Ten years ago, the word “SEO,” which is an abbreviation of Search Engine Optimization, was a rarity. In addition, advertising agencies specializing in SEO were a rarity. Back in 2006 when Ottaway Communications, Inc. switched its name to OttawayDigital, people were buying Google AdWords by the dozen. Seriously, by the dozen.
In fact, when I attended a seminar presented by Yahoo Search Marketing which had just bought Overture Search Marketing, the speaker, Mark Evans from Los Angeles, asked for a show of hands as to how many people were buying 50 keywords… how many 100… how many 1,000? Only Ted Handelsman who owns The Better Health Store raised his hand. He was the only one of about 60 people in the conference room at the Hyatt Regency Dearborn on August 15, 2006 who was bidding on more than 1,000 keywords. Laughable now, but dead serious then.
It was at this moment that Ottaway Communications moved from Traditional to Digital. And why not? We saw the light. We saw the opportunity.
With this opportunity in Digital Marketing came the Organic side of the equation: SEO. Now 11 years later in 2017, every ad agency has seen the light. All ad agencies are “digital” ad agencies and all of them are “experts” in SEO. Maybe so. Maybe not.
So being the pioneer in digital advertising in Detroit, Michigan, we are well positioned to help you determine how to choose the SEO company to best optimize your website.
May we suggest:
- How is the digital agency structured? What are their departments?
- How many employees do they have in each department? SEO doesn’t need to be an urgent undertaking, but occasionally it does, and certainly a reasonable turn-around time of 2–3 days is to be expected.
- What is the experience level of the employees in each department? Satisfy yourself that they have the training and experience to make your site soar.
- Get a list of all the services included in the SEO Agreement. Does it include website design and development, or is that extra?
- If the SEO company does not do website design and development, who does it then? Get the site name for that outsourced company and determine what work they have done in the past. If there is not a list of their work on their site, ask for it.
- What is the track record(s) of the SEO services company(ies) that you are considering? Can they show you any past achievements based on third-party data like Google Analytics or Google Webmaster Tools?
- Get at least three references from three current clients.
- Does the SEO services firm specialize in any vertical? Say you own a CPA firm. Have they ever designed a site for a CPA firm, or a similar type of professional services firm?
- What are the terms of their agreement? Is it more than month-to-month? If so, ask why. It is not really a good idea to be locked into an annual contract with an ad agency. If it’s not working, you need to get a divorce immediately. It is fair that an SEO services company asks for at least three months before you can cancel as it takes about that amount of time to see some traction in the search engines from their work, but after that, they should be earning their fee every month. Ask for a “no contract” deal after the first three months.
- How are they writing their content? By what standards? By what procedures? By what authority? Do they make use of Big Data to verify and authenticate their written pages? You have a right to know. If they don’t, you could be basing your website on one or two employees who might leave that SEO firm at any time.
These are certainly ten of the most important considerations in vetting your SEO services prospects. SEO has become a “cottage industry.” Every agency is jumping on the bandwagon. That makes your job even more challenging and difficult, but with the ten tips above, you should be well into attaining the knowledge you need to make a valuable decision for your company about its website optimization.
The author, Bob Ottaway, is President and Founder of Ottaway Digital. Established in 1999, it has been a pioneer in SEO, digital advertising & social media since 2006.