You always dreamed of starting your own business. You wrote the business plan and started grinding away — working to turn that dream into reality. Now, after thousands of hours of sweat, blood, and tears, your business is off the ground. Profits are growing and you’re in the black. You have a loyal team committed to you and the company. You launched a beautiful website. The spiffy new product page layout and checkout system are the coolest things you’ve ever seen. You’re certain that online sales are about to boom. Finally, time to let out a sigh of relief. Right? Well, not exactly.
A few weeks after launching your new e-store, reality starts to set in. That huge traffic influx you expected isn’t coming. In fact, traffic is slowing to a near standstill. Your Google rankings are sliding. You feel like your business is in freefall mode. You need to turn things around fast or…well, don’t think about that end quite yet. What should you do?
You need to reassess your content marketing strategy. Putting the entire load on your in-house marketing can be pretty daunting. It’s time to consider hiring an
You need to find the best
Below are 17 questions — organized categorically into 5Ws (What, Who, Where, When, Why) + H (How) format — you should ask an
What services do you provide?
What areas of
SEO does your in-house team have expertise in?
What is the implementation process?
Turn your skepticism detectors on when you listen to this answer. Link building is one of the most complicated aspects of SEO. If done well, it’s possible for small startups to outrank Amazon and Walmart for valuable keywords. Networking with bloggers, journalists, and industry influencers in an authentic way is a great way to build high-quality links. A healthy balance of pursuing high-value links and achieving quick wins (answering Q&As, posting in forums, etc.) is a sign the
SEO campaigns without strategic link building strategies are destined to fall short of expectations. Perhaps even worse than that, an overly aggressive, spammy link building campaign has the potential to result in Google penalties that can decimate your business. Short-term traffic spikes followed by a major drop on the SERP (or deindexation altogether) are likely signs that you’ve been hit with a Google penalty. Beware of “black hat”
Who actually does the work?
Do you have experience working for businesses like mine? If yes, who are the other clients?
It’s important to know that
Who will I primarily communicate with? In what capacity? How often?
Establishing a clear, direct communication channel with the
When will we start seeing results?
A reputable SEO should be transparent while also not using that as an excuse to bill a ton of hours in the first few months without delivering any visible results. The
When can we start?
“Tomorrow” may be too soon as the agency should probably do some pre-kickoff call research, but after that, the sooner the better!
Where will the work be completed?
It’s all too common for SEOs to hire offshore contractors for pennies on the dollar. Beyond being unethical and dishonest, this significantly increases the likelihood that the work will not be done correctly. Communication between you and your account manager is challenging enough. Those extra wrinkles of relevant experience, language and culture gaps are worth avoiding at all costs. Make sure the
Where can your team target
SEO? Locally? Domestically? Globally?
Think about the scope of your target audiences. If you’re a neighborhood pizza parlor, you need an
How do you measure success?
How involved will my marketing team be with the day-to-day
Flexibility on both sides here is key. If you want your marketing team to work with the
How much does your service cost? Monthly or hourly blocks?
Speaking of return on investment, just like your business,
If they pass the test, you’ll need to negotiate a payment structure and rate. Usually, a set number of hours per month for several months is a good place to start. Naturally, as you purchase more hours, the hourly rate should decrease and the
Why should we choose your
SEO and not Agency XYZ?
Hopefully, they have this answer polished and perfected. A reputable
- differentiating factors between them and competitors
- quality of service
- the expertise of in-house employees
- measurable results that you can expect over time
- competitive pricing options
- adaptability and willingness to serve you and your business’s needs
- transparency in all stages of the communication process.
Can you refer us to 2-3 clients that you’ve helped?
Every agency has one client (or old pal of the founder…) who can provide a glistening testimonial. Talk to 2-3 businesses that have worked with the
Why do I have to go through this whole process? I run my own business and don’t have time to ask all these questions!
Remember what happens if you set out to sea without your rudder? You deserve an