Numerous times I have been asked what questions to ask an SEM or SEO Company before hiring them. Below are 10 questions that will help you interview possible candidates and ensure you pick someone that actually knows what they are talking about.
1. What SEO tools do you use?
An SEO’s toolset says a lot about an SEO, like a carpenter’s toolbox does.
What firefox extentions do they use? And what functions do they have?
For Keyword Research they should answer one of the following:
Google Keyword Tool, Wordtracker, or Keyword Discovery.
For other general tools they should mention:
SEO Elite, IBP, Optilink, or Optispider
2. What strategies have you implemented to achieve at least a PR4 for a client, and what is their domain?
Once you have the domain, run a backlink check, using SEO Elite or a similar tool. Take a look at the quality of the links.
Are the links quality or are they coming from link farms? Are they coming from Paid Links, that actively advertise they sell links?
To verfiy that they actually worked on the website, ask them to place your name on the website, temporarily to see if they have control of the domain. If they can’t show at least one example of this and make excuses, move on to the next company.
3. Whats the difference between PageRank, and Toolbar Pagerank?
If they answer, “Isn’t it the same?” you should end the conversation immediately. The PageRank toolbar only updates 4-5 times a year, while PageRank is an ever-changing number.
4. Ask the SEO Company if their SEO Campaigns are working?
If they don’t mention anything about sales, or conversions, and all they talk about is traffic, move on. A lot of SEO’s can drive traffic but it takes a Good SEO to understand what keywords are driving conversions.
5. Why does Wikipedia rank for so many keyword terms?
This should produce some insightful responses, but what you are looking for is something related to Wikipedia’s authority.
6. What well known SEO’s do you follow, and pay attention to?
Look up their answers and get the well known SEO’s points of view, because most likely the SEO you are talking to is going to have the same thoughts. If you can’t find them on Google then they probably don’t know how to do SEO.
7. Tell me your biggest failure in an SEO project?
Most likely the SEO is going to freeze up a little here. If they say they have never failed, be forewarned this is most likely their first job, or they are not being honest. In either circumstance, move on to the next prospect. I have failed; I’m sure last week I failed on something. You learn and you improve. If your prospect can’t admit failure, you’re in for a nightmare.
8. What areas of SEO are your weakest?
Make sure they admit to some sort of weakness. Those who don’t have weaknesses should throw up a red flag.
9. Ask the SEO to look up their name in Google. If you can’t find them, ask why?
10. What areas of SEO are your strongest?
Once they answer, give them a test. Test with a small project, and a secondary domain, not your money site! See if the SEO can really achieve their claims.