By: Nathan Hawkes
I really don’t have all the answers here, but I’d like to discuss just a few items that you should be aware of when making a hiring decision, especially in SEO. It’s interesting how there are roughly three different styles of people who influence internet marketing (and actually do the work). There are:
- In-House Marketers/Employees
- Individual Consultants
- Internet Marketing Agencies
So how do you know which option to choose? How do you know which is the best SEO company or option? Regardless of which option you choose, or why, I’m going to list out a couple of things to take into consideration when making your decision.
Are They On Top of the Latest Google Updates?
We all know that SEO is constantly changing. 2012 should be dubbed “The Year of Changes” for the Internet Marketing industry. Google was constantly pulling the rug out from under everyone in just about every category used to help propel you forward in the rankings from link building, content quality, to social media signals. It’s enough to make your head spin. The real question is: “Are the companies/people you’re considering for hire on top of all of these changes?”
Sometimes I receive phone calls from random people and companies in distress, telling me about their latest woes. I hear it all. Everything from, “My website rankings are all gone” to “My traffic has all but completely disappeared”. A quick look over some of the most basic, what we call SEO 101, areas show a lack of attention to foundations and details. Many people are missing the ever important home page title tag. More times than I can count it still reads “Home”. No canonicalization of the URL from the non-www to the www version, or vice versa. The meta keywords tag still being filled out. The meta description containing only the keywords for which they are trying to rank that page. Only 100 words in one paragraph on the page and 30 of them are bolded and hyper-linked to other pages in the site with exact match anchor text.
Maybe these people or companies just don’t know about SEO basics? I always feel bad for the client because I think to myself, “Why did they even hire these guys to begin with? Did they really think these guys were the best SEO company out there?!”
Keep in mind that you can have just as much of a negative effect on your website’s SEO as you can positively impact it. A little bit of upkeep and knowledge really goes a long way.
So Much to Do, So Little Time
Effective SEO is a lot of work. Managing the latest updates and keeping up-to-date with research and development is a full-time job unto itself! Are you confident that you have the strategy nailed down but you just can’t get your projects through the pipeline fast enough? In order to keep things moving while you consider the next big project or strategy, it can help to hire an outside consultant.
Consider the value you’ll receive in having some outside eyes looking at the campaign or goals. If you hire an in-house employee, what are you going to do when they’re overwhelmed with tasks?… And what you thought should take a month is just passing its 90th day and still not complete? Once you’ve established what needs to be done, hiring an SEO consultant can help you push through a task list and get closer to your goals.
Your SEO Education
How much information about SEO, proper strategies, the next task, are you going to learn about? Is your new hire, company or person, going to be transparent enough to show you? Quick answer: they should! You don’t want to be left in the dark. It’s your company. It’s your website. It’s your business.
On-going SEO education and learning should be an everyday part of this process. I know that I personally take it upon myself to keep my clients educated. More than anything, I feel that it helps to keep the feeling of trust about where the money they are spending is going. It helps everyone to really appreciate the amount of time involved in even completing the simple tasks.
Ask yourself: “What am I learning from my company?” “Am I learning the information first and going to them, or are they educating me on a regular basis?”
This actually brings up another really, really, really big point…
Do You Receive Regular Task and Results Reports?
This is probably the single biggest complaint I hear most often. I absolutely love to ask the question: “When did you get your last report?” Followed by, “What did they report to you?”. The first response is usually “Oh, it’s been a while. Maybe 2 or 3 months. I always have to hound them to send one.” The second one always shocks me. “They sent me reports that came straight from Google Analytics.”
Can’t you just log in and see your own analytics at any time? Of course you can. You should.
Don’t you think that the best SEO company would regularly send you reports and statistics? Shouldn’t it involve more than just Analytics?
Ask yourself that question, and really think about it.
This is the last point here, and I think the most important one to consider:
How Are You Measuring Success?
There seems to be several that I hear all the time:
- How much traffic will increase to the website
- How many keywords am I now ranking on page #1 in Google for?
- Ranking on page #1 for a really competitive keyword
- How many additional leads the services you provide will produce
There are no complaints there. They are all very legitimate points. However, something that only a top and good performing SEO company will provide for an answer is this:
How much has your bottom line increased as a direct result of our services?
Take all of the previous four bullet points and add in:
- What is the conversion rate of the visitors coming to your site?
- What keywords are producing sales as opposed to people just coming to the site and bouncing?
- Are there additional markets or keywords that you can explore and possibly rank well in?
- How much new attention have you been able to generate for your brand?
I think that if you’re really looking for the best answer here, these are all points you need to consider. Think about what your ideal relationship with a girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband would be like. Now think about how many of those traits you should have in your marketing partner.
- Staying up to date with Google’s algorithm changes
- Good communication
- Results perhaps?
I’m sure we’ll visit this topic more in the future. Stay tuned…