Search engine optimization is constantly evolving, full of jargon, and not for the technically averse. That’s why Jewelry Artisans‘ Jamie Kresl decided to hire an outside company. “I realized I was a business owner; I didn’t have the time or creativity to get involved with SEO or blogging,” he says.
If you do decide to hire an SEO agency, consultants recommend you factor in the following:
- Hire a company that also handles other aspects of site maintenance, like writing articles or blogging. “Find a firm that does everything, not just little bits and pieces,” says Kresl. “I used to hire one person for this, another for that. There was no continuity.”
- Request local references, and see copies of their work. “Ask how many links they have built,” says Shell Harris of Big Oak. “Tell them you want backlink lists for their clients, because that’s where the real impact is, and it’s where some SEO companies cheap out.” However, if a company makes grand promises, like guaranteeing 100 links a month, that can be a red flag that you are dealing with a black-hat company, says GoBeyond SEO’s Brian Saemann. “[Often], those links are worthless.”
- Be sure the agency has a long-term plan they can articulate to you. Long-term is key, says Saemann, adding you should be wary of agencies that just “set it and forget it.”
- Measure the return on investment. Raising your rankings can take time—particularly if your site is new—but eventually, you want these techniques to entice more people to your site, and, ultimately, for those hits to translate into revenue. So measure how things are working. This can be as simple as having salespeople ask customers where they heard about you, says Jeweler Website Advisory Group’s Matthew Perosi. Kresl realized his SEO investment was paying off when people began saying they had found the store on Google.
- Ask the agency to stay in touch. Saemann issues monthly reports to his clients. “You don’t want to send them money and not hear from them again,” he adds.