sites URL’s
- Meta description tags

For off-site I would expect to see some of the following highlighted (in no order):
- Relevant directories that pass link juice to target for submission
- Industry specific blogs & news sites to send press releases/ link requests to
- RSS feed directories
- Community interaction to develop snow ball effect
- Content building
- Galleries and portals

4. What specific ideas do you have about link building?
Link building is probably the toughest job when it comes to SEO and can be kept quite woolly in proposals; make sure you tie them to specifics. Broad ideas such as “We will help you to create link bait” or “submit your site to hundreds of directories” are OK, but get them to drill down to exactly what they propose e.g. will they create a widget, write articles, conduct original research… and are these charged as extras?

5. Which SEO blogs/ news sites do you read regularly?
If they are genuinely interested in SEO, then they will read at least a couple of blogs regularly to keep up to speed with the latest developments and news. Not a deal breaker, but it will help to give you an idea of how serious they are about this field.

6. Can you guarantee I will be ranked #1?
If they say yes, run a country mile. No one can promise this, because no matter how much you spend or how much effort you put in to it, SEO still has the element of a black box about it and you are not competing in a vacuum. Quite simply, anyone who says yes is either lying or doesn’t understand how SEO works.

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5 Responses

  • Penny

    Another very good question is to ask about how they keep up with advances and topics within the industry.

    For example, it may be worth asking what conferences they attend and ask about what they learned at the last conference. Do they keep up with the Matt cutts blog and what, in their opinion has been the most useful information they have got from it.

    The idea here is to 1) see if they actively keep ahead of the game and 2) whether they are really interested in the advances and new ideas or if they just say spin you a story and tell they are doing that – hence why you should ask for examples of what they know

    December 2, 2008 at 10:51 am
  • topranked sites

    wow! nice article on SEO, very well explained about seo really very interesting.thanks for sharing such a good information.

    December 2, 2008 at 11:20 am
  • Joss Nicholas

    Excellent quick summary of Search Engine Optimisation. Easy to understand in layman’s terms but still enough technobable to be able to ask the right questions!

    December 22, 2008 at 11:55 pm
  • Alina Mascu

    Was very interesting to read all of this,I am from Romania and I didn’t find till now something so intelligent on other sites.
    Thank you very much!
    Alina Mascu

    December 26, 2008 at 11:14 am
  • Free Computer Tips

    I came to this site through your great Youtube video’s (only 4 unfortunately) and now I see that the content on this site is also fantastic. Everyone is regurgitating the same things..This is fresh!!

    October 2, 2009 at 3:06 am