Important Questions You Need to Ask Your SEO Company.. BEFORE Hiring Them! The BHW marketplace has grown A LOT over the past few years. I remember back in the day there were only a few SEO services and each had to be unique. Seriously, there were maybe a dozen at MOST.. and it took months to get approved for a sales thread. The quality was much higher and there was less shit lists! These days anyone can get up and running in a matter of days.. Am I mad about this? Nah of course not, reviews speak for themselves.. and competition is healthy.. but to the average noob or the business owner that doesn't understand SEO it can cause a problem. There is a good mix of people doing SEO in their mom's basement and then there are legit companies here.. so how do you know who to trust and who to avoid like they have AIDS? You have to know what questions to ask.. The latest movie or television show themed SEO service isn't going to help you rank.. no matter how much you like Jurassic Park. While the Dinosaur T-Rex package looks cool, it could be toxic to your site and make it extinct, just like the dinosaurs! Fancy designs, clever names, and guru language doesn't mean jack shit when it comes to what everyone wants when they sign up with a SEO company.. results. I put together a list of 15 questions every single person should ask before they buy a SEO service. Some may hate me for saying this stuff, but it's time to get real around here. Have you looked in the marketplace recently? There is so much Fiverr quality crap advertised as Panda/Penguin/Hummingbird safe and "WHITE HAT" - it is pure fucking LULZ. Ask these questions before buying SEO.. your wallet will thank you, and more importantly your site will thank you for not fucking it in the ass. 1. After looking at my website, what is your number one goal? "To rank you #1 sir!" - WRONG answer you fucking clown! This is a test to see if they even know what the hell you do. You might be a blog that is trying to get new email list subscribers.. you might have an e-commerce site so naturally you want to get sales.. or maybe you are a local pizza shop and you want to drive foot traffic into your place to buy you out of peperoni every day. It doesn't matter what you do.. their response better be directed at making you more money.. not just ranking. Their answer should be to get you traffic that converts.. whatever goal that might be.. emails collected, sales, store visits.. whatever. This confirms whether or not they even took a look at your site and understand what kind of business you have! 2. What kind of reports do I get and how often do you send them? You can't always base the success of an SEO service based ONLY on the rankings.. let's be honest.. traffic and sales matter more. Would you rather be ranking #1 for a keyword and making $800 a month or be ranking #5 for a keyword that makes you $3,000 a month? SO, yes.. rank reports are important because they show you whether or not the SEO is working and they allow you to see progress over time. BUT.. what about reports that show what work has been done. If you are buying private blog links (more LULZ.. they are so private they are public.. wait, what?). Lots of SEO companies will say, "We don't give out reports." Most times that really means, "We don't want you to see that we aren't doing any work!" If a proper WH company has nothing to hide they will give you reports that show what has been done and they will deliver that report like clock work either monthly or whenever they say they send them out. Sure, some things can't be included, but the majority of SEO work can be documented in a report. You are spending your hard earned money so you should be able to see where some of that money is going. Another reason SEO companies don't want to give out reports is because the content they wrap around your links is so bad that it is almost unreadable. A report is also an indication that they are proud of the work they do and don't mind if their clients look at it. 3. Do you have a contract? Contracts = "We suck and there is a good chance you will want to leave so we are going to lock you in and force you to keep paying us while we continue to screw up your website." I've heard every excuse under the sun as to why SEO companies use contacts. Let me destroy them all now: "A contract ensures that only serious people sign up for our service.. we don't want to waste time with someone that is going to cancel our service after a couple months." Ahh, well if you do the work like you are supposed to the client will be as happy as a pig in shit and keep paying. This is a BS excuse. "We have certain costs associated with bringing on a new client. We don't make money for several months." Can you smell the BS? If you aren't making money then you are a horrible business owner and you should consider increasing the price of your service. 4. What is the average time length your clients stick with your service? This is a serious question and look for 2 major BS answers: 1. "I can't disclose that.. it's confidential information." LOL, what? You can't say the average time your clients stick around? There is a reason they won't tell you.. because they are afraid you will think they suck (they do) when you find out all their clients circle in and out like it's a whore house. 2. "Forever - we have yet to have a client leave our service." This might be my all time favorite. Anyone that does SEO knows no company can have a 100% retention rate.. not even possible! Sorry, but reality is calling. 5. What kind of links are you going to build to my site? They better not just answer with a number. If someone says, "We are going to build you 10,000 forum links and 15,000 blog comment links" then run for the hills. SEO these days requires niche relevant links. Not mass spam. Yes, there is a need for mass spam links if you are trying to rank and bank.. and don't mind the risk of a penalty. I'm talking more long term SEO here in these threads, even though "safer" SEO can still kill a site if it gets a manual review and Google thinks there was unnatural link building going on. 6. Is your link building black hat or white hat? This is a trick question.. because any link building at all is black hat. There is no such thing as white hat link building.. that is something the SEO circle jerk crew invented. If someone tells you their link building is completely white hat they are full of shit. End of discussion here lol. Sellers will use this definition to differentiate between the likes of a mass blog comment service and a service brokering links from the Huff Post or building higher qualities of links and there's nothing wrong with that. But again all forms of link building are black hat, it's as simple as that. 7. Do you also do on site SEO? This is a huge part.. because on site SEO is just as important as links are (they are the 2 biggest factors in ranking a site) yet so many SEO sellers don't even LOOK at a sites on site optimization before starting their work. Ignoring on site SEO is like cutting your balls off and then trying to make a baby.. you aren't going to get the desired outcome.. not even close. On site should be the very first thing that is looked at and adjusted accordingly. It's worthless to start the service without doing on site.. and guess what? Nobody ever orders a service saying, "Hey.. I already took care of my on site optimization.. and it's perfect.. so go ahead and build those links!" This all goes back to knowing what they are doing. If someone thinks they can rank a site without doing on site optimization they are clueless. 8. What pages of my site are you going to target? The common rookie SEO move is to build all links to the home page.. even if it isn't properly optimized for the target keywords. No SEO company should even be able to answer this until they finalize your keywords and take a look at your site structure and pages. If your site isn't optimized they should tell you what to do in order to give you the best chance at ranking. Little things like title, URL, alt-image tags, etc.. this all plays a role and you need to make sure you are building links to the correct pages. Throughout all of the clients we have talked to at RankUsNow I would say 9 out of 10 had no idea that they should have dedicated pages on their site built for every keyword they were targeting. Sure, some homepages will target a few but most will have a page just for one keyword that is optimized perfectly. Is it a pain in the ass doing all the on site reviews? Yes.. but it helps deliver the best results.. and that is what keeps clients signed on. 9. What keywords should we target? Even if you know for certain what keywords you are going to be targeting ask the SEO company.. this will give you a good idea of how knowledgeable or completely clueless they are. It's always good to get a second opinion also. Some people think they did great keyword research because they read a blog about it on some guru site.. but they want to rank a keyword that they will never rank for.. not unless Apple, Wiki, and Amazon disappear overnight! Just because you think you found a keyword it's good to ask for feedback. If you are 100% sure you know what keywords you want to target ask anyway and see what they say. 10. Do you offer support channels once I sign up? NO, a Gmail email address isn't proper support.. or a freaking Skype address. That is Mickey Mouse crap and that is a big red flag and warning sign that the provider is a 1 man reseller in his mom's basement ordering gigs off Fiverr to send to your site! Look, there is nothing wrong with it.. but it's next to impossible to effectively manage support just via Skype. If a SEO company can't put together a simple ticket system there is a problem. Even zendesk offers a solution that is like $1 per month! There aren't any excuses. You just need to make sure that you are going to have your questions answered after you hand over your credit card details. If a service has weak customer support do they even care? No. They got your payment info.. mission accomplished. 11. Do you repeat the same process every month? This is big. SEO requires diversity and not repetition. If you are getting the same cookie cutter links month after month don't you think that leaves a huge ass footprint? Google Spam Team: "Wow, look at this site.. they magically get 100 Facebook likes, 100 Stumbleupon submissions, 10 blog roll links, 5 wiki links, and 15 editorial links every single month and they all happen on the same day of the month. NUKE THEM!" Diversity and looking as natural as possible is the name of the game. Links should be spread out and built daily, not all slammed in on the same day. So many companies will try to take shortcuts and just do everything at once.. because it is easier. This way they can still say, "Look.. we did the work." A good SEO plan is always adjusting and being switched up. 20 links from different domains is better than 100 links all from the same three sites. Make sure the provider isn't going to build the same link month after month until your site gets nailed or you catch on and quit the service. 12. Do you have a sample report you can show me for a current client? Ask for a sample report.. any legit provider will hand this over. They don't have to see details.. that can be blacked out.. but a real report lets you see what the client really receives. All the "sample" reports are going to be doctored to show #1 rankings and make the service out to be the best.. that's marketing and I don't blame companies for doing that. Put the SEO company on the spot and ask them for a current report. If they delay or get nervous that's a red flag. What are they hiding? What don't they want you to see? 13. Who is going to be doing the actual SEO work? This is a big key. What you are looking for is someone to slip up. There is nothing wrong with outsourcing parts of the work.. heck, most SEO companies do. But there are also a lot of companies that flat out lie to people in the face. They say they do all the work and that they don't outsource. (While they are lying they are ordering gigs on Fiverr and trying to pass it off as their own) Some of the most successful SEO agencies outsource and resell.. but they also disclose it. If you ever get ahold of a SEO agreement form some of the multi million dollar companies use you will see that it clearly states they subcontract their work. This is a fancy way of saying we buy our service from BHW or Fiverr and jack up the price 20X. The language is buried deep, but if you really want to find it you can. 14. What do you need from me before we get started and I pay? Another trick question to identify a clown that is only after your money so they can pay their cell phone bill or renew their JR VIP membership that failed to renew while they were taking epic guru pictures to post on Facebook of their low budget vacation.. "Nothing sir, just your payment details..." Don't trust anyone with your website unless they take a look at it before even mentioning making a payment. They should take a look, give you feedback and discuss the plan.. you need to know WHAT you are getting for the money. Make them explain it.. don't just trust the sales copy or website details. Anyone can write (or buy) good sales copy. 15. How quickly will I see results? SEO results don't happen overnight. Be skeptical of anyone saying you will rank in 10 days.. 15 days.. 30 days.. even 60 days. There are so many factors. An honest reply along the lines of "it all depends really.." is what you are looking for. Some local clients will see very fast results and some campaigns will take several months before they see significant movement. And there you have it kids.. what to ask for before you spend your hard earned money on SEO. I think I've made enough enemies today (they can join the list!), so that is all for now! As always I hope you enjoyed the read.. Until next time.. Ciao for now!