Yesterday, I wrote a post about questions to ask your SEO. Today I’m putting you under the microscope. The best SEO consultants are going to be a good fit for you because of the relationship which means you need to know what you’re looking for. It is important to know more than “I need SEO”, you should really think about what you want to accomplish and what you want the project to look like. Below are some questions that I’ve put together to help you think through your SEO project.

How involved do you want to be in the project?

Do you want your SEO to be really independent or do you want to be largely part of the process? From what I’ve seen, I think somewhere in the middle is best – you want to be in contact enough so that you have a good relationship and you both are well informed with each other’s efforts (yes, your activities impact your SEO). At the same time it is best to give the consultant enough freedom to come up with their own ideas – you don’t want to influence them too much there.

How frequently do you want to be in contact with your SEO?

Do you want to be having calls weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly? From my experience weekly calls work best. If you’re in the same town, in person meetings are even better, even if they are only 20 minutes. If you are in good contact with the SEO, communicating frequently on a project, I have found that bi-weekly meetings often work best.

What kind of site access do you have?

Are you able to add content whenever you want? Do you have a release cycle that limits you? Are there any technical limitations to what you can do? Are you on a CMS? All of these will be helpful for your SEO to know and to plan the project. Most SEO’s will want to add content to your site – creating resources and adding link bait to attract more visitors and links.

Do you have any limitations on what you will let the SEO company do?

Do you have a really intense legal department that will prevent your SEO’s from making certain claims? Do you have requirements around outreach techniques? If you do, this may seriously hinder the effectiveness and speed of the project as well as drive up the project cost.

Where does your revenue come from?

All traffic isn’t equal, some keywords, pages, and products convert better, have higher margins, or have greater demand. As such, you should help your SEO as much as possible. Tell them which products are the most important for you so that they can help drive more of the right kind of traffic.

Are you ok with not copying your competitors?

I have worked with a lot of clients who see a competitor doing something and say “we need to do it too”. Unless they are creating really good content, this most likely isn’t true. In many cases, your competitors may be doing something shady that isn’t in your best long term interest. If your SEO tells you this, are you willing to trust him and keep pushing with the hard work?

What is success?

What does success on this project look like? Define your goals. That way not only will your SEO have better targets to aim for, you will be able to better measure their performance.

Do you understand that rankings are a poor indicator of performance?

Rankings fluctuate constantly. Not convinced, check out MozCast – a search engine results page fluctuation frequency measurement site. Further, rankings are varied by whether you are logged into Google or not and your location among other factors.

All of that to say, don’t follow them too closely. They can be an ok guideline but much better indicators of SEO performance are organic traffic to a specific page and visits sent through specific keywords.

Do you understand that SEO isn’t magic?

SEO isn’t magic, it doesn’t work over night. In many cases it will take 3-6 months to see promising results. Some times it is much faster, but the reality is that it can take a while for SEO to work. So if you aren’t seeing results after a week or a month, don’t get upset with your SEO (yet), give it some time.

Google is a black box that we’re working with so nothing is certain and nothing is guaranteed – be cautious of anyone who guarantees rankings (see above point) or a certain number of links per month. Odds are they won’t provide much value.

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