12 Questions to Ask Before You Pay for SEO

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If you don’t know much about SEO then paying for a professional to optimise your site is probably a good idea. But what do you need to ask to make sure that they will do a good job for you? And how will you know that the SEO they are doing is working?

As a full service online marketing agency, we offer SEO services alongside our content marketing, social media management and development projects. This gives us a broad view of the industry and now we’re going to let you in on the secrets of SEO.

Here are the questions we think you should ask before you pay for SEO:

Links

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What is your link building strategy?

A good link building strategy will begin with research. It is vital that you understand who the main and top ranking competitors are in your industry so that you can examine what they are doing right, and how you can change your strategy to be more successful. They are also a good resource for finding out which links are likely to work and where you can get natural links from.

The best way to gain links from another site is to provide them with some unique content. This means creating something specifically from your brand that will sit well on their site, a talent our Content Marketing Department have honed.

Once you know which sites you want to target and you have a unique piece of desirable content, you need to have a great outreach plan in place to keep track of your progress. This might include sharing the link on social media or contacting news or other media websites to give them the scoop on your content.

Is this considered to be in line with Google best practise?

A good agency will be up-to-date with all of Google’s latest updates and understand what they mean for link building techniques. Google likes links from relevant websites and is leaning towards content that is helpful for the user rather than aimed towards search engines. This means creating content that is actually helpful, not just stuffed with keywords.

Having an understanding of webmaster guidelines is a must for any link builder. These guidelines are they best way to keep up with Google’s ever-changing algorithm as well as avoiding making errors in your link building strategy and accidentally damaging your campaign.

Do you outsource your link building?

Outsourcing your link building is probably a good idea as it means that it will be managed by a dedicated company who know the practise inside out. However it may cause problems if you also need to work with a content team.

The best of both worlds is to use a company that has both a link building team and a content team in-house so that the whole process is streamlined and more outreach campaigns can be managed.

Is my backlink profile healthy or unhealthy?

A healthy link profile consists of links from high authority (influencers within their respective fields), high domain authority (have a high domain score) and relevant sites. It shouldn’t include any “spammy” links (links from low domain authority or irrelevant sites).

A healthy profile will also have links leading to a number of different pages on your site. This means that instead of leading people to a generic ‘about us’ page or ‘home’ page all the time, you will take people to the relevant page straight away. The page the link leads to should also be surrounded by relevant text to your site and the linking anchor text should make use of either brand or related keywords.

Content

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What is your keyword research strategy?

Good keyword research involves having a thorough understanding of your business and the products or services you provide. It also requires an understanding of the industry you’re in and competitors. This research and understanding forms the basis of any keyword research strategy.

Choosing the right keywords is also crucial for optimising your content. Broad keywords will be harder to rank high for, depending on your current position, but are likely to generate a lot of traffic. On the other hand, longtail keywords will be easier to rank for but won’t generate a lot of searches. This means that when choosing keywords, your strategy needs to find a balance and find the more specific keywords that can result in better rankings but are also relevant and have a high enough search volume to generate traffic.

How do you use Keyword Research in your content development?

Your keyword research should be a factor when generating content. If you know that you want to rank for a certain keyword, make sure you create content that is related to it and will be useful to the person who is searching. You may also find that your competitors rank for particular keywords that you hadn’t thought of, in which case you can now create some content in order to compete more effectively.

Do you create content with internal linking in mind?

Internal linking is good for SEO because it allows you to deal out authority from higher pages across your site. It also helps the user to easily navigate your site by giving them quick and obvious routes to the information they want to find next. This will also help to drive traffic to other areas of your site and is good for setting a structure for your site.

Do you outsource your content writing?

Outsourcing content isn’t necessarily a problem, but you should endeavour to find out who the content writing will be outsourced to to ensure their writing is of the quality you require. If a company is outsourcing, they should also have a close working relationship with the content writer to ensure that the writing is properly optimised.

At OVG, our Copywriting Department do all the content writing for our clients. This means that they can work with the SEO and Links Team efficiently and keep each other updated on strategy and progress.

How will content be used to gain ROI (Return on Investment)?

Creating engaging content will drive interested customers to your site giving you the best chance of a conversion. Good content will also return some coverage and links just because people are interested in reading it, not because it is paid for.

It is also important to ask whether ROI is factored into content creation as well as how the performance of the content is tracked. There is no point in optimising content for ROI if you don’t then track users to see whether the content is actually leading them to convert.

ROI optimised content should contain elements designed to drive traffic and sales. These might be links to a conversion page or call to action buttons. Having these easy routes to conversion will improve your ROI and you can use tracking to see how well these routes are performing.

Technical SEO

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Do you have specialist technical staff and developers?

Specialist SEO staff will need at least a basic understanding of code in order to conduct technical SEO. As technical SEO is essentially behind the scenes of your website, having staff who are capable of manipulating code will save a lot of time. While having development skills aresn’t essential for good SEO, the quality of work may suffer without the same capabilities.

A company could, of course, outsource to a developer with a specification in order to optimise your site. However, as with any outsourcing, this adds time and cost to your project and there is no guarantee that a developer will have an in depth knowledge of SEO and therefore understand why they are implementing the SEO team’s recommendations.

The perfect situation might be to have both technical SEO staff and developers in house in order to achieve the best site possible. At OVG, we have a full team of developers who can work with the SEO department to achieve the best possible results when building and improving your website.

What do you cover in an SEO audit?

An SEO audit should cover:

  • keyword density
  • amount of duplicate and original content
  • number and quality of links
  • schema/html markup
  • do they have a google business account?
  • how the site is structured (breadcrumbs etc)
  • how content is structured (headings, alt text etc)
  • how urls are structured

A good audit will also compare these metrics to competitors to give an indication of how well your SEO is performing. The audit should also show up areas where you can improve your SEO and come with ideas for how to achieve your goals.

How often are audits run?

There should always be an initial SEO audit of the site to assess where any initial improvements can be made. After these, periodic audits should take place, usually every 3 months dependent on the amount of work being done on the site.

Doing regular audits can help you to understand how the performance of the site is improving and will be a good way of showing you comparable results that show the trajectory of your site.

The main reason for regular audits from your perspective is that they show you what and how much work a company are doing on your site.

SEO goes hand in hand with web development, content creation and content marketing so when you look for paid SEO, consider whether you can get all of these services in one place or who each aspect can be outsourced to.

If you would like to know more about SEO, give us a call on 0844 871 7291 or drop us an email at hello@ovgroup.co.uk

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About Tom Dutson

Tom is currently learning as much as possible about Links and SEO as the resident OVG apprentice. He is a huge fan of Hunter S Thompson, loves playing guitar and you can probably find him at one of Manchester’s bars at any given time (out of work hours).

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