Whether you pay someone in house to make sure your site is at the top of the search engines or you outsource it to a specialist agency you need to make sure you’re getting your moneys worth. The sad truth is there are a lot of unscrupulous SEO’s out there who will take advantage of a client because they know the client doesn’t really understand what they’re doing.
The first thing you need to do is make sure you’ve at least got a fundamental understanding of SEO. SEO is not rocket science and anyone with some patience can learn to do it, this doesn’t mean you’re going to do it yourself because SEO is also very time consuming and does require patience and a certain technical knowledge.
They don’t listen to you
The first thing your SEO agency is going to do is pick some key words they want to get your site to rank for. If you let your SEO just get on with this you’re going to be ranking for a bunch of key words that have high traffic volumes but aren’t actually all that relevant to what you do or even worse have no search volume at all.
They should be happy to take your input; you know your business and your industry better than they do so give them a starting point. There’s no harm in a couple of glamour terms but most phrases you’re being optimised for need to be what your customers are searching for.
They can’t read the data
You can track just about every metric when it comes to your website, where your traffic has come from, what they searched for before they found your site, how long they spent on each page, which page made them leave the site etc.
Most this information can be found in Google Analytics and any reputable SEO will not only be able to understand this data and explain it to you, they’ll be able to prove it too. Google offer qualifications for things like Adwords and Analytics and a good SEO will have these qualification, a good agency will carry the badge of being a certified partner or certified company.
Their site sucks
An SEO makes a living by getting sites to rank in Google, if they can’t get their own site to rank that’s pretty poor. Obviously Google can only show a set amount of results per page so don’t just look at the sites that rank on the first page for the term ‘SEO’ (although this could certainly be a good place to start).
Type your local area in too with terms like SEO and you’ll soon get a good list of sites to look at. Look round their site, make sure they’ve got the basics like a regularly used blog, an up to date sitemap, good basic content. If they can’t get it right with their own site, don’t trust them with yours.
It was a glitch in the matrix
Your site is going to slip, you’re not going to be position one for all your terms permanently and you may even get a few pages kicked out the index. This isn’t the end of the world and things will pick up. If your SEO simply blames it on the ‘algorithm’ and doesn’t come up with at least a plan it’s time to look around for someone new.
I’m pretty sure sometimes Google just decides to throw pages out the index for kicks and giggles but for the most part they’ll be a reason. Your SEO doesn’t have to be right but you at least need to know they’re looking for a reason and trying something. If you’ve lost one or two pages out of a five thousand page site this isn’t the end of the world so long as your SEO doesn’t sit back as they all slowly get de-indexed.
They don’t talk to you
You can’t bug your SEO every time a position drops or every time you have an idea for a new blog post but you do need some contact. At the very least they need to be sending you regular reports detailing what they’re doing and what they’re planning on doing. They should be explaining their link building, showing you how your positions are increasing and how it’s improving your traffic and revenue. Make sure you understand what they’re telling you and question them on anything that doesn’t make sense.