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20 Questions to Ask Before You Hire an SEO Agency in Post Panda/Penguin Era

The SEO game is getting more and more difficult every day. Setting aside the Panda/Penguin updates, now, we’ll have to deal with Penguin 2.0 (according to the latest news in SEO) and who knows what else…

So how can you find an honest SEO agency that will help you grow your affiliate site instead of getting it penalized? You can start with these questions:

#1: What’s your opinion about the recent algorithm updates?

First of all, a good SEO agency should know about all of the crucial updates. Also, they should have their own constructive opinion about most of them. You may also want to ask them about some affiliate-related opinion.

#2: How do you identify the cause of a penalty?

Whenever there’s an SEO problem, your agency should be able to tell you what caused the penalty. Is it Penguin? Panda? Or something entirely else?

#3: What’s your technical experience?

SEO is much more than building some links here and adjusting the content structure there. If you’re dealing with a pro agency, they should be knowledgeable about online technologies like PHP, HTML, CSS, design, server management, and other things.

#4: Who’s on your content creation team?

On the web, content is king. And quite simply, if your SEO content creation will be handed over to amateurs who don’t know a thing about affiliate marketing then you can kiss your rankings goodbye.

#5: How do you take care of social media optimization?

Nowadays, social media plays a huge role in rank building. What does your SEO agency have to say about that?

#6: What are your link building strategies?

Remember, the word for 2013 is diversification. Therefore, your SEO agency should have a lot to say about the different methods of link building they’ll employ (especially for affiliate sites).

#7: What are your outreach skills?

In other words, how does your SEO agency plan to handle outreach and relationship building?

#8: How do you adapt to the needs of different clients?

Let’s face it, every client is different. And if your agency tries to pitch the same SEO methods to everyone then they’re probably not that great.

#9: What’s your approach at content marketing?

Again, content is king. Your SEO agency should be familiar with how the affiliate niche works and what the best content marketing strategies are.

#10: Do you share your expertise with the community?

Pros are not afraid to say aloud what their strategies are. In most cases, they are keen to share with the SEO community.

#11: What will my part be in all this?

If an agency responds with “we will take care of everything” then you should probably avoid working with them. Only close cooperation can bring lasting results.

#12: Who else are you working with?

Although some SEO clients will prefer not to have their details shared, your SEO agency should still be able to point some of their clients out. Specifically, ask about any clients in the affiliate niche.

#13: What kind of tools do you use?

Some answers to look for (and avoid): automatic link building tools, automatic content production tools, automatic outreach tools, and basically anything with “automatic” in its name.

#14: Do you guarantee results?

The only real and honest answer is … “no.”

#15: Do you make predictions?

An SEO agency that’s on top of their game can always predict (to some degree) what will take place in the industry in the coming months. If an agency has absolutely nothing to say then they’re simply reactive in their way of doing business (not a good thing, by the way).

#16: How do you measure success?

SEO agencies have different benchmarks, but the thing to look for is some focus on measuring the growth of organic traffic and rankings over time.

#17: What would you do if you failed to provide results?

Refunds are okay. Going out of their way to achieve the final goal is better.

#18: Why should I hire you?

Search for some kind of a unique selling proposition particularly targeted towards an affiliate business like yours.

#19: Can I speak with your SEO department head?

Even though large agencies are busy, they should always make it possible for you to speak with the person in charge.

#20: How will you report your progress?

The answer you’re looking for here is a kind of detailed report, pointing out the goals, current stats, rankings, things that have been achieved, things yet to achieve, problems, nearest actions to take, etc. The more the better.

Want to get the full insight about the 20 questions? Visit this post on Search Engine Journal.