When you hire an agency to carry out your SEO, what do you expect from them?
I ask this because SEO is broad and still very new in marketing.
It’s so new in marketing that many people in marketing are unaware of the channel.
It’s not uncommon for people in marketing to use the phrase ‘SEO optimise’.
So, if you’re not very familiar with SEO but are aware you need it as an active channel, what can you do to ensure you get the most out of your budget when you hire an agency to carry out your SEO?
Let me put you on to a couple of things.
Firstly, you’ve got to make sure SEO, as a deliverable, is not, I repeat, not a single line item.
The SEO you’re serviced with has to be itemised.
Ideally, it should be grouped into the pillars of SEO – on-page, off-page and technical.
If you were to outsource the SEO for your website, you’ll need to know what you need to improve about your website.
Simply asking an agency to carry out your SEO is the wrong way to improve your SEO.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure an agency would want to provide you with the best services that they can.
But you’ve got to realise, SEO is so broad, the activities they work on, although SEO-related, may not be the right things to work on that’ll drive your business forward.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away, the default deliverable for SEO was link building.
Why, you may ask?
Well, link building used to be an easy win, not necessarily for one’s website, but for an agency.
It was easy for an agency to generate links for their clients.
This was at a time when webmasters, or bloggers, were not very familiar with the value of links.
It was rather easy – convenient even – for agencies to explain the value of links to clients.
Bearing in mind how complicated SEO was for clients to grasp, links were quantified in a very simple way.
Links help your rankings.
Spend x amount, you’ll get x amount of links.
These links will help you get to number one on Google.
Links help your rankings.
This was a simple deliverable to explain.
And as such, it was a simple way to generate business.
So, what happened?
Every bloody agency sold links as their SEO offering.
Clients understood SEO as links. It became a numbers game.
No lie, this was a time when you could acquire links for about £100 – even cheaper.
Penguin put a stop to that BS.
Thankfully, in general, clients are a lot more aware of the risk to approaching SEO in this manner.
However, no longer viewing SEO as link building has led to the problem of having to understand SEO, and at the very least, understand what an agency will deliver when they’ve been hired to work on one’s website.
If your agreement with your agency is that they carry out ‘SEO’, whatever they deliver really can’t be disputed, as long as it is in the realm of SEO.
So, if you’re expecting your agency to look into a technical issue you’re having but instead they spend their time on SEO reporting, you can’t say they haven’t done their job if the agreement you have with them is that they take care of your SEO.
SEO is broad. The more specific you are with the deliverables, the better off you’ll be.
Agreeing with an agency to work on your SEO over a period od 3 months is too broad.
Agreeing with an agency to work on keyword research and competitor analysis over the course of 3 months – now that’s a better agreement. It’s more precise.
You’ll have a clearer grasp of what the agency will be spending their time on.
Now, you should also clearly identify the output, the deliverables, even if this means agreeing on the format of the deliverables before you hire the agency.
You see, here’s the thing.
If you require competitor analysis for your SEO, believe it or not, this is also a broad piece of work.
Competitor analysis can be carried out over a day or two. Or, it could be carried out over the course of weeks.
If you’re sold this service by an agency, the work you receive will have to justify the time spent on it – i.e. the budget you’re spending on it.
So you’ve got to be clear on the documentation you want from the agency.
And communicate this with them so they are aware of what you expect to receive for what you’re paying them.
It’s not uncommon for clients to have a deliverable in mind, only to be disappointed when they receive it from the agency.
It needn’t be like this.
If you have a clear communication with the agency, ensuring SEO is an itemised deliverable, you’ll be in a position where you and the agency can have a rather prosperous relationship.
This clear communication requires you to be aware of SEO.
This isn’t to say you need to know everything about the channel, or need to have previously done SEO, no, no.
But some understand of SEO – yes, you need this awareness of the channel.
Knowing the pillars of SEO is an awareness you need to have.
Knowing what SEO you need for your website, is an awareness you need to have.
Knowing that whatever you receive from an agency will then need to be sold to the business before it can be implemented, is an awareness you need to have.