Video written and presented by Andrew Laws | Articlisation by Mohamed Ashraf | Art by Dall-e (with prompts by Andrew Laws)
Table of Contents
- Hiring an SEO agency should be easy, but…
- 1 – How Do You Measure the ROI of SEO?
- 2 – What Sort of Return Can You Expect to See with SEO and How Long Will it Take?
- 3 – What are the Pricing Models for SEO Agencies?
- 4 – Are There Any Hidden Costs to SEO?
- 5 – How Do You Tailor SEO Strategies?
- 6 – What is an SEO Agency Doing for Sustainable Results?
- 7 – What Makes an SEO Agency’s Strategies Different?
- 8 – How Experienced is Your SEO Agency?
- 9 – What Niches Has the SEO Agency Worked In?
- 10 – How Does the SEO Agency Stay Up to Date With Industry Changes?
- 11 – How Often Does the Agency Send SEO Reports?
- 12 – How Much SEO Knowledge Do I Need To Have as a Client?
- 13 – What Strategy Does The Agency Use to Adapt to Changes in SEO Practice?
- 14 – How Does the SEO Agency Communicate?
- 15 – How is Client Feedback Incorporated into SEO Strategies?
- Conclusion – how to select the best agency
Hiring an SEO agency should be easy, but…
Hiring an SEO agency is a big step toward making your website work harder for you as a lead or sales generation machine. The process of finding and hiring an SEO agency could be a simple one, but there are some concerns that you might have that are holding you back from getting started on your SEO journey.
Here are some common concerns that business owners and marketing professionals have when finding the best SEO agency to work with.
In this article, I will explain the questions you should ask a prospective agency. I’ll also explain why these 15 questions are important and give some examples of the type of answers you can expect to hear from good SEO agencies.
Each question includes a TL:DR summary. This acronym means ‘too long: didn’t read’. It’s internet slang we’re using to summarise each of the questions below. In theory, you can skim this article and only read the TL:DR sections.
1 – How Do You Measure the ROI of SEO?
Hiring an SEO agency is, in itself, an investment. Taking into consideration the other costs of running a website, you want to get the biggest return on that investment possible.
With SEO, the answer to the challenge of measuring ROI is quite simple: Are you getting more leads and sales? While seeing your rankings rise in search engine results (SERPS) is fantastic, if that ranking does not translate to actual sales, then it would be pointless.
So, it’s quite a simple formula: Website + SEO = More money, and this leads us to our next question.
TL:DR – The only true way of measuring the ROI of SEO is to ask yourself one simple question – ‘Am I making more money’?
2 – What Sort of Return Can You Expect to See with SEO and How Long Will it Take?
Like any marketing strategy, it depends on several factors. For example, if you are making very small profits on something like widgets, it would take a longer span of time to see big returns, since you would have to sell a lot of widgets.
It’s an age-old conundrum – what’s faster? Selling a £1 can of pop to two million people, or selling a £2,000,000 private jet to one person?
So, it’s all about targets. SEO only aims the ship in the right direction, but it depends on what the ship is carrying.
In terms of how long it takes to see a benefit from SEO, it can average three to six months, conservatively, but again, it’s all about the market’s competitiveness.
You would have a faster success rate in a market where SEO knowledge is not commonplace. If none of your competitors are doing SEO well, or they haven’t even heard of SEO, then it’s your chance to gain a huge commercial advantage. But time is of the essence!
So, what’s the best time to start SEO? Simple: right now!
An important thing to consider is that doing SEO isn’t like rubbing a magic lantern; there are significant steps that need to be taken by both the client and the SEO agency before seeing gains.
One of the great truths of SEO is that if your competitors ‘nope out’ of SEO when the going gets tough, and you persist, you will win. The more you say ‘yup’ when they are saying ‘nope’, the harder you become to beat!
Due to the massive diversity of the web, it’s difficult to give specific examples. Just imagine you are working to improve rankings for an e-store that sells shoes. The challenge will be very different for you, than it would be for a manufacturing company that needs to completely transform its entire Internet presence to make any progress.
The scales could just as easily be tipped in the opposite direction. We know of online stores with horrendous technical and SEO problems that need addressing. Just as much as we find industrial and manufacturing companies with brilliant websites.
But, no matter the project, an SEO agency will always consider the scope of the task and its feasibility. A good way of insurance is asking for a case study, which all SEO companies create to show pride in the projects they have undertaken.
Semrush has written a great article called ‘How long does SEO take to work‘. We recommend all our clients read this article.
TL:DR – The speed of ranking improvements is dictated by the competitiveness of your market. But you can expect to wait three to six months on average.
3 – What are the Pricing Models for SEO Agencies?
Just like the speed at which you could see results with SEO, pricing models vary from agency to agency. However, an agency should be able to easily break down all costs related to the project.
At Yeseo we have four pricing models; we have a day rate, monthly clients, project clients, coaching clients, and sometimes the occasional hourly one-off clients.
So, depending on your budget and prospects, you can quickly get some SEO advice for a price that fits your needs.
TL:DR – All agencies charge in slightly different ways. When requesting SEO pricing try to focus on transparency.
4 – Are There Any Hidden Costs to SEO?
It’s very unlikely that you will find an SEO agency that includes any hidden costs in their package or project. After the initial deal, should a project turn out to be more complex or long-term, your agency will contact you with updates on the actual cost of the project, having studied it more thoroughly.
If a client’s competitors go the extra mile in the duration of the SEO project, then the SEO agency might need to step it up to keep up with the growing competition. In that case, the client will be informed that more work must be done.
For example, if a site advertising fitness equipment is going through an SEO makeover, and all of a sudden, other fitness stores start ramping up their marketing for treadmills and dumbbells, then that first site will need to keep up with extra SEO work in a shorter span of time that what was previously expected.
TL:DR – No. Although needs can change, working with an agency that can flex to meet new challenges will give you a competitive advantage.
5 – How Do You Tailor SEO Strategies?
Every SEO agency has its own strategy and key points they cover with every client. For example, at Yeseo, we have a long checklist or “road map” we go through to make sure the client gets the best value possible from the start of collaboration with our clients.
In general, though, no two SEO strategies are the same. Because no two websites are the same.
There are core tasks that every SEO agency follows, like keyword research, on-site auditing, internal link building, and competitor analysis, to name but a few.
An SEO agency will customise every project according to the client’s wants, needs, strengths and weaknesses.
Perhaps one client knows exactly which keywords to target, but they are lacking in their linking, images, meta descriptions… etc., while another client has the opposite problem. Both will require different strategies, but both will be effective in the situation in which they are used.
TL:DR – All good agencies tailor all campaigns. In SEO there is no ‘one size fits all’.
6 – What is an SEO Agency Doing for Sustainable Results?
The word ‘sustainable’ has many different meanings, but in this context, let’s think of sustainable results as consistent results.
SEO is a lot like the stock market in which things can go up and down. A page or website can rank as number one today, number two tomorrow, number five the next day, and back to number one again. This slippery slope means there’s always work to do to get back up the slope again.
Only one tool can be pulled from the proverbial shed for this scenario: constant monitoring. New challenges and opportunities arise all the time.
It’s the SEO agency’s responsibility to jump at those opportunities and use them as efficiently as possible for their clients, but it’s even more impressive when an agency can see these opportunities coming from miles away, like the businesses that started using ChatGPT before its unprecedented boost in popularity in the past couple of years.
TL:DR – A great SEO agency will constantly monitor everything, not only to discover threats but also to exploit opportunities.
7 – What Makes an SEO Agency’s Strategies Different?
While it’s fair to assume that all SEO agencies have pros and cons, in truth, all SEO agencies work to the same Google guidelines. There’s only one Google, thankfully.
What makes one agency different from another, however, is the extra benefits they offer clients and keen eye for possible opportunities. The borders around what is and what is not SEO are a bit wobbly.
Search Engine Optimisation is all about doing what it takes to get results. In my own experience that can take us to some very interesting places, sometimes in a geographical sense (we sometimes manage exhibition stands).
On the other hand, another SEO agency might be stronger in a specific aspect of SEO but might not have that same keen eye for emerging opportunities.
This is why researching the market is indispensable when it comes to finding an SEO agency you can be comfortable with.
TL:DR – There’s only one Google, but all agencies deal with that fact in different ways. Find an agency that you feel you can collaborate with best.
8 – How Experienced is Your SEO Agency?
It may be an awkward question to ask, but there’s nothing wrong with asking an SEO agency about their experience and how long they have been in business.
After all, you need complete trust in your agency, and while marketing and sales are different, they share the need to convince the client of one’s capabilities… it’s like a job interview where you ask the difficult questions (just don’t ask them where they see themselves in five years).
Is the number of years of experience important? Not really, IF the experience is there. Think of it this way – if J.R.R Tolkien hadn’t written any books prior to The Lord of The Rings, would he have been any less impressive as a writer?
As long as there’s tangible evidence of experience and capability like case studies or even contacting an agency’s clients, then you’re good to go. After all, a client will always be the best possible reference to contact to ensure the services of the SEO agency you’re considering are up to standard.
At Yeseo, we have full confidence in our clients and we encourage anyone interested in working with us to contact our clients to find out what they really think of us.
TL:DR – An agency having years of experience is important, but the attitude and tenacity of an agency can be more important.
9 – What Niches Has the SEO Agency Worked In?
When it comes to marketing and SEO, it’s all about the niche. What can come off as surprising, though, is that many SEO agencies won’t work with two companies in the same niche simultaneously. We view it as unethical.
The goal for all our clients is to elevate them above their competitors. If an SEO agency works with two competitors how can they choose one to get all the effort and resources to rank over the other?
In short, an SEO agency will likely work with any niche, so the skill of buying SEO is to find an agency that can learn fast and identify growth opportunities even faster.
TL:DR – Most people in SEO will avoid working with two clients who compete against each other.
10 – How Does the SEO Agency Stay Up to Date With Industry Changes?
A good SEO agency will always be on top of the latest trends and news, and with pretty much all SEO agencies, the answer is quite simple: Reading!
With the influx of information, news, and trends happening every day around us, anyone who works in SEO finds themselves going through a ton of online magazines, web pages, and blogs to stay up to date.
For example, the usage of AI complicates the ranking process on Google, and that kind of information is pivotal for an SEO agency to know to be able to figure out the moving parts.
It’s not so different from Doctors reading the British Medical Journal. Except an SEO professional is (thankfully) not responsible for saving people’s lives.
TL:DR – The best agencies are obsessive readers and rabid consumers of information.
11 – How Often Does the Agency Send SEO Reports?
SEO reports are a given for any agency; it’s pretty much the biggest indicator of performance. It’s just like your high school report card, except we don’t try to hide them.
As for the reporting period, it’s different from agency to agency. At Yeseo, we send our clients a report once a month, and then book a meeting to talk about it.
We inform the client of what has gone up, what has gone down, and the action plan for the month. We do send large technical reports, but we work on the basis that the most important part of the reporting process is the executive summary accompanying the larger report. Most of our clients get everything they need from our report in a handful of seconds, rather than needing to wade through all the super-geek stuff that is in the bigger report.
Here at Yeseo, we try to be as non-technical as possible and explain everything simply and briefly, but other agencies might have a different viewpoint.
Ask the agency you are considering working with to show you a recent client report. Client reports are confidential, but almost all SEO professionals have websites of their own that they experiment with, so ask for a report on one of those sites.
TL:DR – The frequency and details of reporting will differ from agency to agency, but clarity should be championed over bewildering techno bleats.
12 – How Much SEO Knowledge Do I Need To Have as a Client?
You’re probably thinking, “I’m just a client; why should I know any of that SEO jibber-jabber?” Well, you might be right.
You might need some SEO knowledge, but it’s our job to let you know how things are, what needs to be done, and what needs to change.
It’s like your mechanic explaining to you why your alternator is busted and what an alternator even is; it’s just an indicator of trust.
If you learn something about SEO and are able to combine it with your own technical knowledge of your business or niche, then you will gain a massive advantage over your competitors.
TL:DR – With SEO a little knowledge is a dangerous thing – for your competitors.
13 – What Strategy Does The Agency Use to Adapt to Changes in SEO Practice?
Unlike many aspects of digital marketing, SEO hasn’t really changed that much in the last few years. Other than in some nooks and crannies, like what Google expects to see, how to make your excellence known to Google, and how that excellence spreads.
All the best agencies watch for changes in the Google algorithm very closely. Although most of the very big changes years ago were to weed out the crappier side of SEO. These days changes tend to be academically interesting to people who really love SEO (like us), but might not always have an impact on the day-to-day lives of our clients.
Still, the Google algorithm has remained relatively unchanged for years, and so the core formula of inputting good SEO practices leading to an output of success is the same.
This is actually where the “io” in Yeseo.io comes in. The domain “io” stands for input/output.
TL:DR – Agencies should be aware of changes in practice.
14 – How Does the SEO Agency Communicate?
Communication is a given when it comes to any business and client, and it’s no different for SEO. Good communication means the SEO agency will know exactly what the client expects and let the client know exactly what they should expect.
As you might imagine, a good chunk of this happens at the very beginning of the project, as that’s where all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed.
At Yeseo, we value client communication very much, especially internal communication where we need to know who we can speak to about A, who can give us an answer on B, and who’s the best person with the best knowledge about C.
We use any communication channel the client is comfortable with, be it email, WhatsApp, Slack… etc. This is because communication equals clarity, and the smaller the gap is between the client and the agency, the better the results will be.
After all, two minds are better than one, but these two minds are even better when they can hear and understand each other really clearly.
TL:DR – Effective communication is key to any successful collaboration with an SEO agency.
15 – How is Client Feedback Incorporated into SEO Strategies?
Like any feedback, client feedback is all about listening. SEO is brilliant because it amplifies organisations that are already excellent. You will always know the personality of your company, and your goals, with more clarity than any SEO agency can.
So if you find your SEO agency is pushing you down a path you are uncomfortable with, then you just have a good enough relationship to discuss that.
In an ideal world, all relationships between a client and agency would be so in-tune and collaborative that bumps in the road would never happen. But they do, so having a great relationship will help you turn a potential crisis into a fantastic opportunity.
TL:DR – Effective communication and feedback is what makes SEO magic happen.
Conclusion – how to select the best agency
Going on an SEO journey can take your business to a whole new level. There are plenty of fantastic SEO agencies out there. Asking questions like the ones we’ve given you in this article will help you decide which agency is the best fit for you.
There is no objective truth to what makes any SEO agency ‘the best’. An agency with more reviews, or with a list of household name clients, isn’t automatically any better than a lone SEO consultant.
Take your time to get to know the key contacts at an SEO agency; the people you will actually be working with. Ask to meet your prospective team, don’t fall into the trap of only speaking to the sales department before investing your time and money in a new SEO agency.
Do your research, ask your questions, and then you’ll find it a joy to trust the professionals.