Ready to hire an SEO agency? We put together seven simple steps to help you get the most out of your investment. Read on to discover how to foster the best possible working relationship with your agency and tips for managing a successful SEO campaign.
1. Make Sure You Have The Ability To Edit Your Website
In SEO, continuous website optimization is critical to success.
From reports designed to enhance metadata, content recommendations, calls to action, conversion analyses and more, so many SEO deliverables hinge on the ability to make edits to the website. While there are plenty of off-page SEO strategies we can employ, such as link building, reputation management, etc., these measures will never be as impactful as they could be if we’re not able to apply what we learn from organic search and user behavior data to collaboratively build great web pages.
2. Be Ready To Devote At Least 10 Hours Per Month To SEO
When a company contracts digital marketing to an agency, it’s typically for the collective expertise, versatility, and innovation that’s inherent to a team of channel specialists. SEO agencies especially are like incubators for creative minds to share very specialized knowledge, cutting-edge tools, and techniques. That’s tough to replicate in-house and certainly not as cost-efficient.
Yet, sometimes there’s a notion that hiring an agency translates to little or no client-side involvement, or that the client’s role is going to be very low-touch. In successful campaigns, however, this is not the case. Contracting an SEO agency requires an in-house point of contact to work directly with the campaign management team to implement an array of SEO recommendations.
3. Have A Content Writer On Staff, Or Work With An Agency Content Writer
If you’re familiar with SEO, you probably know the industry has evolved quite a bit over the last 10 years. What began with links has become content. You’ll hear phrases like, “content is king” tossed around and appearing in over 35 million Google search results, which can be slightly misleading. With all of the hype surrounding content marketing, you may be inclined to believe simply starting a blog and publishing consistent keyword-rich content will put you ahead of your competitors. True, nearly every business could and should have a blog, but creating content for the sake of creating content will not put you ahead of the competition – no matter how many buzzwords you stuff it with.
Successful SEO relies on great content, and effective content marketing depends on aligning keyword research with user intent and buyer behavior.
First, identify the keywords and phrases your buyers search at each stage of the funnel. Then, collaborate with your sales and marketing teams to develop detailed buyer personas. Know your customers’ interests and pain points. Then, work with your writer to create content that’s relatable and memorable to provide a unique, valuable experience. This will generate brand loyalty and keep prospects returning to read and share your content.
Marketers nowadays need to find ways to tell a unique story. Essentially, your story is an important part in building your brand. Content writers are far more adept at taking what, let’s face it, is not always the most compelling source material, compiling it with information about target audiences, and telling the story that will appeal to them. Not only that but, professional content writers are able to do it better and more efficiently.
If you do not have a content developer in-house and are considering contracting one, your SEO agency is a great place to start as they will be able to provide one that is experienced in writing for SEO.
4. Facilitate Open Communication Between Your Tech Department & Your SEO Agency
As mentioned earlier, many SEO deliverables require changes to the website, some of which necessitate a highly-technical understanding. Even when implementation is not so complex, a cursory understanding of the content management system (CMS) and page structure is recommended.
If you use a vendor to maintain and/or host your website, introduce your SEO Campaign Manager early in the campaign to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Doing so will save everyone time, and avoid unnecessary emails with the client acting as the intermediary between the vendor and the agency.
5. Align In-House Marketing Team With SEO Goals, & Address Marketing’s Priorities In Reporting
Every campaign should kick off with an in-depth client questionnaire that outlines SEO KPIs and goals the in-house team would like to see accomplished over the course of the campaign. Monthly reporting should reflect these accomplishments and serve as the record keeper so the in-house marketing team can hold the SEO Campaign Manager accountable and observe the impact each campaign deliverable has over time.
As partnering with an agency takes time and transparency, it is imperative clients keep their SEO Campaign Manager up to date on all in-house marketing initiatives.
6. Do Your SEO Research & Know Your Analytics
If you are contracting an agency for the first time, it is important to know SEO is an ongoing process that often takes at least three months to see real results. Make sure to talk with your Campaign Manager (CM) about educating the in-house team on what they can expect from your campaign. This can be made simpler and more constructive by understanding what you can realistically achieve based on historic data from your analytics.
If, as a marketer, you have not used Google Analytics (GA) and/or Google Search Console, stop reading this post and go to your website’s GA property to delve into the abundance of available data. You will also find a multitude of related resources and tutorials for just about any concept as well as Google’s own Analytics Academy on the web.
7. Ask Everything & Anything!
This applies to everyone on the account. As a client, don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions of your campaign manager. SEOs are well versed in all kinds of industry-related topics and their primary goal is to help the in-house marketing team. This means not just providing deliverables and monthly reports, but also educating the team on the most innovative strategies in the industry so each member can apply what they have learned.
As an agency analyst or campaign manager, it is equally important to ask questions. Ask the marketing team about past, current, and upcoming marketing initiatives. Ask about competitors, resources the company is willing to devote to SEO. And, always ask, as Tim Wilson pointed out in his talk at SearchLove Boston, “What are we trying to achieve?” and, “How will we know if we’ve done that?” (i.e. KPIs). Ultimately, the answers to the questions you ask provide the guidance you need to do your part most effectively, so ask away!
In SEO, what worked yesterday doesn’t always work today. That’s why it’s essential to have a savvy SEO agency working to keep you and your search rankings ahead of the curve.
Have more questions on how to vet an SEO agency? Get in touch with us today!