I’m an SEO for a living, but even I get pitched. I don’t know if it’s a stale lead list, business directories, or random phone dialers, but yes – I get calls too. They always seem to know what’s wrong with my site – not just this SEO site, but my other websites as well. They’re clearly not always paying attention to who they’re pitching.
Oddly enough, every site I own seems to have the same issues according to the canned emails. Absurd.
Legit SEOs know they have to deal with the snakes in our industry, but if they weren’t successful, they probably wouldn’t be trolling businesses with largely scaled SEO offers. For the millions of spammy emails they send, they do hit some targets in the form of small to medium sized businesses. I’ve gotten many calls from old friends who work at, or own, a business that got hit with this pitch. “Bill – we just got this email. Have you ever heard of them? This seems too good to be true!” It is.
However, good SEO companies do outreach too. You can get pitched by good, reliable, talented SEO companies. But you’ll benefit by asking them the right questions, to make sure you’re weeding out the snakes. To my SEO readers, what would you ask and why? Add it to the comments.
- Can you guarantee rankings?
If they say yes, be suspicious. Any SEO can get you some rankings, but even the best SEOs can’t guarantee every ranking. I’d warn you against any SEO that says they can guarantee a top ranking for any term. First, you can’t make Google do anything (SEOs are influencers, not negotiators). It’s possible that their favored rankings and universal results are immovable.
- What would you consider a successful campaign?
If they say “lots of traffic,” ask them what they think about being held to conversions. Any SEO can get you traffic. They can spam through Twitter, or create irrelevant doorways. But what good is traffic that doesn’t convert? The great thing about SEO is it’s inbound by nature. It pulls in the searchers who are looking for you. People can be tricked into visiting your page, only to realize that they’re not where they wanted to be. They’ll bounce in seconds, but your SEO serpent will strut around like a hero. Hold them to conversions, and you’ll find out pretty quickly how confident your SEO is.
- What tactics do you use?
Some SEOs focus on link building, some focus on on-page contextual work, some focus on content marketing, and some focus on sitewide technical optimizations. If you have an SEO that only does one, you may be missing some necessary ingredients. Very few sites can be fully successful without all these ingredients – though it’s possible. If an SEO approaches you without giving you a real sense of skill in those areas, you may have someone who’s creating a quick, automated package that doesn’t have a lot of substance.
- What does your reporting look like?
The reason to ask this is obvious, but sometimes the obvious escapes us in times of need. Once you see a report, you’ll start to ask a lot of questions. You’ll be inspired. The reports that an SEO provide can be a real indicator into how deep their engagement is going to be.
- Can you provide some references?
It’s awkward to call a stranger, but this is really important if you’re banking on an SEO. You need a review of the SEO. If they can’t create happy clients that are willing to share their experience with you, then you have to raise a red flag.