How to Hire an SEO Agency, According to Google
Google have released a video with their official advice on how to hire a SEO.
The 11-minute talk goes over the basics, including how to tell whether the SEO agency you’re speaking to is legitimate, how to hire an agency, and how to make sure that you actually see improvements.
Google explain that there are no quick tricks for long-term success – your SEO potential is only as good as your website, user experience, and content. Good SEO involves improving the entire online experience for your visitors, rather than just concentrating on trying to climb the rankings. Good SEO is good user experience, good content, and fulfilling your visitors’ needs. That includes having a mobile-friendly website, creating good navigation throughout the site, and generally building a solid brand online.
SEO is not instant – it takes approximately 4 months to 1 year to see real results. You can usually see some ranking improvements a little sooner (in our experience) but stable results typically take 3-6 months to see.
One of the great pieces of advice from this video is to ask your SEO to corroborate their recommendations and explain how they will accomplish each task. This is important since some SEOs may recommend that you add more keywords to the Google metatag (for example), but this has not been a ranking factor in a very long time and Google has explicitly said that they do not pay attention to metatag keywords. Asking your SEO to explain what they are doing and why is a great way for your team to learn more about SEO and to vet the agency. However, we recommend that you consider sources outside of Google for this – there are some excellent websites and blogs that conduct in-depth research on SEO trends and what works. These include Moz, WordStream, and Search Engine Land (to name a few).
You can usually do at least some of the SEO work yourself – a lot of SEO isn’t actually technical so you don’t need to be a web designer, developer, or general boffin to do it. Much of the work that we do involves researching competitors, writing quality copy, and making sure that our clients’ websites have everything visitors are looking for. However, many of our clients don’t have the in-house resources or time to do this themselves so they rely on our developers and writers to take care of the implementation as well as the initial SEO recommendations.
Google Advice on the SEO Hiring Process
- Conduct an interview and see whether the agency is genuinely interested in getting to know your business as a whole – it’s important that your agency knows how your business works and who your customers are
- Check references – a good SEO agency should be able to back up their claims and show you stats to explain their achievements and what they could do for you
- Ask for a technical and search audit – this is usually the first step in the SEO process to identify the areas that need work
- Only decide if you want to hire once you have completed at least points 1 and 2 in this list
Your SEO manager should be someone that you can collaborate with and learn from, not just somebody that delivers a monthly service. Our best successes usually happen when our clients are involved in the process and start to build SEO into other business processes.
Finally, Google says that implementing SEO improvements take longer than making the recommendations themselves and if your business is not ready to make the recommended changes, you will not see improvements in your rankings, traffic, or conversions from organic sources. We have in-house developers, copywriters, and digital marketers who can make the changes for you but do require your sign off and input to make sure that the final result is reflective of your business as whole.
As a SEO agency, it’s great to get official feedback like this from Google that provides guidance to our potential clients and reinforces that our approach is the right way to go.