Smart Queries: Essential Questions to Ask An SEO Company

Written by Matthew Ludden / December 26, 2023 / 12 Minute Read
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Learn of the importance of choosing the right SEO partner by asking pivotal questions that uncover their approach, expertise, and alignment with business objectives. It breaks down the core services of SEO companies into on-page, off-page, and technical SEO, highlighting their collective role in driving targeted traffic and enhancing business growth. The piece also offers practical advice on assessing an SEO agency’s performance and understanding the return on investment, ensuring businesses make informed decisions in their SEO partnership journey.


Introduction: Mapping Your Path To SEO Success 

Like trying to find the best path through a dense jungle forest in search of hidden treasure, the pursuit of increased online visibility and organic traffic can feel like a daunting task. What if you could find an experienced guide through the vines and overgrowth?

Hiring an SEO company can transform your understanding of search engine algorithms and the right partner can create measurable SEO success. At Valve+Meter Performance Marketing, our Indianapolis team delivers data-driven SEO services to Hoosier businesses as well as national brands. Every day our strategists speak with business leaders from diverse industries seeking insights into hiring SEO companies.

With countless SEO agencies, each claiming to hold the map to digital success, how do you distinguish the seasoned guides from the ones who may lead you into quicksand? By asking the right questions, you can decipher the best SEO partner for your journey.

Choosing an SEO partner requires more than a superficial glance at their website or a cursory look at a brief conversation about pricing structure. Hiring an SEO company is about understanding their approach, their expertise, and how they plan to align their strategies with your business goals.

Above all else, all of your optimization strategies should begin and end with you. Many SEO agencies are eager to boast about their results, but your business is unique. So, in this article, we’ll delve into the essential questions you should pose to potential SEO companies.

Key Moments

  • The Essence of SEO Services: Start by breaking down SEO services into three main categories: On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO, and Technical SEO. The article highlights that these efforts collectively target not just random visitors, but potential customers likely to engage with the brand and contribute to business growth.
  • Key Questions for Hiring an SEO Company: Asking the right questions when selecting an SEO partner starts by evaluating your business. With a SWOT analysis, you can ask pointed questions to a potential partner that aligns with your unique needs. 
  • Evaluating an SEO Company’s Performance and ROI: The need for in-depth reporting, written strategies, key performance indicators (KPIs) tracking, and visibility on SEO efforts is paramount to long-term success. Understanding the return on investment (ROI) from SEO activities is about seeing the overall impact of SEO on business growth and adaptation.

The Fundamentals: Understanding What an SEO Company Does 

At its core, an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) company focuses on increasing website traffic and organic visitors to your website. Traditional SEO includes keyword research, content creation, creating effective backlinks, and monitoring website traffic changes on Google Analytics and other tools.

These essential services fall into three segments:

On-Page SEO

All of the visible content including text, images, and video demonstrates what your website is about. This is called on-page SEO.

The most recognizable on-page SEO efforts include keyword research. SEO experts identify the words and phrases your potential customers are using to search for the services or products featured on each webpage.

This research is important because it demonstrates to search algorithms and real-world users what your business offers. Keywords included in your content, titles, metadata, images, and URL structure help you increase your visibility and drive targeted traffic to your website.

Another crucial function of on-page optimization is to create a content-rich user experience. Once a visitor arrives on your site, the quality of your writing, images, and other elements helps them engage and navigate throughout your website.

An SEO company doesn’t simply cut a path through the jungle between you and potential consumers. Informative messaging, simple-to-use navigation, and clear calls-to-action are other elements of on-page SEO that are key to modern SEO.

Off-Page SEO

Beyond the visual elements, every SEO expert understands measurable SEO success requires greater relevance, credibility, and authority. They help build your website’s authority by securing quality backlinks from other reputable sites.

Link building is an incredibly important part of off-page SEO. In a 13-month Semrush study, nearly all (92.3%) of the 100 top-ranking domains had at least one backlink (Semrush, 2023). In modern SEO, when AI and other machine learning can bolster content marketing, inbound links to your site signal readers and algorithms that your content is valuable.

Not all the work of an SEO expert takes place directly on your website. Building your online reputation can include managing reviews, citations, and third-party platforms including Google Business Profile, social media accounts, and other directories.

Technical SEO

A final element of what an SEO company does is ensuring your website loads quickly, is mobile-friendly, and is free from technical glitches that could turn visitors away. This may include web developers or SEO specialists familiar with technical aspects.

Monitoring metadata, correcting redirect issues, eliminating site errors, and alerting you to changes in website performance help your business create plans to correct and improve outcomes across your web pages.

By aligning these functions with your business objectives, an SEO company doesn’t just bring random visitors to your site; it attracts the right kind of traffic – potential customers who are more likely to engage with your brand and convert. This targeted approach ultimately leads to increased sales and business growth, demonstrating the profound impact a skilled SEO company can have on your business success.

Website Traffic 86%
Website traffic is the top metric B2B marketers use to track content performance (CMI, 2023)
SEO Value 88%
Some 88% of marketers who already invest in SEO plan to allocate more or maintain the same amount (HubSpot, 2023)

Key Questions to Ask Before Hiring an SEO Company 

Once you understand what SEO companies do, you need to find the right partner for your needs.

This typically starts with a SWOT process. Identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats offers insights beyond how to maximize your potential visibility in search engines.

Valve+Meter Performance Marketing begins every consultation with a quick collaboration on these ideas. If an SEO consultant doesn’t know your long-term vision, then SEO efforts miss the mark.

Answering key questions about your own business begins to draw the map of the jungle. Where is your starting point, what obstacles have you encountered, and what does your destination look like? From this, you can ask key questions to guide you in making an informed choice in hiring an SEO company:

  1. What is Your Approach to SEO?
    Understanding an agency’s approach to SEO is akin to grasping its path through the jungle. It’s important to know if they focus on just one aspect, like link building, or if they have a comprehensive strategy encompassing technical SEO, content, and user experience.
    A reputable SEO agency doesn’t promise miracles and overnight success. If they describe their SEO efforts like an airlift, be wary. Ensure their methods are comprehensive and align ethically with your needs.
  2. Can You Provide Examples of Successful SEO Campaigns You’ve Executed?
    Asking for case studies or examples of successful campaigns helps you see evidence that is relevant to your situation, market, or industry. While every business is unique and no SEO provider uses the same plan for every partner, examples build confidence.
    It gives you a taste of what they can achieve. Look for campaigns that show tangible results, such as improved search rankings or increased organic traffic.
  3. How Do You Conduct Keyword Research and Optimize Content?
    Even if you don’t know all of the technical aspects of SEO, you can use keyword research and content optimization to gain insight into the knowledge of your potential SEO consultant.
    A professional SEO agency will be transparent about the tools they use like AHrefs, SEMrush, Mo, and others.
    Finally, in an era of AI and outsourcing, finding an SEO provider with in-house writers who are dedicated to your account is advisable. This reveals their capability to understand your core messaging, brand your content, and attract the right audience to your website.
  4. What Technical SEO Services Do You Offer?
    Technical SEO can be confusing for even the most experienced marketers. A professional SEO agency should be able to explain in easy-to-understand language their experience in SEO site audits, mobile optimization, and site speed improvements.
    More important than what questions you ask is the response of your prospective SEO provider. If they cannot shed light on how they execute work, then you may find future reporting confusing, limited, or lacking transparency altogether.
  5. How Do You Measure and Report SEO Success?
    Success in SEO isn’t just about high rankings; it’s also about achieving your business goals.
    You should always retain control over decision-making, planning, and growth. Ask how they track progress and how often they report it.
    Look beyond metrics like keyword rankings and organic traffic. Conversion rates and marketing-attributable revenue help you invest in repeatable SEO efforts.
  6. What’s Your Experience with my distinct SEO needs?
    For businesses targeting a local market, local SEO is crucial. Ask how they optimize for local search and what tactics they use, like optimizing Google My Business listings and local citations.
    Larger businesses need enterprise SEO that organizes complex site architecture to ensure target audiences land on the right pages and navigate to the right products and services for their needs.
    E-commerce, lead generation, and video SEO are other unique sub-categories that require unique skill sets. The right SEO can be a long-term partner for years. Before spending any marketing budget, verify they have the right team to support your needs.
  7. How Do You Handle Link Building?
    Link building should be about quality, not just quantity. Inquire about their approach to earning high-quality backlinks and how they avoid black-hat techniques that could penalize your site.
    Black-hat SEO is synonymous with fast solutions and one-size-fits-all packages. Spammy content, link farms, and other techniques may boost your search visibility temporarily. But Google and other search engines will penalize or even de-index bad actors who deceive algorithms and users.

By asking these questions, you can gauge an SEO company’s expertise, approach, and alignment with your business goals, ensuring you embark on a successful course from the first step through your endgame.

Interested In Building A Custom SEO Strategy?

Stop trying to outwit competitors in search engines and focus on your long-term success. Connect with Valve+Meter Performance Marketing for a free assessment.

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How Do I Know If My SEO Company Is Doing A Good Job? 

A good SEO agency is proactive and operates just like an SEO in-house marketing department.

At Valve+Meter Performance Marketing, our SEO consultants and specialists meet regularly with our client partners. Each quarter a more formal evaluation of your performance and changes in organic search are considered.

Evaluating the performance of your SEO company can go beyond simple meetings and checking. If you are unsure of whether your SEO strategy is yielding the right results, then you need clear indicators of growth and vitality. The effectiveness of an SEO campaign is not always immediately visible, making these aspects even more crucial.

When you are evaluating your SEO firm consider these points:

  1. In-Depth Reporting: A good SEO company will provide you with regular reports. These shouldn’t just be numbers and charts; they should offer insights into what those metrics mean.
    For instance, an increase in organic traffic is good, but understanding which strategies led to this increase is better. When you have clear, reliable data you can make better decisions.
  2. Written Strategies and Recommended Changes: SEO is an ever-evolving field, and your SEO provider should keep you informed about the strategies they are implementing and why.
    One of the most common outcomes of an SEO audit reveals undocumented strategies. When you have a formal record of your SEO activities then the source of website traffic is more accurate and outcomes of future activities are more predictable.
    If Google rolls out a major algorithm update, you should know how your SEO team is responding to it.
  3. Tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): KPIs like search engine rankings, organic traffic, bounce rate, and conversion rate are vital.
    A proficient SEO team will not only track these metrics but will also explain how they relate to your overall business objectives. The more proficient you become with Google Analytics and Search Console, the greater understanding you will gain around KPIs. SEO experts will aid you in learning and gaining control over your own path to success.
  4. Visibility on SEO Efforts: It’s important to see a correlation between the efforts put in and the outcomes. For example, if the focus has been on building quality backlinks, you should see an improvement in your website’s authority and search rankings.
    The goal of all search engine optimization is to increase revenue within your business. SEO experts at a professional SEO agency will be able to translate data into clear deliverables and marketing-attributable revenue.
    This does not mean your SEO partner should use every method available to capture results. Verifying your SEO provider is practicing ethical and industry-best strategies to earn better organic search results and quality leads for your business is vital to long-term success.
  5. Feedback Loop and Adjustments: A great SEO agency actively seeks feedback and makes adjustments based on performance data. This adaptability is key to staying relevant and competitive in search engine results.
    Your SEO strategy must be evaluated regularly and never remain constant. SEO reporting that is limited is a serious red flag. Google’s algorithms are changing multiple times each year. Clear communication, evaluation, testing, and refining your activities are best practices.

In essence, transparency in reporting and communication from your SEO company plays a pivotal role in a successful SEO campaign. It’s not just about the results, but about understanding the journey to those results. This clarity helps in building trust and ensures that you are always in the loop about how your investment is working for your business.

The ROI Perspective: Measuring The Success Of An SEO Agency 

In the world of SEO, the return on investment (ROI) is the true north that guides a company’s journey toward digital success.

A marketing strategy that is founded on data can effectively measure revenue attributable to marketing activities. At Valve+Meter our data team tracks a user from the moment they click on your webpage from search engine results pages to the close of the sale.

Understanding the ROI not only validates your investment but also helps in making informed decisions for future marketing strategies.

  1. Understanding SEO ROI Metrics: Measuring ROI in SEO involves a blend of qualitative and quantitative analysis. Metrics like increased organic traffic, improved search rankings, and higher conversion rates are tangible KPIs. However, the true measure of success extends beyond these numbers to the quality of traffic and engagement levels.
  2. Long-Term Value vs. Immediate Gains: SEO is a long-term strategy, and its ROI should be assessed accordingly. Unlike pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns that offer immediate results, SEO builds sustainable growth. Creating a series of high-quality web pages about a key product takes time, but when properly optimized, these pages can convert endless visitors into buyers.
  3. Track Performance: To truly gauge the ROI, compare your website’s performance before and after the SEO interventions. Charting this comparison can reveal significant insights into traffic growth, user engagement, and other crucial metrics.
  4. Cost-Benefit Analysis: Compare the cost of the SEO services against the benefits derived. This includes not just the direct revenue generated but also the value added in terms of brand credibility, customer trust, and market positioning. Some content marketing has auxiliary benefits in social media, email, sales collateral, and other outreach.
  5. Customized Reporting: A proficient SEO agency should provide customized reports that align with your business goals. These reports should clearly show how SEO efforts have contributed to achieving these goals, helping you understand the effectiveness of different strategies and tactics.

Understanding the ROI from SEO is about seeing the bigger picture and always striving for improvement.

Reporting and a regularly scheduled site SEO audit can measure the impact of link building, content optimization, site structure, and more. Assessing all of this data and creating written strategies keeps your business adaptive, nimble, and growing.

This data-driven approach to measuring success is what sets apart an effective SEO agency from the rest.

Interested In Our SEO Company?

Just because you have great questions to ask a SEO company doesn’t mean you have your answers questioned. Navigating a partnership with an SEO agency can be a dynamic and evolving process.

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FAQs: Getting the Most Out of Your SEO Agency Relationship 

Learn key reasons to hire an SEO company and discover why some businesses choose to build an internal SEO team.

Knowing the questions to ask is just part of the pursuit of a great SEO partner. Knowing what to look for in an SEO company helps save time interviewing marketers who don’t align with your market, industry, vision, or core beliefs.

In today’s digital era, most B2B buying decisions occur before the buyer ever contacts their prospective partners. When you contact a marketing company, know which questions to ask about SEO to meet your needs.

Conclusion: Making the Right Choice for Your SEO Needs 

In the intricate world of SEO, asking the right questions is not just a step but a leap toward finding an SEO company that resonates with your business vision.

As you embark on this journey, remember the importance of thorough research and open dialogue. A well-chosen SEO partner can transform your online presence, driving traffic and fostering growth.

At Valve+Meter Performance Marketing, our primary focus is to create measurable SEO success for our chosen partners. This process starts with transparency and collaboration. We encourage business owners to delve deep into discussions, assess competencies, and vary their expectations to align with our SEO strategy.