You know these types of calls. The ones you get 20+ of a week and they all start the exact same way, “I can get you to the top of Google” or “Would you be interested in being on page 1 of Google” or some other variation.
In this post I want to give you some simple ammunition to arm yourself against the bad apples that give this industry a bad name. There are a million and one really good agencies out there that will take your business to the next level given half the chance. This post is not designed to trick these people but merely uncover the cowboys and con men that operate in this field so you dont become their next victim. Remember, these are just a few simple questions you should be asking. Always remember to do your own homework and ask the questions you need answers too.
First question – Ask them what they mean by “top of Google”
The reason I start with this question is simple, do you know whether you are dealing with an SEO (Search engine optimisation – Organic listings) agency or a PPC agency (Pay per click – Yellow ish listings at the top and down the right)? Might seem like a simple question but many businesses have been led down the garden path on this one, trust me. Just a warning, if a PPC agency starts their grand pitch of with “we can get you to the top of Google” then this to me would be a warning sign as any silly Sally can pretty much manage that. The art of PPC is delivering huge returns on investment from the keywords you are bidding on put simply << A lot trickier than it sounds. 99% of the time you are dealing with an SEO agency that will start with the top of Google line just FYI.
Second question – How?
Now with this you dont want the caller to spend the next 2 hours laying out the next 3 months work but a general summary would be nice. TIP: ask them if they use upto date SEO techniques (If they are an SEO agency)? Some rotten apples to look out for will say Meta tags and page titles or that they will submit your site to the search engines. This kind of service is laughable and again, any silly Sally can manage it.
PPC: Most agencies offer a free review or a free trial of their adwords management service, take them up on this but be sure that it carries no obligation. Remember you know what you want with your account, more sales, lower cost per clicks etc so when you speak them again see if they are on the same wave length and dont be afraid to ask around about their suggestions/recommendations. If we give your account the once over we actively recommend you ask around or speak to our clients it proves we are confident in our service and we know what we are talking about. Test the caller with this one and judge the response you get accordingly.
Third question – Time scales?
Remember you will be paying this agency (SEO or PPC) by the hour, week, month etc so you dont want to be waiting around months to see a slight improvement. Now SEO takes longer to implement than PPC so ask when you will start to see small improvements, doesnt have to be anything major but a little sign that things are moving in the right direction will help you build trust with that person/agency and believe in what they are telling you. Especially as the norm for SEO can be 3-6 months.
“Am I able to pay on results or if the results are undesirable do I get my money back?” Search engine marketing is very much a results based game so if you are not seeing results why should you be paying for it? This is not unreasonable so dont be afraid to ask the question.
Fourth question – experience?
Regardless of what industry you are in everyone is a world leading international multi million dollar business with clients all over the globe and now I have nothing against a company bulling itself up if it doesn’t have any clients it cannot be any of that statement above right? So dont be afraid to ask for references. Its amazing how many people will skip this and had they just done that little bit of due diligence they would have saved themselves a ton of hassle. Use Google, search twitter, YouTube etc you find something unfavourable, raise it, it may not be what it seems, it may well be though so ask.
IMPORTANT: Ask them what their policy is regarding same industry clients. If you are a divorce solicitor and you are paying a search engine marketing company to bring you the best possible ROI or put you top of the natural rankings it will be a huge conflict of interest should they also work with another divorce solicitor targeting the same area/same keywords or currently be working with one.
BUT the most important thing to remember is that just because they have decided to call you doesn’t mean they are dodgy. If you are not interested then just say you are not interested, if a company keeps calling you then this is pretty much all you need to know about them really. If you dont use an agency or freelancer for this then be sure to listen to guy or girl on the phone as you may not want to use their services but they may just give you some free tips inadvertently and remember if you are satisfied with the answers given from the questions above then give them a try, you dont have to go with the first company that calls but that company is calling you for a reason.
Thanks to Debbie Stogden of www.debbiestogden-photography.co.uk for the idea of this post. If you have an idea for a blog post you would like to see then either comment below or get in touch with us on Twitter via @CuroMarketing