The practice of getting your website to appear in the search engines at the right time generally falls under the category of SEM (search engine marketing) and this term can include everything from paid search (PPC), organic search (SEO) or social tools like Twitter and Face Book. Smaller businesses will usually outsource this service to an agency or someone they know who understands this ‘internet stuff’ but the reality is this can be a huge expense so you need to make sure your money is being well spent.
The first thing you need to look at is the report your agency is sending through, if they’re not sending any reports through it’s definitely time to take the business away from them. A reputable SEO agency will have no qualms in sending through reports each month documenting what they’re doing with your hard earned cash, the results these efforts are generating and where they’re planning on taking the campaign. A common excuse you’ll hear from shady SEO agencies is that they don’t do reports because they don’t like to give away their trade secrets. In all fairness this is rubbish, any reputable SEO worth their salt will have nothing to hide and will gladly explain how they’re building links, what they’re planning on changing on the site and where they’re finding you new traffic. These reports can appear long and tedious but you still need to go through them, if you don’t understand anything that’s being reported its imperative you ask your agency to explain it. If you’re really stuck it might prove prudent to have a face to face meeting so they can explain everything to you. At the end of the day, you’re spending money with them so if this is too much to ask you need to be shopping for another agency.
Once you understand the reports you need to make sure the data they’re sending you is actually beneficial. There’s no point them simply sending you snap shots of your Google Analytics account or any other reporting tool. After all you can just log into this yourself and, to be honest, because so much data is available through tools like Analytics it’s not hard to find something that at least looks impressive. They need to explain what they’re showing you and why it backs up what they’re doing. If you’re paying someone to do your SEO then there’s no point them sending you data about your over all traffic levels, you want to know how your organic traffic levels are looking, you want to know what key words people are typing in to get to your site, is there a healthy mix of branded and non branded terms? Are the key terms they’re so happy they’ve got to the top position really sending you that traffic through?
Most importantly you need to make sure that traffic is doing something once it reaches your site. Whilst technically conversion doesn’t fall into the remit of straight SEO, there’s no point letting them spend all that time if it’s not going to ultimately result in revenue for you. This is where you need to work with your agency and make sure you’re communicating. If the traffic they’re sending through isn’t spending money with you, or contacting you or downloading your PDF or signing up or what ever your idea of a conversion is you need to make sure you’re targeting the right traffic. That the traffic is landing on the right page and the site in general hasn’t been redesigned for the search engines to the point where it makes no sense to the end user.