How to assess the level of an SEO company without concluding an agreement with it
In the comments to my previous publication, the question arose: “By what criteria can you rate a company that offers SEO services?”
The question is relevant and interesting, so I decided to devote a separate post to this topic.
If you are offered to work without a formal agreement, then immediately “no”. Surprisingly, such offers over the years does not become less.
There is a contract - there is a full-fledged company that is responsible and is registered with state bodies. But the form of ownership is not so fundamental (unless, of course, you have no internal restrictions on working with individual entrepreneurs).
We need not just examples, but examples that meet the following requirements:
3r3208. Relevance. If you have a large online store, then cases of online stores or such sites that are similar to them in basic parameters are relevant: the size of the semantic core, types of queries, structure, etc. Other projects can illustrate the diversity of experience.
3r3208. Amount. Normally, if you show 2-3 cases, and they are very convincing. But if not, then remember: you are shown the best. It means that the others are ashamed to be shown, or they are simply not there. Ask for more examples - fine. Failure looks suspicious.
3r3208. Complexity. You see, the cases are very simple. We return to the previous point: either poor results were achieved in more complex cases, or they did not work with more complex ones. It all depends on your own project: sites focused on a limited regional market can be trusted and start-up companies will save money on promotion. With the exception of the region "Moscow and the region."
3r3208. Goals A case begins with goals that each customer pursues. And this is almost never a position. Therefore, when positions are shown to you, this should always be in relation to what they were achieved for. At least "positions -> thematic traffic." If the question “What achieved the achievement of positions?” Cannot intelligibly answer you, then the case has no value.
3r3208. Concrete. There is a very unpleasant abbreviation NDA, it is the “Non-Disclosure Agreement”. It is precisely because of this agreement that it is difficult to make an illustrative case: there simply is not enough convincing data that can be shown. BUT! This does not mean that you can not talk about your future project in numbers. Feel free to ask how much traffic will bring promotion based on the experience of the company in voiced cases. Find out the deadlines for achieving positions. Specify the front of the work done on the cases that are given in the example. And watch, follow the reaction to specific questions.
The most difficult thing about SEO contracts is the guarantee. They are all different and do not directly correlate with the quality of work and the level of the company. This is especially evident in the small agencies that have to fiercely fight for customers: this is where the boldest promises are made.
The rule is simple: guarantees, especially financial ones, are always good, but far more important is their execution.
3r3208. If warranties are given in categorical form, for example: 3r3138. “After X months all requests are in Top1? or you can not pay” [/i] this is not a good sign, because such conditions for the contractor are an unreasonable risk. Look for the catch, above all, in semantics. Especially beware of guarantees, tied only to traffic, this figure can be screwed up.
3r3208. If the guarantees are complex, for example, 3r3138. “In X months, XX% of requests are in the Top3? and XX% in the top 1? payment for each keyword separately and only if all the conditions are met” 3r3139. then it is more like mutually beneficial terms. Approximately to such formulas come all companies that have been promoting websites for a long time and know the real conditions in which they will have to work.
3r3208. Do not forget that the guarantees are always bilateral. If under the contract you just pay and wait, then it is suspicious. At least in the conditions should be indicated restrictions on the uncoordinated work on the site on your part. But in general, the contractor should clearly indicate your area of responsibility: coordination and provision of materials, participation in the discussion of revisions and changes - all this should be spelled out in a form that does not differ in interpretation. If not, another “bell” that the performer for some reason is not interested in the formal details on which his award depends.
As for the fixed payment, it is quite natural and normal practice in the initial stages. The reason is simple: during this period the volume of work is very large, and there are no results yet. You pay for working hours of specialists.
BUT! This period should be limited to a few months. After the set time has elapsed, the site should reach the stated positions and begin to pay back investments in SEO.
A fixed payment may be kept at some minimum amount, but it should be much smaller than at the start. And it is imperative to settle in the contract: what works are carried out on a regular basis, how many hours it takes, what is the cost of an hour - a full calculation.
If you are offered to work on an eternal salary, then it is easier to hire a freelancer or an SEO specialist in the state. By the way, nothing prevents you from connecting your own specialist who will be trained during the promotion to work with an SEO company.
Pay for what? One of the main issues. There is no single answer, you can only say that the payment must necessarily be tied to a specific result. Even if these are positions, then you need to pay for each word, and even better - for each day of his stay in the Top10.
The logic is simple: if the site on the penultimate day of the reporting period came out on top for a specific keyword, then it would be right to pay for two days, and not for a month. And if he disappears again the next day, and then again at the end of the period rises above the lower bar, then in fact he was out of the top for a whole month.
3r3208. If you offer to pay for the entire reporting period, or even under the scheme "More than half in the top - we pay for everything" it is better to give up.
3r3208. If the goal is traffic, then you need to pay only for the search engine and only for the semantics that you have approved. The growth of total site traffic as the main KPI can not act.
3r3208. Can I work for orders /requests /action? Yes, it is quite. Just keep in mind that the scheme will be complex and will have to understand the end-to-end analytics. Otherwise, natural lead doubling may occur.
Please note: one of the forms of work under the CPA scheme is tied to new applications. If your contract says that you only pay for clients attracted in excess of the active client base, then you need to update this database and synchronize it with the analytics system. Otherwise, in the first month you will receive a report with a huge number of real leads, which are actually your regular customers.
In general, SEO on the CPA model is practiced infrequently precisely because of difficulties in recording actions and drawing up a contract. If the company is ready to work for leads, then this is good, it only requires a very careful discussion of the conditions. And be prepared that in the end you will have to pay more than with other KPIs: this is a fee for transparency. And there is also a threshold for entry: if your site now brings 0 applications per month and it is visited by 100 people per day, you will be denied.
This logically leads us to the following point: if you are not asked about the current indicators of the site for those KPIs that will be in the contract, then this is very strange. You can not predict growth without knowing the base level. If these questions concern you more than the executor, then in the future wait for disputes around the amount of remuneration.
You must have an account manager (he is a client). If he is not appointed, then in the company this role is performed by combining SEO-specialist, director or casual employee. This is a minus: the full combination of these functions is possible only if it leads 1-2 clients. If more, then communication with the client will be a secondary task. And this means delays in response, which spoils the relationship and makes it difficult to identify problems in time.
The designated account manager, in turn, already at the time of the primary exchange of contact information should be interested in the same question: with whom he will communicate on your side? Because there will be a lot of questions, and we need a single center of their resolution. If they do not ask (it happens very rarely), then this indicates the absence of any real work experience.
Report example 3r31919.
Be sure to take a look at the sample report that will be sent to you every month. It should contain the following sections:
3r3208. Work done (preferably in hours) 3r3209.
3r3208. Achieved KPI
3r3208. Problems identified and plan for resolving them
3r3208. Work plan for the next reporting period 3r3209.
3r3208. Recommendations SEO-specialist /other specialists of the company (for example, UX-specialist), if any 3r3209.
3r3208. Data on academic performance (by how many percent planned for this reporting period) 3r3209.
If you are offered a specific payment scheme, then the report should show data about all selected KPIs. Planned works are transferred to the results, and not the achieved KPIs - to the analysis of the causes of failure and the work plan for the next period. This is the report of the company, aimed at the result.
I understand that it is convenient for some to bring money in a sports bag to the office. But even in this case, you should be offered several modern and civilized options. The bigger, the better. If you are satisfied with the work through Sberbank Online, then this is great, but the company should also have a bank account.
However, taking into account tax and control innovations that come into force from January 201? only transparent types of payment under the contract and on the current account will remain relevant. This is probably for the best.
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