Search engine optimization (SEO) is a practice that requires expert-level knowledge in order to be truly effective. In fact, novice, uninformed attempts to optimize a business’s online presence could even get their site banned from appearing in the search engine results pages (SERPs) at all. Not only is SEO an ongoing process that demands a large amount of resources, it is also one that requires one’s full attention and time. Major industry best practices, techniques, and methods are updated on a monthly, and sometimes even weekly basis. Over the course of 2012 alone, there were 37 major updates.
Considering those factors, you may be looking for the right SEO specialist for your business. Here are some important questions to ask a potential provider of your digital marketing needs:
1. Is SEO truly important to my business’ online presence?
Potential clients or customers are unable give you their business if they don’t know you exist. Without proper SEO efforts, the possibility of finding your business on the early pages of search engine results is much like looking for a needle in a haystack.
2. How (and how often) do you stay up to date on industry changes?
SEO specialists should be active members in local industry associations where leaders in the field share ideas and information. Specialists should also closely follow the top SEO industry blogs (SEOmoz; Search Engine Land) every day.
Because search engines modify their ranking factors change so frequently, it’s important that you hire a firm that is up to date on the latest adjustments to the algorithm. Another way to determine whether or not a potential SEO firm makes ongoing education a priority is by visiting the company blog and taking note of how often it is updated with fresh content.
As previously stated, implementing unethical (black hat SEO) or even innocent tactics that are simply out of date can get sites completely banned from appearing in the SERPs.
3.Will there need to be changes made to my site?
If your site has never been optimized by a previous SEO firm, the answer is always yes. If your site has already gone through a technical onsite optimization in the past, then the answer is maybe. Because of Google’s continuous updates to its algorithm, your site’s navigation structure, HTML meta tags, and linking tactics (among other factors) may need to be redesigned around the variables affected by an update. If not, your site could experience a major drop in rankings as dramatic as moving from the first to the 50th result page.
4. How do you measure the effectiveness of your services?
Any credible SEO agency should provide consistent (monthly or quarterly) reports that display official SEO metrics and are described in a language you understand. Agency Entourage will even provide you with an index of specific terminology used in your report so that nothing goes over your head.
5. When can I expect to see reasonable results?
While you probably don’t want to hear this, the answer is that it depends. Here’s why: SEO is not a quick fix. It is a continuous, long-term process that cannot promise specific results by a specific deadline. You need an SEO company that will continually nurture your business – not ride on the laurels of initial progress. Agencies cannot predict an exact date (or sometimes even month) when your site will experience a significant increase in rankings. This is because different industries have varying levels of (online) competition. Therefore, the amount of time needed to experience results varies as well. Real estate firms, insurance companies, and other service-based businesses are very competitive in the world of online search.
6. What knowledge or resources do you need from me?
The more information you provide a firm about your business (nature of industry, profile of client base, past successes or failures, etc.) – the better they are able to form a winning campaign strategy.