You have done everything possible to boost the online visibility of your business. And now you are wondering whether to hire an SEO agency even if you are finding it difficult to make ends meet! Okay, we understand your dilemma as a small business owner and which is why we have come up with some quick tips to help you chose the best SEO company on a shoestring budget.
If you have already started the hunt for an SEO expert, then by now you must have realized that it’s not at all easy! You must have come across those self-proclaimed SEO experts who promise you the moon but fail to deliver as promised! And in this process, you lose your hard-earned money. Not fair, right?
This is why I have come up with these effective tips or steps, which I have learned while interacting with several small business owners. So, let’s take a look at what are the right steps to follow while hiring an SEO agency or professional?
Know The Basics of SEO
Sounds a bit weird? Because you have decided to hire someone to do the SEO for your business site/ blog and now you might wonder, why do I need to learn SEO myself?
The answer is because you want to be sure that you are hiring someone who knows the job well. And this is only possible when you know what are the relevant questions to ask to decide the SEO firm’s expertise and skill. For instance, the SEO expert might explain to you what all measures he will adopt for on-page SEO. Now, if you have a basic idea of on-page optimization, then only you can agree/disagree with his suggestions.
Look For Experience and Certification – The Primary Step to Hire an SEO Agency
Oh yes, experience makes you wiser, right? And when it comes to hiring an SEO service provider, you need to memorize this advice, word by word! After all, you want to make sure the SEO firm you are dealing with, knows the ins and outs of Search Engine Optimization and is well aware of the latest Google algorithm updates.
If the SEO person is still talking about how great was the Google Algorithm update that happened in August 2018 but has little idea about what core update took place in May 2020, then you have every reason to doubt their efficiency!
Now you must be wondering if the SEO agency has years of experience then do I need to check their certification? Sometimes, yes! And at the same time, you need to remember that even with the best SEO certification, many falter to explain the key differences between on-page and off-page SEO and how it impacts your website.
So, don’t be too stubborn about SEO certificates, provided they have a reasonable list of happy clients. Let’s move on to the next step.
Decide What You Want And Accordingly Ask For Proof Of Past Success
You might be tempted to take things at face value, but when it comes to hiring an affordable yet efficient SEO agency, you can’t afford to be lackadaisical. So, don’t hesitate to ask for proof, if they are boasting of past performance.
But before that, you need to decide exactly what sort of SEO services you need for your business site. For instance, if you are catering to a local audience, then you would prefer someone who is efficient in doing local SEO. There’s really no point paying more money and falling into the trap of SEO companies that claim to do anything and everything!
When you deal with ethical SEO providers, they will eagerly show you case studies of previous projects and how those sites are performing now after the SEO job done by them.
Ideally, the case study should highlight how the website performed initially, what the customer wanted from the SEO agency, what steps they took to achieve the desired goal, any special skill they applied for the purpose, and how the site is doing right now.
Often the professional SEO companies run their own blogs where they keep publishing case studies of different types of projects. It is even better if they have case studies related to your specific field.
For instance, if you need to hire an SEO agency for your food delivery business, then ideally you should be looking for relevant case studies, may be related to food delivery, cloud kitchen, etc. This way you can be assured that they indeed have the requisite experience to handle your project.
Ask Key Questions
Now that you have checked the company/individual’s past performances and track records, it’s time to take the next step. You can plan a zoom meeting (keeping the Covid-19 pandemic in mind) to do the following queries:-
- Precisely what sort of ethical SEO techniques do they follow? If you feel they are suggesting something which is not very ethical, then you can backtrack immediately or ask for further clarification.
- How do they keep you informed about the progress and how often, i.e., weekly email/monthly zoom meeting/telephonic discussion every alternate day? In this regard, both of you need to be on the same page.
- What sort of information/updates do they provide and are you comfortable deciphering those updates?
- Do you need to sign a contract and whether you can expect the results after the contract period?
- If you plan to work with an SEO agency, then ask how many persons will be assigned for your project and who will be the in-charge? You should know exactly who will be monitoring your project, what is his/her background, and track record, how many SEO projects he/she has handled to date?
- And finally, what are the charges, and what is the billing frequency? Do you need to pay any advance to hire their SEO services?
Request a Free SEO Audit
While there are many SEO auditing tools you can use to carry out a basic technical SEO audit for free, you can always request the same service, from the SEO agency that you plan to hire.
If the term technical SEO is simply mumbo jumbo to you, then let me explain it in a simple term. Technical SEO is nothing but a strategy to improve the key technical aspects of your website so that it ultimately boosts search engine ranking.
Usually, the free technical audit tells you if the title-tag and meta-description are correctly crafted, whether the URLs look clean, if any broken links are there, whether all the indexing parameters are fulfilled, and so on.
There are many SEO agencies that offer a free technical audit to score brownie points with clients.
Follow the above steps, to hire an SEO agency that is capable of handling your project. Just to be doubly sure, you can ask them to provide contact details (preferably e-mail ids) of some of their past clients so that you can speak to them directly. If the company is reluctant to provide such details then you have every reason to doubt their integrity.
Hiring an SEO agency can be really tricky if you fail to do the groundwork well. And at the same time, when you hire the right agency, it can lead to successful SEO for your small business, which benefits both the parties involved.
Sweta is a veteran content creator, passionate traveler, movie enthusiast, music lover (reasonably good singer!), an informed reader …. and a coffee connoisseur! She has over 10 years experience in developing content for small businesses, internet marketing firms, website development companies and internet entrepreneurs. The experience has helped her develop in-depth knowledge about small business online which she now shares on the OnlismallbiZ platform. In her own words, “I am a dreamer and a doer!”