Key Questions to Ask When Hiring a Local SEO Agency

Make sure you ask these crucial questions when you assess your options after that.

1. Have You Interacted with Companies in Our Industry?

It is quite helpful to know up front whether the local SEO service has experience working with businesses that are comparable to yours.

This may provide them an advantage in understanding how to approach specific improvements on your company’s behalf.

The more direct experience an agency can have, the better because SEO can vary greatly based on the industry and size of the organisation.

What You’re Looking for:

In a perfect world, you would like to hear “yes” and see some instances of businesses they have worked with to back up their assertion. If the response is “no,” do not, however, immediately write the business off.

They might have experience with brands that are comparable to yours and be as qualified to support the development of your business.

The portfolio examples they offer are crucial in this situation so that you can decide whether the work they accomplish for others would be advantageous to you.

2. Will Local SEO Outcomes Be Guaranteed?

Many SEO firms attempt to assert that they can guarantee results or in some other way have a “proven” connection to the search engines.

Assured a number one result for any term within the first six months is the most typical assurance.

What You Want to Know:

What You Want to Know: There is absolutely no way to guarantee SEO results or to possess any kind of special knowledge that other businesses (or even in-house professionals) do not. The answer to this question is “no.”

Now, if they’re offering a money-back guarantee because they’re that certain they can achieve a goal that is so important to your company, you might want to think about accepting it.

However, just promising ranks for a particular keyword or phrase does not guarantee that it will result in an increase in new clients or sales.

Find a company that is certain it can assist you but will also be truthful, practical, and ethical in their efforts on your behalf.

You may have to spend a lot of time and money digging yourself out of a very deep hole if they utilise underhanded methods to advance, which will put you in much more problems than you were before you hired the agency.

3. What SEO components should we think about outsourcing?

Even local SEO is multi-dimensional, and if you decide to go with an agency you do not necessarily have to outsource every part of your SEO work.

The company you are interviewing should be able to give you a solid idea of at least three aspects of local SEO they can help you improve.

What You’re Looking to Hear:

Obviously, in an ideal world, the SEO agency should be able to handle any aspect of SEO work that is thrown at them (you want them to state that they can handle any part of the process).

However, they should be able to give you some recommendations on specific aspects that you could get started on with them.

For example, you want them to acknowledge that they do their own link building, local listings management, and content creation.

If you hear that any of these three aspects are outsourced further, be cautious as these are three important aspects of SEO that you want to be directly handled by the agency, particularly when thinking about local SEO.

4. What Metrics are the Most Valuable to Analyze/Which Metrics are a Top Priority?

This is a good question to examine what their best practice is when looking at your metrics from the very beginning.

Identify which local metrics matter to you, then see if an agency is on the same page.

For example, if you’re looking to drive more calls to the business and foot traffic in the door but they’re hoping to prove success to you by a number of local citations built and top rankings on 20 keywords of their choice, it won’t be a good fit.

What You’re Looking to Hear:

Effective SEO account management should be focused on increasing (1) leads and (2) sales, which is why you are outsourcing. As such, these two metrics should be an agency’s top priority.

Of course, metric analysis is multi-faceted – rankings, traffic, and back-link numbers are all important – and you should hear them mention something about these, as well.

Keep in mind that SEO is about more than increasing rankings, decreasing bounce rates, or improving your traffic levels.

Effective SEO puts the business itself as a priority, and leads/sales are essential to improving SEO for the business as a whole. This is another reason a local SEO strategy is so important for many companies.

Leads coming from areas you cannot work with won’t do you much good, and the agencies you’re considering should understand that.

So what is it you want to see — clicks for driving directions? Local backlinks? Citation consistency? Coupon redemption?

And how will it be measured? Make sure you’re on the same page.

5. What Are a Few of Your Best Clients or Examples of Case Studies?

An SEO agency’s portfolio is extremely important and they should be able to provide you with a few examples of their best client success stories.

This should include plenty of data, and testimonials along with actual screenshot examples.

What You’re Looking to Hear:

“Let us show you!”

They should be able to show you a few sites and case studies that will lead you to any further line of questioning about your own business site.

Be wary if they don’t have any examples that they can see relating to your company’s situation.

6. What Kind of Reports or Monitoring Updates Will We Be Receiving?

Knowing what week-by-week and month-by-month reports are going to look like with this company is essential.

Communication isn’t always easy in SEO, but it has to be happening if you’re going to work with a third-party company.

What You’re Looking to Hear:

You want them to not only show you the reports they will provide, but also walk you through them.

You want a report that is clearly explained and easily understood by you and other members of your team.

In short, a report should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What was done, and why?
  • What have the impacts of previous changes been?
  • What kinds of returns have been generated?
  • What obstacles still stand in the way?
  • What must be done to overcome them?
  • What are the next steps?

Measuring and reporting on conversions from online to in-store visits is incredibly important, so spend time on this question and really dig into the tools they use.

If they can give you clear examples, even better. Have them pretend like you know nothing about this aspect of marketing and see how they would explain this to you.

7. What Can Our Team Continue to Work on In-House?

In most cases, hiring an SEO agency means most of the issues surrounding SEO will be handled through outsourcing the workload.

However, this does not mean your team gets to neglect all further work in-house.

What You’re Looking to Hear:

They should reaffirm that their company will be handling the majority of the workload, but that there are always areas you can keep SEO in mind.

For example, if any of the team is still handling content development in one way, shape, or form (such as repurposing content or writing new blog posts) then it is important to be connected to the agency about what to do for that content specifically.

Ideally, they’ll augment your efforts and the actions each of you takes will help support a more successful local SEO program as a whole.

8. How Do You Select Top Keywords for Our Brand?

As we have already made clear in this article, SEO is multi-dimensional and there is no one thing that should be driving this answer.

This is one question where you should be open-minded but really focus on the reasons that an agency gives.

What You’re Looking to Hear:

There is no one right answer to this, and I’ll tell you, it is definitely not “traffic” and traffic alone.

When they talk about choosing your keywords, you want them to speak to the fact that relevance, searcher intent, traffic volumes, and competition level are all important aspects to consider in keyword selection.

Does their response signal to you that the agency truly understands your business goals? That’s what you want to hear.

9. How Long Does It Take to Start Seeing Results and Improvements?

This is going to vary widely depending on how established your company is and what kinds of improvements need to be made.

Again, you have to be flexible here but laying out realistic expectations is key.

What You’re Looking to Hear:

You want to hear honesty. Anything less than 6 months should raise an eyebrow.

Unless you are already a top-ranking source for your industry and you are hiring an SEO agency for maintenance, they should be able to explain that it takes time and that improvements are certainly not an overnight situation.

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