Questions to Ask Before Buying SEO Services

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Securing the right search marketing agency for your law firm or other professional practice is challenging. Here are questions you should ask not only of yourself, but to potential search engine optimization (“seo”) consultants, before you sign on the dotted line.

Questions You Should Answer First

  • What are my goals? Better positioning on search engines is an “ok” goal. But it’s more valuable to you if the goals are specific (and realistic), such as “20% more inbound leads” or “50 requests for more information per month.”
  • How will I measure the success of this campaign? I work almost exclusively with law firms, and it’s common for lawyers to want double or triple firm revenues as a result of an SEO campaign. But in nearly all cases, this isn’t realistic, since contested matters could take many months or even years to yield fee revenue. Instead, refine your goals a step further and look at total number of cases or files working as a good indicator of success (at least early in the campaign).

Questions Good Consultants Will Ask You
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people selling SEO just looking to get rich quick. Most don’t have a clue about your business and very few even understand the basics of website optimization. The best, most capable consultants will ask questions like these:

  • How much can you afford to pay for a lead, subscriber, download, etc.?
  • What’s worked best (and least) in the past to generate the above?
  • How will you measure the success of this campaign? The consultant is looking for realistic, measurable goals, which you’ll have already prepared.

Questions to Ask Your SEO Consultant
Finally, the time has come for you to examine the qualifications of the consultant. Ask some or all of these questions to help make your decision the right one:

  • Do you have proof of your work? You’re looking for the consultant or vendor to have or quickly produce client testimonials, case studies, and sample rankings for firms similar in size and scope as yours.
  • What results can I reasonably expect? And how long will it take? Demand to see or have prepared a detailed game plan. Get vague responses explained., and avoid any consultant or vendor promising specific placements (e.g. “We guarantee first place results for keywords on Google”).
  • What is your experience in my industry? Work with a specialist. You wouldn’t go to a general practitioner for your heart condition, and neither should your law firm or other professional practice go with an all-purpose vendor.
  • What techniques do you use to achieve results? What is the overall strategy? Anyone who mentions “meta-tags” as their first answer should be shown the door. You really want to hear them say things like “produce high-quality content” or “develop relevant inbound links within your industry.”
  • When do I get updates? How often do you communicate to me? Who can I call with questions? At minimum, monthly reporting on progress and monthly reports on positions achieved should be the norm. And every program should have a point-person or main contact person, since most vendors use a team of specialists, strategists and analysts to fulfill your objectives.

Armed with these questions, you’re certain to catch most consultants (even the good ones) off-guard. Listen carefully to the responses, and if you get resistance, move on.

Photo credit by svilen001.

5 thoughts on “Questions to Ask Before Buying SEO Services

  1. John Shinkle

    Good information. With so many people offering top placement in the search engines it is hard to know who to trust. Checking a vendor’s results in a legal vertical would be a good way to make sure certain of hiring someone that understands law firms.

  2. Seth Baum

    Do you have an opinion Brian on the offshoring approach when it comes to SEO? Obviously a broad question – but with services perhaps 50% cheaper abroad (but well documented problems with English language skills) I’m wrestling with using a Phillipines or Indian-based firm. Any thoughts/experience?

  3. Brian Farrell

    Seth – I’ve had success with both regions, but I think you need to exercise caution. Certainly, the firm has to 100% commit to ethical tactics; and definitely get proof of their work. Clayton Wood at 365Outsource has always done a great job for me. I’d be happy to make an introduction on LinkedIn.

  4. Pete Kennedy

    These are definitely good questions to keep in mind.

    By far the biggest question on prospects’ minds is price. The best SEO companies know how to price and structure engagements so that the investment will produce a positive overall return for the client.

    That said, since most law firms and solo attorneys are seeking local clients, I often advise potential clients to consider doing it themselves – because local SEO is actually pretty straight forward.

    Here’s a video I created that explains the local SEO process:
    http://www.thelocalseoformula.com/how-to-rank-1-in-google/

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