I speak to a lot of business owners who share the same frustrations when it comes to hiring SEO agencies. Typically that frustration is based around the following issues –
- They don’t know if anythings getting done
- They don’t know if they’re wasting their money
- Their rankings don’t appear to be changing
Be mindful that all of these frustrations are usually ongoing each month at a substantial expense. This is common and it’s something that drives many business owners nuts. Because, put simply, business owners understand the importance of being found in Google, yet it seems trying to find a genuine SEO company is almost impossible.
In this short article, I’m going to give you – the business owner – a few ways to see if your SEO company is doing what they’ve been paid to do, or if they’re simply tickling your credit card once a month and sending you a confusing report that makes little sense.
- Ability to carefully analyze the following instructions
- Good judgement
- A carton of eggs (I’ll explain in a moment)
Grab yourself some eggs. This is going to be fun.
I’m sure if you’re paying $500, $1,000 or more a month, you want answers right? …so lets get straight into it.
Oh, and before I get into this, this advice is based upon the assumption that you’ve been working with your SEO agency for at least 2 months or longer.
It’s important that you wait at least two to three months before calling your SEO guys and blasting them over the phone. SEO takes time, and so do the reflections of the work being done.
However, having said that, the following 5 areas are straight forward key areas that should be addressed at the very beginning of any campaign. Essentially, these are some of the very basics. If you’re spending money and this stuff isn’t or hasn’t been done, it’s time to start throwing eggs at someone. (Get 2 dozen, just incase)
Let’s get into it – 5 things you can check to know if your SEO agency is doing their job. Oh, and just quickly, I’m not covering anything offpage here (links built that point to your website) as that will probably just confuse you further.
Here, we go…
1. Check your url structure.
What the hell does that mean?
Okay, calm down, don’t panic. It might sound daunting, but it isn’t. Your url structure is simply what url shows within the address bar. If you look at this page, it will read http://www.bringthedonuts.com/seo/5-easy-ways-know-seo-agency-job/
However if your page url’s look anything like this…
…then its time to start throwing eggs. This is something that should be fixed first before anything else – or at the very least prioritized high up in the order. Why? Because search engine friendly urls (that’s what they’re called) are essential for good optimisation – and high rankings.
Google has no idea what this means…
It’s completely meaningless and will be certain to see you stuck back at page 25 for an eternity.
Instead, your urls should be search engine friendly (and of course user friendly) so that they look more like this.
See the difference? Search engine friendly urls contain logical phrases that give both users and search engines clues as to what your page is about. If your SEO agency has been working on your site for several months and your urls aren’t search engine friendly – it’s time to throw a handful of raw eggs at someone and get out of there. Fast.
2. Check your page titles
Page what? Okay, again, don’t panic – this is easy to do. Firstly, go to Google and type this in…
Of course, change the “yourdomain.com” to your actual domain name. So if I was checking this website, (Bring the Donuts) I would type in …
Okay, I’ve done that, now what am I looking for?
Alright, take note of your page titles. They’re the blue text that you usually click on in Google’s search results that take you to the page you’re interested in looking at. See the screenshot below.
What you’re looking for here are a few things.
- Unique page titles – are all of your page titles unique, or do a lot of your page titles have the same text? If many of your page titles are exactly the same – throw eggs.
- Are your page titles relevant and descriptive, or are they just stuffed with copius amounts of keywords that seem never ending. If your title tags are stuffed with heaps of irrelevant and seemingly useless keywords – throw eggs. If some of your title tags are empty or say “Untitled” or “Page1” or something else that is absolutely non useful in any way, definitely throw eggs. Infact, throw rotten ones.
3. Site speed.
This one should be fairly obvious. Is your site slow? Do your pages take an eternity to load? If so, then this is likely to be a problem. Site speed plays an important part in terms of rankings, and should be taken seriously. Infact, Google has openly admitted that they use site speed as a ranking factor – so make sure your site loads quickly.
NOTE – Be sure to check your pages at varying times across a number of different computers before you pick up the phone and start yelling at your campaign manager. You’ll want to be certain that your site is infact slow, and it’s not just your internet connection playing up.
Here’s an excellent tool that analyzises your sites speed and gives you grades from A – F. (A being awesome and F meaning, get the eggs ready)
It also gives you fixes and recommendations as to how you can make improvements.
If you’re certain that your site is as slow as a snail crawling over a peanut butter sandwich, then it’s time to start chucking eggs.
4. Description tags
As we did before when checking our title tags by using the “site” command in Google, let’s do it again, but this time, let’s check our sites description tags.
This time we’re looking for a number of things. They are –
- Relevancy. Are the descriptions highly relevant to the information on that page?
- Compelling. Are the descriptions compelling enough to draw the searchers eye and potentially have them click on our page?
- Are there a large number of duplicate descriptions. If so, this is bad and I’d get the egg carton ready.
- Do some of the description tags contain useless information like your sites navigation pages etc?
- Are the description tags too short and uninformative?
- Are they too long?
- Are the description tags stuffed with an overuse of certain keywords?
These are definitely some things to check with your description tags. Good optimised description tags contain keyword rich, relevant phrases that draw the interest of the person performing the search, are no longer than 160 characters and aren’t stuffed with keywords.
5. Google Tools
Okay, this might seem like a no brainer, but I’ve found client sites where they’ve hired an SEO firm, and they’ve not even bothered to instal Google Analytics. Ridiculous right?
For business owners that have no idea what I’m talking about, there are two tools that are absolutely essential in terms of being able to track and measure what’s going on with your website – Google Analytics and Google’s Webmaster Tools.
Both are free software provided by Google, that allows website owners to accurately track and manage important metrics on their sites. Such as –
- Unique visitors
- Search terms
- Bounce rates
- Crawl issues
For the average business owner, this might sound somewhat confusing, but in simple terms, Google Analytics and Webmaster tools are essential in terms of being able to know what’s going on with your site.
If you were to consider driving your car down the street with no gauges on the dashboard – having absolutely no idea how much fuel you have, or what speed you’re doing, this would be the equivalent of not running both of these tools.
Okay then, how do I check?
If you’re not sure if you already have these tools installed, the best way to find out would be to call your agency and ask. Chances are they’ll have them setup for you (if you haven’t already set them up yourself before hand)…however it’s always worth finding out.
You can easily check to see if your site is running Google Analytics by doing a right click on any one of your sites pages, and viewing the source code. Do a search using CTL+F and find “analytics”. If you find it, it’s installed.
Here’s what your Google Analytics code will look like (roughly)
As for Webmaster tools, you should already know your login for this, or ask your agency.
I hope this has given you some hope, if you’re paying for SEO and you’re feeling a bit “uncertain” about what’s going on, or if you’re wasting your money. Be mindful that these are just a few basic things that you can check.
If you’d like me to take a real good close look over your site, I can do what’s called an SEO Audit for you. This is a great way to get an idea of how your agency is performing, and whether or not you should stick with them.
For more information about my SEO Audits – click here.