SEO is such a complex area, that each SEO company or consultant may use completely different methods and styles of implementing SEO services. Therefore, when choosing an SEO company to deliver optimisation services for your web site, there are a number of key questions to ask and things to look out for.

The top 5 questions to ask your SEO company are:

  • Do they use link building as part of SEO services?
  • Do they focus on website conversion enhancement?
  • Do they help you calculate potential Return on Investment?
  • Do they use best practice ‘anti-spam’ methods?
  • Do they put a limit on the number of search phrases?

To answer why these are so important to ask an SEO company lets deal with each question in turn:

1. Does the SEO company use link building as part of SEO services?

If an SEO company’s idea of an SEO campaign is simply creating keyword rich pages, then you can be certain that you are not dealing with a professional. Search engines use the number of quality incoming links from other relevant sites as an important factor in determining your rankings.

Link building is an important, but extremely time-consuming part of best practice SEO. If your SEO company is not allocating significant time to this activity then questions need to be asked. If they are proposing to allocating time to link building, find out what types of methods they use. Things to avoid are reciprocal-only link building, link farms and link exchanges.

Read some frequently asked questions on link building methods.

2. Does the SEO company focus on website conversion enhancement?

Getting high rankings and lots of traffic is meaningless unless this traffic converts to a desired action on your web site. A good SEO company should have experience of conversion enhancement strategies and should include this as part of their SEO proposal.

Conversion enhancement strategies can include copywriting tactics, advanced conversion reporting, call to action tactics and site usability. If an SEO company can improve your sites conversion rate, as well driving relevant traffic, this is a powerful and winning combination.

Related article: Copywriting: 6 Tips to Converting Traffic

Also check you will be receiving clear reporting showing the increase of conversions on your site, as well as visitor referrals and search engine positions. Some SEO companies tend to dazzle their clients with lots of detailed reports on search engine positions, which can distract you from the main objective of driving conversions.

One of the best web traffic reporting tools with conversion tracking capability is ClickMetrix – available on a free 14 day trial.

3. Does the SEO company help you calculate potential Return on Investment?

Best practice SEO is time-consuming and expensive. Therefore, contrary to what some SEO companies say, it is not a suitable investment for every business.

Before investing in SEO, it is important to calculate what the potential returns to your business are. ROI can depend on several factors such as size of your market place, geographical target area, the sales value of your products/services and the number people searching online for your products/services. For example, a software company selling globally would naturally have much greater potential ROI than an office cleaning business that only operates within a small local area.

When being sold SEO, it is very easy to be sold on the promise that you will be getting high rankings for relevant search phrases. However, this is meaningless unless these rankings bring in business to the level that out ways the investment in an SEO company.

An experienced SEO company should be upfront and help you work on ROI scenarios based on forecasted traffic levels, web site conversion rates and sales values of your products/services.

4. Does the SEO company use best practice ‘anti-spam’ methods?

Try to determine if the SEO company you are considering uses spamming methods. Because there are so many variations on the definition of spamming, this can be difficult. However, simply put, it is the process of trying to mislead search engines into thinking that a web page is more relevant to search phrases than is actually is. To review a list of SEO methods that should be avoided, read the article Stop Search Engine Spam.

Off course, no SEO company in their right mind will admit to using spam and unethical methods. You need to ask as many questions as possible and get them to give you a detailed demonstration of the exactly what SEO methods they will be using. Also, look for materials on their web site that demonstrate their methods such as ebooks and articles.

5. Does the SEO company put a limit on the number of search phrases?

It is common practice for an SEO company to put a limit on the number of phrases that they optimise for. However, when you consider that there may be hundreds or thousands of search phrases relevant to your business and if you’re paying a monthly retainer for SEO services – this is too limited. There may well be 10-20 most important phrases, but the others should not be ignored!

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About the author:

Phil Robinson is an online marketing consultant with over 17 years experience in marketing planning, internet strategy and online acquisition. In 2004, Phil founded ClickThrough, an ethical search marketing agency. He gives best practice training for businesses, runs seminars and writes books on digital marketing.