If there’s only one thing you can guarantee as a small business owner, it’s that you’ll be short on both time and money.
Unfortunately, this combination can mean a whole host of problems are presented during your business’s development. For example, when it comes to specialist areas such as search engine optimisation, you need to hire the services of a professional to see the best results, as you don’t have the time to invest in it yourself – but as external agencies obviously require paying, there’s a good chance you don’t have huge amounts of money to spend on their services.
And it’s for this reason why you need to ensure you work with the most suitable SEO agency for your small business. You have to be confident that the money you do have available is being spent in the right way, as investing it in the wrong company could be massively detrimental to your own.
The best place to start is to simply speak to an array of SEO agencies. While you should have some general questions to hand, you want to be looking for transparency with what the agencies are telling you.
SEO isn’t a black art and there are no hidden tips and tricks. Everything a SEO agency will do is likely to be able to be found online and therefore it’s absolutely imperative that there aren’t any suggestions something secret is being used in a strategy – if this is suggested, it’s a good indication that something isn’t right and you should potentially give the agency a wide berth.
When you choose an agency, the transparency should continue. You should always be able to find out exactly what the company are doing as there really isn’t – or shouldn’t be – anything to hide.
Another point to note is that although no SEO agency can guarantee a specific position in a search engine, what you should be able to see from their past work is an increase in ranking positioning for certain keywords.
However, as looking at the keywords themselves does mean you have to trust the agency a little (who’s to say the clients weren’t on the first page of Google already?), it’s always advisable to look into the data more in-depth.
For example, were the keywords being presented as competitive as the agency said they were? Anyone with even the most basic of SEO knowledge could get a website ranking for a keyword with no completion and a minimal search volume, but what benefit is this?
Truth is the benefit is next to none – if no one is searching for the keyword, it’s pointless being on the first page of the search engine results for it.
Similarly, ask for client contact details. Sure, the agency is likely to give you the details of some of their most satisfied customers, but you’re not going to contact them primarily for a recommendation – you’re going to contact them to verify the agency increased the ranking position of the keywords they stated they did.
As we said above, you should be able to find out exactly what a SEO agency is doing at any given time, as nothing should be a secret. But just because they tell you what they’re doing, it doesn’t mean it’s right.
For instance, one of they key focuses of SEO for many years was the building of backlinks, ideally with your keywords used as the anchor text.
While backlinks still play their part, content has now taken over in its importance with regard to SEO and therefore any backlinks gained must be of the highest quality and done so as organically as possible.
As this is now the case, if you ask the SEO agency to tell you what they’re doing, should they proudly tell you they are experts in backlink building, you need to question them further and determine, for example, where the backlinks they’re gaining are coming from.
We know most SMEs don’t have huge sums of money. We also know you can’t do everything and need to outsource certain things, but the lack of the former can hinder the latter.
Meaning you need to be confident any money you do invest is done so in the most suitable way, when it comes to SEO, these three points should give you a good understanding of how you can do exactly that.
This post was originally featured on November 20, 2012.