Two out of every three businesses spend more than one-quarter of their budget on digital marketing, according to a recent Accenture report. Is your company throwing away money on subpar SEO? Thanks to Google’s rapidly changing algorithm – its latest version, Hummingbird, is a complete overhaul – it can be difficult to keep up with the rapidly changing SEO landscape. As search engine optimization becomes increasingly complex and time consuming, everyone from small businesses to major marketing companies are partnering with SEO firms. Finding the right SEO firm for your company’s needs, however, is easier said than done.
These days, just about every company claims to be an “SEO expert”. So how can you tell the real experts from the companies that rely on “black hat” tactics to unethically boost search engine results? Choosing the right SEO firm is more than just finding a firm with affordable services. The right SEO company must be qualified in all aspects of search engine optimization, including content creation, keyword research, link building and social media marketing. Most importantly, this company should inherently understand the direction of SEO.
When interviewing prospective SEO firms, keep these questions in mind:
#1: What is your on-site optimization process?
A good firm will optimize all aspect of your website, from site design and coding to internal linking structure and keyword placement. Many companies will put substantial effort into site enhancements for the first 30 or 60 days, but then charge businesses a recurring fee each month – while essentially doing no additional work. From content marketing to link building, understand exactly what the SEO firm will be providing after the initial set up and on-site optimization.
#2: What is your content marketing strategy?
With Google’s Hummingbird update, content is truly king. Your SEO firm should not only have a team that specializes in SEO copywriting, but also be willing to create a content schedule that is fully integrated with your exiting marketing efforts. SEO does not take place in a single silo – content marketing must be optimized for maximum impact, shares and links.
#3: How do you integrate SEO efforts with an overall marketing strategy?
SEO does not exist in a bubble. Successful SEO must be integrated into all aspects of marketing, from content creation to social media. Today’s customers have higher expectations for brands and a smaller wallet share for businesses. Effective online marketing delivers seamless customer experiences across all digital touch points. SEO is a critical component of this strategy. As marketing channels multiply, cross-structural orientation is key. Your SEO company must understand how to effectively integrate search engine optimization with your company’s broader marketing strategy.
#4: How do you measure the success of your SEO campaigns?
SEO is a long-term strategy that won’t generate major changes over night. However, it is still critical that your company establish key benchmarks for measuring ROI. When defining deliverables and benchmarks, it is critical that your business and the SEO firm be on the same page as to what constitutes “success.” As part of the ROI reports, your SEO agency should also be monitoring your business’s brand, including keywords and name usage, on social media.
#5: How do you generate more links?
Link building is the “Holy Grail” of SEO. Links from reputable websites signal to Google that your site is also reputable, boosting its position in search engine results. In the most simplistic of terms, the more links your site receives, the higher your site will rank in search engine results. However, not all links are created equal.
So-called “link farms” may promise to generate thousands of links for your website; however, because they links are artificially created in bulk, they will actually hurt your website’s rank rather than help it. Working with an SEO company that relies on “link farms” to build links, rather than organic link building strategies, is a waste of time and money. Great SEO companies will focus on content creation and promotion as the most effective way to build authoritative links. These SEO firms will also build links from a variety of domains, including blogrolls, sidebars, footers, resource pages, and articles.
Want to hire an SEO company, but not sure which one to hire? Inquire here.