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How To Check The References Of An SEO Company

September 22, 2015

What you will learn: How to determine whether an SEO company will deliver results for your firm.

Who should read this article: Executive and marketing leadership.

Checking References Is Key to Selecting the Right SEO Company

Whether it’s job candidates or SEO companies, there are two ways to check references: going through the motions, or digging in to find those pieces of critical information that tip the scales.

Like job candidates, SEO companies interview well. However, a great sales pitch does not prove an SEO company will deliver results for you. By talking to the SEO company’s clients, you’ll get much, much closer to the answer — if you ask the right questions.

Tips for Checking an SEO Company’s References

Your first clue to the mystery of whether an SEO company can deliver: its willingness to provide references. If the company flat out refuses or is very reluctant, chances are you’re talking to a take-the-money-and-run operation. Assuming the company will provide references, here are tips for checking them like a pro.

Get the right references. Avoid comparing apples and oranges — the closer the referred company is to your SEO situation, the better. You may think this means obtaining references in your industry, but far more important is to talk to clients with campaigns that have a similar objective and scope. For instance, if you are planning a national campaign for lead generation, you’ll get more insight from a reference doing that rather than a reference conducting a local e-commerce revenue campaign. In addition, talking to companies in a variety of niches tells you how versatile the SEO company is; how well they perform in a variety of verticals.

Get references with history. Since SEO campaigns often take months to achieve meaningful results, references should have campaigns that have been in place for a year or more.

Talk to the right person. The person you interview should be high level, but also someone with working knowledge of SEO and the campaign. A competent SEO company should be eager to connect you with such an individual.

Ask the right questions. Vague questions such as, “Are you satisfied with the results?” don’t give you much insight, since the reference’s idea of “satisfied” may be quite different from yours. These questions will give you a more precise idea of what the SEO company can do:

Results

  • How long has your SEO campaign been in place?
  • What are the specific goals of your SEO campaign?
  • How do you measure the success of your SEO campaign?
 How has the SEO company performed against your goals, according to the measures you have set?
  • How many validated sales leads per month did your SEO campaign produce in the first six months?
  • How many validated sales leads per month does your SEO campaign produce now?
  • Is your campaign showing no improvement, steady improvement or dramatic improvement?

Process

  • What specific activities does the SEO company undertake to execute your campaign?
  • How frequently and to what extent are these activities undertaken?
  • What activities, such as content production or website updates, does your own staff handle?
  • Is communication efficient? Can you give examples of especially good or bad communication?
  • Is campaign activity conducted in an efficient manner, or do there seem to be gaps or overlap? Can you give any examples?
  • Does the SEO company track all phone and form leads?
  • How often do you receive campaign reports and analysis?
  • Are all reported sales leads validated, or does the SEO company only report on conversions, which also include misdials, sales solicitations and other non-lead data?
  • Do you meet regularly with the SEO company to review results and make adjustments to the campaign? In what ways are these meetings helpful?

Relationship

  • Is the company transparent in its dealings and reporting? Can you give examples of transparent or non-transparent performance?
  • Do you feel like a top or low priority client for the SEO company? What makes you feel that way?
  • How does the SEO company respond to problems or setbacks? Do they take responsibility or make excuses? Do they find creative solutions? Can you give any examples?
  • Please rate the SEO company on a scale of 1 to 10 for: competence, ease of doing business, transparency and performance versus expectations.

Supplement reference checks with online research. By doing a Google search for “[company name] online reviews” you may find many links to reviews of the firm in question, either positive or negative. These reviews, many of which are highly detailed, are extremely revealing.

SEO is a major undertaking, so don’t rely on vague impressions and guesswork. Instead, get answers to these questions — then you’ll feel confident in your decision, whatever it is.

Contact Straight North to discuss your next SEO campaign.

Call us at 855-883-0011 or request a quote online.

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