5 Questions to Ask Your Current or Potential SEO Partner
Five questions to ask your SEO partner to spark important conversations whether you’re doubling down or planning to adjust your SEO strategy.
Whether you are looking for a partner to handle your SEO strategy or transitioning this task internally, you of course want to know that you’re making an informed decision. We’ve assembled 5 questions to ask your SEO partner that should help spark some conversations so you can rest assured that you’ve got the right people in the right seats.
Web Chat Audio: SEO Questions to Ask
What is your philosophy about SEO?
A great answer to this question will not include a laundry list of technical terms, or even a list of best practices. Your SEO partner should be able to articulate the value of implementing an SEO strategy and how it can become the cornerstone of an effective digital marketing plan that informs organic, paid and content-driven activities.
You may need to ask more questions to hear other important elements of their SEO practice, such as:
- We follow Google’s published best practices (which would qualify them as a white hat firm).
- SEO is a long-term investment for long-term goals.
- One of the strongest tools in our SEO toolbox is an active blog or news page.
- We value quality over quantity when it comes to link building.
What tools will you use to implement my plan and report our progress?
There are lots of acceptable answers here, and there are lots of reputable platforms available. What you really want to know is that your partner has a toolbox deep enough to help them cover each of the following areas.
These tools typically scan a website and identify errors. These errors are likely to be the largest part of your SEO Audit and will include things like:
- Page title length (too long or too short)
- Meta descriptions (missing, too long or too short)
- Image file sizes that are too large and causing long load times
- 404 errors (Page not found)
- Errors in your sitemap
- And more
Most specialists will use a combination of tools to assess the value of your keywords and make recommendations. There are specialized SEO programs that help identify keywords which are often used alongside free sites like https://trends.google.com and the Keyword Planner tool in Google Ads.
Once keywords have been planned and technical changes have been identified, you will want a partner that has some organized way to track everything and share the status with you. If your team is already using a project tracking software that outlines tasks, perhaps you’d prefer to use that, since your internal teams should already be keeping an eye on projects in that software.
The only wrong answer to questions is that there is no change tracking.
Your partner will likely use at least one technical tool to report on improvements for that piece of the implementation plan. They may also be able to use the same tool to measure your keywork rank movement. Hopefully, they’ll take all that information and move it into a document you can share with your team that will not only show progress but also include ongoing recommendations for continued success.
Some of the tools that the digital team at Vela has experience with for implementation include YOAST, Raven Tools, Woorank, Moz Pro, SEMrush and more.
How do you measure success?
The expected answer to this question is “high rankings on your keywords on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).” That’s the goal and it’s part of the correct answer.
Additionally, an engaged partner might offer to measure metrics such as:
- Increased traffic from search
- Increased impressions on identified keywords
- Increased click-through rates on identified keywords
If anyone promises that you’ll get a first-place organic ranking on a Google SERP, it should be a red flag. In truth, search algorithms that decide rankings are locked up tighter than KFC’s original fried chicken recipe. Combine that with the ever-changing nature of these algorithms, and there is no way that anyone can deliver on such a promise. And if they’re willing to mislead you at this stage of the game, you don’t want to sign on the dotted line.
What type of pricing model do you use for SEO Projects?
The four most popular models for pricing SEO projects can tell you something about how your partner generally works. The pricing models are as follows:
This type of pricing model indicates an interest in partnering with you. Retainers typically include a range of specific activities that cover predetermined objectives. In this scenario, the partner has more flexibility to do what needs to be done as a client’s needs or objectives change.
Just like when a contractor submits an estimate to remodel your kitchen, the price is fixed and final payment is usually pending the completion of the job. In this case, it might be the completion of the six-month agreement. While ongoing SEO work naturally lends itself well to retainer agreements, it is not unusual to start out a new client-agency relationship with a contract agreement.
This model ensures that the client pays only for work and meetings that get done. However, it can get pricy and out of hand quickly. If you or your team are not familiar with SEO and lack a solid understanding of the tasks outlined in your implementation plan, hourly consultation could leave you with a bill that’s much higher than you expect. It’s easy to underestimate how long it might take to write content, load it and include all the technical activities around that content to optimize for your keywords.
This model has long been in practice for paid search and is just starting to come over to organic search. The rates may vary, and certainly won’t represent a savings since the agency has to take a risk to earn their reward. In this case, performance would be tied to on-site metrics coming from organic search generated traffic.
How often will you assess my strategy?
Your strategy should be updated at least once per contract period, whether that’s every six months or annually.
A better answer might be any time you roll out a new product or service. Each time you look at your website analytics report, if you identify trends or changes that seem to create opportunities or threats you may want to include those elements in your strategy. That would require reporting on a monthly or quarterly basis. With this question you are ensuring that your partner is open to regularly reviewing and optimizing your plan rather than applying a set-it-and-forget-it mentality.
Now that you’re ready to have this conversation, consider letting Vela walk you through our SEO capabilities presentation. You can use the chat module on our site to reach out or the form on our contact us page to schedule a meeting. We’d love to help you implement a plan that will make your website work harder for you and be a more effective sales tool for your company.
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