How To Audit Your SEO Agency or Consultant in 7 Bulletproof Steps – Chalk Talk Thursday #8
Search engine optimization is one of the rare business areas where there are thousands of self proclaimed experts, but no central governing body that actual certifies it. And there never will be, because search engines have no incentives to encourage the industry.
Google made nearly $28.55 billion from AdWords in 2017. At the same time we know that people wouldn’t run ads if they weren’t making a net profit. Consider that the average click through rate for an ad is 1.91%. Google is logically enabling a much higher amount of commerce than $28.55 billion, and the organic value of that traffic must be worth much more than their AdWords revenue. SEO isn’t a snake-oil industry, it’s a multibillion dollar opportunity for anyone who can execute.
Google has every incentive to make sure any industry that would subvert billions in revenue gets destroyed and is delegitimized. Not that SEO as an industry needs any help. Even though it gets harder every year, there are still a stunning number of dodgy & underachieving businesses in the industry today.
7 Steps for Auditing Your SEO Agency
Now if you’re here, I assume that you’re really interested in telling whether or not your SEO company has been bullshitting you for months, if SEO is even worth doing, or if your latest site redesign or SEO consultant worked out. The six steps below should give you a good picture of where performance was, is, and is probably going. Either the picture of success will be nuanced with areas of success, or a complete dud. All that said, knowledge is power. So below are six easy tips for evaluating SEO.
1) Auditing Your SEO Agency Step 1: Check Rankings
You can check rankings with a variety of tools including SEMrush, SERPstat, or AHREFS. If you’re a site owner I highly recommend checking out of any of these tools. (SEMrush has a no-hassle money back guarantee for a week) I’ll go through the process of checking rankings (for free) on SEMrush because I think it’s the most full featured at the lowest price point of the three, and is free to try.
Checking Rankings from Your SEO Agency Step 1: Go to SEMrush.com
Type your domain name into the search bar, and of course click “Start now.” (gotta love the fact that they have no sign-up)
Checking Rankings from Your SEO Agency Step 2: Click Organic Research on the Dashboard.
The dashboard has great information on paid search keywords, display advertising, and organic search, which is all worth checking out. But the bread and butter of what we care about is rankings. As a note SEMrush has a decent set of backlink data, but I’d recommend pulling data from AHREFS or Majestic before SEMrush.
Checking Rankings from Your SEO Agency Step 3: The Organic Research Dashboard
This is the main dashboard for the Organic Research Dashboard. Information is limited for free, but you can still glean all of the key information from your site here. The first thing to look at is the main bar chart for your current rankings. Ideally what you want to see is the graph from my above client, where there is a clear growth in rankings over time. The other great thing you can see (for free) are ranking trends over the previous two years, one year, six months, and current month. The current month is great for seeing if you’re already on a downward slide.
On the flip-side I’d look for a specific drop off in rankings in the previous few years. If you’re wondering why business hasn’t been so good since 2015, you might see it here.
The other nice thing of this overview is the total number of keywords your site has in the top 100, the estimated traffic from your rankings, and the cost of that traffic if you bought it with AdWords. There’s also a nice chart of keywords and their URLs below, but this info is only fully revealed with an account.
Checking Rankings Step 4: Analyze Performance Over Time, and Ranking Quality!
As you can see in the video above, there are a few interesting ways you can toggle between the search settings to assess quality. Let’s be frank, we want keywords on the first page, and it’s important to note what is on the second page and beyond, as an item to monitor for growth.
But what we really care about are the keyword in the top 3. These keywords are going to provide the traffic your business needs to grow. If you don’t see keywords in the “Top 3” and “4 – 10” range growing over time, that is a pretty good indication that growth hasn’t been that great.
The caveat. With SEO there is always a caveat. The thing to keep in mind with Google search rankings is that 1) you can rank without getting more traffic or revenue 2) you can get more traffic without rankings, 3) you can rank for useless or low value keywords, and 4) long-tail traffic which would be off the radar of SEMrush can be significant. To really assess the quality of your rankings I’d recommend parsing through data on a monthly basis to be completely sure that important keywords were rankings, or that unimportant ones weren’t getting shed from your site. The main thing to note is did valuable keyword rankings grow over time or not?
2) Auditing Your SEO Agency Step 2: Check Google Analytics
Now the thing with SEO is, keyword ranking can grow even if sessions don’t. At the end of the day organic traffic is really the only thing that matters. Any SEO agency worth its salt should have set up Google Analytics at some point. While there are many great things to see there, I’ll quickly go into the basics of auditing your organic traffic from search engines here.
1) Checking Organic Traffic Growth in Google Analytics Step 1: Main Dashboard
Google keeps adding great features to their main dashboard. While some of the information is a nice to have, like the browsers or mobile devices a user is having, it amounts to fluff for our current purposes. (Google Analytics is still worth exploring, especially if you want to diagnose an area in which you’re weak. What we want is to see growth, or lack thereof for organic traffic generally. So in the left sidebar click on Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels.
2. Checking Organic Traffic Growth in Google Analytics Step 2: Assess Recent Traffic Performance
This view will give you information on all of your main channels. Direct are those people that come directly into your site, say existing customers, people who had a friend recommend you, or who have your site bookmarked. Referral is typically traffic from external links on other sites or forums. Email is from email campaigns, and paid is from paid channels like AdWords. Organic is what we care about, and this represents all the traffic from search engines like Google and occasionally Bing, Yahoo, & DuckDuckGo.
To actually assess growth in organic traffic over time you want to click on the date range set box in the top right of your Google Analytics view. You can set any date range you like here, including the previous month, quarter, or just however long you’ve been working on SEO. The other thing to keep in mind is that the year over year view can be extremely useful for also assessing seasonality.
3. Checking Organic Traffic Growth in Google Analytics Step 3: Assessing Recent Traffic Trends
While there are a variety of places you can check out traffic quality in Google Analytics I highly recommend looking the differences in organic traffic sessions over time. Engagement metrics like the actual goals and revenue associated with this traffic is also key. But ideally you’re seeing more green then red in this view.
4. Checking Organic Traffic Growth in Google Analytics Step 4: Look for seasonal trends.
First click back on the date range box, then select previous year.
From there you should be able to see a data sequence that gives you a slice of what traffic looks like compared to the previous year.
The important thing to note here is that success or failure from your SEO can often be influenced by seasonal traffic trends. Sometimes your pushing a boulder up a hill, other times you might be pushing a boulder down a hill. Either way between rankings and traffic you should have a pretty good sense of what your SEO work has gotten you so far.
3) Auditing Your SEO Agency Step 3: Check Google Search Console
Google Search Console (formerly WebmasterTools) is an exceptional place to check the performance of your site. While not as important as it once was, it’s still a basic checkbox that any SEO agency or consultant should be checking in on. There are a few things to take a look at that should be dead tells of SEO quality. First make sure you don’t have excessive SEO errors, these could be innocuous, but generally you don’t want more than a few at any one time. The other thing to note is wether a sitemap has been submitted for Google. As a KPI you should ideally be seeing you indexed ratio (URLs indexed/submitted) improving over time. A large number of non-indexed pages is typically a clear indication of poor performance.
Next let’s click on “Search Analytics” to get a bit more data.
Google webmaster tools has a wealth of powerful information for any business. Once you get into the search analytics screen I would recommend checking the impression, CTR, and position checkboxes. This will give you valuable information on all of your traffic data. The best part about search console is that you can compare traffic from the previous month, as well as see a wealth of data from (unfortunately) the last 90 days only. That said this data can give you valuable information on how some of your top keywords (queries in Search Console parlance) and pages that you can’t get anywhere else.
Once you compare your performance of the previous months (I would recommend checking frequently) you can easily diagnose drop offs in traffic. Search Console is so powerful precisely because you can see important information like a fall off in impressions (less people even seeing you rankings) or CTR (less people even clicking on your rankings.
Finally you can look at query level data to assess how the specific rankings on your site are actually performing. If you notice a fall off in a specific page’s clicks, impressions, or CTR that generally indicates an issue. Alone this data doesn’t necessarily help you diagnose problems with an SEO agency or consultant, but over time it can help you assesses wether or not progress is being made.
4) Auditing Your SEO Agency Step 4: Create & Check Site Crawls
One valuable area that all site owners should be on top of is the actual amount of work that is being done on their sites. Working on on-site copy, title tags, and meta descriptions are all typical work for any SEO agency (since it’s an easy way to manipulate CTR, as seen above). Generally there are two easy ways to actually keep tabs on what is being done on your site. If you are engaged and have a decent cash-flow on-site it’s worth having an account with DeepCrawl or Ryte (formerly OnPage) will make it easy to keep tabs on your site. If you’re more technically inclined and looking to save some cash I’d recommend using ScreamingFrog. This option will give you better options to audit competitors and more raw data to work off of.
5) Auditing Your SEO Agency Step 5: Did they provide clear and accurate reporting?
Most SEO agencies and consultants that are serious about growth should give you clear monthly reporting on progress, wether times are good or bad. If any of the data you’ve seen in steps 1-4 are a surprise that is typically a good indication of a poor SEO agency. They may be doing good work, but they clearly aren’t giving you the information you need to judge that.
6) Auditing Your SEO Agency Step 6: How Good Was Their Initial SEO Audit?
This is a basic box to check, but any SEO agency worth its weight in salt should create and run a thorough SEO audit. If you don’t have one in hand that’s better than the automated reports that SEMrush, SERPstat, AHREFS, or MOZ can create then that’s generally a clear red flag. I’d recommend referencing their audit every few month and making sure that progress is being made on the initial issues they indicated.
7) Auditing Your SEO Agency Step 7: Did they define goals or metrics?
Finally, hard work is nothing without benchmarks. If your SEO agency didn’t define and try to meet clear Goals and growth metrics then that’s generally a clear sign of an agency that isn’t committed to growth.
How is a Business Owner Supposed to Cut Through the SEO Mess?
There is just no central governing body. There could be thousands of issues on a site, and every industry and business is different. But one thing remains constant. The proof is in the pudding.
They do more than just SEO. They’re actual marketing experts and care about your business.
Consider this gentleman, Matt Cuts, the former head of Google’s web spam team. He successfully destroyed years of bad SEO, saved SEO from becoming useless, and is of course, universally reviled by bad SEO’s.
The vast majority of his “advice” can be boiled down to SEO doesn’t work and make “great” content.
To be fair great content is a large part of what we do. But SEO still works, it has just evolved, even if Google doesn’t want it to, because competitors are imperfect and so is Google (shocking). I know Google seems like a brilliant monolithic force, but think about the task it has at hand, in 2013 it had 100 trillion pages indexed, that’s a lot of data. The algorithm can be manipulated and worked with, you just need to be sure you’re working with the people who know how to do that.
What to Look for In a Good SEO Agency:
- Clear and Honest Reporting, they shine a light on their successes and analyze their failures.
- They have good local rankings, or like us they’re at least growing everyday ; )
- They’re multidimensional.
- They care about your business.
- They know your industry.
- They care about results.
But in a world without a central governing body that handles certifications like you would have with pilots, doctors, plumbers, or lawyers who is a business owner to trust? As a business owner or startup growth junkie it can be appealing to steer clear of SEO and do what Google & Bing want you to do, plow thousands into AdWords, or outdated display advertising, or best yet Facebook. But by auditing an agency you can access the highest ROI growth channel.
[00:01] Hey, this is Shaheen over at Web Upon and this is episode number eight of Chalk Talk Thursday The Ocho. Today I wanted to cover how to audit your SEO agency or consultant. Now, this isn’t gonna be a complete in-depth review of how to actually audit your site, that’s gonna be a little bit more complicated. But for any business owner or in-house marketer this is gonna be a really, really quick overview of some things that you can do to actually get a sense of how your rankings are and whether or not your SEO budget is actually being spent in a useful way for your business and even if your SEO agency is currently hurting you.
[00:38] So, I’m gonna dive into the three KPIs that really matter with your organic SEO work which is rankings, your GA data, and actual technical staff that’s out there just to see if anything’s been done. And then I’m gonna talk about some red flags that are pretty common that should also let you know if your SEO agency or consultant is less than legit.
[00:58] So, first thing you … most people think about when they think about SEO is they think about rankings, right? Now, rankings can be very, very important at a basic level just from branding, right? You want your name and your product to show up when you google that. You want to be seen, you don’t want competitors controlling the conversation around your product area.
[01:16] So, rankings have that impact but also just at a more practical level, generally speaking, the most cost-effective way for people to get revenue to their site is gonna be through organic listings in Google. Ads can be very, very effective but you always have to pay. Organic rankings are more consistent and you can work on one area, turn that into a revenue generator and then move onto another one.
[01:40] So, how do you know whether your SEO span is effective? Well, in my world there’s really one tool that does this better than any other when it comes to keyword tracking, keyword rank tracking. Now, the reason why SEMrush is so excellent is because it does a really, really good job of tracking out things historically. It has most sites in there, not all of them.
[02:04] So, unlike tools like Ahrefs or Serpstat, Serpstat is actually pretty good at preservation as well but Accuranker, a lot of these other tools that basically allow you to input data, SEMrush has really, really excellent information going back often some years for rankings on a site. So, even if you’ve been working with someone for a year or so you can see if your rankings took a nosedive at some point.
[02:26] Okay. So, as far as rankings go lemme just interject here real quick and take you to how to actually do this on your home screen. So, you’re gonna go to semrush.com, I’ll leave a link below. You can use my referral link and you should be good for a seven-day free trial and these guys are super legit, they’re located in the US and you can definitely trust them.
[02:47] So, all you have to do is just make a beeline for any of their actual search windows. So the thing that you really, really want to look at is your domain overview, and this is probably their most helpful feature, this is what I love about them, they just have a lot of really solid data warehousing. They also have some pretty good international information.
[03:07] So, you’re gonna wanna type the name in, you’re gonna wanna make sure that you’re on domain overview rather than just looking at an individual URL or any of their other functionality. And then you’re gonna click on organic research, SEO, the traffic we’re targeting is organic, it’s coming organically from Google. And this is gonna show you right here your all-time traffic. So, I actually revived a super old domain so you’ll see that this domain had tons of traffic back in the day.
[03:33] What I really love is you should be able to see a pretty consistent growth trend on your site overtime. If you don’t see that, that’s bad. I just launched this business. We’ve only been around for a little bit as a company, as an agency. So, you can see we basically launched in October, I think, and boom here we are.
[03:54] So, a couple of key things to note here, right? You wanna look at the overall ranking trends, you wanna see hopefully an upward trend or at least an upward trend overtime. The really important thing I think to zero in on here is what your actual top three keyword rankings look like so you can organize all this information and you should be able to see it from a top down perspective and that’s how I would actually approach it and that’s how I like to think about it.
[04:21] The 21 through 50 rankings and the 51 through a hundred and the 11 through twenties. Those are all really good, those are indicative of success. You wanna have those, you wanna have keywords in that group that are actually going into the top three. But at the end of the day your top three keywords are what’s actually gonna drive growth and traffic to the site, and you wanna see those moving up overtime. If you don’t see that you’re really gonna be hurting yourself and shooting yourself in the foot.
[04:46] So, that’s basically a breakdown pf SEMrush. The other feature I’ll note is you can also see these little notation tags here. So, SEMrush is awesome, they included this, I think in an update or two ago and they now note whenever there’s a major algorithm update in Google and they also just note whenever there’s high sensor activity.
[05:07] So again, if you see a massive drop off all of a sudden, and there’s one of these little Gs there, then you’re probably most likely you’re looking at a specific Google update that cause an issue and they’re gonna actually tell you what you need to fix. So again, SEMrush is a great tool, you can just jump in here, they have great data warehousing, they tell you what’s been going on.
[05:28] Obviously if your domain’s totally new like mine you’re not gonna see information going back very far. And then they’re actually gonna tell you what your individual keywords are which is the best features you can optimize them. A lot of people like other systems where you put the information in and it then shows you what keywords you’re ranking for, but it’s useful if you’re super obsessive and you just wanna check constantly and know at every second how well you’re ranking. But it’s not very good because you wanna basically be looking at keywords that have reported volume from Google because that’s really what’s gonna drive traffic is keywords that people are consistently searching not a keyword that you just wanna rank for, for whatever reason.
[06:09] Now, a few key things to note here. So I think most site owners you wanna see your rankings look like that, but in reality there’s gonna be some Google updates so things can change and then you may recover and that may or may not be your SEO’s fault. So, the thing to keep in mind is if you hired someone here and then suddenly you just plummeted the next month, that could mean that they made a change on the site that was catastrophic and that’s probably something that you wanna have a second opinion on quite frankly. Especially if you’re a little bit leery about where your SEOs have left you it’s good to just hire a consultant or someone from an agency to come in and take a look and let you know if there’s some smoking gun of a huge problem that’s occurred.
[06:53] So, even though everyone wants their rankings to just be this straight line all the way to the top, there usually is a little bit of variation there so keep that in mind. And secondarily there can be Google updates that massively impact your site.
[07:06] Now, if you hire someone over here and they’ve been with you for eight months or something and then you suddenly plummet, well depending on your relationship with them that could mean that they didn’t prepare correctly, it could mean that you just have them working on other stuff. So again, it’s a good idea to bring in a second opinion and I will say that there’s a 50/50 on both sides as to that situation. But generally speaking a good consultant or a good agency that’s actually doing their work should be able to prepare and make sure that you don’t get a huge plummet like this, and actually like some of your competitors when a huge Google update happens you actually benefit from that change rather than being hurt from it.
[07:43] Now, the second thing I’ll say, but again, you just wanna trend upwards and you wanna see the keywords that you want to rank for showing with positive information inside of SEMrush so you’re actually seeing some progress. That’s probably the biggest smoking gun. So, if you’ve hired someone for a really, really long time and your rankings are just … nothing’s happening, not that interesting it’s probably a good sign that you need an SEO agency or a consultant that actually knows what they’re doing.
[08:09] Second thing I’ll say is look inside of Google Analytics Data. This is probably a better enthalpy all because you can actually look inside and find revenue in session traffic and actually get a sense of what’s going on in the site. There’s some good views that I’ll divert this video to so you can check that out and get a really, really good tour of what this information is and what you should be checking for.
[08:34] Jump in here again. So this is Google Analytics. Now, Google Analytics is something that should probably be set up on your site. I mean, there’s a couple of different analytics platforms out there. I’m just gonna cover Google Analytics because it’s the most common one, it’s the easiest and again this is where really wanna be seeing longterm growth. Now a few things to note, you’re probably gonna see something like this when you first login here. All this information is super cute, but honestly not very useful as far as I’m concerned.
[09:04] So, what you don’t wanna do is hop down here and also there’s some audience info here which is awesome and I always recommend checking it out, but when it comes down to hard numbers you really wanna click on acquisition and then you’re gonna wanna click on all traffic and you can look in here and you can see some source medium data which is very, very helpful. This can tell you a lot about your business and what’s going on, and you can see a specific breakdown of side traffic. So, I get a lot of traffic from direct Google Organic, Bing Organic, lot less, it just drops off to Facebook and just random other mentions across the web, I’m also getting traffic from there.
[09:45] This is a very, very useful way to look at your site it’s just the overall ratio of traffic between various parts of the site. And again, there’s this handy little date functionality up here. You can just compare information week over week and see a breakdown of where your traffic’s coming from. And the one thing I’ll say as a KPI here ideally your direct traffic is becoming a smaller and smaller chunk overtime and organic is becoming a bigger and bigger chuck, and hopefully pray it isn’t crushing you with too much spend there.
[10:16] So, the way to think about it is overtime most content marketing and SEO that’s going well you’ll end up seeing a higher and higher proportion of your traffic coming from organic. You will see growth indirect because obviously that organic needs to turn into good customers overtime but the sign of a well functioning site is that at least 30% of the traffic is coming from organic and that’s how you’re actually getting business.
[10:41] Again in this top right thing you can also do previous year which if you’ve hired an SEO consultant for a year you can just take the overall year that you’ve had them on and compare that to the previous year. So you’ll see trends that are consistent by season just because seasonality is always going to be a thing. For example, you’re gonna have a massive drop off for the last week of December, that’s just gonna happen but if you’re not seeing consistency there and you’re just seeing an overall drop off it’s probably a bad sign.
[11:08] Now the most useful feature in my mind as we go over to behavior and then you click on site content, and then you click on landing pages or you can look at all pages. I love landing pages because this is probably the strictest interpretation of what your traffic looks like. So you’re gonna go over here and rather than click on all users, let’s quickly click, let’s do a little control F for organic and if we type that and set that segment to be turned on we’ll see how much of our traffics from organic. Obviously I get a lot of direct traffic right now and that will get replaced overtime but this is good to just note. You wanna see that there’s consistency, you don’t want the ratios to be weird here but anyways.
[11:52] Check out organic, that’s gonna basically be traffic that’s coming in from search engines and then if you just set this you can basically check your month over month performance. Or if you’ve been working with someone for three months you can quickly see what the traffic looks like over that time period.
[12:06] So right here we’re just gonna quickly compare January 2019 to December 2018. Sessions are up for organic by 20% which is totally what we expect because obviously the holiday is the last week, everyone was pretty much out of commission in December. So, let’s look at November compared to the most recent months. It’s probably gonna be a more accurate picture and okay sessions are up 70%. So even better as far as the organic goes. The other thing to note is some months will be shorter than others but at a macro level this is the most useful view because you can look at sessions and then if you also wanna track you can look at revenue. I’m not on ecom store but you can look at revenue numbers here and that’s very helpful, right.
[12:47] Basically if your revenue and the people on your site aren’t going up overtime you can set a really, really long date range inside of Google Analytics and you can see this information. And if you’re not seeing an improvement there it’s probably a really, really bad sign. The third thing I’ll say is a technical audit. So I’m not a huge fan of the technical audits that tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs or Moz have just because it’s applied through their crawler, their crawler can have some weird idiosyncrasies. So to me, it’s like just trusting their opinion and I don’t like that. Obviously you if you don’t know as much about SEO it can be useful to just dive in there. But I would say just get a tool in Screaming Frog, it’s free and it can crawl sites under 500 pages which is the vast majority of sites out there.
[13:40] What you’re gonna do is just download this. It works on both Mac and PC and what this is, this is a crawler. It’s gonna go to a site, it’s gonna jump through the entire site. You’re gonna see it populate with all the URLs and images and all that good stuff. So I don’t wanna get too much into the weeds here I’ll probably end up making a longer video about how to quickly audit a site, but the main thing you wanna look at is your response codes.
[14:03] So hop over here if you see thousands and thousands of 301s that’s probably the problem. If you have a few here and there it’s a pretty common thing so it’s no big deal but you wanna have your site pretty clean.
[14:15] So you wanna check for redirections, you wanna hop over to blockbyrobots.txt. If you see a lot of blockage there that’s probably a bad sign. If the wrong things are getting blocked that’s something that should worry you and then you also want to hop over to client errors 404s if you see hundreds of 404s and you’ve had someone around for a long time and they’ve … they don’t have a lot to do if there’s issues like that on your site that no one has solved even though the impact’s small that’s typically a red flag that on a larger issue that not a lot’s happening.
[14:46] The other thing I’ll say is just hop over to your page tittle tags. If the words here don’t really match the words in the URLs or the products that you’re trying to sell or how you’re trying to position those products, that’s probably a pretty big red flag. So, that should let you know that the spend is probably not being used in the most efficient manner it could be. And the last thing that I’ll show you is if you hop in here and you scroll over to the right you should see a column that says meta robots. Now if your entire site says no index, no follow, that’s probably pretty bad.
[15:18] If you also see no canonical elements anywhere on your site and I’ll know that the site URL is all right so we’re not gonna have canonical elements on pictures, that’s a bad sign. And then if you see super high response times or anything, any big issues like that I should probably let you know that your SEO constant is just not thinking about things in the right way. And then also this indexability column if it says non-indexable on its page which should be clearly indexed that’s another big red flag on the SEO side of things.
[15:50] So, those are the key rundowns of the Screaming Frog. Other tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs and Moz that have automated audits can be useful, but again I like this just because it’s raw data and if you see some of these red flags that I just outlined then you know that something’s up.
[16:07] Now, there can be a lot of SEO technical work that can happen outside of the site itself but this to me can be a pretty good indicator of whether or not they’re actually up to something especially if you’ve had them for a few years. If there isn’t something that was a very recent issue like a site move or a site redesign and you just have this consistent 404s and you also have an anemic rankings it’s probably a good sign they’re just not up to much so you as the business owner even outside of organic data you should just jump ship, in my opinion.
[16:38] Now, the other thing that I’ll note about these three KPIs is there’s a little bit of complication here, right? So, I really like to use all three when I evaluate someone’s services, right? So keep in mind you may be doing really, really excellent work from the branding perspective. You may be very aggressive about your advertising and you may be getting a name out there. So it’s possible that your organic traffic and your organic revenue is up hugely but your rankings are actually down, or your site is a complete mess from a technical perspective.
[17:09] So, keep in mind that you want to evaluate all three factors, you wanna look for smoking guns like rankings plummeting, but you need to look at the whole picture because the traffic can be up and the money can be up but the rankings can be down on the site conserve. At the same time your SEO agency, your consultant can be working hard your rankings may be up very, very high but your revenue may not be there. And that could just be a situation where the market’s shifted and people aren’t buying as much or we can’t sell it, right? And quite frankly that’s not necessarily the SEO consultant or agency’s fault but you do really have to re-evaluate the strategy there and if they’re good at their job they’ll be able to say, “Okay, we need to actually target this other part of the market, it’s not practical for you to be spending money on me here when there’s actually something more useful I could be doing with my time.”
[18:00] So that said, I think there are really three common red flags when it comes to SEO agencies and consultants out there, right? So, it comes down to no reports, no audit and basically no strategy, right? So, if you have all three you’re probably not getting anything for your money.
[18:16] Now, the SEO report side of the situation is certainly lacking out there. There are a lot of companies that actually don’t issue monthly or weekly reports, aren’t really forthcoming with your actual ranking data or your Google Analytics data and that’s a shame.
[18:33] So, I think two things that you wanna see inside of any SEO report is rankings and traffic numbers. Now, every month isn’t gonna be incredible, right? Some times of the year are gonna be a little bit more slow but the important thing is that when you hire someone for SEO they’re willing to make a longterm commitment in the same way that you do with content marketing and they’re basically honest with you every month, right?
[18:55] If traffic’s bad I tell my client and we can reassess the strategy or we can figure out what specifically was the issue and then we’re able to address it, right? Your SEO agency should never be hiding the fact that rankings are down or traffic’s down, that’s typically a huge red flag. Or if they’re just talking about other metrics that are just amorphous like your impressions. Impressions are just how many times your ranking’s seen. It’s not equivalent to how much actual traffic and revenue your business is getting.
[19:24] So, if you find your agency avoiding giving you reports, if they’re not sharing ranking data or session traffic, or if they’re just talking about other KPIs and they don’t want to discuss these two, that’s typically a huge red flag and that should let you know they’re probably not the best at what they’re doing or they’re not in it for the right reasons.
[19:41] The second thing I’ll say is no audits. So any good SEO agency should be doing audit semi frequently. Now, depending on your site size, and your business, and your maturity, and frankly how much you’re paying them this could monthly, quarterly, yearly, whatever it may be the important thing to realize is you want a benchmark document. So, you can go from year to year and you can say like we have a 59% and we fixed X, Y and Z issues. Or now we’re at 99, whatever it may be. You wanna have a team that’s able to forecast and tell you what’s actually going on at the site in any given month.
[20:19] The third thing I’ll say is they have no strategy. So, quite frankly we … every marketer needs to be thinking about the funnel, however you wanna put it, there has to be some key area of your market that is an ideal customer base that the SEO can say, “We should target this specific niche with these keywords because it has the highest conversion rate and the highest likelihood of actually producing revenue on your site,” right? You want some actual SEO strategy, it’s not enough to just say, “We need to rank number one for this one keyword.”
[20:56] It’s not what the SEO landscape looks like at this point. You want a company that can actually come in and give you a strategy and help you achieve goals that are in line with your overall business goals, right? Someone that can say, “Oh in Q4 you guys are trying to do this,” they’re telling you about this product launch, “That means that right now in Q1 and Q2 we have to do this strategy so that we can put you in that position down the line.” So those are the key things that you should be looking at as a business owner or an in-house marketer just to check and make sure that the SEO agency or a consultant that you’re working with is helpful.
[21:29] I hope that was good and if you have any questions or you would like me to look into anything extra just let me know, please comment down below I would love to get your feedback. Thank you.
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