Prepare Yourself With Our Buyer’s Guide To SEO Services
Are you thinking about what to do to drive new revenue for your business? If so you’re not alone. For sure one question businesses are asking themselves is “should I hire an SEO agency”. But does hiring an SEO expert make sense, given today’s uncertainty? If I was considering SEO or shopping for SEO services this is information “I” would want to have. Hope you find it helpful! Near the bottom of the guide I give specific questions I would ask any SEO agency before thinking about hiring them.
Let’s start by asking yourself the following questions:
If you answered no to the first three questions and yes to the fourth, you should consider hiring an SEO company. It can be a game changer.
How do I know?
Because I’m in the trenches, helping companies like yours and the results speak for themselves. But first…
According to Oxford Dictionary’s definition, search engine optimization is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.
In a nutshell, if you hire a top quality SEO professional or SEO agency, the benefits you can expect to receive are having your business show up for more internet searches leading to an increase in your inbound traffic and lead activity.
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples that illustrate how SEO can improve both keyword rankings, and increase your website traffic:
Improving and increasing the number of keywords that are ranking is one of the primary goals of SEO. This case study is with a manufacturing company who we designed a website for back in 2015. As happens with many businesses, there are ups and downs, and during a down period, years later, the owner reached out to me for help. We put together an SEO package that made sense for them, and we kicked off their SEO campaign.
I tried, and failed at communicating the benefits of SEO at that time. Their business was strong, and they were satisfied with just a new WordPress website design.
The graph below is showing the trend line of keywords that are ranking in Google for this company who has been using our SEO services for a little over one year. Keywords are search terms that people type into Google when searching.
What are organic searches?
Organic search results are unpaid search results that are displayed in response to an internet search. The alternative to organic search results are paid ads. This is also known as pay-per-click advertising. Effective SEO strategies will improve your organic search results, which are long-lasting. This is unlike pay-per-click, or Google AdWords that shut off the moment your budget runs dry, or you stop your AdWords campaign.
Starting from close to zero ranking keywords, you can see the results. Yes, there are ebbs and flows, but the overall trend is strongly up and to the right which is what we’re looking for. What does this translate into for the owner?
For the first time, they’re receiving website leads and new business opportunities! As more keywords begin to rank in the search engine results, the company has become visible to more and more people searching for their services.
In fact, you can read the owner’s quote on the home page of our website (www.hyperxdesign.com).
“I will tell you General Motors’ facility subcontractor came in yesterday with a couple of jobs. I’m inclined to think they found us bc of the SEO you have done. Great job!”
During a recent conversation, he told me point blank: “Scott, SEO has been the best investment I’ve made in this company to date”.
“SEO has been the best investment I’ve made in this company to date”
As more keywords begin to rank in Google, a natural byproduct of that is going to be increased website visibility. More website visitors. More “at bats” for your business. Another benefit of SEO is that it can not only bring you more website traffic, but more of the “right” traffic. This is done by making sure we focus on keywords that indicate what’s called “buyer intent”.
In this case study, our SEO client is a large cabinet builder in the Pacific Northwest who was limping along with a vintage HTML website the owner built himself in the early 2000’s, and virtually no inbound lead activity from the website.
We started by building a new WordPress website for them, optimizing it for on-page SEO, building an affordable SEO package for them, and launching their local SEO campaign. What is on-page SEO? There are a large number of on-page ranking factors for SEO.
Using Google Analytics we’re able to capture some great information. One thing I like to look at is comparing year over year results. At the time I wrote this, I grabbed the past 90 days and ran a comparison vs. the same period last year.
As you can see in the graphic below, traffic is way up. Nearly 124% year over year growth. Huge!
The graph lines above represent website traffic comparing the past 90 days of 2020 to the same period in 2019. This particular business is very cyclical, so it’s important to compare relevant timeframes.
What’s the business impact of SEO for this company? 2019 was a record year for them and 2020 is looking to be even better. Here’s a snippet of the owner’s review which you can read on our Google Business profile here: HyperX Design Google Reviews
Nothing excites me more than the success of my clients. These are real-world examples of a few of our SEO clients. If I was shopping for SEO services for my business I’d want to see results like these before agreeing to hire any SEO company. If you’re having conversations with potential SEO providers, ask!
Why show two years on the graphs? I like to use these to illustrate what I call the “we’re good”, or the “status quo” phase. When I speak with companies during these periods I often hear “we’re good”, or “all of our business comes from word of mouth”. In reality, this phase should be called the “you don’t know what you don’t know phase”, as many businesses don’t realize the opportunity that lies in front of them if they were to hire an experienced SEO company.
This is a national cable manufacturer. We built their new WordPress website back in 2018. In June of 2019 they wanted to try one of our SEO packages. Pretty clear growth pattern here. Again, ups and downs along the way, but strongly up and to the right.
Another manufacturing company. This was a referral from another company who had experienced SEO success with us, so they were eager to get started with one of our SEO packages right away after we completed their new WordPress website. It’s definitely starting to pay off!
CNC Machining/Tooling company. This was another WordPress website build combined with an SEO package. They’re wading in with a very affordable SEO package and so far the results are excellent!
Here’s one thing that’s certain. Business as usual has changed for the foreseeable future, if not forever. With the current pandemic, traditional sales methods including sit down meetings, crowded conference rooms, handshakes, lunch-n-learns, trade shows, knocking on doors, and drop-in meetings are off the table.
And in spite of this, every business still needs sales in order to survive.
“The internet and your website have never been more important for your business than right now.”
What this all means is the internet and your website have never been more important for your business than right now. Think about it.
The majority of your customers and prospects are working from home. Your best chance of connecting with them? The internet. Your website.
Having said that, during a time when so many are tightening their belts, is hiring a SEO company worth it? As an SEO agency located in Minneapolis, businesses are asking us this very question.
The quick answer? YES!
SEO works (when done right)! …..but hold on
First, let’s get you up to speed on some of the lingo so you can know what to look for and what questions to ask when shopping for SEO services.
Ultimately, this is a decision that should involve a detailed conversation so you can gain some level of comfort that you’ve found the best SEO company for your needs.
Choosing the wrong SEO agency means money flushed down the toilet, and potentially your website rankings along with it.
Choosing an awesome SEO company can be a game changer, by making your website more visible and providing new lead opportunities.
Because there’s so much riding on making a good decision, this isn’t a conversation you want to have going into with zero knowledge. First order of business. Your website.
For Sure! Your website is the foundation for any SEO campaign. In fact, we have websites that we’ve built and optimized for on-page SEO that are ranking for important keywords without even doing any off page SEO work.
One word of caution if you’re looking to invest in SEO services for your business. There is no barrier to entry in the world of SEO providers. This means anyone with a computer can set up shop and present themselves both as your local SEO expert as well as a large international SEO services company.
If I’m shopping for SEO services, I’d want to find someone with the knowledge, experience, ethics to deliver results. Asking these questions up front will help to weed out the bad ones and ensure you have a great experience with your SEO services provider. Pick up the phone and speak with them. This isn’t a decision I’d recommend making over an email conversation.
Does the SEO services provider offer both on-page and off-page SEO?
If you’re talking with an SEO agency who only offers off-page SEO and can’t or won’t touch your website, keep looking. You want to work with an SEO agency that provides both on-page and off-page SEO services. I can’t emphasize enough how important on-page SEO optimization is to a successful SEO campaign.
On-page SEO involves optimizing the individual pages on your website to improve your overall search engine rankings. Factors that affect your on-page SEO include:
“Does your SEO agency use white hat SEO tactics”
In other words, does their SEO strategy involve a natural pattern of activities, or are they trying to game the system by buying loads of backlinks and other unnatural activities?
This is so important, as Google’s algorithm gets smarter and smarter. It’s becoming increasingly easier for Google to sniff out companies who aren’t playing by the rules.
The end result is a Google penalty, which effectively removes your website from Google searches. You don’t want that. That’s why it’s important to work with honest, ethical SEO companies. Here’s the catch:
No SEO company is going to answer “nope…we only use black hat SEO”. This is where you may have to use a bit of your intuition. There are telltale signs. If they stumble when you ask certain questions like “do you guarantee page one rankings” or “do you guarantee quick results?”. If they struggle, get defensive or talk in circles, those are signals that you may want to keep searching for a better, more reputable SEO services company.
“How long will it take to see results from SEO?”
For me, I’ve always followed the underpromise and overdeliver model. My advice for companies researching SEO services is to be prepared to put the blinders on for 12 months. Do we see results sooner than that? Of course!
We’ll share a lot of victories along the way, but be prepared to think long-term when it comes to SEO services.
Many SEO companies are eager for ANY business, even if it’s just one month of SEO service. If you’re speaking with a local SEO company who promises quick results with their SEO packages, keep looking until you find an honest SEO agency.
SEO takes time because it has to happen naturally….over time. Dropping 4000 backlinks overnight may give you a short-term boost, but long-term it’s going to get you penalized.
What I will tell you is if you’re not prepared to stick with SEO for at least 6 months, save that budget for something else. If you’re wondering how long SEO takes I discuss that in great detail if you click the link at the bottom of our website.
“Can you share some real-world examples of companies you’ve successfully helped with your SEO services?”
This should be an easy one, but it’s important. At a moment’s notice they should be able to share examples of successful SEO campaigns and show you live examples by sharing their screen with you. With ease I was able to share a few examples of real world SEO results with you. If they stumble with this one, that’s a big red flag. Transparency is so important when it comes to building trust.
“Do you require a contract or are your SEO services month-to-month?”
There is no right or wrong answer to this question, but it’s one you want to ask. If you hire a great SEO company, they’re going to get you results and you WILL be happy short or long-term. On the other hand, if they suck it would be nice to have the option to cancel SEO services. Again, just a word of caution to give SEO time to work. If you would potentially pull the plug after month two due to lack of results, I’d suggest holding off on investing in SEO altogether. Invest that money somewhere you’re more comfortable with.
“How do you measure SEO success?”
You’d be surprised how many SEO companies fail to communicate with their clients. Good, bad or otherwise you want to work with an SEO agency who understands the objective of your SEO campaign and can communicate with you on a regular basis. Measurables include keyword rankings, website traffic and data, organic search traffic and SEO activities performed, to name a few.
“Can you guarantee page one results?”
This is sort of a gotcha question. Obviously, having your keywords ranking page one is the objective, but there is never a guarantee that it will happen. Why? Google owns the search engine and gets to decide how it displays results.
No SEO company has a back door into Google, and if they promise you page one results, run away. Here’ the right answer:
“No, we never promise page one results, but what we can promise is an upward trend for your keywords, as well as more (new) keywords ranking over time”. If you were to ask me this question, that would be my response. Every time.
Question #8 (REALLY important)
“Do you do keyword research?” If yes….
“How do you do your keyword research?”
This is one that many companies would never think to ask, but is really important. A lot of inexperienced, ultra-cheap or lazy SEO providers will rely on YOU to provide your own keyword list with zero input. Here’s why this isn’t good.
If your keywords have zero search volume behind them what’s the point? Why spend time and money to rank keywords that no one is looking for? On the flip side of that, if you’re trying to rank for keywords that are being dominated by the titans in your industry, that’s also a recipe for SEO failure.
Your job isn’t to know how SEO works, and what keywords to target that you could potentially rank for. The job of any high quality SEO agency is to provide guidance. To rely on your business knowledge and use that to craft keywords that you can win with.
Finding a balance between keyword difficulty (how competitive your keywords are), and search volume, a well-optimized keyword list is critical, both for the success of your SEO campaign, as well as helping to set expectations up front.
Any reputable SEO company will start by getting to know your business, and taking the time to research and identify keywords that have the potential to move the needle for your business. Keyword research is a must for any SEO strategy. Here’s my answer to this question:
“With our company, keyword research is the foundation of each of our SEO campaigns. Keyword research begins with getting to know a bit about your business. Learning how your audience is searching for your services. We do that through
“Do you have your own content writers, or do you outsource”?
Another question that wouldn’t naturally come up in a conversation about SEO services, but it’s one I would ask. Here’s why this is important.
Content is the foundation for many proven SEO strategies. A few include optimizing your website content, blogging, social media posting, guest blogging. Even writing short business descriptions for off-page business directories (citations) require a command of the English language. Well-written content is going to be more engaging, build more trust and present a better image of your company than content that isn’t written well.
Many local SEO agencies actually outsource their SEO work overseas. This include content writing. What that means is much of the content that is created from individuals who speak English as a 2nd or 3rd language.
You’ll see it in the finished product, and so will your customers and prospects. Larger digital marketing agencies will have individuals who will “clean up” the written content so it reads properly.
Even better are SEO agencies who have their own content writing in-house.
Of course you’ll also have your own questions. Examples: How much does SEO cost? What do your SEO packages look like? Do you do your SEO work in-house? What is the process for starting SEO services with your agency?
Some business decisions require a bit of intuition….a gut feeling.
At the end of the day, working with an SEO agency isn’t transactional. It involves relationship building and trust. When interviewing the SEO professional over the phone, how is their demeanor? Are they confident, professional and “sound” trustworthy? Does it “feel” like a company you’d like to work with?
How long have they been in business? Do they have active SEO clients you can speak with? Would you be working directly with your SEO professional, or rather someone in customer service who would pass along your correspondence?
As a business owner, or someone involved with the decision making at your company, you don’t need to be an SEO expert when looking to hire an SEO company. A little bit of knowledge will help you pave the path for SEO success.
Best of luck as you grow your business! In spite of these challenging times, hiring a top rated SEO agency can be one of the best investments you make in your business. If you found this article while asking yourself “should I hire an SEO company”, hopefully you now have the answer!
Prefer to drop us a message instead? No problem. Use the link below to get to our contact form.