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Straight from the horse's mouth: Google on how to select an SEO agency

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Google SEO Guide

Modern Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) competition is cutthroat, and marketers' (and consumers for that matter) are aware that SEO plays a significant role in creating profitable user experiences. It doesn't really matter how clever or sophisticated or creative your content is if it is lacking those fundamental ingredients that keep customers clicking, reading, sharing and buying time and time again.

Choosing to hire a digital agency to drive SEO is not a decision that should be taken lightly. SEO for hire is big business: finding the “right” agency or provider will save you time, improve your website and ultimately, generate return. Hiring the “wrong” SEO (of which there are many out there) can risk damage to everything you’ve built, including your reputation.

So, let’s get the goods straight from Google: what can or should we reasonably expect from an SEO agency; and how should we choose the “right” one?

While some may opt to captain their SEO effort, a digital agency can offer business owners a selection of specialised services, including but not limited to:

  • Website audit: review of content and structure
  • Technical website development advice: eg: hosting, redirects, error pages, use of JavaScript
  • Content marketing advice
  • Management of online business development campaigns
  • Keyword research
  • SEO training
  • Expertise in specific markets and or geographies

Google’s tips for getting started in your search for a pro-SEO? Get educated. Start by familiarising yourself with how search engines work: Google Webmaster Guidelines and Google 101: How Google crawls, indexes and serves the web are useful resources.

As a rule, Google recommends employing an agency early, ideally when you’re planning a new site, or redesigning an existing one. This way you’re SEO-friendly from the ground up.

When hiring an agency Google has compiled a list of useful questions to ask:

  1. Request examples of previous work and ask them to share some success stories.
  2. Do you follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines?
  3. Do you offer any online marketing services or advice that will complement your services?
  4. What results should I expect to see?
  5. Within what timeframe should I expect to see these results?
  6. How do you measure your effectiveness?
  7. What’s your experience in my industry?
  8. What’s your experience in WA/Australia/internationally?
  9. What are your most important SEO techniques?
  10. How long have you been in business?
  11. How can I expect to communicate with you about changes/activity on my site?

Google stresses to be mindful of “unethical” and “aggressive” providers who attempt to manipulate search engine results in ways that violate the guidelines. Employing unethical providers like this will likely see a negative adjustment of your website’s presence in Google, and worst case scenario, total removal of your site from the index. Both things are hard and expensive to come back from.

Scams/things to watch out for:

  • “Shadow domains” that funnel users to a site by using deceptive redirects. The shadow domains are often owned by the SEO agency, meaning if they so choose they can redirect the domain to a different site altogether.
  • “Doorway pages” loaded with keywords on the client site somewhere. The agent often promises it will make the page more relevant and rank higher: this is false. More insidious, however, is that these doorway pages often contain hidden links to the agent’s other clients. Such pages drain the link popularity of a site and re-route it, which may include sites with unsavoury or illegal content.
  • Unsolicited/spam emails from consultants or agencies: proceed with caution.
  • No one can guarantee you a #1 ranking on Google! It doesn’t matter if they profess to have “special” relationships with Google – it is simply not possible.
  • Be wary of any company that is overly secretive or will not answer any of the questions above.
  • You should never have to link to an SEO: avoid providers who talk about “free for all” links or popularity schemes.
  • Choose wisely: research prospects!
  • Understand where the money goes and what you’re being charged for.
  • Beware if an agency or consultant has had domains removed from Google’s index or is not listed itself!

If you feel that you were deceived an SEO provider in some way, Google always recommends to report it.

Equilibrium’s Digital Marketing team has compiled a comprehensive eBook, SEO 2017 & Beyond, to explore the what, how, why, who and when of website optimisation in today and, as the title suggests, beyond. If you’d like to know more, the eBook is available for download, free!

Marketing Automation Demystified

For more information contact:

David O'Donnell

Equilibrium | Inbound Marketing Director
(08) 9218 8622
david@equ.com.au
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