A well-designed website is useless unless it drives targeted traffic to your website and helps you to increase brand awareness and convert visitors into customers. But taking the time to understand Google’s best practices and start ranking for key terms related to your industry and location can take time, causing many businesses to give up before they get started.

But the truth is, SEO is one of the most effective digital marketing techniques when implemented and executed correctly; you just need to find the right SEO agency for the job.

The world of digital marketing is a wild one, and unfortunately, there are many businesses and individuals promising the world for rock-bottom prices. SEO has become so prevalent with scammers that some have written it off entirely, assuming it won’t make a difference – but they’re wrong, and missing out on thousands of pounds’ worth of potential customers.

To give you a hand, we’ve put together 10 questions you should ask before hiring an agency, to ensure you’re working with a professional that will deliver a real return on your investment and help you find traffic, cutting your PPC costs and growing your business organically…


Who have you helped in the past?

Determine the legitimacy and expertise of your chosen SEO agency by asking for case studies and examples of clients they’ve worked with prior. If possible, ask to see an example of a client in a similar niche to your own, to decide whether or not they’re the right fit for your business. Remember that some agencies will only work with one client per niche, especially if they’re targeting similar keyboards, to avoid conflicts of interest – however, don’t assume an SEO agency isn’t right just because they’ve not worked with someone in your industry.


What strategy would you recommend for my company?

Separate the SEO experts from the salesmen by asking for a detailed proposal on what the agency would do if they were chosen to work on your campaign. Promising to optimise your website and build links is one thing, but going the extra mile and outlining the changes they would make and the websites they’d target will give you confidence that you’re working with a professional. Indeed, some SEO agencies even offer free proposals and audits to identify areas of improvement, so request one to see if they match up with your own SEO findings.


What tools do you use as part of your work?

Unless you’ve done some of your own optimisation in the past, you probably won’t be familiar with tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush and BuzzStream, but it’s still a wise idea to ask your SEO agency what tools and software they’d use when working on your campaign. It’s a good way to determine whether your agency is all talk, or whether they have a set procedure in place to find the right keywords, optimise your site, and secure link building placements. It may be that your agency uses their own custom-built tools, so ask for an explanation to ensure you’re not working with a firm that would go against Google’s best SEO practices.


How can I monitor your progress?

Some businesses argue that paying for SEO is like throwing money down the drain – and it is if you don’t know what you’re paying for! Ensure you work with an accountable SEO agency that will provide a monthly (or weekly) progress report, outlining tasks they have carried out and the progress of your keywords. If you’re not well-versed in SEO, ask how they’ll explain the jargon – some agencies offer monthly progress calls or videos as an alternative. We also recommend that businesses set up their own keyword tracking via Google Analytics and free software like SERPs.com, so they can verify whether their SEO agency is making progress.


What changes will you make to my website?

Your company website is much more than a website – it’s your shop front, and as such, it’s important that you can trust your SEO agency to take good care of it. Ask them what they’re planning to change; for example, they may decide to optimise your code to reduce loading times, but this could have an effect on your JavaScript and cause elements to break. Paying for back-ups is always a good idea, so you can revert to a previous save if things go wrong.

Likewise, you may have spent months crafting the perfect copy for your website landing pages, only for an SEO to come along and stuff in keywords without thinking about your flow or your website’s aesthetics. Know what needs to change and make sure you have the final say – it’s your site, and your SEO agency should alert you to optimisations they plan to make.


Can I still work on my website during the campaign?

You should also be certain that you can still make changes to your website when you’re working with an SEO agency, as you’ll likely want to add new blog posts, update opening hours, and keep your pages looking fresh. Communication is key, here: your SEO may need a day to optimise your website without you logging on, and they should let you know before they plan on doing so. Likewise, if you make changes to your website, you should have a way of letting your SEO know, as they may want to optimise your latest blog post or give you some pointers on how to include relevant keywords and links in a new product description.


Where can I expect to be in twelve months’ time?

If you only take away one piece of advice from this article, let it be this: don’t trust an SEO who promises to get you to rank one in three months’ time. Why? There’s certainly an art and a science to SEO, but it’s impossible to guarantee rank one, as algorithms are ever-changing, and your competitors may also be working to increase their rank. However, you can ask for an estimation as to where you might end up in twelve months’ time, and agencies can use their prior experience to let you know whether your goals are achievable.


How will you react to our other marketing efforts?

The chances are that search engine optimisation will form only a small part of your overall marketing strategy, so make sure your agency is briefed on the other work you’re doing. If you’re creating content for your blog, for example, they may want to have a look at your posts before they’re published to ensure you’re including the relevant keywords and that they are properly optimised, and if you’re working on a PPC campaign, they may want to use your pre-existing landing pages to rank organically for the same keywords and phrases. It’s fine to work with more than one marketing firm, but making sure everyone is on the same page will ensure consistency and help you get the biggest return on your investment.


How do you stay up to date with algorithm changes?

Whilst there are tried and tested techniques to nailing SEO, a good agency will work to stay up to date with the latest algorithm changes on Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo and other search engines. Ask your agency how they react to change, and how they stay up to date. If you’re not sure whether they’re as experienced as they say they are, swot up on news from Search Engine Journal or Search Engine Land and quiz them about a recent algorithm update when you call to discuss your project – you’ll quickly work out whether they have their eyes on the ball or they’re using outdated practices that will stifle your campaign before it gets started.


Why should we hire you over other companies?

Finally, ask your SEO agency why you should choose them over their competitors. Digital marketing is not only about skill but passion, communication and relationship building, so if you know you’ve found an agency that genuinely cares about your business and its success, you’re more likely to get results than if you were to work with an agency that doesn’t care what happens, so long as they get their monthly SEO fee.

Choosing a local agency is also advisable, as it means you can meet up to discuss your project and, if you’re working on a local SEO campaign, they’ll be familiar with your location and may be able to spot opportunities or gaps in the market to help you rank, but don’t rule out agencies not in the same postcode as you, either, as they can still deliver effective local SEO services. As is the case with most marketing appointments, it’s best to use your gut – if you trust that they know what they’re talking about and you’ve agreed on a fair price, then say yes and get started!


At Zudu, we use a unique 12-step process when working on search engine optimisation campaigns for businesses, designed to deliver a return on your investment and help you connect with more potential customers organically.

To find out more, give us a call on 01382 690080, or click here to send us a message. We look forward to working with you soon.

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