What clients have you worked with?
An SEO agency’s client list will tell you a lot about their size and level of experience. This will also allow you to see if you have worked with a competitor before, which could create a conflict of interest.
Can I call your clients for a reference?
Testimonials written on a website are one thing, but nothing beats being able to call a previous client of a potential SEO agency to ask what kind of work they did. If the agency refuses to allow you to do this, they may be trying to hide something.
Can we meet in person to discuss my site?
Many people fall victim to unscrupulous SEO agency calling them promising the land and then failing to deliver. You should always meet with any SEO agency you plan to work with so you can assess how professional they are and whether or not you want to work with them on your site.
Can you guarantee me the # 1 position on Google for any keyword or phrase?
This is a trick question. If they give you a guarantee, you should contact another company. They may achieve a # 1 listing for your business, but no one can guarantee it as a lot depends on what your competitors are doing in terms of SEO.
Is there a minimum duration of the contract?
While it may take time for an SEO campaign to produce results, you need to ensure that you are not tied to a lengthy contract. For example, if you sign up for six months and there has been little progress after the first three, you want to be able to walk away and find another provider.
Will I receive regular updates on the progress?
When you are paying money every month, it is correct that you know what you are getting. Before hiring an SEO agency, make sure they send you monthly reports of what they have done and the difference it has made in your ranking for the agreed upon search terms.
Can I call you to discuss my SEO campaign at any time?
Your SEO agency should assign you an account manager as your point of contact. If you can’t reach people when you want them or if they encourage you not to call, you should seriously think about spending more money on that particular company.
When will I start to see results?
This is not an easy question to answer without doing your research first, but a good free website and domain will be able to give you a rough idea based on the search terms you want to target.
Even after you have done initial research, if an SEO agency gives an open answer to this question, then you should steer clear.
Do you have a special relationship with Google?
This is another trick question. Any SEO agency that claims to have close links or a special relationship with Google is talking nonsense. Google doesn’t favor any SEO agency over others, so don’t be fooled by this claim that unscrupulous agencies sometimes use unscrupulous agencies.
Do you outsource any of your SEO work?
It is not uncommon for some SEO agencies to outsource their work to places like India for link building. If you prefer that some of your work is not outsourced, you should ask the question and write it in your contract.
Jamie Fairbairn has a background in local search and online marketing and has worked with many small business owners to improve his search engine rankings over the past 10 years.