Thursday, February 18, 2010

Top Five Questions to Ask When Hiring an SEO Company

1. Ask for an example of a problem that a previous client had (as it relates to SEO), how they came up with a solution(s) to try, how they tested the results and what action items came out of the test.
2. Ask how much time they spend online in chatrooms and forums (as they relate to SEO). Ask them their top three SEO websites for keeping up on new trends and posting problems.
3. Ask about their experience with websites that are lead generators and experience with websites that are brand management. Each is very specific and needs different types of SEO. A good SEO company/consultant will know the difference and be able to articulate the different types of SEO for each.
4. Ask what they can do besides SEO. They need to understand the big picture. They need to understand development, CSS, PPC, web analytics and social media. They don't need to be experts in everything but they definitely need to understand the big picture.
5. Ask how often they attend industry conferences or seminars. Ask if they contribute to any industry publications. Ask about their turnover rate. Ask about the training that their employees receive.
5a. Ask them what their strategy would be for your website. This should prove a couple of things. Number one - did they take the time to learn anything about you? Number two - do they sound excited talking about their strategy? Number three - Are they willing to share that information or do they want to be paid for it?

We do sign certain clients on a "pay for performance" model. Normally, we charge a standard rate of "xx" per hour. For certain clients, we will drop those rates by 1/3, then as we get each of your keywords on to the first page of Google, our rate goes up and is retroactive. Then for each of the keywords we get into the top five on Google, our rate goes up again moving forward. This is a strong motivator for my team to perform better than they ever have because every success for the client is a success for them.

The reason I say that we sign certain clients is because of the reasons mentioned here. We have to have complete control. We don't run every single thing we do past you for approval. You have to trust that we have your best interests in mind and at heart. We become a part of your company and a part of your team. We control everything from where your website is hosted to all website development to all paid, natural and social media marketing. That doesn't mean that we have to do it all for you. You may have certain capabilities in-house that would make more sense to use but we direct the project.

We start each of our SEO projects with a task list of "foundation" items - such as unique meta tags (don't forget about poor Yahoo), local directories (Google Local, Yahoo and Bing), xml sitemap and DMOZ listings. But all of our contracts are driven by the bottom line - results. If it's a brand management website, then traffic is the key. If it's a lead generation website, then quality becomes much more important than quantity. So, as mentioned by others, our task list is very fluid and changes on a regular basis - but there is always the goal!

Our first step is to talk to the client on the phone, see what their goals are, get an idea of who they think their competitors are and what they think their top keywords should be. Then, when we meet in person (if possible), we go over our initial research which is just some keyword research with traffic numbers and then a competitive ranking report for their website as compared to their competitors.

As for what makes one better than the rest - it can be personal. If you can narrow it down to two or three companies that all meet your criteria when it comes to proving past successes and strategy for your website. Then it can come down to communication - do you feel comfortable talking to them. Do you feel that they are talking down to you? Do you feel that they are listening to you?

No comments: