How to Tell if Your SEO Company is Working

How to Know if Your SEO is Working

I hear it all of the time. I’ll be speaking casually with a business owner about their current SEO provider and they tell me that they have no idea what the SEO does each month, aside from sending them a bill. Sound familiar?

Of course, if your website is not ranking well, then this is cause for alarm. However, even if it is, you should still be concerned that you may be spending money every month for no good reason.

Too often SEOs (individual or firm) invoice businesses on a monthly basis without proper accounting of the work completed. When asked, the less reputable among them will dismiss the query with technical jargon. They will throw statements at you, such as “optimizing the tags”, “adjusting the code”, “installing the script”, and “yada yada yada”. In the beginning, when you first signed up for an SEO package, that’s perfectly fine. The technical nitty gritty is a big element of search engine ranking factors. This is where you will indeed incur significant initial expense. It’s the monthly part where many SEOs drop the ball and leave you wondering.

Taking the technical set-up portion out of the equation (this will be assumed), I am providing you with a clear accounting of the work that should be done for you each month, from the bare minimum to the more intensive (varies based upon your budget).

5 Things Your SEO Should Provide You and Your Website With on a Monthly Basis

1. A Keyword Ranking Report – All Budgets

No matter how small your SEO package is, the intent is to improve in keyword rank. The only way that you, a business owner, can have any idea if this is working is to receive a monthly keyword ranking report. This report should clearly identify the keywords that you and your SEO agreed upon. If you paid to rank for the keyword search phrase “vacation rentals in Kailua Oahu” and “Kailua Beach vacation rentals” then those should be represented on the report (along with semantic variations that have a Google-verified monthly search volume). You need to be able to chart this progress month to month, which will dictate if the current plan is working, and to know when adjustments in the plan are needed. The arrows will not always point up (SEO is an ongoing process) so if you understand that going into the agreement you and your SEO will have developed an understanding conducive to a positive relationship.

2. A Blog – All Budgets

Monthly SEO requires content updates to your website. Unless you manage an eCommerce site or other venture that has new items being listed on a monthly basis (i.e. real estate listings) your page┬ácontent (pages found in your navigation menu such as “About”, “Services”, etc.) will stay the same. Thus, the only way to deliver this fresh content is through the addition of a blog. This blog should be posted weekly, or at least twice per month. If you have a small SEO budget, you are likely the one writing the blog and your SEO will optimize the content (titles, headings, and images). If you have a moderate (or bigger) budget your SEO will write/deliver the original and optimized content for you. Either way, there is no monthly SEO unless there is a blog being managed on your website, eCommerce sites (etc.) included.

3. Backlinks – Big Budgets

Links from high-authority websites (media related to your industry, etc.) that point back to your website still top the list as the primary search engine ranking factor. Getting those high-value links, the honest way (those not defined as link schemes), is time intensive and requires the touch of an expert SEO. It requires a strong content plan backed by a strong media outreach plan. This is reserved for bigger SEO budgets. The math is simple enough, if you are spending above $1500/month on SEO then your SEO company should be providing you with a backlink report that details exactly which sites are linking back to yours. The quantity (one or more) and quality (PageRank 3 or higher) of these monthly backlinks will depend on how large your monthly SEO budget is.

4. Google My Business Updates – Moderate Budgets (and up)

Your Google My Business page will (should) have been included in the initial SEO set-up process. This is especially important for local businesses (those with a service area or those depending upon customers visiting a physical location) that hope to make it onto the Google map in search. If you have a moderate SEO budget (over $600/month) you should at the very least expect your SEO to distribute all new blog posts (or any content updates made to your site) onto your Google My Business page. Maintaining your Google My Business page is integral to your monthly SEO and your SEO provider knows this. They should alert you when these updated posts are made, giving you the opportunity to +1 and share the content on your personal Google+ profile. The higher your SEO budget, the more active your SEO should be on your Google My Business page. If you’re paying more than $2000/month on SEO you should expect to see a daily update of some sort on Google My Business.

5. A Google Analytics Report – All Budgets

All SEO budgets deserve a monthly Google Analytics report. This will allow you to see the relationship between the keywords you are ranking better for (presumably), the content being added to your site, and the organic traffic that is being delivered to your website. The level of effort applied to your monthly analytics (creation of custom reports, conversion funnels, and digging into Google Webmaster Tools) will certainly vary by monthly budget, but at the bare minimum you can demand a breakdown of monthly traffic by source which includes organic, direct, and referral.

If you would like clarification on any of the above items you can leave a Facebook comment below. Alternatively, if you are concerned about the work (or lack thereof) your current SEO company is doing, contact me today and I’ll look into it for you.

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