Sometimes we just don’t have the time to do all the things we’d like to for our business, even if we really want to. SEO is one of those things that takes as much time as you’re willing to throw at it, and for good reason too… it’s a never ending necessity for free search engine traffic!
The reality of the SEO game is that there are never truly any guaranteed results. Although it’s very possible to leap pages ahead of the competition with good old fashioned hard work and the right knowledge, pulling organic traffic to your websites from organic search results is a constant battle to stay at the top. Any SEO agent or firm (or whatever they choose to call themselves) should always be upfront with you about this, and any agent worth their weight in gold will be too.
We’re Not Fortune Tellers So Always Ask Questions
It can sometimes seem a bit socially awkward to ‘drill’ somebody with a bunch of questions right out the gate, but we’re not dealing with these SEO consultants for their social status, we want results and they promise to deliver… so let’s find out what they can do with a few calculated questions.
One: “What will you do to improve my site’s search engine rankings?”
A very bold and somewhat open-ended question, but nothing that a knowledgeable SEO expert can’t handle on the spot.
The reason you really should ask this specific question (or something very close to it) is because you’re looking for them to respond with something along the lines of…
“I’ll have to review your website to give you a proper answer.”
This is because each case is unique unto itself. They’re not going to know what needs to be done to help your site gain those much desired higher rankings up toward the first page of the search results. Regardless of whatever strategy is used in later stages you must be made aware that whomever you’re dealing with knows there are certain things which must be in place to not only kick-start your rankings to their desired results, but also to know what should be fixed which might be less than optimal right now and what can later be implemented to further improve results.
Think of this question as the initial appraisal for your website by the SEO agent you’re discussing such matters with. They should be able to identify things such as:
- Issues which could be slowing down page load times
- If your site is using proper linking structures
- Identifying page errors and link errors then fixing them
- Reviewing your site’s URL structures to see what can be improved
- If your site is making proper use of things like headers, tags, & other metadata
The list goes on but if they know their stuff then they’ll already know what to look for and will point out these things to you in their initial general assessment.
Two: “What is your link strategy consist of?”
It’s no secret that search engine algorithms rely pretty heavily on backlinks to your websites so it’s important to take this part of SEO very seriously. It’s no longer only a matter of collecting as many “high quality” backlinks as you can manage, the strategy has become slightly more involved and you need to know that your SEO agent has this part covered in a major way.
Three: “Do you use any social signals in your strategy & can you give me a breakdown?”
Just like backlinks, social signals are pretty much necessary to further expand your backlinking profile in the eyes of the search engines. If you’re not yet familiar with what these are, they’re a form of backlinks which derive from social websites such as:
- Google Plus
The list goes on but a lot of the main focus will usually revolve around the ‘top players’ in the social scene. The strategies for these types of links are typically similar but not the same for your ‘normal’ backlinks.
Four: “What’s your ‘off-site’ SEO strategy like?”
This is what usually separates the big boys from the pretenders. Many times it’s necessary for relationships to be built between SEO agencies and content creators such as blogs, forums and other social type websites. The purpose of this is usually for backlinks. These days you’ll hear a lot about PBN’s (private blog networks) which can do wonders for many websites provided these networks are maintained and monitored on a very regular basis. As a follow up question it may be a good idea to inquire about pbn’s as well. See if your potential agent or agency works closely with any, look into the actual sites within these networks if you can. With Google constantly updating it’s algorithms it’s very necessary to stay a step ahead of potential changes which could break a pbn thus resulting in a hit to your backlink profile which in turn can negatively impact your search engine ranks.
Five: “Do you use any tools, and which ones if so?”
Some agencies might have their own ‘in-house ‘ tools which they’ve had built that they put to use on a daily basis and that’s perfectly fine provided their results speak for themselves. Otherwise, if you’re dealing with an agency which uses off the shelf SEO tools then it’s a good idea to find out which ones so you can get at least some sort of idea what they’ll be doing with those tools. Be a bit weary of any SEO agents which boast “I don’t use or need any tools” as this can sometimes be an indication of a newbie. Again, let the results speak for themselves, if they can prove they get the results you’re looking for without the use of tools then it’ll be your decision to give them a try or not. Always read over any contract thoroughly before signing your name to anything as you need to be sure what you’re actually agreeing to when dealing with anyone, especially SEO agencies. The terms of contract can sometimes be a bit open or vague as SEO is a tricky thing to really narrow in on given how many factors there are contained within it.
Six: “How do you measure the success of your SEO strategies?”
This one seems obvious right? It’s also one of the most important questions you could possibly ask as results are what you’re after here. You’ll want to find out if they use Google Analytics or some alternative. Find out if they keep track of keywords with some spreadsheet software and if they share those details with you via some kind of regularly scheduled report. Things will be constantly changing so it’s necessary to keep tabs on what’s happening at the very least on a weekly basis (even if not much has changed) it’s good to still see that with your own eyes.
Wrapping It All Up
The decision to work with an SEO professional can sometimes be a great experience but it’s important to keep in mind that not all of them are created equal. Some may be better suited for one type of project while others would be better suited for another. A good agent will let you know right away if they can or can not do anything for your site. A not so good agent will promise you the world then take your money and shrug their shoulders once you begin to complain that you’re not seeing any positive (or even worse, negative) results. This is why it’s good to read those contracts carefully. Don’t expect a refund in the event “nothing happens” in many cases either as this is typically outlined within the terms of the contract and in all honesty, rightfully so as SEO is again a very ‘hit or miss’ type of thing and guarantees can’t usually be made. However, if you haven’t had at least some positive benefits from your experience with a particular agent you’ll want to pull the exit cord and distance yourself from them ASAP.
Paying For Traffic Instead…
Yes, it’s true that “paid traffic” can basically be the only source of traffic you’ll ever need but it’s understandable that it’s also not within everybody’s budget right away.
That being said, you can actually start your paid traffic efforts with a fairly modest budget and then continue to grow that budget over time as your ROI’s increase. Success tends to create more success and this is certainly the case where paid traffic is concerned.
We happen to specialize in paid traffic methods, strategies, and we even have a very extensive list of traffic providers you’re probably not going to find many other places… we test a LOT of traffic sources and know which ones are worth your time so let us help you out with that.
Check out our exclusive members only area where we share all this information with you as well as our unique training which can take just about anyone from absolute newbie to a true Powerhouse Affiliate!
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