By: JoAnna Dettmann and Kaysha Hanock, Co-Founders of tSunela
Is your SEO firm doing what they are supposed to? Sometimes it is hard to tell, right? You receive monthly reports (at least you should!), but sometimes it is hard to decipher exactly what those reports are saying. Yet, you continue writing a monthly check, blindly trusting that your SEO experts are “taking care of all that for you.” But are they?
5 Easy ways to check up on your SEO firm:
1. Title and Description Tags
First, if you have no idea what title and description tags are, see below.
Now, type your organization into a search engine and note if your title and description tags are filled in appropriately. Check all pages of your website. Are the descriptions different? Are the descriptions using keywords? Several website platforms will automatically pull content from the webpage to populate the tags and descriptions, but words aren’t enough. Look to see if your SEO firm has taken the time to customize these for each page to better influence your rankings. Bonus? Look to see if the title tag is short (6 or 7 words at most) and the keyword is near the beginning.
2. Image File Naming
Did your SEO firm educate you about file naming structure? Spiders don’t read images but they do read the text in the <alt> tag. So, if you have images on your site, they must be named using keywords. The below image illustrates how you can check to see if your images have been named appropriately. If they haven’t (as is the case below), get naming (and start vetting other SEO firms)!
3. Pre-Game Effort
How inquisitive was your SEO firm at the start of your relationship? Did they ask for millions of passwords and access to things you didn’t even know they needed? This is a great sign. It means that they were pouring over analytics and competitors’ strategies in an effort to create a unique online marketing plan for you. If they were able to reference these analytics when proposing a site change—and explain it to you in layman’s terms…well, you hit the jackpot.
4. Into Robots
Is your SEO firm into robots? The robots.txt file defines how a search engine spider like Googlebot should “scan” the pages and files of your web site. In fact, it is the first thing a search engine spider looks at when it is visiting a page because it wants to know if it has permission to access that page or file. If the robots.txt file says it can enter, the search engine spider continues on to the page files. Check to see if you have one by adding “/robots.txt” to the end of a domain name.
If you see something, it is your robots.txt file; it will have words in it (suggesting that you have areas of your site that are off limits to search engines), not have any content (congrats—your entire site is fair game!), or won’t exist. If you don’t find a file there, time to call your SEO company.
5. Content Happy
Does your SEO resource seem giddy over content? Especially fresh, relevant, and continually-updated content? Good. SEO firms that truly care about the future of their clients’ organizations will tell their clients just how imperative it is to have relevant content that changes often on their sites. From blogs to news pages to FAQ sections, a great SEO firm will talk to you about how content marketing impacts search.
You are paying them. You have the right to check up on them. With so many mediocre and black-hat SEO firms out there, you must do your due diligence not only before you partner with a company, but also during the partnership. Periodically check to make sure they have your best interests at heart—and demand regular updates and status reports. Communicate your expectations to the firm, and hold them accountable if they are not being met.
Kaysha Kalkofen and JoAnna Dettmann are co-founders of tSunela, a digital marketing firm that specializes in search engine optimization, mobile search marketing, paid search marketing, local search optimization, web analytics, and social media marketing. tSunela is located in St. Louis, Missouri. For more information: www.tSunela.com or call 314.721.8813.