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Iain Scott

5 questions you need to ask a prospective SEO agency

These 5 questions will help you get an insight into a prospective SEO agency, what your relationship with them should look like, how they work and the results you can expect. 

Getting to know an SEO agency before working with them is easier said than done. Knowing the right questions to ask, however, can ensure that you find the agency that fits your business needs. These 5 questions will help you get an insight into a prospective SEO agency, what your relationship with them should look like, how they work and the results you can expect. 

Q1: What experience do you have in our industry?

It would be a mistake to think that an agency’s SEO experience can be applied to any business. On the contrary, it’s vital to learn whether an agency has experience working with clients in your industry to make sure that they know how to tailor their strategy and outcomes to your marketing objectives. 

An agency that has worked exclusively with B2B clients will likely have a very different approach to one with clients primarily in eCommerce, for example. An agency with extensive experience working with clients in finance, health, or other heavily regulated industries is more likely to have a strong grasp of E-A-T, the system through which Google judges the quality (expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness) of online content relating to money and health (known as YMYL – your money or your life). 

Different industries have their own SEO needs and regulations. The more your prospective agency knows about your industry, the better.

Q2: How much time do you need from me, the client?

It’s common for two very different assumptions to be made when working with SEO agencies. Some clients hire an agency believing that they as the client will have one or two initial meetings before handing off to the agency entirely. Others assume that they will be heavily involved in the agency’s work throughout the process.

Having this conversation before hiring an agency is key. You will be able to establish the amount of time required from you as a client, the level of involvement expected from you and when you will need to check in.

Generally, your involvement with SEO agencies will be front-loaded. There will be greater involvement at the start of the process before, ideally, you will only be needed for reporting calls and strategy sessions. If an agency seems like it will need greater involvement from you as a client, it may be worth seeking one that you can work more effectively with.

Q3: What tools do you use?

A good SEO agency will be happy to share the tools and processes that they use with you. If they are unwilling or unable to share that information it may be a sign that they outsource their work. In that case, the agency itself may be limited in its ability to fully meet the agreed objectives. 

Here’s an example of some of the SEO tools Base Creative has used:

  • Supermetrics
  • Semrush
  • Moz
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console
  • Screaming Frog

The more detail a prospective agency can go into about its tools and process, the better. Not only will it demonstrate experience, but it also means you’re likely in contact with the right person at the company who will be able to answer your questions and provide direct insights into data collected going forward.

Q4: How will my results be measured and reported?

This is a question that I wish I was asked more often. The best clients give problem-based briefs, not solution-based briefs. It’s the difference between a client explaining that they need an ‘organic social media campaign’ (solution-based brief) and one explaining that they need better qualified leads for their law firm (problem-based brief).

Problem-based briefs allow an agency to use its full expertise and services to meet a client’s goals in ways that they may not have anticipated. This kind of relationship leads to better results, but it also requires clients to get an understanding of how those results will be measured and reported. 

A good agency might explain how a campaign to increase awareness will be measured in clicks, impressions, and visits, and how that data will be presented in an easy-to-read dashboard with the information most relevant to the client. It’s also important to discuss the things an agency can’t track – the quality of a phone call from an enquiry, for example. 

It’s also important to check when you can expect results to be reported by, both initially and at intervals going forward.

Q5: Who in your agency will we be working with?

Before you can begin to form a relationship with an SEO agency, you’ll need to know exactly who in the agency you’ll be working with as your main point of contact. This will allow you to learn more about their specific experience, qualifications and comprehension of the challenges facing your business.

It’s important to make sure that this person works closely with the people at their agency who will be doing the work. Anything indicating that your point of contact is removed from the work itself or that the SEO agency you’re in contact with outsources is a bad sign.

The answers to these 5 questions will help you get a better understanding of a prospective agency, allowing you to compare it with others and pick the one that’s right for you.

More help

For more help choosing the right SEO agency for your business, email me at [email protected]

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