Search Engine Optimization, or SEO as we all know it, is not the same anymore. It is continuously evolving and is becoming more entwined with content marketing, design and public relations. With that in mind, do you really want to hire just about anyone who calls himself or herself an SEO professional?
You will need to give this issue a thought before jumping into making decisions. If an SEO professional does not understand the way mobile and content systems have taken over the Internet, you probably need not be dealing with that person anyway. There are several parameters you need to consider before hiring an SEO agency or professional.
With so many of them around, making the right choice can become somewhat difficult. In this article, let us take a look at what is required of an SEO agency or professional and we shall also take a look at which kinds of SEO agencies you need to avoid & which questions you need to ask before hiring them. After all, if you know and understand the murky waters you are wading through, you will be able to reach the other side of the shore much more easily.
1. Do they follow outdated SEO practices?
There are many outdated SEO practices, which simply do not have a place in today’s world. Two of them are purchasing backlinks and talking a lot about SEO copywriting. Backlinks, as a matter of fact, need not be purchased. You need to get those links from various websites because of your amazing content, services and products. Unless your SEO agency helps you to understand this, they probably do not know it themselves.
A few years ago, it was perfectly OK to purchase backlinks in order to deceive search engines into thinking that a particular website is probably more worthy than it is supposed to be. Thankfully, Google has put an end to all that and has continued to launch new updates in order to weed out such malpractices. Another question you need to ask yourself is whether the SEO agency or professional is speaking a lot about SEO copywriting. What this basically means is they are discussing keyword stuffing, writing content specifically for search engines and trying to play hide & seek with search engine algorithms.
You really need not be experimenting with SEO agencies and professionals who discuss these things. Instead, look for an agency that helps you to achieve your goals with the help of organically driven campaigns that will take you back to the basics of marketing and advertising.
2. Are they promising too much?
A number of SEO agencies and professionals are known to use their bravado to attract clients. A lot of clients fall for this kind of charm and end up in situations they wish they were not in. One of such situations is falling for promises and fast results. SEO is not something that can turn your low traffic website into a multi-million visitor drawing website overnight.
It takes a lot of time and effort to see improvements & expectations need to be realistic. If the SEO agency promises you something that makes you feel really good, stop for a minute and think. Just the fact that you are feeling really good shows that it might be something unrealistic that is being sold to you. Carefully analyze your own situation and how much success you expect from an SEO contract. Chances are, you already know what you can expect and have realistic goals.
Any SEO agency worth its salt will tell you that you need to be realistic in order to actually achieve success. SEO would certainly help you to make your mark online and it is important to change the way you market yourself online as the Internet evolves. However, falling for big promises and bravado will only land you into trouble.
3. Do they have references or are they very new?
Another question you need to ask yourself is how long they have been around in the business. There are some SEO professionals who are still looking for their first client. You probably wouldn’t want to be their first client and endure all the experiments they will subject you to in the name of building your SEO ranking.
Try and choose an agency that has been around for a while and that which has a list of clients. When you see that list, make sure that you seek permission to speak to those clients or references. References are a great source of information not because of what they say about your SEO agency or professional but also because who they really are. A lot of time, we can use the quality of the references themselves in order to judge the vendor.
This requires a little expertise in the form of assessing business needs, why the references say what they really say and also to assess if the references provided are legitimate enough. When you are armed with this kind of information, you will find it easier to choose an SEO agency that will help you to achieve success.
4. Do they speak as if things are very easy?
When you interview an SEO agency or professional, you might feel that they offer very easy solutions. They might behave as if success is very easy and it is guaranteed. They might also provide you with packages, which actually is doublespeak for “one size fits all”. You need to be wary of these professionals.
They might lack the enthusiasm and creativity to take on complex challenges & might offer packages that will eventually land in trouble. Each client is unique and comes with a different set of requirements. We need to remember that SEO is no longer just about fixing metatags and working around keywords but it is a completely different ball game. We need to remember that SEO entails content marketing, PR and advertising in order to achieve its goals.
An SEO professional who is not aware of these changes or refuses to accept that it is a complex world out there need not be the choice of your SEO campaign. Choose your vendor carefully and ensure that you are in safe hands. One way of ensuring that is to ask yourself if the vendor speaks as if SEO is very easy. It is not.
5. What an SEO agency needs to actually do?
Most of the times, clients do not really know what to expect from an SEO professional. While most of us know that SEO professionals help websites to rank high in search engine results and that it increases traffic, clients often forget to probe further to understand what an SEO agency’s duties are. Other than increasing traffic to a website, an SEO agency also helps you to understand where the traffic is coming from.
The company or professional will tell you which keywords are to focus on, where you are getting your referral links from and where the clicks are happening at. This information includes demographical and location data of the visitors. An SEO professional must also be able to tell you which campaign is effective and should be able to measure your ongoing campaigns.
Other than this, they should be able to create and maintain your sitemap.xml file, which is a technical term for a file that helps search engines to learn more about what your website is all about. Other than these, SEO agencies and professionals help you to build links & optimize your keywords for both the main websites and blogs.
When it comes to choosing the right SEO agency, it can be quite confusing. However, from what we have described above, all that you need to do is choose someone who does not practice black hat SEO and instead, only follows white hat SEO. White hat SEO includes practices that are acceptable to Google and everyone else involved.
It does not involve spurious, deceptive and unverified methods to get you ranked high in search results. If you ask yourself the questions listed above, you will mostly end up with a white hat SEO agency that follows all the rules stated in the book. All that you need to do is understand that SEO is a complex process that involves several domains. As you work with your SEO agency or professional, you will learn from each other and that will help you achieve your business goals.