08 Jul Questions to Ask Your San Antonio SEO Team
So you’ve made the jump. You’re starting to think about hiring a San Antonio SEO team to help you grow your business online. First off, congratulations. You’re stepping up to the next level and, if you do things correctly, you’ll see a significant improvement in your traffic. That being said, it’s not all roses and sunshine out there.
There are a lot of different options available in the internet marketing business. You can go with a locally-owned firm, a national brand or a specialist agency. Each has it’s own advantages and benefits, but there are some definite ways to determine which option is the right fit for your business. The best way to know which one fits your needs, though, is to get the right information to help inform your decision-making.
Here are some helpful questions you should ask before hiring a San Antonio SEO team.
1. How Does Your Team Measure Success?
This seems like a super-simple question, but sometimes we forget to ask the obvious things that matter the most. Every marketing agency measures their success differently, and making sure that their standards for success align with yours.
For example, if you’re meeting with an agency that determines a “successful” campaign by the quality of content they develop, but you’re more concerned with seeing measurable improvement in the number of leads you’re receiving each month, you’re going to have a rocky relationship from the very beginning.
In terms of SEO specifically, most of the agencies in the industry evaluate their success on one of three factors: 1) the increase in organic keyword rankings, 2) the increase in website visits each month, or 3) the increase in total leads the business receives. Determining which metric matters most to your business is essential, and you need to make sure that your agency is aligned with your priorities.
2. What Type of Timeline Should We Expect?
Hopefully, you understand that success in SEO and online marketing is NOT an overnight process. It takes a good deal of commitment, hard work and patience to see significant gains in your rankings. That being said, there’s a lot of potential for there to be some hard feelings if both sides aren’t on the same page.
Consider, for example, that you’re hoping to see some improvement within the first 30-days of your campaign. That’s perfectly fine, if your San Antonio SEO team is also expecting to deliver some measurables by that time. Many agencies – Odd Duck included – use the first 30-days of a campaign as a sort of “set-up” or “foundation” month. A huge amount of work gets accomplished, and it will all help increase your overall SEO rankings, but it’s essentially just the first step of a very long race.
In fact, those first 30-days are sort of like prepping to run a marathon: this is the shoe-buying, training planning and registration stage. You haven’t even begun to run the actual race yet, but without these steps, you’ll never get there. Communication on this stage helps prevent future frustration on both sides and makes the partnership more successful long-term.
3. Is There A Contract? What Are The Contract Terms?
This is an often overlooked but extremely critical part of the evaluation process. Almost all San Antonio SEO and Website Development agencies have some sort of contract. Many require a 12-month commitment for SEO and other monthly marketing services. Some are even longer (here’s looking at you, YP.com). Usually, an agency will require you to pay part or all of the remaining balance on the agreement if you want to cancel early.
Knowing the level of commitment you’re expected to give upfront can go a long way to building a good relationship with your SEO team. If you’re expecting this to be a “try-as-we-go” sort of arrangement and the agency is locking your business in for twelve months, you’re setting yourself up for a messy situation from the get-go.
The point being, always ask what the agreement terms are. You don’t want to be forced to pay a huge cancellation fee just to NOT use an agency for your SEO anymore. Oh – and in case you were wondering – Odd Duck Media doesn’t do contracts. We believe in letting our work speak for itself.
4. Who “Owns” The Content, Strategy and Design?
This is a big one, and something that most business owners completely forget to ask about.
I’m going to let you in on a taboo, little secret in the internet marketing industry: a vast majority of marketing agencies will NOT give you all of your content, data, setting, materials, strategy or design once you cancel. There. It’s out there. Be forewarned.
The reason being, most agencies consider those to be “proprietary” information. You could, technically, cancel with an agency, get all of the data and information that they’ve put together for your campaign, and then take it to a competitor, thus giving away some of the first agency’s trade practices.
While most business owners wouldn’t ever think to do that (or see the harm in doing so), we internet folks are a suspicious bunch. (*Raises eyes up over the monitor. Eyes dart side-to-side around the office to make sure nobody is spying on this blog post*)
Before starting a campaign with any agency, make sure you know what will be given to you upon cancellation, what the agency considers proprietary and confidential and what you’ll have to recreate if you leave. Nothing stinks worse than having to start from scratch on a campaign because you didn’t realize your old firm would erase everything when you left them.
5. Does Your San Antonio SEO Agency Follow Google’s Webmaster Recommendations?
There’s a lot of information online about how Google prefers to have websites optimized to follow the “correct” guidelines. A vast majority of San Antonio SEO agencies – such as Odd Duck Media – practice what are called “white hat tactics,” which is an industry term for doing work the right way by Google’s standards and expectations.
There are, however, numerous agencies that practice what Google and those in the tech-world refer to as “black hat tactics.” Essentially, these methods are shortcuts and cut corners that marketing firms can use to try and trick the Google ranking algorithm and get a website or page to show up higher and faster than traditional methods.
The problem with black hat tactics, however, is that Google actively penalizes sites that do this type of optimization once it catches it. And Google is like the wisest, craftiest parent you’ve ever come across: it may not happen immediately, but they WILL find out. When they do, it could result in your website being penalized, having some pages de-indexed or even being completely black-listed from Google altogether.
The point being: always find a San Antonio SEO company that uses the correct methods and practices. Your site may not rank as quickly, but you don’t have to be forever paranoid of getting caught by the Long Arm of the Google Law.
6. What Type of Reporting Does Your Firm Offer?
Finally, you should always try to find out what type of reporting any agency offers. In the digital world, reporting goes a long way toward validating what efforts are actually being taken, how effective they’re being and what you’re actually paying for as a client.
Personally, I recommend always being suspicious of any San Antonio SEO agency that doesn’t use data and analytics straight from Google, since there are so many available and they’re universally regarded as being the most accurate reporting tools available.
Knowing what type of reporting you’ll receive – as well as how often you’ll receive it – will help you ensure that you’re actually getting results out of your campaign, rather than having to rely on the word of someone who has a vested interest in keeping you happy.
There you have it. Asking these six questions of any San Antonio SEO or Digital Marketing agency, before hiring them, will help you ensure that you’re getting the right fit for your business and that you can be confident in the processes and results that the partnership will generate.
Be sure to check back periodically for more helpful digital marketing tips, and always feel free to contact us directly for a free digital marketing and SEO consultation, or get a complimentary SEO Audit from Odd Duck Media!