How to choose the right SEO company: 32 questions to ask

Finding and choosing the right SEO company is important.

It can also be a lot of hard work.

But it is essential to check SEO agencies and consultants.

The stakes are high. In most cases, SEO can make or break your business.

You want to make sure that your SEO agency is:

  • Easy to work with.
  • Offer real added value to your business.
  • Coherent.
  • Knowledgeable about the industry.
  • Within your budget.

Pick the right SEO agency and your business could start generating more traffic and revenue than ever before.

Pick the wrong SEO agency and it could lead to failure.

We’re talking about wasted money, penalties, and countless lost opportunities (e.g. rankings, traffic, and income).

While there are plenty of honest and reputable SEO companies to choose from, there are still a few rogue scammers and agencies looking to exploit subconscious businesses.

The SEO company horror show

As the manager of an SEO agency, I have seen the success stories. It’s always great to see clients grow and succeed because it helps us take pride in our work and show what SEO can do for businesses.


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But I have also heard horror stories.

One frustrating aspect of being an agency is hearing stories from companies that come to us wary and frustrated about the bad experiences they have had with unreliable SEO agencies.

Speaking with such clients, there seems to be a common crescendo that leads them to their unfortunate breaking point, and it goes like this:

A business decides SEO is the next step in their growth plan, so they research and speak with an agency about the services.

The agency sells them potential results of a successful SEO and gives guarantees on what they can achieve for the business.

The company thinks this sounds good and takes the agency at its word. In the end, the company signs a contract with the SEO agency and is stranded for an extended period.

Fast forward a year or two later, and some businesses find themselves strapped for cash with little results, or in some cases, with penalties that have made their online performance worse.


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An Insider’s Guide to Controlling SEO Companies

While it’s not the customer’s fault, what I often take away from hearing these SEO horror stories is that there were ways to prevent it.

Companies can protect themselves and avoid such awkward situations by asking the right questions up front.

It’s easier said than done when you’re new to SEO and don’t know what to ask of an agency,

But this guide will help you do that.

3 tips for controlling SEO companies

The following tips and questions are what businesses should definitely consider and ask when looking at SEO agencies from a behind-the-scenes perspective of a real SEO agency.

Tip 1: Make a list of criteria

Having a few criteria beforehand will make you think critically about your expectations, prevent you from entering blindly, and keep you in control of what you want.

Think of things like:

  • Budget.
  • Desired duration of the contract.
  • Whether you want a local service provider or agree with a remote agency.
  • Frequency of reporting.
  • Any other potential deal breaker.

Tip 2: Talk to 3 different SEO companies

It’s a good idea to talk to at least three SEO vendors before making a decision.

In addition to being a good idea generally to know all your options, it also gives you some leverage for possible negotiations regarding prices, services and contract terms.

Tip 3: Make a list of interview questions

Asking the right questions before signing a contract can prevent the majority of SEO horror stories.

Prepare the questions to ask each agency you speak with, so that you can compare the answers later and have plenty of information to help you make your decision.

32 questions to ask an SEO company

Ask the right questions

Any honest, well-established business will be happy to answer your questions and address any concerns or reservations about SEO.


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Pay attention to how receptive they are to providing answers.

Above all, do not sign a contract with an SEO agency without asking yourself these questions first:

  • Can you guarantee that my site will have a top position?
    • Start with this question because it’s a quick way to weed out shady SEO agencies. Legitimate SEOs will never guarantee a client a top position because they know there are no guarantees with SEO.
  • How do you manage penalized sites?
  • Does your agency sometimes deviate from Google best practices?
  • Has your agency ever purchased links?
  • How do you bond and what type of bond do you create?
  • How many links can I expect to build per month or over the life of my contract?
  • How much on-page, off-page and technical work can I expect to do and what specific practices do you do for each?
  • What tools do you use to get results and perform SEO services?
  • Do you modify and / or optimize the existing content on my site?
  • Is any of the work or content outsourced? If so, who does it?
  • How does your team manage content strategy and development?
  • What specific pieces of content will be created for my site?
  • How do you plan to optimize this content?
  • Do you have any examples of work you have done for a similar company?
    • Successful SEOs are quick to provide case studies or examples of other businesses they’ve helped, so if you hear “it’s classified” or “we don’t share other clients’ results” in response , beware.
  • On average, when do your customers start seeing results?
  • How many active customer accounts do you have?
  • How many people in your team work there?
    • If an agency has 500 active client accounts and only 30 people on their team, chances are they will be strained at the expense of quality or outsource some of the work.
  • Do you work with companies that would be considered competitors of mining?
    • It’s not always a bad thing, but if a direct competitor hires the same SEO company and has a bigger budget, you could be in trouble.
  • How often do you perform site audits?
  • What specific measures are you monitoring and reporting on?
  • How do you manage the reports and monitoring of my account?
  • How often can I expect to receive reports and updates, and how will you communicate them to me?
    • Ideal answers to these questions will include information on conversions, rankings, traffic, campaign and awareness updates, and more. Most agencies provide clients with access to reporting software so that they can view a dashboard with traceable metrics.
  • How many people will have access to our website?
  • What measures do you take to ensure the security of our website?
  • Are you going to make any changes to the structure, web design or coding of our website? If so, is it managed internally or as a subcontractor?
  • Who would be my point of contact and how can I contact them if I have questions or concerns?
  • Can I meet the people who work on my account?
  • What will you need from my side?
  • How much time per month is needed on our side?
  • Can you detail the price package by specific services and hours devoted to each?
  • What sets you apart from other SEO agencies?
  • Overall what results can I expect from my website?


Lack of preparation makes you susceptible to being exploited by dishonest and shady SEO providers.

Do your research and prepare in advance so that you can easily identify the right SEO company when you find them.

From there, your SEO company will help you determine the best strategies to meet your business needs.


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