Mar 04, 2019 - 03:55 PM
I'm going to refer to a book named Principles by Ray Dalio and his concept of "Believable people"
You want to hire the most believable people
1. Believable people as those who have repeatedly and successfully accomplished the thing in question.
2. Who have a strong track record with at least three successes.
3. And have great explanations of their approach when probed.
"new eCommerce store" is a relatively common customer profile for an SEO agency, if the company you're talking to can't walk you through a previous customer that fits that profile, then they're probably going to use your budget to learn (great for them, not as much for you).
You can be direct and ask about their failures, and ask them to explain why they failed. Everybody fails, so if they pretend like they've never had a failure then they're lying.
Ask yourself: Does it seem like they learned anything from their failure?
"Can we ask to talk to the actual person who will be doing the work? Some of the bigger agencies but their best people on the sales effort then quickly delegate to a junior person once the sale is made (if it isn't a big name client, which we are not)."
If you're dealing with a big agency that's just not going to be possible. The person on your account might change X months into the project, etc. Look for smaller companies or freelancers if you're concerned with this.
With larger companies you want to know that they have standardized processes and quality assurance checks, so even if the person on your account changes, you can be confident that your results won't slip.
Ask the agency: "Under what circumstances should I fire you?"
Are they "licking your boots" doing anything to get your business? That's a bad sign that they're going to over-promise and under deliver.
If I was in your shoes this is what I would do:
Ask for 3 examples of brand new eCommerce stores that they grew. ask about how long it took and what the clients budget was.
Ask for the client's contact information to serve as a reference check (they might not give it to you, but you can search them up and reach out on your own).
Mar 05, 2019 - 02:53 AM
You are right - it is hard for an non-SEO to know what companies or individuals know their stuff. Case studies are usually fluff & often the numbers quoted in them are short lived and not necessarily due to the work that was performed (for example, Nike's SEO traffic may have gone up by 30% in a case study, but it was all seasonal and all due to brand searches - not actually due to success on competitive terms). And, yes, many big agencies bring the big guns to make the sale, then hand off the work to very jr employees.
As an experienced SEO, I can speak to an SEO for just a few minutes and can suss them out very quickly - my SEO BS detector is very strong. My advice would be to look at signals that you would expect to be the sign of a quality SEO.
Generally the best SEOs are:
- In demand - you might even have to wait to get on their client roster.
- Speak at conferences in front of their peers.
- Prefer to be judged by SEO results.
- People in the industry know who they are.
- Have a lot of experience on a variety of sites.
Quality SEOs do not:
- Send unsolicited email spam.
- Guarantee rankings.
- "Submit" your site to hundreds search engines.
- Charge under $150/hr or $2,500 per project (or per month).
- Claim they are certified by Google or some other false industry certification (Google does not certify SEOs).
- Talk about meta keywords.
- Charge by the link (you want quality links, not large quantities of garbage links).
- Offer free trials
If you don't know anyone, word of mouth is best, especially if your the referral comes from someone you know who has had success with SEO through their work.
I do think you should ask up front who will be doing the work and how much experience they have. With a freelancer or small agency, the expert may be doing all the work, which is great because it puts you in good hands. There's so much that can go wrong with SEO and so much misinformation - even from Google itself. Knowledge & experience move the needle, not fancy reports or total hours worked.
Mar 09, 2019 - 02:39 AM
$2500 per month isn't a horrible fee to charge people monthly and I know quality SEO's known by some of the top names who have small business packages. We had a client pay us $1000 for 1 year and a half, now most people wouldn't have that kind of patience, but she is doing amazing.
The real issue here is that people don't have that kind of patience and have unrealistic expectations for their budget, which is why I usually tell clients to never expect more than 5X ROI on their marketing budget. Expecting 10x returns means you're betting on luck imho.