SEO Agency Questions: What to Ask Before Hiring

Article , SEO

You: Can you guarantee that my website will rank #1?

SEO company: Absolutely.

Us: Run.


Alright, you don’t really need to lace up your running shoes…but, this kind of answer is definitely a red flag.

In this post, we will give you some practical questions you can ask an SEO company before hiring them, and what to look for in their responses.

Question Good Answer Bad Answer
Can you guarantee that my website will rank #1? This question is impossible to answer – but here’s what you should look for in the response you receive.

They should be able to give you a realistic idea of what kind of results to expect and when to expect them.  

Their answer should also explain some of the top ranking factors that can affect your position, such as:

  • competitors
  • industry/keyword competition
  • location of the searcher
  • people’s search history
  • algorithm changes

Organic search positions are defined by Google, and only Google … and it’s safe to say they protect their algorithm very (very, very) closely. No SEO company knows exactly what it is. If their answer sounds too good to be true. It probably is.

An SEO company should be able to increase your search traffic continually over time, but specific keyword rankings just can’t be guaranteed.

Absolutely / Yes / Definitely /

100% … etc.

Warning – take this as a serious red flag. A reputable SEO will not promise specific rankings.

How many new backlinks can we expect per month? The SEO company should provide you with an estimate of how many links they can provide based on your budget and explain what exactly gaining a link involves, the type of links they plan on building and what a quality backlink is.

Bonus points if they name some reputable/high quality placement opportunities relevant to your business and industry.

Think quality over quantity.

Thousands / Hundreds / A lot / A specific number … etc.

Warning – avoid anyone who is promising a large number of links. Backlinks typically bring a consideration fee of between $100–$300 each. Consideration fees are a small price bloggers or news sites ask for to consider whether an article with a link to your site is a good fit for their audience. If they are promising links at a much lower cost, they probably aren’t high quality links.

Why does that matter? Well, bad links can land you in some serious hot water with Google – so take this one seriously. It can take years to come back from these kind of penalties.

Can you share past results and/or case studies? Can I speak to a current and past client? A good SEO company will not hesitate to share case studies or successful projects with you.

They should also be happy to connect you with past and current clients. Think of this as a reference check on your part.

Avoid companies who only want to share case studies or reports.

Although these can be insightful, case studies and reports can be easily manipulated.

This comes down to being open, honest and transparent. If they can’t nail that from the beginning, the future looks grim.

Can you breakdown your services based on specific SEO tasks? What can I expect from my investment? Good SEOs will be happy to be transparent and breakdown exactly what your SEO strategy will entail in order to achieve your SEO goals.

From hours allocated to resources, the more detail, the better.

The types of services in your strategy may also evolve over time. For example, a new SEO strategy might begin with a technical and on-page SEO audit, followed by keyword research, onsite optimisation, then move on to content updates, content creation, outreach/offsite SEO and so forth.

Poor SEO companies will try to hide these details from you and will be very wary to itemise your strategy.

Their answers may be vague and convoluted.

They may also try to justify this by saying they don’t want to reveal their strategy or Intellectual Property. Don’t buy it, it’s just simply, not true.

How are you going to prove the campaign is successful? The SEO company should be able to report monthly on what they’ve done and the overall success of their efforts. They should also mention that they will prepare an initial benchmark report which outlines how your website is currently performing and and outline some clear KPIs that they will be working towards.

As the conversation about reporting evolves, they should touch on how exactly they plan track your rankings, traffic and conversions.

Bonus points – they offer to provide you and your team with basic SEO education and analytics training so that you can confidently check results yourself.

If they give you a short answer, and aren’t prepared to discuss how they will be reporting on the campaign, be wary.

A keen and reliable SEO company will stress the importance of reporting, transparency and open communication.

They should want you understand exactly what’s going on at all times.

What makes you different? This is the question that will help you get a feel for the company and determine if they are a good fit for you.

If you’re serious about SEO, consider companies who focus on just that. SEO services can often get diluted with full-service agencies.

Companies who want to work closely with you, execute your strategy and offer tailored services that align with your business needs and industry should get a big tick.

Be cautious of answers that are overly technical or sound too good to be true.

It’s crucial that you have a clear understanding of what SEO services the company is proposing as part of your strategy before you sign on. By asking the right questions, you should feel confident that you have made a good decision.

Don’t be scared to ask questions about any technical terms and plow through the jargon if anything isn’t clear. Too much jargon and overuse of buzzwords is another red flag.

Long-term, legally binding contracts are another deal breaker. You should avoid SEO companies that try to lock you into 12 month, 2, 3 or 5 year contracts. These long, lock-in contracts are an unfair advantage played by dodgy SEOs against clients like you, and take advantage of SEO’s complex and inexact nature. Just recently, the Small Business Ombudsman called for ACC action over dodgy consultants in the industry.

This is why it’s so important to know what you will be getting for your investment and to make sure you truly understand what that means and what your SEO company will be delivering.

Trustworthy SEO companies should be able to explain the services they are proposing, their benefits and the impact this will have on your business in layman’s terms (aka plain English). If you don’t understand what they are talking about (and they can’t explain it), it’s probably because they don’t want you to.

Asking these questions is very important, but so is the relationship between you and your SEO company. This is what will make a real difference to your campaign and why it’s important to find a company that is a good fit for you, your business and your goals. No regrets.

Any more questions? Feel free to reach out by contacting us