Is Your SEO Agency Any Good? Ask Yourself These 7 Questions!

Wayne Liew

Can you resonate with the following scenario?

You have been working with this SEO agency for some time now. The monthly reports presented seem flawless and justified.

Yet, you are not excited about what they are doing for you.

Something doesn’t feel right, but you are not sure what questions to ask.

Stop worrying. In this article, I am going to help you to evaluate your SEO agency.

No, I am not going to trash them outright. That is up to you. All I want you to understand is where the feeling of insecurity comes from, as well as the right questions to ask your SEO agency.

SEO could quickly become a blackhole of time and money. Therefore, you must not waste your money with the wrong vendor.

Do They Share Their SEO Tactics with You?

Set up a meeting with your SEO vendor. Ask them about the tactics that were implemented, and how they have positively impacted the rankings of your website in the search results.

It is a red flag if they are not willing to share. The best SEO professionals do not only share what they did with their clients, they will share it openly with the world if they are allowed to. A Startling Case Study of Manual Penalties and Negative SEO by is a good example of such sharing.

Knowing their tactics allows you to align their efforts with all your ongoing marketing efforts.

For example, you will get a list of search queries that are generating leads for your business if you are driving traffic to your website with an AdWords campaign.

Your SEO vendor should place a high priority in boosting the ranking of your website for these search queries instead of randomly generated keywords. By doing so, you get to enjoy traffic coming to your website via the organic search results of converting search queries on top of your search ads. This will reduce your overall cost per lead in the long run.

Do They Give You Access to Your Marketing Tools?

As a business owner who knows little about online marketing, you might presume that you don’t have the right to access any marketing tools that your agency uses.

Here’s the hard truth: Your SEO vendor might be hiding something from you if they do not give you, at the very least, view access to your Google Webmaster Tools, Google My Business and Google Analytics accounts.

Demand access for the tools above. If you find any reports in these tools that you are unsure about, request for an explanation. Your SEO consultant should be more than happy to provide an explanation.

Do They Ask You for Things?

Watch out for the following modus operandi used by some of the SEO agencies or consultants in Singapore:

  • Step 1: Sell your their services and get you to sign a year long SEO contract.
  • Step 2: Commence work.
  • Step 3: Send you monthly reports on keyword rankings.
  • Step 4: Show up again at the end of the contract asking for an extension.

Do you realise what is missing? Yes, they didn’t ask you for things!

Any SEO vendor will require access to your website to carry out changes for on-page SEO elements.

At the same time, they will ask for your marketing content and materials so they can start plotting on how to expand the presence of your business on the Internet. These include logo, brochures, product shots, press kits and more.

An SEO consultant will also request for access to your marketing or analytics tool if you are using any. This will help them to spot opportunities and weaknesses of your website, as well as to align their work better with your marketing goals.

Do They Help Improve Your On-Page Ranking Factors?

Your website is like the base of all your online marketing initiatives. Your need a solid base before you can expect any link building or promotional activities to deliver a significant impact on SEO performance.

As you can see in the screenshot below, the HTML Improvements report in Google Webmaster Tools shows how you can improve your webpages further. Other SEO tools can detect similar errors too. Your SEO consultant should address these right away when you engage his or her services.

Brian Dean wrote a blog post explaining the anatomy of a perfectly optimized page. If an SEO consultant that you are just about to hire does not even bring up the any of the elements outlined by Brian, and decides to jump right into a discussion on link building, drop the conversation and move onto another vendor.

Do They Help to Build High Quality Backlinks?

The backlinks pointing to your website is a key factor for Google to determine how high your website should rank.

Many business owners, however, have the misconception that the more links that you have, the higher your rankings are going to be. Guess what? Google is smarter than this. Other than looking at the number of links pointing to a web page, they look at the quality of the links too.

This is why you should know what types of links is your SEO agency building. In this region (Singapore and Malaysia), there are still a lot of agencies that rely on private blog networks, spam and link schemes to build links for their clients. These tactics are strongly discouraged by Google and they even listed these tactics as violations of their Webmaster Guidelines.

The best way to find out whether your SEO agency is building low-quality or spammy links is by looking at the Links to Your Site report in Google Webmaster Tools.

It’s easy to evaluate the quality of these links.

  • First, click into every link on the list.
  • Next, ask yourself whether you will be proud enough to show it to your customers or business partners.
  • It’s all good if your answer is yes, but if it is a no, then you might want to alert your SEO agency of your discovery.

Do They Share Your Competitors’ Gameplan with You?

Organic search results are highly competitive. You may be doing the right things, but if your competitors are doing things better, and at a faster pace, you will be the loser in the long run.

Good SEO vendors do not only focus on their clients. They focus on your industry as a whole and what your competitors are doing.

This involves, but not limited to, the following:

  • Tracking fresh mentions of your competitors’ brand.
  • Identifying the source of competitors’ inbound links using tools like Open Site Explorer.
  • Understanding common SEO tactics used in your industry.
  • Providing advice on how your business should react.

If you are not getting these insights from your vendor, then it is high time to ask them for it, especially if the results you are getting from your SEO efforts are coming to a plateau.

Do They Look Beyond Keyword Rankings?

Having a high ranking for a list of keywords is nice, but do you know what is better? Having a high ranking for keywords that brings you traffic and customers.

Savvy business owners who are spending money on online advertising always try to measure cost per lead, but those who are investing in SEO don’t. Many of us forget that SEO does not give you free traffic because just like any other marketing channels, you need to invest either time, effort or money into it.

Thus, you must keep your SEO agency accountable by looking at the number of leads and customers that their efforts are getting for your business.

Getting leads from an SEO campaign requires us to look beyond keyword rankings. It requires a deep understanding of your business and how your customers search for your product or service. Ultimately, the goal is to increase the number of visitors coming from the search results and landing on the most relevant landing page on your website.

Again, stop worrying too much about keyword rankings. Ask your SEO consultant if there are any metrics that will help to measure the effectiveness of his or her tactics in growing your business.

SEO Takes Time and a Lot of Efforts, Don’t Waste Them

You might have heard about this from your SEO agency: SEO takes time. You can only see results trickling in after 3 to 6 months. This is very true, and this is exactly why you should ensure that the agency is doing all the right things from the start.

In fact, you should measure their efforts just like how we run our Better Leads-Gen Platform for our clients.

Imagine this.

What if you spend the 6 months worth of time and money on SEO, but only to find out that your SEO agency is not performing?

Are you satisfied with your current SEO vendor? What did they do right for your business? If they failed to make any progress, how did you find out about it? Share your story with us in the comment section!

Images courtesy of SAN_DRINO.