Like any other contracting business, before a client enters a partnership with an SEO vendor, he or she must first be made sure this vendor is capable of doing the job. Now Google, which has been advising webmasters how to do SEO with a PDF guide, has released a video in an effort to guide marketers or webmasters on how to hire an SEO consultant.
Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead at Google, and has appeared in previous videos related to optimizing websites, has outlined the what anyone looking for an SEO vendor should do before making a decision with who to select.
Google apparently is aware that there are plenty of things that are not properly done correctly, websites that should have improved in performance aren’t going anywhere. There are vendors who focus on rankings as indicator of success, who incite shady practices as a way to game Google’s well-kept algorithms, or simply make outdated recommendations.
Needless to say, such campaign direction could do more harm than good, leaving the client unable to pinpoint the value did the so-called SEO vendor bring to the table.
In fairness, the video also points lack of coordination among main stakeholders as the reason behind unsuccessful campaigns. In my experience, this often happened while working for bigger clients whose organization extending beyond just project managers, designers and developers. Recommendations, sorted according to importance and impact to the business for clarity and priorty, are sometimes not implemented because of internal arrangements, office politics or lack of resources or ability/willingness to invest on them.
The video is a little over 11 minutes, but if you wish to learn key takeaways from this Ms Ohye’s video quickly, here they are:
1. Should you wish to hire an SEO make sure you perform due diligence.
Evaluation should be a two-way process in which you’d like to know what this agency has done, its experience and its approach. Conversely, it is expected that an SEO agency should be spending time getting to know your business and will ask sensible questions (who are your competitors, where are your most valuable customers coming from, how does search help your business make money, etc).
Also, take time to check their references like clients they worked for previously and how they improved search engine visibility of previous campaigns.
If you think they are close to your suitable partners, you may ask (and pay for) them to run an audit report. If there are multiple agencies vying for your account, comparing their reports in terms of clarity, ease of communication, granularity and other factors helps a lot in avoiding many customers run into: engage with an unworthy agency.
2. In most cases four months to one year to see improvements.
It takes this amount of time and patience to see improvements and value for money. But before starting your SEO campaign, make sure to set your benchmark metrics and KPIs based on your project objectives. This may include amount of traffic, online sales, visitors from certain countries, market share or organic traffic sources, not just keyword ranking.
This time frame is reasonable enough for an SEO agency to determine the site issues, provide comprehensive recommendations, passed on to client for review and hand over to developer for implementation.
3. If in doubt about recommendations, ask for Google reference.
If clients feel the recommendation the SEO vendor is asking them to do is suspicious, they should ask for corroborating statement from Google (Help pages, videos or reply from Googlers on online forums) to support such recommendation. Since Google eventually evaluates pages for ranking, its statements should be taken seriously.
Details should include the issue identified (duplicate pages, absence of keywords, wrong redirection method, etc) along with proposed route in resolving the issue.
The video is concise and clear enough that based on its content I think many companies would like to do SEO themselves than hire SEO consultants.
But that’s a business decision companies have the right to figure out.