5 Ways to Test Your SEO Agency’s Knowledge and Ethics

Jen Saunders

Simply put, when businesses start searching for a good SEO agency it’s like looking for a great auto mechanic; you don’t know what they are truly doing but you trust they are honest. Businesses likely know as much about SEO as the average person does on transmission-related problems with a Chevy. At the end of the day you take a chance and hire the person who seems the most honest, knowledgeable, and who offers high-quality work. But when it comes to finalizing a list of the best SEO agencies, there are certain ways you can test their knowledge and ethics to ensure you work with a true winner. Here are five questions to ask, followed by the right answers to be on the lookout for.  

seo experts

How Long Will it take for me to Rank on Page One of Google?

The answer you want to get is “I don’t know”. If anyone gives you a specific answer, hang up and move on to interviewing the next agency. Nobody knows how long it can take to rank a website, but there are considerations that allow for rough estimates. Depending on the age of your website, its domain authority, the results of its audit, how competitive the market is for appropriate keywords, the platform it’s built on, and the existing content, the time estimate can vary dramatically.

What Will it Take for my Website to Be Number One on Google?

If the agency answers with a generic response protesting that their SEO services are performed by veteran experts and they offer nothing beyond this common claim, OR they directly answer your question with a specific time, be wary. The best digital marketing agencies will ask this question: WHY do you want to be number one on Google; what is your ultimate goal? Obviously, ranking for the hell of it is not likely the goal of most businesses. Instead, getting more customers and increasing sales are the real reasons behind the desire to rank. Therefore, look for agencies that pull this into the conversation thus making the service relevant to actual business goals. They should also explain that you can’t set your watch to improved organic ranking; it is a process that requires multiple steps and Google doesn’t announce when it will crawl and rank content.

business growth for startups

How can I Increase Sales with Your SEO Services?

Again, be cautious of those agencies that toot their own horn by saying they have the “Jesus Christs and Einsteins of search engine optimization” working for their clients. Instead, look for an SEO agency that turns the table and starts asking you questions. All businesses are different, and if the agency you are interviewing focuses on you in the initial conversation, it is safe to say that level of focus is also given to their clients. Here are good questions a solid agency should be asking you on that first phone call:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • What are your greatest challenges, and where do you excel?
  • Who are your customers?
  • What are your ultimate goals (i.e. revenue specific increases or numbers specific customer acquisition increases)?
  • Have you worked with an SEO agency before, and how did that go?
  • How are you currently investing in marketing?

In order for an agency to give you a reasonable answer in terms of revenue filling your pockets, they must first understand your brand and your goals.

google rank brain

What is Google RankBrain?

If the agency doesn’t know, hang up and move on. If they tell you it is part of Google’s algorithm that works as a ranking factor BUT they can’t explain how it works, end the conversation and find an agency that can give you an in-depth answer. Why? Because content is roughly 70% of what drives SEO, and if an agency doesn’t know how it works, then they don’t know how to write content that Google will love. If the agency is truly masterful, they will explain that Google RankBrain runs on AI and Machine Learning crawling content specific to search queries and learning while it crawls, awarding ranking to the site that has the best content favored by human readers. This is content that answers questions and solves problems, is well-written, educational, entertaining, and uses standard and longtail keyword variations that tie into content with emotional language.

marketing investment costs

What does Your SEO Agency Charge?

If the agency has a three-tier SEO package system similar to how your cable TV company prices out their services, hang up the phone. You are investing your time and money into a vendor whose job is to grow your business. While paying extra for a package offering HBO and Showtime may make sense, charging a set price for bundled marketing solutions is idiotic. Again, your business is unique and your buyers and their goals are individually specific. The perfect marketing and SEO strategy for you will be night and day from a company in a completely different industry, let alone one in your industry AND a local competitor at that. Your products and services are still different, as are your growth and revenue goals. Therefore, high-quality services will be value-based in pricing and not on par with a model that offers cookie-cutter solutions.

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About
Jen Saunders is the Director of SEO for WEBITMD bringing more than 15 years of search marketing experience. She spent 13 years in Europe earning her PhD while looking at lots of old neat stuff. Jen enjoys simple things, like trees, sunrises, and the delicate lull of a 16th century harpsichord. Jen enjoys meditating and studies Buddhism. She is a certified master scuba diver, dolls make her nervous, and she enjoys craft beer. Jen has two cats, Chairman Thaddeus Whiskers and Lord Joffrey Gaius Pitty-Paws. They are her heirs.


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