Despite working in this industry for well over 10 years, I still understand how difficult it is for a new client to begin work with an SEO company, as if it is their first time then they will be worried about handing over their website (and online future) and if they have had previous SEO experience, it often turns out to have been a bad one and they will be nervous about being caught up in the web again.

But, if you want your website to grow and you want the online side of your business to increase, reaching out to an online marketing or SEO agency is often the next step on the ladder to seeing that growth, but it still does not mean you are not going to be worried about making that step.

So, it is important to make sure you keep a good handle on the work they will be doing, and we offer a few ways in which you can make sure that your chosen SEO or Online Marketing Company are not only doing the right things, but doing the things that are actually going to produce results, and not just a pretty graph at the end of 6 months.

Review Work Before Signing Up

If your proposed SEO company or companies are not even ranking for some local keywords, then you probably should be asking a few questions and ringing a few alarm bells. Although I am not saying they should be top of Google for every service they offer, they should have some rankings, so this is obviously a good chance to check how good they are. Also ask to see examples of some of their results for their clients as well, and do not just focus on rankings, ask to see examples of where they have improved traffic and results, as anyone can focus on a few keywords and show green arrows, the real test of success is when they have genuinely improved traffic and business for their clients.

Admittedly, some of their clients may not want to let the world know they employ an SEO firm to handle their online marketing, but you should be able to get a few testimonials and review a few case studies to check out just how good their work actually is.

Know Your Stuff And Ask The Right Questions

I am not saying you need to know everything about SEO before you start to work with a company, but spend a bit of time trying to understand the industry and at least the basics of how things work. There are a few excellent resources like Moz and Search Engine Land and you can also spend a bit of time joining some SEO forums and asking the right questions. The more you know, they more control you will have on the work they are doing going forward, as if you know what is right, what is ok and what is wrong, you can quickly start to see if the work your SEO company is performing is within the boundaries of ok, and if it is not, you can act quickly. Try to get a feel of how they plan to work, get a written plan of action and then check the work they are doing, but by knowing the basics you can easily start to understand if the work is going to get you success or if it is going to land you with a Google Penalty.

Demand A Work Monthly Report

I am still amazed at how many clients that come to me from another SEO company and have nothing to show in terms of reports or progress reports. You need to make sure the agency provides you with a work report detailing all of the work they have carried out and what they have done that month. In my opinion, there is no need to always waste time providing traffic updates as you can see this in Google Analytics anyway, but you should at least know what they have spent the time on this month and also have some kind of records going forward for your own peace of mind. If they refuse to give you a work report, I would run a mile, as you might just end up paying for nothing and have no real case should you decide to ask them later down the line.

Use Online Link Software

If the SEO company is building links for you, then keep an eye on your link profile through some of the leading online SEO tools like Majestic, Moz Open Site Explorer and SEO Profiler, as if you are aware of the links that are being added, you can check out just how good these links are. Although you should not just rely on the “ratings” each of these tools provides with regards to the link quality, you can use them as good first glance, and then check the links a bit more closely. Look for relevance, quality and type of link, and if you start to see any questionable, site wide or over optimised links, speak to the company quickly and express your concerns. Link building is one of the toughest things to do when it comes to the overall SEO campaign, but you have little choice if you want to progress in the rankings, but it is important you build high quality, relevant and non-keyword type links, rather than going all out and building tons of low quality, anchor text type links.

Monitor Your Own Rankings

As I have said many times before, rankings are vanity, traffic is the true test of success, but, if you keep an eye on your own rankings using independent software like SEO Profiler or, then you can quickly see the movements on the keywords as the months progress. And, if you see a huge drop over the course of a few days then you know you have problems, and it can make you react a lot quicker than just waiting another few weeks until the end of the month when you get to speak to your SEO agency. As I say, I take rankings with a pinch of salt as it is better to get ten people on a website that make an enquiry than 100 that do not, but by monitoring your own rankings then you will get some idea about how the work is progressing across the board.

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