Search engine optimisation (SEO) providers are a dime a dozen and it is often difficult to choose one that suits your business.
There are many things to look out for when you have an SEO provider looking after your site. In order to understand if you have the right SEO provider, you need to be proactive in familiarising yourself with the basics of SEO.
After all, you wouldn’t let a car mechanic talk to you about crankshafts, filters and belt replacements only to give you an all-encompassing astronomical quote that you would pay without question would you?
You would make it a point to know roughly what each of those things are and how much effort they would take to replace or cost in spares, right?
Familiarise yourself with the basics of:
- What SEO actually entails,
- What is On Page SEO
- What is Off Page SEO
- How the SEO process roughly works as well as associated timelines
Does the SEO provider know what they are doing?
It is important to ask your SEO provider for examples of previous work and results achieved. Do these results and their process align with the business goals you have in mind for measuring success?
For example, if the SEO provider shows you examples of work where they focus mainly on rankings while you have a different business goal in mind to just mainstream rankings, then you need to re-evaluate your choice.
You need to verify the level of knowledge the provider has about the subject matter. You don’t want a friend’s son who just got out of university with an IT degree running your business, so why would you trust them with the SEO campaign for your business website?
Does the SEO provider explain the process they follow?
Many SEO providers tell you that the process they use is designed for success and has worked for their other clients. SEO is not a blueprint, one size fits all offering. Don’t let your SEO provider tell you it is. Every website is different to the next from category to platform to number of pages to types of content and more.
Ensure that you are getting the right solution tailored to suit your particular SEO problem.
What emphasis does the SEO provider put on the linking / off-page process?
Don’t get carried away by statements like, “we will submit your website to 1,000 search engines as part of the SEO campaign”. Can you even name 10% of 1,000 search engines?
Remember, submissions to search engines doesn’t mean ranking success. Linking is even more crucial today after the serial release of Google’s Penguin Updates which focus on the quality of backlinks a website has garnered over time.
Picking the wrong SEO provider to manage this linking profile could mean that your website falls foul of a Google Update and falls off the search realm.
It is much harder to undo an incurred penalty and regain lost visibility than it is to be careful from the start of the campaign.
Does the SEO provider create their own SEO strategies or follow others?
You need to be able to verify if the SEO provider you’ve chosen uses its own set of proven strategies to gain ranking and traffic success rather than just following what they may have seen other SEO firms doing.
The firms that are seen as following others’ work often use automated licenced software to generate SEO reports for a website with their own added commentary to provide recommendations rather than actually auditing your website and understanding the issues that may be hampering the success.
Did the SEO provider promise you certain rankings or success?
This is probably the most important piece of advice for any business owner that is looking for an SEO provider. If the salesperson mentions that they have a relationship with Google / Bing and are capable of guaranteeing you ranking success for your chosen set of keywords, you need to be alarmed.
The search engines are totally unbiased and have no relationships with anyone when it comes to SEO rankings and traffic. Ranking is based on a set of hundreds of website factors aligning with the search algorithms that power the search engines. It is not an automated process that can be manipulated by maintaining relationships and association.
In conclusion, even though you have an SEO provider looking after your website’s ranking and online success, please don’t let your finger leave the pulse.
Ensure that you are regularly checking in with your SEO provider to understand what work has been done to date, what remains, what the changes have meant for your site and what you can do additionally to help the process along.
Kavit Shah is Senior Manager - SEO at Sensis