Signing with an SEO Company in Brisbane? Ask these questions first

Your website could be pushed back to the deep dark search result pages and you will be forced to fight your way back… and it’s not always possible. You could have to give up on your website and start over from scratch, meaning no organic leads for months and pricy Adwords campaigns to compensate. Can your business afford a bad SEO company?

We see a lot of “victims of unscrupulous SEO companies” from Brisbane and beyond. In fact, we have seen refugees from some of Australia’s most popular and reputable SEO companies, dumped and left alone in the web wilderness at the first sign of trouble. As small business heroes, we thought we’d do a community service post on how to choose the RIGHT Brisbane SEO company. Here are the ten questions you should be asking before you sign with any SEO company.

Have you been the victim of a bad SEO company? We can help – contact us now.

Decide on a shortlist of quality digital marketing agencies first!

There are tons of SEO, Content Marketing, Digital Agencies and the like in Brisbane. From the stand alone freelancer to the multinational franchise. Decide what skills you will need to work digital marketing magic. Can they do these? Will your existing website need cleaning up? They’ll need a web coder. Do they have a copywriter on staff? Do they deal with businesses of your size regularly? If you go with a company that only does big brands, you may find that they rely on pricy PR to build links – but if you go with a solo freelancer, they may not have the resources to do the best job for you. Choose a list that “feel right”.

Check their own SEO strategy and a few of their clients

There are tools like Moz and Semrush that will give you information on how well their current clients are ranking and the kinds of links that the SEO company have built. Using Moz’s Open Site Explorer (free to access), you can see where their links are coming from. If you’re checking up on a daycare centre and the links are all from gun retailers, mower shops and spammy directories – cross them off the list.

What to look for: Look for links from relevant, good quality sites that have numbers over 20 in the right hand columns.

If you look at Semrush and all their traffic is orange, not blue – cross them off the list!

What to look for: The customer website should be ranking for organic keywords you’d expect to search when looking for their service. So for example, they might be listed for “day care centres Brisbane” or “day care centre New Farm” – not “baby services Brisbane” and “schools in New Farm”.

Contract Length

Most SEO companies will require a minimum six month contract. This is because your SEO strategy will take a fair bit of time to set up – so they take a loss in the first month or two but make it up over the next few months. This is completely normal and not something to freak out about. SEO isn’t an overnight thing either, it takes time to “kick in” so 3-6 months is perfectly reasonable. However, if they require you to lock in a year, you might want to ask a few questions. A year is a long time to be stuck on a costly contract that doesn’t work or poses you risks.

What to ask:

• Ask for a chance to review the contract at 3 and 6 months to ensure it’s working

• Ask for a clause to release you without a break fee at 3 and 6 month intervals if you feel the link building is putting you at risk of a Google penalty.

• Ask for complete transparency – including a monthly report of work done so you can check off that they’re fulfilling their obligations.

• Ask for a specific list of terms and conditions – if they’re all about how they can get out of the contract but how you can’t, you may want to cross them off the list.

Will you get these conditions? Probably not. Most SEO companies will reject these requests – especially if you’re coming in with a “low” (ie small business) monthly spend. The ability to break the contract if they’re putting your brand at risk is the most important one. There are plenty of SEO companies out there getting clients Penguin penalties and then charging thousands of dollars to STOP getting them penalised.

Approach to link building

This is a big one. Google’s spam boss is all over bad SEO and they’re forever creating cleverer and cleverer ways to detect low quality SEO strategies. Ask them how they do it. Web 2.0 link building like comment spam, directory spam and forum spam are all more likely to get you penalised than ranking. If they’re leaning on old strategies, ask them about the quality of their work. Modern link building is more about earning links through excellent content. Learn more about this in part two.

Keyword quality and size

SEO companies in Brisbane and beyond sell packages based on keywords and ranking. So, for $X we’ll get you to page 1 for 5 keywords. Explaining SEO packages can be difficult so this is a nice neat way to wrap it up and package it with a definable and easily understood bow. The issue here is keyword quality and size. If only a handful of people search the keyword each month, the impact on your business may be tiny (unless you sell $200,000 cars, then it might be OK).

Usually your ”five keyword package” will include one good sized one and some little ones that have few to no searches per month. Sometimes this is OK. Let’s say you’re a local business selling designer giftware in West End. The keyword “gifts West End” might only have ten searches a month but the person searching has already decided they need to buy a gift when they’re out and about in West End. The chances of converting a sale are pretty good. It’s easy to rank these so your SEO company can make a safe bet.

If the keyword was “West End Shopping” however, you might find that you pay to rank for that keyword, never make any sales and your bounce rate goes through the roof as people looking for general information get annoyed at your specific products.

What to ask:

• What kind of keyword research will be performed for me?

• What impact will these keywords likely have on my website traffic?

• How will you track the success of these? Only through ranking or through ROI?

• Will you set up my Google Analytics account for me to show me the return on your work?

Show me some proof!

Ask them for examples of existing clients who have similar goals to you. Not necessarily your competitors, but businesses that also aim to “attract leads for their service based brand” or “sell products online’ that are in the same stage of growth, spending a similar budget. Take a look at how they’re doing. Call them up. Ask them if they’re happy, what their results have been, how they’ve found communications… all that good stuff that will make a world of difference in the long run.

Niche SEO companies

This is a double edged sword that is becoming all the rage. A niche SEO company will have access to dozens of websites in their area of specialty. Let’s say you own a restaurant in Fortitude Valley. You go to a niche SEO company that specializes in restaurants. They’re all about getting restaurants found via Yelp, YouTube, review sites, foodie sites, tourism sites, Google Maps… all those good places. It’s great, they understand your needs EXACTLY and have all the skills and contacts to set you up in a thriving network within your own industry. That’s awesome. Potentially, this company could really do big things for you and they likely have a hybrid PR/content/SEO approach to marketing that complies nicely with Google’s guidelines.

These guys can be a good option, until they get another restaurant in Fortitude Valley as a client. Let’s say they get five Chinese restaurants in Fortitude Valley as clients. This is where you have to start wondering if your small business budget is going to get you the best service, especially if a chain restaurant with big national marketing budgets is one of the others they represent. You may find that the bigger competitor is ranking for “Chinese Restaurants Fortitude Valley” while you’re out of the edge with “spring rolls Valley”. One is going to get bums on seats, the other is not. Best case scenario, all five of their clients are lined up on page one, ranked by who spends the most on SEO every month. The winner in that scenario is the SEO company, not you.

What to ask:

• How do you determine keywords for small businesses?

• What’s your policy on taking on my competitors?

• How do you ensure I get the best possible opportunities?

• Is my information private? Will the same account manager work with me as my competitors?

There are some excellent SEO companies in Brisbane, but there are some terrible ones too, so definitely do your research. Searching online for keywords like, ‘Search Engine Optimisation Brisbane‘ is a good start, but it’s not enough on its own. With a small business budget, you’ve got to make sure you select a Brisbane SEO company that really delivers on their promises. Media Heroes ensures the very best value from your monthly SEO budget and we look after you for the long run. If you have any questions at all about making the choice, just get in touch. We’re specialists in small business digital marketing services, so we understand how tough this decision can be.