Digital Marketing is essential for the growth of any business in this age of internet marketplaces. Don’t ignore it, and don’t just go for the cheapest agency with no expertise and nothing to offer. You should be prepared and educated about your options and the services that would be most beneficial to your business.
You wouldn’t want to hire a business lawyer without being prepared, right?
When choosing an internet marketing company, you want to be well-informed and prepared.
You may be wondering “So, what do I need to know?”
Before you even have the first meeting, here are some preliminary steps you should take:
1. Do Your Research
Familiarize yourself with the basic concepts of SEO before discussing options with agencies. There are tons of free online resources to introduce you to SEO such as Search Engine Land, Think With Google and Search Engine Journal.
Being well-informed not only helps you know which services you need most, but also protects you from being taken advantage of by a company looking to “pull the wool over your eyes” so to speak.
Research your own website, your competitors, and the demographic of expected customers. Use Google and Bing to search for terms related to your business and see where you’re currently standing in the search engine results page (SERP).
2. Consider Reviews and Reputation
Once you’re familiar with the basics of internet marketing and Search Engine Optimization, it’s time to do your homework on the company (or companies) you’re considering hiring. Start with a simple Google search to learn about the company’s services, history, and location. Look over their ratings on Yelp, Google and Facebook as well. Get creative.
This is where you will (hopefully) get the unbiased, unfiltered report on their performance. This is like asking a passerby where they recommend to go for lunch, rather than walking into a cafe and asking “how’s your food?”.
Note: If you’d prefer to have face-to-face meetings, then narrow your search that way, however, a good SEO agency should be keeping you informed via emails, phone calls, etc.
3. Consider your Budget
Before you contact a company to discuss working together, you want to have a general figure in mind of how much you’re willing and able to spend on SEO, SEM, web design, social media marketing, or anything else that comes to mind.
In general, most digital marketing agencies will tend to work with similar size companies – meaning, they may specialize in small, locally-owned businesses, or, larger, more established ones like major car dealerships. This will affect their pricing structure. Through your research, you will probably be able to tell if your business aligns with their specialty.
The agency may bring up the topic fairly early in the conversation to make sure you’re on the same page. Don’t just go with the cheapest bidder. If you want results, expect to hear prices from reputable agencies from $1,500 to $10,000-plus monthly. This may sound scary at first, but the return on investment is almost always more than double what you’re spending.
If you were to pay $2,500/month for SEO, and your website then starts ranking at the top of search results…
Then say at least 500 people/month search for your goods and/or services…
And only 100 of them actually landed on your website…
Then only 50 of them became clients…
If you were to only make $100 off of each client, you just made at least $5,000 that month from new clientele.
Not too shabby, eh?
Also, when you contact a digital marketing agency, try to be prepared to answer the following questions:
- How is your business now – slow, busy, dropping off?
- Where would you like to see growth? Did you recently start offering a new product or service? Did a competitor just open up down the street – how is that affecting you?
Remember that whoever you decide to hire for SEO, the more transparent and cooperative you are, the more likely you are to see better results. Meaning, provide all the details you can about your business. Being able to provide your own insight and knowledge as described above will help digital marketing agencies tailor your website to work in your market, and of course, increase your business.
Now that you’ve educated yourself on SEO and the company you’re considering working with, it’s time to meet with the agency and ask questions.
The expert/company you hire should be willing and enthusiastic to explain how their services will help your business grow. Ask questions, clarify what services come with what “package,” and confirm timelines and contracts and what they need from you.
Finally, you should have the answers to the following questions before signing any agreement:
- What is your previous work done for similar companies?
- How do you measure the success of your SEO campaigns?
- What will you do to improve my site’s search engine rankings?
- Do you adhere to Google’s guidelines?
- Are you experienced in optimizing for “local SEO?” (This question is especially important for smaller, brick-and-mortar businesses)
- Will you keep me informed on changes you’re making to my site?
- How will we communicate?
- How many people are on your team, and who will be working on this assignment?
- What happens when the project is over?
- Do you offer “maintenance” services? (Periodically updating the back-end of your site and optimizing for SEO). If so, what are the fees, and how long is the contract?
After these questions are answered, confirm that you will still maintain ownership of all content, then of course confirm fees and payment.
Being prepared, doing research, and asking the right questions can help you ensure that you end up working with the SEO agency that best fits your needs. Remember to stay engaged throughout the process as well! Ask for updates, and review proposals and content to make sure they are accurate and aimed at meeting your goals.
That being said, you’re hiring someone so that you don’t have to take care of this aspect of your business yourself. It’s a full time job; you should focus on running your business. If they take up too much of your time or seem to be clueless without you – ditch them. Hire someone who does their own homework, producing results to the point where you’re doing what you do best – taking care of the results being sent.
Featured photo credit: Jay Freidman via entrepreneur.com