I know bad
#1. Tell me about your knowledge of Google’s penalties such as Manual Actions, Panda, Penguin, Page Layout and Exact Match Domain.
Google penalties are born out of bad
Panda is an on-site penalty that generally targets thin content and low quality signals. Google’s head of search Amit Singhai put together this helpful 23 question guide to help webmasters struggling with Panda. It’s a great read that can help anyone trying to escape Panda and even those who simply want to demand better content from their website.
Penguin is an off-site penalty looking at spammy backlinks that are pointed at a website. It also takes into account things like keyword rich text as well as a lack of anchor text diversity. If an
Manual Action penalties are notifications that come down from Google’s webspam team that your website has breached their quality guidelines. All of the other mentioned penalties are algorithmic, but this one is manual. This means a Google employee looked at your site and identified something wrong. That something could be anything from unnatural links to keyword stuffing.
Page Layout and Exact Match Domain aren’t really something most SEOs would be concerned about, but their knowledge about them will tell you how deep their well of information goes on penalty-related matters. Released in September 2012, the Exact Match Domain penalty downgraded websites that were using keyword optimized domain names for higher rankings. The Page Layout penalty penalized ad heavy websites that used advertisements to push down the content visitors came there to find. It also covered ads placed in deceiving spots on the page to encourage click throughs.
#2. Do you strictly follow Google’s webmaster guidelines?
Obviously, yes is the only acceptable answer here. If you aren’t well versed on what the webmaster guidelines entail, feel free to explore this link and pay special attention to the quality guidelines portion when it comes to an
#3. What will our role be in the
You weren’t thinking you’d hire an
#4. Can you guarantee rankings for certain keywords in Google?
This is one of those trick questions that you want to hear a definitive no. If an
#5. What methods will you use to improve our search engine rankings?
This topic is an article unto itself. How would you market your business if Google didn’t exist? You create relationships with influential people and blogs in your industry. You would have a social media plan to push your content out to a wider audience. You would create compelling content that just begged to be shared and linked to. Any links you would build would be placed to drive traffic to your business and not to improve a search engine ranking. This is how your firm should approach
If you hear anything about buying links, directory submissions, guest posts on ghost sites or unleashing comment spam, run in the opposite direction.
#6. What other clients have you worked with? Do you have references?
You’re not looking for them to namedrop Coca-Cola and Walmart here, but you are looking to see sample sites they have helped improve. This shouldn’t be privileged information so keep looking if they aren’t willing to hand this information over. Find out when they started work for these firms, and if they are currently servicing the account. If they aren’t, why did they lose the business, and when did the contract end?
If you plug the businesses’ website into SEMRush, you should see traffic trending higher overtime (just remember to account for the seasonality of some businesses). You can also plugin their site into a tool like Majestic
References are key. Get them and make sure that you call them. Ask these companies about their experience with the firm. Ask about the results they saw. Ask if they’ve had any setbacks or problems since hiring the
#7. How do you measure the success of an
Success should be measured in two ways – increased organic traffic sent to your website and higher sales, more signups or whatever your golden egg is. To achieve this, a firm should be able to show Google Analytics reports highlighting traffic gains, keyword reporting showing how key industry search terms are improving over time and you should be able to see gains to the bottom line. Obviously, nothing happens in a vacuum so look at the sales in relation to other business-related events that could be affecting your web traffic.
#8. Do you feel you can help us achieve results given our area of business?
Its not difficult to achieve results with a business that sells a product that operates in a marketplace with only two other competitors. On the other hand if you are in a hyper competitive industry like insurance or legal, the impact of an
#9. What is your experience with local
If you are a multi-national company, then local
#10. Will you be making changes to our website?
One of the first steps a good
#11. How will we be updated on the progress of your efforts?
Whether you are updated weekly or monthly doesn’t matter. The key is that you want to keep a good dialogue going with your
#12. What are your fees for service?
Obviously, this is important to find out if their service fits what you have budgeted each month. There is a great variability in pricing based on the firm’s deliverables, their reputation in the industry and how much work they have to do to create engaging content.
I’ve seen monthly pricing run anywhere from $500 to $10,000+. I wouldn’t necessarily write off those in the lower range. If the firm is still making a name for themselves, they’ll try to undercut the market to win the business. The lower end can also be a breeding ground for black hat techniques that can easily scale so make sure you do your due diligence to avoid these players. Regardless of the price point, get several quotes for the job, vet them all thoroughly and never make a final decision solely based on price.
#13. What makes your agency different from other
SEO agencies we’ll talk to?
This is more of a creative question that allows the
This list outlines the importance of researching this pivotal decision for your business. Hiring the wrong
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