What clients have you worked with?
An SEO agency’s client list will tell you a lot about how big they are and their level of expertise. This will also let you see if they’ve worked with a competitor before which could raise a conflict of interest.
Can I call your clients for a reference?
Written testimonials on a website are one seo agency thing but nothing beats being able to call a previous client of a prospective SEO agency to ask them what kind of job they did. If the agency refuses to let you do this then they may be trying to hide something.
Can we meet in person to discuss my site?
Many people fall victim to unscrupulous SEO agencies that call them up promising the earth then fail to deliver. You should always meet up with any SEO agency you plan to work with so you can gauge how professional they are and whether or not you want to work with them on your site.
Can you guarantee me the no.1 spot on Google for any keyword or phrase?
This is a bit of a trick question. If they give you a guarantee then you should contact another company. They may well be able to achieve a number 1 listing for your business but nobody can guarantee this as a lot depends on what your competitors are doing in terms of SEO.
Is there a minimum contract length?
While it can take time for an SEO campaign to yield results, you need to make sure you’re not tied in to a long contract. For example if you sign up for six months and there’s been little progress after the first three, you’ll want to be able to walk away and find another supplier.
Will I get regular progress updates?
When you’re paying out money every month it’s only right that you know what you’re getting. Before hiring an SEO agency make sure they’ll send you monthly reports of what they’ve done and the difference it’s made to your rankings for the agreed search terms.
Can I call you to discuss my SEO campaign at any time?
You should be assigned an account manager by your SEO agency as your point of contact. If you can’t get hold of people when you want them or they encourage you not to call, you should think seriously about spending any more money with that particular company.
When will I start to see results?
This isn’t an easy question to answer without doing any research first but a good SEO agency will be able to give you an approximate idea based on the search terms you want to target.
Even after they’ve done some initial research, if an SEO agency gives an open-ended answer to this question then you should steer clear.
Do you have a special relationship with Google?
This is another trick question. Any SEO agency that claims to have close links or a special relationship with Google is talking nonsense. Google doesn’t favour any SEO agencies over others so don’t fall for this claim which is sometimes used by unscrupulous agencies.
Do you outsource any of your SEO work?
It’s not uncommon for some SEO agencies to outsource their work to places like India for link building. If you’d rather any of your work wasn’t outsourced then you should ask the question and have it written into your contract.
Jamie Fairbairn is experienced in local search & online marketing and has worked with many small business owners to improve their search engine rankings over the past 10 years.