On Monday we discussed the Top 5 Questions you should be asking your Web Designer. Today, we will go over the Top 5 Questions you should be asking your SEO specialist! First, what exactly is Search Engine Optimization? SEO, for short, is the process of organically ranking a website with both on-page and off-page methods.
1. How will you improve my search engine rankings?
Your potential SEO specialist should be able to explain to you the strategies they will be using to drive up your rankings. Steer clear of a consultant who is hesitant to discuss their strategies, or who may keep things vague as this may result in their strategies being of the black-hat SEO variety. During the proposal meeting, ensure your SEO candidate’s proposal includes an initial review of your website which would include weeding out any initial outliers or flags that could potentially hinder your search engine rankings; this can include error pages, broken links, poorly structured content pages, or inconsistent meta tag usage.
2. What types of SEO work will you do?
This may come up naturally in the course of your meeting, but if it does not – take a moment to ask the question, straight out. Ideally, the SEO candidate would bring this up during their proposal. Take note during their proposal review of the types of SEO optimizations are offering or focusing on. Have they mentioned “off page” SEO, or will they only focus on, “on page” optimization? On-Page focuses on the content of the site and how well it is optimized for keywords, as well as the overall experience for users. Just as important, is Off-Page SEO wherein the focus is on websites outside of your own and the inbound traffic they can bring to yourself. As Google now takes into account backlinks as part of your ranking, your SEO candidate should be able to speak to Off-Page SEO strategies.
3. Do you follow Google’s webmaster guidelines?
The only answer that should be accepted to this question is simple: Yes. And it should be a resounding one, at that. Simply put, failure in adhering to Google’s webmaster best practices may result in being relegated to a low search ranking, and could go as far as Google banning your website from search results altogether. While the end goal may be that #1 ranking slot, it shouldn’t be at the expense of less ethical SEO practices. Familiarize yourself with these guidelines, and do not hesitate to question your SEO candidate about said guidelines to ensure peace of mind that your website is in good hands.
4. Can you guarantee my website will achieve a number-one ranking on Google, Bing and Yahoo?
In an ideal world, the answer that both your SEO would like to give and you as the customer would like to hear would be “Yes!” However, it’s important to note that the end result, and what your SEO should be working towards consistently is progress and improvement. Be wary of an SEO who can guarantee you a Top 3 ranking in a 30 day time frame. Any specialist who is making such claims is either simply trying to make a sale, or could be participating in black hat tactics which can detrimentally hinder your website in the long run. Put your faith in a company who focuses on the improvement of your SEO and can back it up with their methods of improvement (see: Question #1).
5. How will we communicate and how often?
The answer to this may vary by the client. Truthfully told, the answer to this comes down to what you as the client would prefer. At the very minimum, on any given week you should have a good idea of where your website’s SEO is standing. This could be due to a weekly phone call, video chat, or simply an e-mail if that is what you prefer. If you know going into it that you would like an every other day touch point, or you simply are seeking a once-a-month breakdown then you should be able to communicate this to your SEO specialist and they should comply.
Search Engine Optimization is multifaceted, but none of the tactics used are proprietary. While it may be a bit intimidating to ask some of these questions, what you’re looking for most of all in the answers is a level of transparency to ensure their methods are adhering to Google’s webmaster guidelines, as well as specifics as any good SEO specialist should be willing and able to discuss with you their strategies to improve your overall ranking.