“Ask the right questions if you’re going to find the right answers.”
When Vanessa Redgrave made this insightful comment, she pinpointed the exact issue facing many businesses who are exploring ways to grow both their online footprint and their bottom line.
While this concept can be applied to so many areas of business, we’re interested in exploring it as it relates to SEO services and specifically, the role thoughtful questions play in hiring an SEO company.
It’s been said that you don’t need to be an expert to employ one.
However, in the field of SEO, many super-smart businesspeople are unconsciously incompetent: they don’t know what they don’t know.
So, it’s with this in mind that we’ve noted down some key questions which you should be asking your prospective SEO company before you sign on the dotted line.
Questions To Ask When Hiring an SEO Company
We’ve come across businesses of all sizes who confidently state that their “SEO has been done” as they check it off their mental list as a job completed. The fact is SEO is a verb; it’s an ongoing process which is constantly evolving to match and satisfy fickle search engine algorithms.
Therefore, if you understand the value of good SEO and you are looking to develop authority in your field and boost your rankings organically, then there are some questions which need answers.
Let’s dive right in.
How Do They Conduct Keyword Research?
Keyword research is a big (and exciting) topic.
In simple terms, keyword research entails looking for the words and phrases that people use to find your product or service when they are conducting an online search and then making use of these in your content marketing and advertising processes.
Ask how they find, use, track, and measure keywords and ask them to explain their thinking behind their methods.
Delve into areas such as:
The SEO specialists should be looking at several metrics, one of them being keyword volume. On average, how many times per month does a search term appear in a given location? This will give you an idea of how many people are interested in the term, in general. Where do they get this information from, and how do they use it?
Keyword competition is a metric which tells us how difficult it would be to rank well for a certain word or phrase.
How would they determine whether the competition is too well established for a particular word to make it a viable project? What would be the alternative suggestions if this is the case?
Early SEO practices entailed popping a bunch of keywords into a blog article and sending it for publishing on the website. Today – not so much.
While keyword volume is certainly an indicator of interest, user intent has pulled ahead as the metric which is more likely to produce results. Understanding your user profile and what they want is key to putting the right content before them. Do they want to buy, or are they just looking for information? How does this SEO company cater to these disparate user journeys?
Ask the SEO team how they would define user intent as it relates to your specific product.
What Is Their Take On Link Building?
The more backlinks you have, the better your content must be, and the more traffic you’ll enjoy.
The problem is, however, that link building is one of the most arduous facets of search engine optimization. Nevertheless, having high-quality sites referring back to your website is a metric that Google watches with interest and is a key ranking factor.
Do they engage in backlinking programs, and how do they do this? What sort of content would they need to produce and how do they monitor the quality of the backlinks?
What Metrics Do They Use To Measure Success?
SEO success looks different to each business. Therefore, the correct answer to this question should be a series of information-gathering questions from their side. Probably the most important of these is establishing what success means to your business.
Metrics That Matter
Once your goals have been established, the correct metrics will become apparent and measurable.
Do you need traffic to build your brand or are you more focused on sales? Increased traffic may entail a content plan for keyword optimization, whereas a sales focus would delve into local SEO practices including reviews and directories.
Can They Present Case Studies Of Previous SEO Success?
Nobody wants to be a corporate guinea pig, and you want to know that the SEO company you choose has a proven formula for success.
Can they show examples of their work for current or previous clients? (Preferably in the same industry.) Are they able to enumerate the pros and cons of various strategies and how they relate to your business? Can you speak with any of their current clients to get some feedback from the proverbial horse’s mouth?
Other questions that you may want to throw into the mix can include:
- Can they detail exactly what they will be doing every month to achieve your goals?
- What information will they need from you to successfully execute their SEO strategy?
- Can they offer a sample report and explain how it works and what information they are working with?
- How soon would they expect to see results of their efforts?
- What methods do they use to stay on top of the search engine algorithm and industry changes?
Is Hiring an SEO Company Worth It?
That’s an excellent question.
In answering this, it’s worth noting what good SEO includes and determining whether you have the in-house skills to manage this yourself.
Top SEO companies understand that search engine optimization is a long-term strategy which forms part of your overarching business growth plan. This often makes it a difficult choice for cash-strapped businesses or those who want fast and furious results from their digital marketing spend.
Done right, though. SEO is a potent investment which drives long-term results and offers the added bonus of “free” traffic down the line, based on careful, strategic execution. This falls into three categories which the average person will likely know little about.
These are the invisible elements of your website. Site structure, speed, code, and imagery all form part of the engine of your site, and these need to be operating at full capacity if any other optimization is going to work.
Quality backlinks and great reviews form part of this critical element, as well as well-written, authoritative content.
How easy is your page to navigate for the average user? Does the content match what the user is expecting? How are the keywords used, and is there appropriate imagery? Does the website result in a satisfied customer?
Fixing broken links, including accurate and relevant meta descriptions, optimizing URLs, event tracking and ensuring that H1 – H4 are correctly included in each page are additional requirements that aren’t going to go away on their own.
The Benefits Of hiring an SEO Company
As we mentioned earlier, many company owners know their own business inside-out but are unconsciously incompetent when it comes to SEO procedures. The benefits of hiring a reputable SEO company in South Africa far outweigh the cost of getting it wrong or spending time and money training a single team member to take on the yoke.
SEO in 2020 needs to be based on a sound strategy centered around user intent, the ability to create engaging and relevant content, and an in-depth knowledge of what the Google brains want.
Determining domain age, quality score, word count, alt image tags, video content, and backlinks of competitors sites is time-consuming – but necessary for SEO success.
Logically, this may be more than an in-house SEO team can handle, with each component requiring a degree of specialist knowledge.
Poor-quality SEO practices can not only cost you clients and sales but can actually damage your online reputation and attract penalties from Google and have your site de-indexed. Likewise, employing a cheap SEO company without doing your due diligence may allow black-hat practices on your site and result in costly fixes.
Not all SEO is created equal. You may increase traffic to your site by working with some keywords, but it may be information gatherers who flood your site making your traffic look awesome, but which don’t result in sales.
Understanding the intricacies of why it may not be worth going after certain words or phrases is a long road and can result in costly mistakes. Top SEO professionals will make use of commonly asked questions, long-tail keywords, or even local colloquialisms to get the best ROI for your business.
SEO Packages South Africa
No doubt you’re wondering what to do next and how much your investment in SEO is going to cost you?
You’ll be thrilled to know that there are some pretty great professionals in South Africa and those that are worth their salt are going to tailor something to fit your needs. After all, there’s no one-size-fits-all in the world of SEO.
You can expect to find SEO packages out there that look like this:
- A local SEO package from R4,000 to R8,000 per month which will focus on between 5 – 10 keywords and handle on-page SEO and various fixes.
- Big-business options for between R16,000 and R25,000 per month which include competitor analysis and backlinking services, among others.
Many businesses claim to be “price sensitive” when it comes to search engine optimization, but in reality, good SEO is not cheap. It’s a detailed, time-intensive process which requires a cross-section of skills from experts who know what they’re doing.
To sum up, choosing an SEO company to entrust your digital assets to need not be a migraine-inducing challenge. Being thorough, having all your questions ready, and doing a little homework will allow you to choose the cream that rises to the top as a digital partner for your success.