I don’t work for a Digital Marketing Agency, nor do I own a traditional Digital Marketing Agency. I have previously worked for (and owned) agencies, but through good and bad learnings finally came to the decision that I would rather spend more time providing quality services to a small number of clients.

My company, Munn Digital, partners with in-house marketing managers to provide digital marketing strategy, digital marketing services, digital marketing mentoring and in-depth data analysis. We also consult for other digital agencies on special projects.

I work with a maximum of 10 clients. Why? Because I can assure you that after 10 years of working across all channels of digital marketing it is near impossible for a digital agency to provide your business with a supremely comprehensive service unless a) they hire a lot of staff and don’t care too much about profits or b) they work with a limited number of clients or c) they charge premium fees (so they can do a or b).

This leads me to the title of this article 10 Things Your SEO Company Isn’t Telling You. I am compelled to write this article due to feeling increasingly frustrated by businesses being taken for a ride by SEO companies who are a) not transparent b) send most of the work overseas yet claim they are “in house”, and c) are focused on the profit, not the client results.

So let’s have a look together at some of the things your SEO Agency isn’t telling you.

1. Much Like Science, There is an SEO Periodic Table

Yes, that’s right, a periodic table for SEO exists, and it is one I follow for every client (adapted to the business type of course). The Periodic Table of SEO Factors isolates the must do factors of SEO management.

SEO Periodic Table 2019
Image courtesy Search Engine Land

Image Credit : Search Engine Land

I implore you to look at this table and ask yourself if your SEO Agency addresses each of these factors? Not sure? Ask them.

2. SEO is About Achieving Goals

What KPI’s have you set with your SEO Agency? Traffic, brand awareness, goal completions?

How do your users engage with your website? What does the Behaviour Flow look like? Which changes were made this month to improve KPI’s?

If the regular discussion with your SEO Agency is not about goals that’s a big red flag right there.

3. SEO Agencies Use Different Tools – Ask Your Agency What They Use

I am 100% open with my clients about the tools I use. These include SEMRushAhrefsKeyword.io and Screaming Frog. Added to this are a plethora of Chrome Extensions such as Structured Data Testing ToolLighthouseHreflang Checker and Meta SEO Inspector.

For me, any software is a tool used to apply knowledge, not the platform you learn from. Too many agencies think that as long as they have the software they suddenly have the magic wand to earn money from SEO. This is rubbish. Just like a builder, electrician or plumber, tools are used to make the job simpler and quicker; tools do not teach the tradesperson how to do the job.

Tools do not teach the tradesperson how to do their job, they assist in completing a task with more efficiency.

Ask your agency which tools they use, and request screenshots as proof.

4. SEO Should Be Affordable by not Cheap

My Australian and US-based local business clients get at least 300 leads a month from organic search. The monthly revenue from such leads can be worth AUD500K. Anyone getting these results for your business is not cheap!

After spending 10 years studying all facets of digital marketing, combining skills from Psychology and Accounting qualifications and passing all Google exams, my services are comprehensive and in-depth.

If you have signed a contract to pay anything under $1000 a month for SEO, please do me a favour. Go to the ATM, get the cash then burn it. That’s pretty much what you are doing with a cheap SEO provider as they are likely to be reactive, not proactive.

!! Additional tip. Your SEO Agency may be charging you $1500 a month, however, they may also be negotiating with a company in India to get the same for $100. See point 8.

5. Data Analysis is Required to Achieve Successful Long Term Results

My client Brisbane Roofing Solutions has given their approval for me to share this (thanks Jim!).

After 9 years we have consistently ranked organically for all targeted keywords and hold 10 number 1 local pack spots. Through all the algorithm changes and updates to Google, these rankings have remained consistent. Why? Because weekly analysis of organic traffic, keywords, conversions, audience behaviour, page performance and device performance is carried out.

They are an exceptionally responsive team, communicate beautifully and their roofing services and reviews are outstanding. It makes my job a lot easier.

Understanding the how, why, when and knowing about the target audience is essential for organic success.

Pause for a moment and reflect on how proactive your SEO Agency is and how much data analysis your SEO Agency carries out to assist you with your business growth. Compare Year on Year results to analyse their contribution to your overall success.

6. Competitor Analysis is a Must

Ask your SEO Agency what your competitors are doing. Which keywords do your competitors target? What are your competitor link profiles? What is your competitors’ visibility score? Which channels do your competitors market in? Which devices are driving traffic to your competitors’ websites?

If they don’t know then how can they compete for you?

7. Rankings Are Not Guaranteed

Never, ever, ever, EVER believe anyone who says “we guarantee number 1 rankings“.

I can guarantee you a number one ranking in less than a week – for a keyword with zero search volume and zero competition.

For high search volume keywords, rankings take time and hard work.

8. SEO Requires a Holistic Approach

SEO is not about backlinks, content, website quality, blog outreach or social signals – it’s about all of those and more.

Think of SEO as a pie chart. Each piece represents work you must do to succeed in SEO.

seo pie chart 2019

If your agency is telling you it’s all about a certain thing, they don’t know their stuff.

9. 80% Of Agencies Outsource Overseas

If I had $10 for every client who has told me their agency guaranteed they didn’t outsource overseas and I proceeded to find evidence to the contrary, let’s just say I may be writing this from Tahiti…..

! TIP Log into Google Analytics and review your referral traffic. Check for any visits from websites such as upwork.comfreelancer.com or fivver.com. If you haven’t used these services then it’s highly likely your SEO agency has (see the example screenshot below from a client I recently took over from an underperforming agency).

No alt text provided for this image

nb. I am not against using the contractors from these websites, what I disagree with is the lack of transparency and false claims from agencies who deny outsourcing clients work.

10. Hiring an SEO Agency Still Means you Have to Put in the Work

If you hire an SEO Agency and expect that all the work will be done on your behalf, here is your wake up call.

My typical week consists of regular emails and calls to my clients. I chase up content, website changes, approvals and responses to my recommendations. Communication is ongoing.

Unless the client pays for my copywriter to write blogs, then I am firm about at minimum 2 being produced per month, with my optimisation (including schema markup) applied prior to publishing. In conjunction with the client, I recommend article titles based on research from Google TrendsSEMrush topic research and more. This task in itself is time-consuming.

I need to know goals for the month (e-commerce sales targets, call/form lead targets), and to monitor these weekly.

Once again, if your SEO Agency does not do the above (and you are paying what you consider premium prices), then request a meeting or reconsider your options.

nb. Many clients ignore the advice of their agency to their detriment. It is an agencies job to then chase you up, not give up.

Don’t Wait for Results – Engage a Digital Auditor

Are you now sitting back wondering if your external SEO Agency is really delivering on the promises they made? Has it been some time since you were excited about the organic results being delivered?

One of the services I provide is a comprehensive digital marketing audit. This audit provides companies with peace of mind knowing whether they are either on the right track or if it’s time to make an informed decision about how to move forward.

In Summary

SEO takes time and energy, skills in web development, copywriting, data analysis and an in-depth understanding of the search engine landscape. In addition, persistence and excellent communication skills are a must.

Done correctly, your investment in SEO should reap you the financial and business growth rewards to well and truly offset the cost.

Tracey Munn
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