SEO: Few acronyms are more ambiguous in their meaning than the one for “Search Engine Optimization.” As a business owner, everyone tells you SEO is important for your website, but it’s not really clear how… so you hire a consultant or company to handle it for you. But how to ensure you’re getting what you pay for? Here are three signs your SEO company is falling short.
You can’t tell what they’ve done, exactly.
Yes, search engine optimization is a complex topic, and its practice has changed drastically in the last decade. No longer can SEO strategists just create a bunch of pages highlighting variations of the same keyword to bring in traffic with content that reads like a thesaurus rampaged across the keyboard. But you should be able to see some changes happening. If your SEO company isn’t forthcoming with what they’ve done, it’s reasonable to ask for a report of their actions and the (positive) impact on the site.
The organic traffic to your website keeps dropping year over year.
SEO is a long-term process; most SEO programs are, at minimum, six-month engagements because any visible gains can (seemingly) take ages to appear. Trust me, I wish I could make a few content changes to a website, submit it to Google and see it rank on page 1 the next day—and text Sergey or Larry in Mountain View if I had any problems.
That said, if the organic traffic to your website is suffering and your SEO company can’t tell you why, then it’s time for a second opinion. Launching a new or revamped site, drastically changing URL structure or page content, or a myriad of technical reasons could be the culprits. Or, it could be your site is attracting bad links like ants to a picnic, so you’re being lumped into the spam category. Though it may take some time to research, your SEO company should be able to tell you what the suspected causes are—and give actionable ways to reverse the downward trend.
You’re told SEO results can’t be quantified.
Yes, paid advertising is infinitely easier to track and test in the digital space. Want to see which PPC ad text performs best? It takes a few clicks in AdWords. SEO testing, though, requires more time, more involvement from (usually) more departments and more patience. It’s not a simple “because we did A, B and C happened” equation. Instead, it’s looking at metrics like the flow of new visitors to the website from search engines, the impact of a piece of content placed on the site or on a related website, the referrals from a link we’ve built from a reputable resource and the number of conversions from organic visitors.
If any of the above sounds familiar to you, it’s time to have a heart-to-heart with your SEO provider. And if you aren’t satisfied with the answers, a second opinion is never a bad idea.