When we track down an SEO agency that finally fits the bill, conveys the right message and checks out against a pile of references they’ve thrown our way, the battle is won and we can now get on with the challenges of being a business without the online clap-trap, right?
Well, not really.
Leaving your online presence and eventual income charts in the sticky hands of an SEO agency is risky, even in the best of circumstances and relationships; SEO is an industry that changes quickly, with an average of two algorithm changes being processed by Google every day.
While they stay on top of things and fling us through reports, our eyes should scan the page and critically measure their performance, based on the three following indicators.
Are You Coming or Going? Traffic Comparisons
“So, (your name), as you can see here, your traffic numbers have improved substantially over the last few months, doubling last year’s figures!”
“But we didn’t have analytics tracking installed last year…”
SEO professionals are trained, semantic artists, often finding the positive spin in a report and embellishing the details. Whilst shopping around, make sure you carefully select an ethical company like Search Factory to represent and hone your online interests.
If you’ve already taken the leap and plunged into a dotted line fiasco, ask to see a traffic comparison in an easy to understand format over the last month against the preceding month, the last three months, fluctuations over six months and comparisons to the previous year (if you have data dating back that far).
If they dance around these figures and neglect to provide you with meaningful information, something shady may be going on and your money may be invested better elsewhere.
Up, Up and Gone Away? Climbing the Rankings
When was the last time you set eyes on a keyword report that didn’t bore you to tears and lead you to tear your hair out with confused frustration?
Agencies can be fond of over-feeding clients information they don’t need to process, hoping to distract their focus from a complete lack of results across the board.
Make sure your report includes an easy to understand table of keyword rankings (and know which keywords you’d like to be ranking for!), complete with increased or decreased search volume, converting keywords and dead keywords.
A competent specialist will guide you through what everything means, pulling parts together into one cohesive picture that doesn’t make you want to throw your computer out the window.
If your agency doesn’t have time (or make time) to sit down with you and drill into keyword reporting, you need to question whether you are really their priority; there’s nothing worse than being taken for a ride and paying a premium mark-up for the pleasure.
Backlinks? What Backlinks?
Upon opening an SEO report, a range of indicators should automatically be indexed or at least apparent as the pages roll on.
If your reports lack any evidence of back-linking, from process to mention, pick up the phone and demand more information.
Chances are, your nominated SEO company has completely neglected a very important facet of ramping up sustained rankings. Think of the Internet as a mega-city; you have ghettos and caravan parks, middle class dwellings and specialists, expensive neighbourhoods and affluent areas – link building allows SEO agencies to tap into this embedded social hierarchy and put your brand in touch with the right people, managing not only your online reputation, but audience perception through association.
The absence of these negotiations is not only preventing your company from climbing a very competitive exposure ladder, it may work against you in the future, as you struggle to play catch up to competitors who have made smart choices in link building activities and grown a strong following or a database of highly ranked websites.
Don’t shoot yourself in the foot before you get started!
Everybody has an opinion. So what about the rest of us? What do you think SEO agencies should include on reports, or do you have a horror story to share with me? Thoughts, ideas, anecdotes are welcome!
About the author of this blog post
Jessica Hannah is a part of the team at Search Factory, a leading Brisbane SEO agency.