How do I check my SEO agency?
Search Engine Optimisation has been around long before Google became the go-to choice for finding things on the internet. Nowadays every commercial website should be doing SEO, which has led to spend in this sector exceeding £30 billion globally.
SEO works, and can be a really effective marketing activity, but how do you check if your SEO agency is doing a good job?
The growth of SEO software
Over the years the SEO market has been led by brilliant enthusiasts. These guys are the true geeks. They know and understand all the Google algorithms inside-out, and have been running tests on what does and does not work for many years.
Sadly, the average SME can not afford such a person.
The good new is, many of these brilliant SEO minds have written software programmes to help automate a lot of what they have learnt, which they sell licenses for, globally, and make a lot of money from.
Examples of these programmes include
- SEM Rush
- Moz Pro
- Monster Insights
Whilst these programmes can be brilliant, they can also be misused.
SEO Agency Rule 1: Do not get blinded, or be impressed by long reports.
These SEO programmes have been developed over times to be almost idiot proof. Better still most of them can spit out a fancy and complex report at the click of a button.
As a result, the less scrupulous SEO agencies slap their logo on these complex, auto generated SEO reports and sell it as their own work. The sad truth is, many do not fully understand the complexities of the report or SEO work themselves.
Ask for a non-wordy, clear and simple two page document to explain what they are doing and what they have achieved.
SEO Agency Rule 2: Do not be scared of your SEO agency
I have come across too many clients who have been ‘warned’ that their website ranking will plummet if they stop spending money.
This is an empty threat.
Changes in SEO ranking move slowly. You have time to switch off and rethink. And if you SEO agency makes you nervous never be afraid to ask for a second opinion from another agency. There are hundreds of them out there.
SEO Agency Rule 3: Be wary of them milking early wins
Sometimes a small change can make a big impact on your rankings and the SEO agency will charge you for the result, not the time spent. I do not mind this practice too much as client’s are paying for expertise as much as they are time, and it is the learnt expertise that has delivered a good result.
However, it is very tempting for SEO agencies to then do very little for their retainer for subsequent months.
Hard to spot this practice, I personally am not a fan of retainers, and definitely not fixed period retainers.
SEO Agency Rule 4: The SEO Goldilocks period
You have to give an SEO agency a chance to show ROI and that means committing enough budget and for long enough.
For most of our clients that ‘test period’ averages out at 2 full days of effort a month and for at least 3 months. (Note that the amount of time will vary depending on how competitive your marketplace is.)
Less than that and you will not know for sure if the agency is any good. Though sticking with an agency for longer than six months without any significant results is likely to be too long.
SEO Agency Rule 5: Set Common Sense SEO goals
SEO can be a complex business. A good SEO agency should be able to understand what you need and explain it in plain English.
Ensure you receive a month-by-month guide explaining the work to be done and the expected outcome.
Never be shy of asking for and setting targets. Though also remember that there are no promises with SEO, so even the very best SEO agency can fall short of a targets, but they should never be short on explaining the work they are doing.
As with all things marketing, common sense is your super power, as is asking for second opinions. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand SEO, and you should never be scared of ignorance as it is the duty of a good agency to explain what they are doing.
And if in doubt, ask Crush!
We can also help you manage and audit third party performance. Having worked way back when Yahoo was the leading search engine, our technical director has more knowledge than most.