Deciding whether or not to outsource a job can be pretty tough for several reasons. On the one hand, outsourcing is cheap. On the other hand, however, you can’t be sure that the agency you choose to do the work will deliver great results.
Such fears can be heightened when the job that you’re outsourcing is so crucial to your business. SEO outsourcing, for instance, is one of those jobs that absolutely must be done correctly. A poor effort can, after all, do more harm than good.
How, then, do you ensure that you’re getting quality service when you pay an external search engine marketing company? Well, you can start by asking these twelve questions:
1. Can You Guarantee the Results We Are Looking For?
This is without a doubt the most important question that you’ll ever ask a search engine marketing agency, but not the reason you think.
Because the answer you’re looking for here is definitely “no.”
That answer might sound strange, but the fact is that no SEO firm should guarantee anything in the world of search engine marketing. Promising to help improve your site’s online presence? Sure thing.
But promising to get your site to the first page of Google? Nope.
If we’re being realistic, these types of promises don’t exactly make sense anyway, especially if you think about the fact that they’re probably working with possible competitors. You can’t all be on the first page.
2. How Long Will It Take to Get Results?
As we said before, guarantees aren’t typically great. You can, however, get some reasonable guarantees when it comes to SEO outsourcing.
And what’s one of those guarantees? The amount of time that it will take to get some good results.
This information is important for many reasons, the first of which is that you need to know how long you’ll be paying for the firm’s services. You don’t want this firm to string you along while you get no real results.
The second reason? Simply put, you want to know that the SEO firm can meet industry standards since there is data out there on the appropriate timeline for search engine marketing campaigns.
3. What Kinds of Businesses Do You Usually Work With?
Don’t walk into this thinking that SEO outsourcing is SEO outsourcing. In other words, we don’t want you to think that any SEO firm is capable of working with a business in your niche.
Yes, any firm technically can work with you. No, not all firms will do so well.
Because the truth of the matter is not all firms are equipped to work with a business in your niche. As a result, you need to make sure that you grill SEO firms about their experience in your niche before choosing one.
4. Will We Have to Implement Any Changes?
If you’re working with a capable SEO firm, you’ll have to make changes of some sort. These changes will be perfectly reasonable and, hopefully, helpful.
Further still, getting an answer to this question is pretty important since compatibility is always an issue. If a firm requires that you implement too many changes, those changes could completely overwhelm your business.
Of course, you also shouldn’t make the mistake of working with a firm that doesn’t require any changes. Not to be pessimistic, but a company that doesn’t suggest changes to your process might not be the greatest. You are, after all, paying the firm to revamp your company’s strategy.
5. What’s Your Content Creation Process?
Written content matters. We know, which is why we’re saying it. You know it, which is why you’re even considering paying an SEO firm.
Sadly, though, you can’t trust every SEO firm to have a wonderful content creation process. In fact, some of them have rather…interesting processes.
And by “interesting,” we mean “bad.”
So how bad are we talking?
Well, some SEO firms are known to sell businesses the same old boring, regurgitated content that’s been online years. Other firms even attempt to “cheat” Google’s algorithm, which can get your company’s site de-indexed.
Needless to say, that’s an SEO outsourcing no-no, so always inquire about the content creation process.
6. How Do You Select Keywords?
Like the content itself, the keywords a firm selects are of great importance. In some ways, that importance has a lot to do with that whole spiel we gave you about Google’s algorithms.
But why else does keyword selection matter so much?
As it turns out, some of the SEO firms on the market don’t have stellar keyword research strategies. We’d even wager that your in-house team of researchers could do more effective research than these incompetent firms.
That said, be sure to question the SEO firm you’re planning on working with about its keyword research strategy. You don’t want to pay a company to do low-quality research you could do on your own.
7. What’s Your Link Building Strategy?
If you don’t know much about search engine optimization, you might not know much about link building. For this reason, you might not think to ask an SEO firm about its link building strategy.
Which would be a mistake.
Getting your site the clout it needs relies heavily on getting quality backlinks for your site. “Quality,” however, often signifies organic backlinks.
In other words, no buying backlinks. Make sure the firm you work is clear on this.
8. Which Metrics Do You Measure?
When you’re working with an external business, you have to be on the same page as your new partner. That is to say, the same metrics must matter to both parties.
And this applies to any attempt at outsourcing, not just SEO outsourcing.
Having said this, find out what matters to you. If that happens to be your conversion rate, the SEO firm must value this metric as well. Don’t let the firm convince you that the metric isn’t important just because it doesn’t track this metric.
9. What Are Your Longterm Services?
Let’s be real here. You’re likely looking for an SEO firm because you want…SEO services. You don’t really have much of a clue about what other services the firm can offer you in the long run.
Even though you don’t know as much now, you do want those long-term services a firm can offer. The firm should have packages which extend beyond mere content and keyword research. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t ally yourself with an external business that has this type of added value.
10. Can We Contact Past Clients?
We don’t care what kind of services you’re looking for. SEO services. Laundry services. Lawn services.
Ask to speak to past clients.
We can’t tell you how important this is when we talk about SEO outsourcing. Too many firms promise their customers positions on the first page of Google. Unsurprisingly enough, they usually can’t deliver on those promises.
To be blunt, the only way to truly measure a firm’s ability is to grill past clients on what the firm’s services were like. Did the company actually enhance its past clients’ overall marketing strategies? Did these past clients see an improvement in the metrics they were targeting?
Those are just a couple of the questions you’ll need to ask. We can think of several more, and you should be able to do so as well.
11. Do You Outsource Any Parts of the SEO Process?
There is ultimately something so ironic about this question. You’re outsourcing a job, and now you’re being asked to ask the firm if it outsources any of its jobs.
We promise there’s a good reason for this madness.
Generally speaking, outsourcing a job is perfectly fine. It can be cheap and effective for some companies.
The truth is, though, that once you begin outsourcing too many jobs, things can start to go a little haywire. You undoubtedly know this, which is why you don’t outsource too many jobs.
But does the SEO firm you’re working with know this? How many processes does the firm itself outsource? If it happens to outsource way too many of its processes, you might want to ask yourself whether or not this firm can be of use to you.
12. Does Your Process Take Other Aspects of Marketing Into Consideration?
We’ve said before, and we’ll say it again: Content matters. That doesn’t mean, however, that content is the only piece of the puzzle.
Marketing isn’t just about content. It’s about brand reputation and making your customer believe that you’re worth their money.
We’re telling you this because?
Well, because a bad SEO company won’t even consider the other aspects of your marketing strategy (e.g. social media marketing, etc.). It won’t necessarily try to match your brand’s voice, nor will it think about user experience in the same way as you. This is especially true of firms that don’t have much experience in your niche.
For this reason, this is probably one of the first questions that should be posed when you consider SEO outsourcing. You want to work with a business that respects your business’s overall goals. You can only do so by making sure that it acknowledges your core marketing strategies.
Taking a Stab at SEO Outsourcing?
We’re going to be totally upfront with you: There are so many more questions you should be asking. This list is just designed to help get you started.
Still need some help deciding whether or not SEO outsourcing is actually for you and your business? Contact us and find out how search engine marketing services can improve your online marketing strategy.