Search engine optimization (SEO) is integral for a business’s success in today’s digital and fast-evolving world. So to help you make sure you’re getting the best results for your business, let’s talk about some important questions to ask your SEO provider.

But first, what is SEO?

SEO refers to the techniques and processes geared towards improving a website’s visibility on search engines.

Overall, SEO seeks to improve the quality and quantity of a website’s search engine traffic and leads. 

In the early years of digital marketing, SEO mainly revolved around keyword density. But in today’s digital world, SEO includes onsite and off-site optimization, link building, content marketing, and social media marketing. SEO has become an all-encompassing field that’s understandably overwhelming and intimidating to the average Joe without a digital background.

Even if you have strong technical skills, it’s hard to do SEO effectively and manage your business simultaneously. SEO is time-intensive, and it’s not one of those projects you can run on the side.

That’s why it is beneficial to hire an SEO company or SEO agency to optimize your company’s website.

But, hiring an SEO company can be a changing and overwhelming process as there are many SEO companies to choose from. So, how do you pick the right SEO agency for your brand?

To help you make sure you work with a reliable expert, check out these key questions to ask.

Questions to Ask Before Hiring an SEO Company

Questions for SEO companies
Copyright: ellagrin

1.    What is Your Approach to Deliver Results?

Even though modern SEO is diverse, it’s divided into three significant categories onsite, off-site, and technical SEO. 

On-site SEO

On-site SEO, also called on-page SEO, focuses on optimizing and improving landing pages, blog, product copy, and any other individual web pages you have on your website to increase search traffic. It’s the part of SEO you can directly control. It involves optimizing page-specific factors like keyword density, HTML tags, headlines, metadata, internal linking, images, and all other visible website content. 

If done right, on-page SEO makes your site more crawlable, meaning search engines (like Google and Bing) can easily find and understand your website content and its relevance to the search query.

The more crawlable your content is, the more web pages will be indexed and re-indexed in the search engines, leading to improved rankings, and ultimately, higher search traffic and lead conversion. 

Off-site SEO

On the other hand, off-site SEO is the component that deals with all external or indirect actions implemented by your SEO agency to improve a site’s ranking on SERPs, such as link building and social media marketing.

Off-site SEO helps build brand authority and reputation, leading to better rankings and enhanced website performance.

For instance, a large volume of high-quality backlinks shows search engines and users that your website content is authoritative and reliable, translating to better rankings and a high number of return visitors.

Technical SEO

As the name implies, technical SEO addresses the technical aspects, such as page speed, site navigation, and URL structure.

Technical SEO improves site readability, making it more crawlable for search engines and reader-friendly for the target audience.

It’s considered technical because it mainly deals with a site’s infrastructure, unlike onsite and off-site SEO.

Why You Should Ask This Question

Before hiring a provider, you want to ask about their approach to SEO because although most providers will implement all three SEO strategies, some may specialize in only one.

In contrast, others will optimize your website for all three of the above types of SEO and additional SEO, such as local SEO.

Hence, before bringing an SEO provider onboard, you should inquire and understand how they plan to optimize your website to determine if it’s the best strategy for your brand.

2.    How Will You Adapt Your Strategy for My Brand?

The beauty of search engine optimization is that it levels the competitive field for all businesses, allowing small and upcoming entities an opportunity to compete with and even outdo established brands.

However, just because it’s efficient doesn’t mean every SEO solution in the market will work for you. Some strategies work better for certain businesses than others. 

Take local SEO, for instance.

Local SEO optimizes a website for increased visibility in specific locations. As such, the strategy works best for small and medium-sized brands operating on a regional level instead of businesses targeting a national audience. 

Why You Should Ask This Question

This question is essential because if they offer a vague answer, you should consider other options since an experienced provider will be able to detail the SEO strategies they execute for similar businesses within your niche.

Example of Google Analytics metrics

3.    What Metrics Do You Track to Define success?

Google rolls out roughly 500 algorithm changes annually, so no one can control organic search rankings.

However, it’s important to make sure the SEO provider  you’re working with is able to measure and report how successful a particular campaign has been based on metrics such as:

Organic traffic

Organic traffic is prospects from unpaid marketing campaigns.

Generally, organic traffic is generated from your ranking on SERPs. The higher the website ranks, the more organic traffic you should expect. And since the goal of SEO is to increase a site’s visibility and organic ranking, the easiest way to measure the success of implemented SEO strategies is based on organic traffic.

Example of organic traffic search engine rankings metrics

Click-through rate

Commonly referred to as CTR, the click-through rate refers to the number of clicks you receive from a link to one of your web pages.

Since users first check-out elements like title tags and meta descriptions to determine whether they’ll visit a website, a high click-through rate is an essential indicator that an SEO company should be focused on.

Looking for ways to increase your click-through rate? Check out this blog, “11 Tips to Improve Your Organic CTR SEO.”

Example of click-through rate metrics

Bounce rate

A site might have high organic traffic and a high click-through rate, but if the bounce rate is high, it might mean the content the user is directed to isn’t relevant to the user’s pain point or doesn’t address what they need well enough. A good SEO provider should also track this metric.

Example of bounce rate metrics

Other metrics for measuring SEO success include keyword rankings, domain authority, page speed, mobile visits, conversions, and more.

Ask your SEO agency about the specific metrics they use to define and measure success.

This will help you determine whether the SEO company preferred metrics align with your company’s goals.

4.    How Long Will It Be Until We Can Expect To See Results?

SEO is a long-term digital marketing strategy, and it takes a while before you start seeing results.

In most instances, it takes about six months to see any results from your SEO marketing efforts.

The first month of SEO implementation often involves research, discovery, and planning essential SEO elements like keywords and content. In contrast, the second month for most SEO agencies revolves around technical SEO. 

Why You Should Ask This Question

That said, any reputable SEO company will give you a rough idea of what to expect over a certain period based on their past experiences and your goals.

Make sure to steer clear from companies that promise instant increases in rankings, organic traffic, and conversions or who seem secretive when you ask how long it will be until you expect results. Hello, red flag.

Remember that this type of digital marketing is a long-term marketing strategy and not a quick fix.

Mobile seo techniques
©jittawit/123RF.COM

5.    What is Your Mobile SEO Strategy for My Company?

Mobile SEO is all about optimizing your site’s infrastructure for mobile devices. It improves your site’s responsiveness across different mobile devices and facilitates smoother user experiences.

As a result, a good mobile experience encourages visitors to stay longer on your site, increasing the chances of engagement and conversion. Think about the last time you were looking at a website on your phone that wasn’t mobile-friendly. I bet it was a pretty terrible experience, right?  Don’t be that website!

Mobile SEO also increases time spent onsite and reduces bounce rate, which is good for your ranking. 

With mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets slowly becoming an inextricable part of our daily routines, it’s of the utmost importance to ask potential service providers about their mobile SEO strategies.

Consider if your SEO company plans to follow the standard best practices, such as optimizing page speed to reduce redirects and optimizing all page content from images to links. Hence, they load fast across different screen sizes. 

Given that 49% of mobile users hold their phones with one hand, it’s best to prioritize experts who integrate a thumb-friendly UX design. This helps prevent accidental clicks and ensures mobile users can comfortably navigate your website while operating their phones on one hand.

While optimizing for mobile, a reliable SEO provider should consider site structure elements like metadata, pop-ups, JavaScript, and flash.

Ask an SEO
Copyright: fizkes

6.    How Will Your SEO Strategy Fit into My Other Marketing Strategies?

Even though SEO is one of the most effective ways to improve brand awareness and overall business performance, you shouldn’t ditch your other marketing strategies. Good SEO should be able to use multiple different marketing strategies for the best results.

For instance, SEO alone isn’t enough to market your business on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, as it can be tricky to capture user attention with organic social media posts. 

In that case, paid search advertising alongside SEO would be the best way to increase your visibility on these platforms.

When technical SEO is combined with content marketing, the results are even better since users enjoy seamless access to your website when browsing informative blogs, white papers, and FAQ pages. 

Why You Should Ask This Question

Ideally, SEO should be part of your marketing strategies, not your only marketing plan.

Steer clear of SEO providers who insist on SEO alone. Instead, look for a provider who’s ready to integrate their SEO strategy into your existing marketing plan and is open to working with your marketing and sales teams on a broader level.

Make sure to ask how the seo agency conducts keyword research
Copyright: jirsak

7.    How Do You Conduct Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the process of identifying terms that people use while searching the web, their search volume, and even popularity.

Proper keyword research enables brands to determine what their target audience is looking for on search engines like Google and, most importantly, the user’s intent. With this information, brands can naturally include these keywords in their content.

This improves online visibility, traffic, and overall website performance. 

To find the best keywords, you need to understand your niche. You’ll also need to define the end goal. Are you trying to increase sales, rankings, or subscribers? Creating a list of topics most relevant to your industry is more manageable when you analyze your keywords with your goals. 

For a layman, the process can be hectic, which is why hiring an SEO agency is a good idea. But before you do, ensure you find out how they conduct their research.

Why You Should Ask This Question

A professional SEO consultant should have tools like Google Adwords, SEMrush, and MOZ(to name a few) to quickly identify what keywords your site is ranking for, formulate strategies to improve them, and even generate more keywords.

Good SEO should include link building
Copyright: mazirama

Sites with quality backlinks often earn higher rankings from search engines like Google because backlinks sell a website as an authoritative information source on a particular niche.

Backlinks also enable search engines to discover new websites and web pages discussing related subjects, improving indexing and overall search results.

However, not every link is a good backlink. 

Unfortunately, some SEO consultants may use spammy SEO practices to increase their returns and show you their strategies are working, such as spamming your content with paid or unnatural links.

Unethical SEO practices often attract penalties from Google and other search engines and may negate all your SEO efforts. To avoid this, seek experts (also known as white hat SEOs) who only implement white hat practices such as strategic guest posting and using infographics and video in their content.

White hat SEOs focus on building brand credibility, which earns them quality and organic backlinks. That’s why you should ascertain that your SEO provider doesn’t practice black hat SEO.

Also, remember to ask the consultant about backlink audits and how regularly they plan to audit your website.

SEMrush - a digital marketing tool
©deadburnett/123RF.COM

9.    What Digital Marketing Tools Do You Use?

A professional and reputable SEO agency will have multiple tools in its arsenal to improve the optimization process.

These tools may serve various purposes such as: 

  • Researching and tracking keywords
  • Monitoring rankings and backlinks
  • Conducting audits and competitor analysis
  • Creating custom reports

Popular tools include SEMRush, Ahrefs, Google Search Console, KWFinder, and Moz Pro.

These tools save time and money that would have been spent on manual processes, eliminate human error, and improve the overall SEO experience.

Even though you don’t need to know all the digital marketing tools a provider uses, asking about them is an excellent way to assess how qualified a prospective provider is in offering SEO services.

10. How Do You Report on SEO Marketing Progress and What Does it Look Like?

SEO reports contain information that will help you determine whether your SEO investment is worth your money.

They contain data on search traffic, rankings and conversions, enabling you to identify whether a particular campaign is effective or not. These reports may include weekly lists of strategies executed and monthly performance reports. 

SEO reports summarize all steps taken to improve your digital visibility since your marketing campaigns began.

Before you commit to any plan, ask your provider how often they report on progress, the reporting tools they use, and if possible, request sample reports to see what you should expect.

Moz Google Algorithm Changes

11. How Do You Stay On-Top of Industry Changes and Google Updates?

SEO is constantly evolving.

Strategies such as keyword stuffing and indiscriminate guest blogging, which were effective some years ago, are no longer practiced today. Some like keyword stuffing have been banned altogether. And as search volume increases and search engines continue to use machine learning to evaluate content relevance, you should expect even more SEO changes in the future. 

But these changes don’t mean doom.

They’re often implemented to improve user experience. For instance, eliminating keyword stuffing was a good thing because it helped enhance the quality of content.

At the same time, new updates such as featured snippets are an opportunity for brands to gain more traffic. 

As such, it’s crucial to hire a consultant who’s always on top of new and emerging trends, as it means they’ll optimize your site with the latest strategies.

Find out the blogs and websites they follow and whether they maximize resources such as the Webmaster Central Blog and Moz’s Google algorithm changes webpage.

12. Can You Guarantee Number 1 Rankings for My Brand?

The simple as to this question should always be no. If your provider says yes to this question, consider it a red flag.

Avoid any provider who guarantees the top spot on SERPs at all costs. This is because no one can tell precisely when the Google algorithm changes or when manual algorithm reviews, updates, and penalties are triggered.

13. Have You Worked with Penalized Websites? How Did You Fix Them?

Google began penalizing websites a few years ago to discourage black hat SEO practices such as buying backlinks, duplicated content, keyword stuffing, hidden, footer or broken links, and anchor text overuse.

These penalties can be manual or algorithmic and, unfortunately, can happen when you least expect them. They’re also quite hard to recover. 

Algorithmic changes happen automatically when Google rolls out new updates.

Ask your provider whether they’ve worked with a penalized website before and how they helped fix the issues that plagued the website.

Consultants with this experience are preferable since they’ll help prevent your website from suffering such penalties.

Better yet, they’ll know how to recover your site, should you be penalized.

And don’t be afraid to ask for case studies or testimonials of past clients. Reputable agencies will have plenty of case studies and testimonials that should be willing to share with you and your team.

SEO partner questions
Copyright: ximagination

14. Why Should We Hire You Over Other SEO Companies?

Although there’s no right or wrong answer to this question, asking your SEO provider why you should hire them over their competitors is an excellent way to weed out poor agents.

You’ll want to avoid consultants who insist you hire them because they’re cheaper, as good SEO isn’t necessarily cheap. Besides, true SEO experts never undersell themselves, knowing their skills are in top demand in our increasingly digital world.

Also, avoid those who promise to build you more backlinks or earn you quick results. Good SEO takes time, and you’ll more often than not pay top dollar for it.

Find a Great SEO Company: Over to you!

Good SEO is the key to increasing website traffic, conversions, and sales. You need SEO to thrive in our digitally advanced world.

That’s why you must find a reputable SEO agency to help you out. The task should be easy with the 14 questions outlined in this blog.

Better yet, you could end your search here and let professional SEO consultants from Trusted Search Marketing take over your SEO services

Trusted Search marketing is a seasoned SEO company passionate about helping small, medium to large businesses build a robust digital presence through quality SEO strategies.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s chat to learn more about your brand’s needs and help you achieve success in digital marketing and SEO. 

Related Reading

man touching question marks

Frequently Asked Questions About SEO

Newbies to search engine optimization often struggle to remember every step in the SEO process. Even SEO veterans run into new problems from time to time.  Questions happen, don’t worry.  Here are some answers to the most common SEO-related questions!  SEO Questions for Beginners  These are the questions tailored to those of you who barely … Continued
See Full Story
search bar drawn on chalkboard

How To Improve Search Engine Ranking

Search engine optimization is the best way to increase your search engine rankings on websites like Google and Bing. Any company that uses websites can expand their potential by optimizing the content they create. With billions of websites floating around the internet, how is it possible to ensure your website gets listed on the front … Continued
See Full Story
versus symbol banner with white background

Difference Between On-page and Off-page SEO

On-page and off-page SEO are two different means for the same goal: to help improve Google search ranking. Both use different methods and cover various activities. In short, on-page SEO refers to the collection of items embedded within your web page. These are website elements that you can directly alter to fit your needs. Off-page … Continued
See Full Story
Magnifying glass graphic showing different elements of on-page seo

What is On-page SEO?

As you may know, search engine optimization encompasses the entire process of optimizing your website for Google search results. You may have heard terms like technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO. Technical SEO involves optimizing the entire website domain. On-page SEO refers to optimizing web pages on specific URLs. Off-page involves optimizing elements outside … Continued
See Full Story