Search engine optimization can sometimes seem deceptively simple. It’s easy to think that all it takes to be able to make a website search engine friendly is to just look up a couple of articles. While getting familiar with current SEO trends can help, it won’t help you get the most out of your website.
To ensure that it fares well with search engines—or at least the only one that matters—your best bet is to turn to professionals for help.
Hiring an SEO service company, a company whose job is to optimize websites for better search engine performance can be a difficult process. Creating a list of potential candidates often require a lot of research. Moreover, vetting for the best candidates can also be time-consuming. And even then, success is not guaranteed because if you can’t communicate your situation, needs, and expectations efficiently, the company might not be able to reach your desired goals. That’s why it’s important to go into your first SEO consultation prepared to talk shop.
Take Stock of Your Current Situation
When preparing for your SEO consultations, you have three goals—to relay the right information an SEO service company will need in order to conduct their work, to decide what kind of help you need, and to compile a list of questions you will need to ask the company.
If you’re having a consultation with an SEO company you already hired, they should have an ongoing overview of where you are progress-wise. If you’re talking to a new company, one you haven’t actually hired yet, you will need to give them some information to start with.
A good SEO service company should take the time out to get to know your business’ USP and what makes you valuable to your customers. They should also heed information about your business model, your target audience, and the way your website is currently getting traffic. It also won’t hurt if you tell them about your digital assets—newsletters and blogs, as well as social media and other channels your business uses. Finally, you should prepare some information about your competitors and what you like about their online presence.
Formulate Specific Goals
Before you ask questions, you need to first formulate the goals you want them to help you achieve. Because having more visitors and getting better rankings are objectives that are too broad. You will need to zoom in on specific figures you’d like to achieve for your website.
Doing some research about SEO can no doubt help with this. Learning about the current trends and best practices can help you understand all the things your website lacks. Learning a bit about analytics can also help you discover things that might be plaguing your website. For example, you might find out that your issues with conversion aren’t due to low traffic volume but on an entirely different problem. Research can also help you avoid getting caught up in the chase for vanity metrics.
What are some examples of worthwhile goals you can start with? Lowering bounce rates is a good one. Getting more people to sign up for your newsletter, download your free guide, or increase any other type of micro conversion rates are also excellent objectives, to begin with. Improving your audience targeting is also another superb goal.
From the above, we could say that SEO is better seen from a holistic perspective and not just based on specific, one-off actions. The goals you want to go for should definitely fall under the first category.
Prepare to Ask Questions
Bad SEO practices will hurt your website and your business. Using lots of keywords, content focused on quantity, and a good deal of random outgoing links might sound good, but in reality—they could prove hurtful. Keyword stuffing is a bad practice and publishing content that’s low in quality won’t do you any good. Too much outgoing links without the right context can get your website flagged as a link farm. Needless to say, you don’t want these practices anywhere near your website.
Learning about bad SEO practices is only one part of the research. You also need to prepare relevant questions you’ll be asking during consultations. For this, you might want to read up on what entails good practice by going straight to Google as your foremost source so you’ll know if you’re talking to a good company.
The three questions you have to ask before doing business with an SEO company that won’t land you into trouble are the following:
- Can you give me a list of references?
- Which specific actions will you take to achieve my goals?
- When can I expect to see results?
Most companies should be able to provide a list of references. New businesses might have short lists, but either way, you’re looking for transparency. With your research of good and bad practices, you’ll be able to discern whether the company is using legitimate tactics that ensure sustainable growth for your site in the long run. And finally, if a company promises results within a week, walk out. SEO is a long-term investment and any company worth its salt knows that it takes time to work.
Of course, you can ask about other things that come into your mind, such as how much the whole thing would cost you. Either way, your list of questions should complement the information you’re providing and the goals you want to achieve. Make sure to also note down everything you discuss in a consultation so you can compare it with other consultations you might have.