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Swift Six: Questions to ask your SEO agency

By Nick Leech - August 3, 2015

Hello! In this Swift Six, I’ll be taking you through six important questions that you should ask for your SEO agency to make sure they’re doing the things they should be doing. Remember, if there’s anything that’s not in the video that you need help with, just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

Hello and welcome to another 123-reg Swift 6. This week I’m going to be talking about six questions you can ask your SEO person or your SEO agency that you’re planning on employing or using. These are really good questions to help you understand if they really know what they’re doing.

The first thing to ask them is: Can you guarantee that my website is going to rank number one on Google? If they answer yes, you need to walk away because when it comes to Google no one can guarantee your rankings. More importantly though, rather than them answering yes or no, apart from the fact that you’re going to run out if they say yes, is to understand how they’re going to improve your rankings. There shouldn’t be anything there that you can’t understand how they’re going to improve your rankings. SEO historically was a really secretive task that an SEO agency would go away and do stuff on and then just report the results back. But it’s really important that you understand what the work is that’s going to take place on behalf of your website. If you don’t understand what it is, it might be that the agency does something which is going to harm your SEO rankings in the future when Google changes the rules or when they make some kind of major updates.
The second thing to ask them is: How are we going to work together? SEO is really a team effort. You need to be involved with your SEO person and with your SEO agency. You can’t just go and leave them to do their own thing. You also need to make sure that you know exactly what services they’re going to provide for you. Are they just going to audit your current SEO and tell you how you’re performing or what’s wrong? Are they going to audit your backlinks and give you advice about what the problem is? And at the end of the day are you just going to get a document of recommendations and leave you to actually go ahead and do the work, or are they going to create the recommendations and then deliver on them? And if they are expected to deliver on them are you going to help them do that stuff? If they’re going to want to make changes to your website are you going to let them talk to your developer or are you going to be able to make those changes. So, try to establish how you’re going to work together with your SEO person or agency.

A third good question to ask them is: What link building techniques will you use? If they say anything, anything at all about buying links, you need to run a mile. Buying links is an absolute no-no. Maybe not now, but at some point in the future, if you buy links Google will find that out and you will be penalised or you risk your site falling down on Google or, at worst, being remove altogether. You need to steer well clear of anything to do with buying links. If they do build links for you, you need to understand exactly how they’re going to build links for you and if they are the right sort of links, and that they don’t contravene any Google guidelines on what Google considers a spammy link. We’ll link below to articles that can tell you what Google thinks a spammy link is. They have very strict guidelines on that. There are certainly practices that were ok a couple of years ago which you wouldn’t want your SEO agency to do these days. So have a look at the article below and that will keep you informed.

The fourth thing you need to ask them is: How are we going to measure our SEO success? What kind of reporting are you going to get? You need to understand how you’re going to measure your change in rankings for example. Will they give you access to a tool that you can see how your rankings are improving or going down? Are you supposed to look at your Google Analytics and see how your organic traffic is rising or falling? Are you supposed to sit there, searching on generic keywords, seeing if your website pops up?

When it comes to measuring SEO success, this is a good time to ask about other clients that they’re looking after. Then you, yourself, can go ahead and see how well those clients are getting on when it comes to SEO. That’s probably one of the best measures of how effective an SEO agency is.

The fifth thing to ask them, which really is good for testing their knowledge, is: What are the recent major algorithmic updates that Google has made? You probably heard if you’re somewhat connected to SEO, words like Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird. These were all major changes to the web index that Google maintains. These represented major shifts in how websites ranked on Google, and your SEO agency or person really needs to know what these were and what they mean for your website and for your SEO ongoing. We will link below to where we talk about these updates so that you are aware when it comes to asking the question.

The sixth and final thing you need to ask them is: How much is this going to cost me and how am I paying for this? Do I pay a certain amount per month and it gets me a certain amount of hours work on it? Or am I paying for a particular set of results? Am I paying to get a certain kind of reports? Am I going to pay on a per project basis?
It comes back to the previous point – are you going to pay just to get an audit to tell you where you’re going wrong and then you won’t really know what to do about it? So be clear about how much it’s going to cost you and what you’re getting in return for that money.

That was the Swift 6 questions you can ask your SEO agency or person. I’ll see you next time.

Further reading

You can learn more about what makes a good link in this guide. If you’re not getting this kind of link from your SEO agency, then you should look to move on.

You can get an overview of Google’s 2014 changes in this guide. It talks about two of the biggest updates, Panda and Penguin.

You can learn about Google’s Pigeon update here and you can read about Google’s quality update here.

Google runs a huge number of updates, but the above guides should give you the basic information you need to understand if your SEO agency knows what it’s talking about.