There are certain questions that pretty much any SEO expert should be asking you and if they don’t ask you these questions, then you know they probably don’t know what they’re doing or they don’t care much about your needs. These are five questions that we ask prospective clients before they sign up with us. Are you getting this kind of service?
1. What Have You Done Until Now?
This is probably the single most important question that any SEO company can ask and it’s also the question most often overlooked. However, finding out what exactly you’ve done up to now to try to boost your SEO efforts is absolutely crucial if you want to build a successful SEO campaign. Here’s why:
Did You Mess Things Up?
As many of our regular readers know, there is a great deal of controversy surrounding the Google Penguin update and the question of whether or not that update actually created a whole new set of problems which didn’t exist until now. In other words, if you spent money buying yourself lots of junky links, you could need a vastly different campaign than someone who simply hasn’t done much at all.
Have You Already Got Lots of Links of a Particular Type?
Another issue which asking you what you’ve done until now will help us clarify is whether or not the kind of links we can build for you will be effective. For example, if you already have built thousands of profile links, it would be redundant and could even hurt you to have more of them built because you may end up looking like a spammer. Instead, perhaps more blog links need to be built. Or wiki links. You get the idea.
Have You Been Targeting the Right Keywords?
Another issue that can come up when we ask what you’ve done until now is whether or not you’ve been targeting the right keywords. While it’s important to have varied anchor text in order to make your links look as natural and organic as possible, it’s also important to ensure that you aren’t spreading yourself too thin. Targeting fifty different keywords is just as bad always targeting the exact same keyword without variation.
Have You Optimized Your Page?
Too often, SEO companies focus pretty much exclusively on doing off page SEO, meaning they help you to build your link portfolio up and they completely ignore your home page. Often, they don’t even look at your home page. They merely ask you for the list of links that you want targeted and the keywords and they go on their merry way. This of course could mean a lot of wasted effort and money.
2. What Are Your Goals in Working with Us?
I can’t tell you how annoying I find it when I come across so called “SEO experts” who simply offer up standardized packages and can’t be bothered to talk to their customers. Often, these companies don’t even bother to offer a phone number to get a real live human being on the phone to help you understand what your options are.
Are Your Goals Realistic?
A good SEO company will however take the time to get to know you and your business. They’ll also be able to advise you as to whether or not your goals are realistic. For example, if your goal is to rank number one for the keyword “Windows 8,” the odds are good that you will fail and a good SEO company will tell you that and help you pick a more appropriate keyword.
Do You Have the Money and Patience to See This Through?
SEO is not a magic bullet. It doesn’t slay the dragon and it doesn’t ensure that a truckload of money will be backing down your driveway the next day. It is a long term strategy and it takes both time and money to do it correctly. A good SEO company will challenge you to set realistic goals and to also have a realistic timeline.
Now I know that we live in a world where everyone wants instant results. I’ve seen enough ads on Elance from people looking for miracles in SEO where they expect to hit number one for a popular keyword within a few weeks and they’re willing to pay all of $20 for the privilege. The sad thing is, they get lots of offers to do exactly that. They then wonder what happened when they don’t get the results they expected.
We will work with you to make sure that your budget will match what we can do for you and we won’t make unrealistic promises to you. Regardless of which SEO company you work with, it’s very important that you ensure that whoever it is does the same thing so as to ensure that you will get the results you need.
Have You Got a Good Squeeze Page?
SEO is great at getting people in the front door of your website as it were. It’s not so good at closing the sale. If you hire us and you get lots of hits, you need to ensure that a significant number of those hits will turn into actual sales. This is part of setting up your goals and part of ensuring that you will actually get what you paid for.
SEO is an extremely subjective business. Exactly what does it mean when you define success in the world of SEO? Does it mean that you make it to the front page of Google? Does it mean that you make a certain number of sales each time someone visits your website? Does it mean that you get a certain number of people to sign up for your newsletter?
A good quality SEO company will work with you to ensure that definitions of success are clearly planned out from the get go. This will allow you to understand what they are doing for you and what you can realistically expect to see from them.
…And No, Success Is Not Guaranteed
By the way, speaking of defining success, a good SEO company will be honest with you and admit to you that the chances of success are not 100%. They will not take your money and say that you will get whatever you want however you want it. Instead, they will simply show you what they will do for you and offer you the chance to define success.
If your campaign is successful by the measure that you established, then that’s great. If it’s not, then a good SEO company will work with you to tweak the system so that it becomes a success. The junky places will simply move on to the next mark and will decide that you don’t really matter very much to them anyway.
Success Can Also Be a Specific Number of Links Indexed
By the way, don’t be afraid to define success narrowly. Success could for example simply mean that a certain number of links are verifiably indexed for you and are then made available as part of your link portfolio.
…Or It Could Mean Getting Back from Penguin Hell
One of the things we have had great success with by the way is getting our clients back to their pre-penguin standings even after they get the dreaded letter from Google saying that their sites are over-optimized. This can also be considered a measure of success and again, a good SEO company will help you to define this before you start working with them.
4. What Kind of Business Do You Run?
Yet another question that many SEO companies utterly and completely ignore is the question of what kind of a business you run. The fact is that there is a world of difference between doing SEO for a company selling a new gadget which is targeted toward the iPhone crowd and a local dentist’s practice. Unfortunately, many, many SEO companies ignore this and simply decide that they will use a cookie cutter approach.
The Kind of Links Matter
Remember that links serve two purposes in any SEO campaign. Yes, they are designed to allow you to build your website’s presence within the Google and Bing rankings. However, they are also designed to allow your website to gain a certain amount of respect and to actually bring in direct traffic.
Thus we may work with a local dentist’s office to make their Google Places profile much more friendly to the search engines whereas we would work with the company making iPhone gadgets on a completely different front.
Do You Need a Blog?
While I believe that most kinds of businesses can benefit from a blog, there are some that may actually not need one or even want one.
For example, if you run a funeral home, do you really want to create a blog for your website which will inevitably be somewhat depressing? Instead, it may be better to add material which allows people to create perpetual memorials and as such, still create constant new content for Google to index while avoiding a blog on what would after all be a rather depressing subject for most people.
On the other hand, there are some kinds of businesses which may well benefit from a blog and not even realize that they could benefit from it. That dentist’s office I mentioned earlier is a perfect example. Most dentists don’t maintain blogs for their websites if they even have a website at all. However, I can see a blog where you talk about the latest information in dental hygiene being hugely beneficial to such a business.
Which Keywords You Target Matters As Well
Another thing to keep in mind and which is another reason we ask what kind of a business you run is that we need to know what kinds of keywords to target for you particular business.
For example, if you run a business selling laptop computers for students, then you may want to target a keyword like “buy student laptops.” However, if your business is a blog which basically relies on referral traffic, then you probably don’t want to target the same keywords. Instead, you might want to target keywords like “student laptop reviews.” The difference only comes out when we know what kind of business you run.
There are times when you may be running a website with a definite expiration date where after a certain time period, there will be little reason to run the website. For example, if you were running a website for Newt Ginrich for President, you wouldn’t need the site to be getting constant traffic anymore once the primaries were done and Romney won.
On the other hand, if you run a longer term business, you may well want a longer term campaign. So for example if you have an insurance agency, then you may well want to ensure that people are able to purchase whatever it is that they need even five years down the line and as such, you would need a radically different kind of an SEO campaign.
This is yet another thing that many, many SEO experts will not bother to ask about. They may even offer rapid SEO packages where you can expect to see your site swell in a relatively short period of time but then flame out soon after the fact. This could be good if you’re targeting a super hot trend and want to sell lots of whatever product is being offered.
On the other hand, it may not be appropriate for your business if you really need a longer term campaign (even though you initially think you want instant success). The only way to ensure then that you actually get what you need is to question what is it that you need and why you may need a long or short term campaign.
Whether you work with us or you work with another SEO company, you need to ensure that you are getting the services you need and that means getting someone who will listen and ask the right kinds of questions.