Make them talk!
Knowing the right questions to ask a potential digital marketing agency can feel like a daunting task. Here is a list of 5 questions that I believe will tell you whether the company you’re considering is being honest with you.
There are many SEO firms that try to take advantage of their clients since content marketing is such a nebulous field right now. I hope this helps others not fall prey to these unethical SEO companies.
1. How long will it take to get my website to the top of Google?
Of course each company is going to give you a different estimate of when they expect to have you at least on the first page of Google. However, there are several answers they could give that will tell you whether they’re being straight forward with you or not. Statements such as, “We’ll get you to the #1 spot in two weeks, really!” or “It’ll take at least a year to get you on the first page and another year to get you to #1…so you should just pay for the two years now.”
These statements are the extremes of either side. A SEO company should never guarantee you #1 placement. There are no guarantees when it comes to SEO. Being on the first page is however a very high possibility for a decent SEO company. Now, as for how long it should take to get that first page ranking. It should take about 3 months to get a couple keywords ranking well on the first page. Of course it could take less time because it could be a very uncompetitive keyword. However, by the same token, it may take 6 months or more for a highly competitive keyword to rank.
2. Can I read the content that you post on behalf of my website?
“Sure you can! Here are the links where you can read the content we post.” This is the appropriate reaction. An ethical digital marketing agency will be transparent about the content they post for a client because the whole point is that it is:
1. Written by a human being.
2. Not a “spun” article that reads like gibberish.
3. The topic is something that other people in your niche will consider valuable and not just spam.
Now of course not all the content is going to be as good as what you could write about your niche, but that is why you should be contributing to the effort by writing content and giving it to the agency to market. You hire a company to cut the time-cost of writing basic content about your niche and to market that content so that Google sees that you are active in your field and contributing to the community. The content does not need to be groundbreaking or original to have Google promote your ranking.
3. How do you create the content that you post?
This should be a simple answer for any legitimate digital marketing agency. The correct answer is: “Every piece of content is an original work by one of our SEO professionals.” A company using white hat tactics will not copy/paste someone else’s work. They will not outsource the content writing to another country were English in not their first language. “Spinning” articles is also a HUGE no-no when it comes to SEO and content marketing.
Any SEO firm that uses these black hat SEO strategies should not be hired to represent your business. Google is working to completely eliminate the use of these tactics and eventually they will find a way to spot them all and blacklist websites that are engaged in black hat SEO. Don’t get stuck with a company that will get you in trouble with Google.
4. Do I need to participate in the process?
Participation from the client will vary from case to case, but in general it is highly recommended that you contribute content. You are the ultimate expert for your niche, not the SEO firm. A digital marketing agency specializes in MARKETING, not being an expert in your field. The content that a marketing agency writes on your behalf will be decent. The idea is that the content writer should do enough research to be able to write comfortably about your niche. The content will most likely not be groundbreaking, but as long as it is an original work that adds some value to the field, even if it just rehashes an old topic from a new perspective, Google will give it their blessing and in return give you added authority.
That is ultimately the main goal, for Google to display your high quality content to users, but first you need to build your authority by showing Google that you are an active contributor. Thus, any company that tells you that you do not need to be involved is not being honest with you or they’re not actually promoting you with content marketing. Run away!
5. Do the backlinks generated link directly to my website or to one of your sites?
This is a more technical question that most digital marketing agency will not expect from a client. Some firms may have a somewhat proprietary approach that they don’t just tell anyone, so don’t count them out if they aren’t able to answer the question to your satisfaction. However, every agency should be able to tell you that the end result is that the majority of links are going directly to your website and those links would stay there even if you cancelled their service.
A trick that sneaky SEO firms use is to create a new website when you sign up for their service that links to your website. They then direct all links generated to the newly create website which then links to your site. This makes it so that if you cancel service, they shut down the intermediary website and you lose all of that backlinking power and your rankings plummet. An ethical digital marketing agency will not use an intermediary website and hold your well-earned backlinks hostage to coerce you into remaining a client.
Food for thought:
Have you had a SEO company burn you?
What’s the funniest/lamest excuse you’ve heard?
Let me know in the comments down below! I’m excited to hear your thoughts!
As always, stay Awesome.