Top Questions To Ask Your SEO “Expert”!
Intro SEO Questions
What is the first thing you’ll do when taking over an SEO account?
Bad Answer: It’s top secret…
Our Thoughts: Really…? Top secret huh…? Well, the first thing we’ll do is, after discussing the account goals, is performing our SEO keyword research. Knowing which keywords you want and need to rank for is essential before completing any on-site optimization or keyword targeting. We will review the website, competitors’ websites and various keyword research tools to find keywords that have high search volume and a lower number of competing pages.
What kinds of results should we expect to see the first month and what reports will you include?
Bad Answer: Anything in the area of “You’ll have so much work, you’re going to need to hire new employees left and right so you won’t really need reports”
Our Thoughts: Results can vary on a client-by-client basis. Meaning that depending on the authority (or page rank) of the site, how new or old the domain name is, site history, etc. can all either negatively or positively affect the performance of the account. Generally speaking though you should see a small increase the first month in position and traffic. As for reporting, any management firm should provide you with a keyword ranking report among the top 3 search engines (Google, Yahoo! and MSN) as well as a monthly performance report on visits, leads, bounce rate, time on site, etc. We also offer bi-weekly reports if requested.
What Is Your Website Ranking For At The Moment?
Bad Answer: “Nothing, I haven’t had time to work on my website. Too busy doing SEO for clients.”
Our Thoughts: Any legitimate company should be at least on the top page for some sort of keywords. Just our blog and articles generate traffic relating to SEO and we rank on the first page for dozens of targeted keywords. Find out the target keywords they are ranking for and check them out (but remember to clear your history, cookies, and any cached information before you do, because Google stores site information on your browser and sites you’ve visited in the past will always show up first).
Google Local / Places Questions
Is Google Local included in your price? Name at least 3 elements critical to ranking well in Google Local/Maps/Places search
Bad Answer: “We will create a Google Places listing for you and it will grow in the listings as we build backlinks to your website”
Our Thoughts: We include the creation and optimization of Google Places with each of our campaigns. With that said, Google Places is a completely different animal then your website and is ranked in a completely different manner!
Registration/verification with Google Local/Places
Listing presence & consistency in Google Places sources
Ratings and reviews from Google Places users
Proximity to centroid and match on local phone number/address
Listing prominence in Google Places sources (e.g. Yelp, Citysearch, Urbanspoon, Dexknows, etc.)
Listings/references from sources that feature in “more about this place” (typically from local coverage websites)
Business listing title/name/domain name
Social Media Marketing Questions
Is social media included in our SEO program?
Bad Answer: “Social media doesn’t provide any authority to your website because all of their links are no follows so don’t bother wasting time with that”
Our Thoughts: If this was 1-2 years ago, I would agree with the above statement, however, recent studies (plus a lawsuit directed towards Google favoring Googles new +1) have shown that Google is eating up everything coming from these social media giants! Although back-links coming from these sites are no follows, back-links are not the only thing that helps a campaign’s ranking! Imagine it this way, the more you do online (that pertains to your website) like a tweet or a post, another person following or talking about your business, is like another square foot you add to your building – in other words, it exponentially grows your virtual profile. Since Google loves big companies/websites, Google will grow to love yours more and more.
What aspects of social media marketing have a positive impact on search engine rankings (apart from the value of direct links from the social sites)?
Bad Answer: “Well as I stated before, social media is only reaching the market in their given respective cohorts, it has nothing to do with your websites rankings”
Our Thoughts: Social media is a form of awareness marketing and branding, which can bring a wide variety of search engine ranking benefits. The most obvious and direct is the potential for creation of links and references to the sites/pages that garner traffic and attention through social media. Another powerful influence is the use of social results directly in SERPs as seen by Google & Bing’s integration with Twitter (and Bing’s integration with Facebook). Google also has connections, often via Gmail and other services to “results from my social circle” which can bring results to page 1 that otherwise wouldn’t appear. There’s also indications that tweets, in particular, may be directly influencing rankings and being treated as links, particularly for queries that call the QDF (Query Deserves Freshness); a component of the Google algorithm that pays special attention to queries that may need frequent updating, such as a breaking news stories algorithm. Finally, brand associations and mentions may be mined by the engines from social sources and used in brand entities or co-citation algorithms to help a site/page be seen as more relevant or related to particular keywords and more “important” or “popular.”
On-Site Optimization Questions
What will on-site optimization look like? List 5 tags/locations on a page where employing a target keyword can have a positive effect on search engine rankings.
Bad Answer: ”It’s tough to have a bad answer here as this is the basic addition and subtraction equations of SEO.”
Our Thoughts: One of the first things we do after our keyword research is write new page titles and meta descriptions that are keyword rich but not keyword stuffed. We also recommend that the title tag does not exceed 70 characters and meta description not exceed 155 characters. We then will look at each individual page on your site and incorporate relevant, targeted keywords into the copy – no I have to elaborate on this slightly – we in no way do keywords stuffing and are completely against any companies that utilize this method. It is a very ancient method to use! The copy we will optimize will never be keyword stuffed and should read easily to the user, not the search engines. We also will recommend keywords for flash elements and images so the search engines can read those too.
What are some ways to positively influence the ratio of pages a search engine will crawl and index on a website?
Our Thoughts: There are a large number of potential ways to answer this question, so experienced SEOs will have to use their judgment about the answers given by others, but here are a few of the most obvious/sensible ones:
A) Reduce the quantity of low quality, low value, and/or low unique-content pages.
B) Add and verify an XML Sitemap to send URL information to the engines.
C) Produce RSS feeds of pages/sections that frequently update with new content and use ping services to alert engines of changes/additions.
D) Reduce the click-depth required to reach pages on the site.
E) Eliminate confusing navigation and architecture such as high quantities of pagination, large numbers of faceted navigation or multiple versions of categorization/organization hierarchies.
F) Reduce or eliminate duplicate content (or leverage solutions such as rel=canonical tags).
G) Earn more links (or tweets possibly) to pages that are being passed over for crawling/indexing.
Backlink Building Questions
What’s your link building strategy and who owns the rights to all the work?
Bad Answer: “Our link building methods are top secret so we don’t show them to anyone”
Our Thoughts: Our link building strategy is to find highly targeted, relevant sites with high PageRank and request one-way links from them. We also have a very effective and very large network of websites that we own rights to and use in link building. All of link building is 100% white hat and we do not explore any type of black hat link building. All of our back-links are created within 500-800 unique articles that contain only 1 link. No spammy comments or ping-backs are allowed on the sites where your back-links come from. As far as who owns the rights to all the work? It’s the person that is paying for the work to be done, and that’s you. We highly encourage to make sure that this is talked about in the beginning of any contract!
Do you do any black hat SEO or grey hat SEO? What’s the difference?
Bad Answer: “There isn’t really anything wrong with black had SEO as long as it’s done the right way.”
Our Thoughts: Hopefully, after the Google Farmer update, SEO companies finally learned to stop doing black hat SEO! However, that’s generally not the case. It’s very important to know the type of work the SEO company you are hiring is going to do!
About Them & Their Clients
Do you have any live case studies I can see and do you have any current clients on the books relating to my business?
Bad Answer: “We don’t disclose any of our clients information, for privacy sake, but we do have multiple clients with #1 listings”
Our Thoughts: Remember it is very easy to rank for a keyword that gets less than 10 hits per month (double check on adwords.google.com – sign up for a FREE account – always make sure to click the “[Exact]” button on the left of the screen – http://screencast.com/t/hSLI70ynVI5 and see how many hits that keyword even gets!). Furthermore we only take 1 client per keyword – that way there is never any competition between clients!
How did you get into SEO anyway?
Bad Answer: “SEO isn’t really a separate industry or skill, you just do it on websites later on. I do have a certificate I printed. Or I worked in the IT field – got laid off – and decided to do SEO (my personal favorite). This is a good one to spot shoddy/inexperienced experts.”
Our Thoughts: As the CEO of Kayzoe, I come from a Marketing / Web Development background. I hold a MBA (Master of Business Administration) with an emphasis on Marketing from the University of Washington and received my BTAD (Bachelor of Technology in Applied Design) from Lake Washington Technical College. I’ve been in the web development field since my early days of High School & have had a passion for marketing for the past half-decade or so!
By Andrei Buiciuc