Digital Marketing

7 Critical Questions When Outsourcing SEO

Many agencies without full service digital marketing departments choose to outsource any SEO work to a specialist. While I believe that the present focus on good content makes SEO easier, not harder for traditional agencies (especially PR) to handle in-house, many will continue outsourcing this critical service (or at least until I launch a “How To Do SEO At An Agency” seminar).

Howdy, Pardner

 7 Critical Questions When Outsourcing SEO
Meanwhile, finding an SEO partner is the modern day equivalent of securing someone to mine your gold claim while you go back home to Philadelphia. (feel free to insert your own Deadwood-style reference). Basically, SEO is the Wild West, with more Excel. There are no rules to speak of, very few “right” answers, and essentially no barrier to entry. There are literally hundreds (thousands?) of freelance and small firm SEO “experts,” some of whom know only slightly more than the traditional agency that hires them.

7 Critical Questions

To make sure you find a partner that understands SEO and where it’s headed, that can serve you and your clients competently, ask them these 7 questions.

1. How do you measure the success of your SEO campaigns?
You want a partner that uses metrics like leads, online sales, phone calls generated, etc. to measure success. Be wary of firms that tout their ability to get you “#1 Rankings”. Ultimately, being ranked #1 has zero direct revenue benefits. You also want to see regular reporting that focuses on those relevant metrics, not just your search position.

2. How do you determine which search terms to focus on?
Here, you’re looking for some sort of detailed search term analysis, combined with a thorough evaluation of the business model of the site to be optimized. Partners that mention testing terms to determine which will generate best results get extra credit.

3. How do you create content for search optimization?
At present, search-friendly content is the name of the game. Carefully crafting content that addresses key search terms and making sure that content is legitimately interesting to both real people and Google is the critical. Big bonus points for partners that create multi-modal content (photo galleries and videos) and partners that have dedicated search copywriters on staff. Make sure you ask for samples of their content creation.

4. How do you integrate search optimization efforts with other aspects of the marketing program?
Here, you’re looking for partners that recognize that good SEO isn’t done in a vacuum. Integrating SEO with public relations, making sure that search terms related to a new product or campaign are optimized. That’s what you want to see in this response.

5. What is your approach to getting more links?
Links are the coin of the realm in search. If you don’t have links from at least semi-popular Web sites pointing to your search-optimized content, it’s going to be an uphill battle (unless you’re emphasizing highly obscure search terms). Consequently, you want a partner that has a clearly defined process and proven expertise in finding quality links for their clients. Directories, blogs, one-to-one link requests, competitive analysis, etc. Ask to see samples of their link acquisition campaigns.

6. After the initial setup, what services do you provide month-to-month?
Some SEO firms will put real effort into getting the search program set up (pick terms, write copy, establish reports, get a few links) in the first 60 days, but then charge the client hundreds or thousands of dollars each month thereafter for essentially very little work. Find out precisely what they will do to improve the campaign on an ongoing basis. You want a partner that will create content on a regular basis, be garnering new links continuously, and be monitoring competitors.

7. What’s your best success story?
Ultimately, search optimization is about results. If a potential vendor can’t point to a series of clients for whom they dramatically increased sales, leads, etc. through measured SEO, stay away.

 

Any other tips you’d recommend? Reaction from the SEO community? Leave a comment.

 

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  • http://www.affordablewebdesign.tv/ Michelle Tukachinsky

    Great post.. thanks alot! These things are so important to consider when outsourcing. I am still amazed the companies still charge for submission to search engines. I love to do my own SEO myself. :)

  • http://www.affordablewebdesign.tv Michelle Tukachinsky

    Great post.. thanks alot! These things are so important to consider when outsourcing. I am still amazed the companies still charge for submission to search engines. I love to do my own SEO myself. :)

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  • http://www.baileygardiner.com/ Indra Gardiner

    After reading this, it really does seem like this is something PR can handle. Why are we under the mistaken belief that SEO requires all sorts of coding and technical stuff that we can’t handle?

  • http://www.baileygardiner.com Indra Gardiner

    After reading this, it really does seem like this is something PR can handle. Why are we under the mistaken belief that SEO requires all sorts of coding and technical stuff that we can’t handle?

  • jaybaer

    Thanks for the comment Indra.

    There are some “on page” optimization items like directory structure, site map, etc. that you need a Web designer to implement, but generally speaking SEO is headed squarely in the direction of PR and social media (at least in my opinion). Are there highly technical SEO-types that use a lot of behind-the-scenes code to try to juice results? Absolutely. But each time Google changes the algorithm, it closes more and more of those doors. Content is king.

  • jaybaer

    Thanks for the comment Indra.

    There are some “on page” optimization items like directory structure, site map, etc. that you need a Web designer to implement, but generally speaking SEO is headed squarely in the direction of PR and social media (at least in my opinion). Are there highly technical SEO-types that use a lot of behind-the-scenes code to try to juice results? Absolutely. But each time Google changes the algorithm, it closes more and more of those doors. Content is king.

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    SEO is one of the most important aspects of website success and many people these days claim to be an SEO expert. Firstly I think SEO is not a single person job for a limited time, its an ongoing job for a team. If you want to outsource SEO then you must choose a firm committed to SEO services rather than a freelancer promising you #1 position for your domain name. Obviously if someone will search for your name, you will be on #1 position. The challenge is to take #1 position on generic in demand keywords.

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    I really liked the questions stated in this blog to be asked from SEO experts in order to measure what they are selling.

    I suggest SEO trainings and inhouse permanent SEO teams to get you better rankings and traffic.

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