1. Have you done work before for a business like mine? 你以前有过和我业务相似的客户吗？
Perhaps no other question goes to the heart of the matter like this. If you own a self-storage business and want an SEO agency to help you obtain more customers, the ideal shop would have a proven history of securing them for other like companies. The same applies when hiring an SEO agency to target a certain language or geography.
Yet, just because an agency has worked with a company like yours doesn’t necessarily mean it will do a better job than another outfit that hasn't. But this is definitely a factor to weigh heavily.
2. Can you show me case studies? 你能给我看一下案例研究吗？
Whether the agency you're considering has worked before with a company of your type, case studies of its work will enable you to see the results delivered to other clients. In theory, this means the company can also come through for you. Talking with an agency representative about the case studies will also help you understand how the organization works.
3. Can you provide references? 你能提供客户名单作参考吗?
No agency will intentionally give out as references the names of clients unhappy with its work. But if an agency can’t even provide three positive references, what does that say?
4. What metric do you focus on the most? 你最关注的度量标准是什么呢？
Surprise! The right answer is not rankings -- or traffic or links. The kind of SEO agency you want to work with won’t ignore rankings or traffic as metrics in measuring a campaign's success but will primarily focus on customer leads, sales or conversions of prospects into clients.
5. How long until I start seeing results?我多久才能看到结果？
A representative of a good agency will underpromise and overdeliver. While every situation is different, this generally means the company will promise early positive results within four to six months and more substantial results within six to 12 months.
It’s not unreasonable for an SEO consultant to say you will start seeing things moving in the right direction within two to three months, but he or she should make it clear such results will likely not be the kind that affect the primary metrics cited above.
SEO is a long-term tactic, and if it is sold to you as a short-term solution to get sales, then move along to an agency where you'll be told the frank truth, even if it isn’t what you'd like to hear.
6. What is your link-building philosophy? 你的链接建设战略是什么？
The right answer emphasizes quality over quantity. Any SEO agency promising a certain number of links a month deserves skepticism if not outright rejection. The best links come naturally, from high-quality sources like news or industry websites.
Therefore link building is more like traditional public relations. Any SEO firm worth hiring for link-building services should be able to provide samples of high-quality links built for other clients and explain the process of how they were procured. If there's an explicit mention of buying links or anything that suggests the agency pays for links, run away.
Related: 5 Ways Google Is Changing SEO
7. How has SEO changed over the past few years? 这几年SEO有什么改变？
It can be tricky to parse the answer to this. It’s just as correct to say that SEO practices haven't changed at all as it is to remark they have been completely transformed. People at a firm that has always engaged in SEO through creating high-quality content and building high-quality links might feel that not much has changed.
On the other hand, Google has rolled out major changes to its search engine that make high-quality content and links more valuable than before, while penalizing low-quality content and links. In addition, more searches are being performed on mobile devices.
And today more searches use “natural language,” or complete sentences, rather than just a keyword or two. This has changed keyword strategy to a focus on more on long-tail results rather than just those “golden keywords” that many clients think will bring them the most traffic.