Okay, so you’re looking for the best Search Engine Optimization (SEO) agency in New Jersey.
The problem is, how do you find the right one?
There are a lot of SEO agencies in NJ, especially Bergen County, Passaic County, Essex County and Hudson County… so how do you ensure you’re hiring the right one for your business and your goals?
This post will give you examples of what type of questions you should ask an SEO agency.
We also provided what an ideal answer would look like (we’re good like that).
Get To Know The Basics
What type of work do you normally undertake?
Just like a person’s online dating profile, some SEO agencies can be full of misinterpretations. You are basically asking in a more professional way, “do you practice what you preach?”
You want to know what they specialize in and what they will do during an average retainer. Listen for areas such as, technical SEO review, on-page optimization, link analysis, competitor analysis and site & content promotion and decide which ones you may need.
What do you know about the latest Google algorithm updates?
Any SEO agency should be familiar with the Penguin and Panda updates, but they should also have knowledge on the other Google search algorithm updates as well (if not, they may actually live under a rock).
Other updates include Exact Match Domain update, 7 Result SERPs, DMCA Penalties, Link Warnings, the Knowledge Graph and more. Any SEO agency should be able to tell you what they do and why they matter.
Do you follow Google Webmaster guidelines?
You’re looking for a SEO agency that strictly follows these guidelines with no “if’s”, “and’s” or “but’s”. These guidelines (that Yahoo and Bing also follow) prohibit 12 common SEO tricks, including automatically generating spam-y content and adding bogus hidden text and links.
If an agency doesn’t follow these guidelines, Google has the right to ban it from all search results in general. That wouldn’t be very good for your company, now would it?
What is your client retention rate?
This is a simple but important question to ask. Get to know if their clients are happy by seeing if they have a high client retention rate.
Ask to see evidence that will back up these claims. Any SEO agency that can’t show you up-to-date reports is very scary. It’s all about the passion. Being competitive. Proving ROI. They should be able to supply you up-to-date reports for at least a few of their clients.
These reports should include the following things for the last 12 months, with everything on charts sorted by month:
- Visitors per month
- Leads per month
- Avg. time on site monthly trends
- Avg. # of page views per visit
How often will we communicate?
Communication styles differ between every company but find the one whose approach best fits your needs. Whether it’s face-to-face, Skype, phones calls, etc. Be sure to find out how they communicate and how often it will occur.
What is your knowledge on content marketing?
Content wins. It’s that simple. If your SEO agency doesn’t have a blogging calendar for you… leave today. Content marketing is the new SEO, and keeping your blog fresh with value-based content is the key to any good SEO strategy. At a minimum, every company should be doing content marketing once per week. Great marketing agencies blog a few times per day.
Who will do the SEO on my site?
If you don’t know who in the agency is doing the SEO for your site, there’s a good chance that this is just a front to get your business and they will outsource everything.
So ask about it. It’s cool. If the SEO work is not done by the same employee that helped you develop your buyer personas, a huge part of the “marketing” is lost. Some things are OK to outsource… SEO isn’t one of those things. SEO should be done by experienced marketers, not SEO nerds.
We always make sure we are targeting the right people for our clients… because, well… humans buy things, not robots.
How They Do, What They Do
What’s the fastest way you can generate links?
Trick question! This one will catch ’em in a trap and help you rule out the weak from the strong. Poor SEO agencies will be eager to tell you about their ways of building artificial links through illegitimate methods. On the other hand, a good agency will explain to you there is no easy or fast way to generate links.
Are you experienced at improving local search results?
Appearing in the top local search engine results is especially important to small brick-and-mortar businesses trying to attract customers in their area. You want to look for a SEO agency that has expertise in local SEO techniques.
You might also consider looking for a local SEO agency to achieve these goals. A national SEO company, such as seo.com, won’t be able to understand the buyer personas in your specific marketing, so that means they’re marketing to reports, not humans. Find a SEO company that is based within 25 miles of where your core service area is… and ensure that they hire local talent to do their SEO.
What is your link building strategy?
Any SEO agency should be able to answer this question easily and if they can’t, they shouldn’t be trusted and I suggest you run… fast! Agencies should be using Panda and Penguin, along with other advanced link building strategies.
Avoid any SEO who still:
- Submits your site to a long list of directories nobody outside of SEO has ever heard of
- Submits articles to article directories
- Guest posts on obscure blogs that never send referral traffic
- Uses any form of automated link building
- Outright buys links
Do you use tools?
You are definitely looking for an agency that uses tools. But you have to draw the line somewhere and here’s where…
SEOs should not be using tools to:
- Build links
- Automatically produce content
- Automate the idea generation process
- Automate outreach or social media efforts
Instead, they should be using tools to:
- Estimate the potential of ideas
- Measure the competition
- Measure the potential of linking opportunities
- Discover target audience needs
- Track results and ROI
- Swiftly discover influencers, targets, etc.
What is your strategy for my website?
Let’s be realistic here… They aren’t going to be able to give you a spot-on, full detail, step-by-step strategy for your company the first time they meet you. However, they should be able to provide you with some insight on what they would do to your site to help you achieve your goals and objectives.
Your strategy will be different depending on whether you’re a local, national, or multinational site, a smaller or larger site, a B2B or B2C, etc. This will show you that an agency is aware of these factors and will be able to come up with the best possible strategy for your type of company.
Do you employ social media optimization? How?
Everyone is on social media… literally. SEOs can’t avoid it anymore. It’s a great way to build relationships, which is crucial for link building and it directly influences rankings. The modern SEO should understand how to produce content that is social media friendly, expose content via social networks and convert social subscribers into email subscribers and eventually customers.
All About The Results
Do you guarantee results in the search engine?
No. No. No. No matter how good it sounds, agencies cannot guarantee any type of results or #1 rankings for your company. Beware of the companies that guarantee you results. Instead, be on the lookout for the companies that offer suggestions and opportunities on how they will try to get you #1 rankings and results.
When can I expect results?
Like we discussed before, agencies can’t guarantee results, so they definitely can’t guarantee when you will be able to see them. Instead, agencies should give you a suggested timeframe for when results should be seen.
There are different factors that will determine how quickly (or slowly) your company will see results. These include, how much content is created, the quality of the content, how the content connects with your audience and if you’re a large or small site with strong or weak domain authority.
How will you report your progress and how often?
You’re looking for the agency that goes above and beyond. Yeah, it’s great to know your rankings and how many links were built, but there’s a lot more to it.
They should provide you with a report that shows you where the links are coming from, what the content looks like and how your progress is linked to their actions. Ideally, this information should also be shown to you in terms of dollar and cents and on a monthly basis.
How do you measure success?
This might seem similar to the question above, but this time you are asking for how they will measure the success they should be reporting to you. You’re looking for an agency that is experienced in Google Analytics. This will help them successfully track improvement in your site’s rankings, the number of links from other websites driving traffic to your site and the keywords that searchers use to find your site.
Do you make predictions?
Alright alright, we all know that fortune tellers are a bunch of bogus but it is very possible for your SEO agency to make accurate predictions about the future of search marketing. Understanding where the industry is headed is a crucial part of your SEO agency’s job.
Why is this so crucial? SEOs need to focus on where things are headed so they can provide lasting results.
What would you do if you failed to provide results on an agreed timeline?
Although we like to think that the world is filled with good-hearted people, that’s not always the case. Some companies will eat your money and not even care when things take a turn for the worse. An SEO agency should offer a refund or compensation if your site is penalized for any actions on their part. This is a great question to ask to see what companies are willing to do so.
How will you improve my search engine rankings?
A SEO agency should discuss these methods in clear detail and not beat around the bush. These methods should include a technical review of your website to weed out any problems that could lower search engine rankings such as broken links and error pages.
Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments below.
We’re in this together!