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10 Questions To Ask When Hiring An SEO Expert

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10 Questions To Ask When Hiring An SEO ExpertSEO
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Hiring an SEO expert can seem like a daunting task. There is conflicting information on which aspects of SEO will move the needle for your company. We sat down with the Co-Owner of SimpleTiger, Jeremiah Smith, to discuss the questions you should be asking when considering an SEO agency.

The top 10 questions you should ask every SEO expert before hiring them:

  1. Does your agency specialize in SEO or just offer it as one of your multiple services?
  2. Does your agency offer only consulting, do you assist with implementations, or provide any deliverables other than recommendations?
  3. What services and/or items does your agency deliver?
  4. How do you communicate with your clients?
  5. What SEO tools does your team use?
  6. How does your team stay up to date with the most current trends in SEO?
  7. How do you measure results?
  8. How long does it take to see results?
  9. How does your pricing work?
  10. What if we’re willing to scale up our budget, would we get better results?

If you’re interesting in learning more about our SEO agency, SimpleTiger, and how we can help you, please reach out to schedule a discovery call.


Jessica King  0:07  

Hi, my name is Jessica King, and I'm the content production manager here at simple tiger.

Jeremiah Smith  0:11  

And I'm Jeremiah Smith, founder and CEO.

Jessica King  0:13  

We're glad to have you here today because we want to talk about some of the most important questions that we think you should be asking SEO agencies when you're vetting them. Alright, so the first question that we're going to start with today that we talked about is, does your agency specialize in SEO? Or does it just offer it as one of your multiple services,

Jeremiah Smith  0:32  

it depends on the company. So if you're trying to hire an agency, and you're not sure, if like, you want to hire a full service agency that offers multiple different services, or you want to hire an agency that specializes in SEO, one of the things that I've learned through years of doing SEO is that it's one of those things that you really have to focus heavily on if you're going to do it right. One of the problems with an agency that offers multiple different services that also offers SEO, is what they won't tell you is that they have a strength, they have one thing they do extremely well, and a lot of their other services are not necessarily their strength. And they can't tell you which one they can't do really well or is not a great one. And I have a lot of experience working with different agencies in the past working client side in the past, where they we would work in an agency that would also offer SEO, and I could see that the SEO they were doing was not as good as all the other stuff that they were doing. And so we were spending on SEO, but weren't getting the full value out of it. So I'm a major fan personally, of hiring specialist agencies. If we're hiring someone to do paid search or paid social for us, we hire an agency who just does that. And I think that that specialty is really key.

Jessica King  1:44  

Now that's really insightful. For sure. Um, the next question that we came up with is, does your agency only offer consulting? Do you assist with implementations? or provide any other deliverables or recommendations?

Jeremiah Smith  1:57  

Yeah, I think that's another good question. Because a lot of times, the clients that we talked to the people that we talked to, are really interested in getting implementation, I would say it's almost like 5050, they want either implementation, or they want consulting, or some kind of mixture of both. Some, some companies want just the consulting aspect, which is really important for you to know, before you go in and actually hire an agency. You can't do good SEO for a client as an agency without doing some level of consulting. And the reason is, SEO is complicated. It's complex, there's a lot to it. And it's always changing. And so you should be working with someone who's going to educate you through the process, and always be looking out at industry changes and things like that, and consult. So I like asking this question early on, or for people to ask this question early on, so they can figure out what they're actually going to get in the relationship. When I first started, simple tiger, I was much more consultative and a lot less service oriented. So I wasn't doing content production. I wasn't doing link building and things like that. But I was doing a lot of consulting, I was diving deep into problems and stuff like that, that helped the client that needed that. But the clients that needed implementation, it didn't really help, you know, because I was the guy who could tell them what to do. But I wasn't necessarily doing it for them. And so they'd have to hire other folks for content team and, and developers and things like that to fix technical issues. So I think it's good, kind of going into the relationship to know, Are you hiring a consultant? or Are you hiring an agency? Who's going to do a bunch of stuff? Or are you ideally hiring a combination of the two?

Jessica King  3:36  

Oh, help me out here? So

let's think you know, of a specific example, you know, why would a company be interested in each one of these different services? Why would somebody want maybe a consultant versus somebody to implement recommendations?

Jeremiah Smith  3:48  

Great question. So in our experience, we've worked with some enterprise companies, some really large companies that, for example, had a large content team. And what I mean by large content team is like five plus people who are all responsible for producing and managing content for the company. And for that kind of a company, consulting is really effective, because they have the people who can implement, they have a team, right? They're waiting for some strategies, some ideas, solutions, and they have all the labor ready to go to implement all these ideas and implement all these things. So somebody who can come in and strategically guide that team is a major asset for a company like that. If you look at some smaller companies, though, that maybe don't have a content team, they can hear all the consulting, but they can't do much with it, because they don't have anyone to implement this sort of stuff. So for example, producing content or building links, that takes a lot of time and energy and effort and expertise and skill, things that are expensive to hire. And so a small company is not likely to go out and hire a full time Content Manager and a full time PR person to do link building and build relationships. And so because of that, they would probably want somebody who's more on it. mentation side of things, then we can even go a step further and say that enterprise sized company may have personnel in all different areas, but maybe they don't have contact personnel. And that's a great case where then All right, a mixture of both would work. Well, a consultant who can help for the few personnel they do have that can help us. But then they also do need content links, as well. And so producing that can really help. So it really depends on the size of your company, and the people that you have internally, in those different departments of technical content in kind of the PR, social aspect of things. If you've got people in those areas of consultants probably going to serve you better. If you don't have people in those areas, you probably need some implementation capability with the agency or whoever you work with.

Jessica King  5:44  

Oh, that's great. So I mean, it really just depends on what type of company you are, and what resources that you have available to you, and what's going to be best for you. And that really flows into our next question, which is what services and items you know, does your agency offer and then deliver?

Jeremiah Smith  5:59  

Yeah, and that question sounds kind of a little bit like the first one about specializing. But what I really mean, by asking this question is, let's say they do specialize. So for example, we specialize in just SEO, that's all simple Tiger does. Seo means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. So when I tell people that we just do SEO, I always like to clarify what that includes, because a lot of people think of SEO as just doing the technical recommendations and optimization on their site. That's like a tiny percentage of what we do. A majority of what we do is actually content strategy, content production, and link building. I mean, that's, that's majority of what we do, actually, technical optimization is important for some clients of ours and not as much for others. That just is the way it is. So when you're working with an agency, even if they're specialized, it's good to know, what kind of services I'm going to get, am I going to get from them? And what kind of deliverables Am I going to get from them as well, the deliverables are important, because when you're paying for this type of service, anybody can sell kind of a consulting or strategy component. But it's good to know, what does that strategy look like, like, give me a sample or a taste, so I can kind of have an idea of what I'm going to get for this relationship. Because if I have a team of people who can implement things, I don't want just some open ended consulting relationship that doesn't have much scope to it. I want like some clear idea of what are the deliverables? What are we going to be received?

Jessica King  7:23  

So do you think it's a good idea to maybe ask for, you know, some sample work for them to just get a clearer picture of what what they should expect?

Jeremiah Smith  7:31  

Yeah, especially if you have concerns about how established they are as an agency, or what what kind of what kind of work you're going to be receiving from them, just so that your expectations are in line with what you're actually going to receive. Also, it can help you as a client, it can help educate you, if you are talking to, let's say two or three different perspective agencies, or consultants, and you ask them to show you examples of their work. And it could be for other clients, it could even be client names redacted, and stuff like that, because there may be non disclosure stuff, or just kind of privacy concerns. Totally fine, we do that we show private, private information, and we strip out all of the client information, everything, but we show like some data so they can see this is the kind of a strategy or kind of document or deliverable you're going to get, we break each one of those down, I think a company that does that is, is doing a good job of kind of laying out the products that the customer is actually going to receive. And it creates a better likelihood that the clients engagement and what they receive are completely aligned. What you don't want is to have some misalignment and expectations from delivery.

Jessica King  8:37  

No. And that, you know, that comes into the next question to something we've learned is that communication is key for a successful campaign. So our next question is, how do you communicate with your clients?

Jeremiah Smith  8:48  

Um, communication is certainly key. And it's, it's important that you've got good processes in place to communicate well, mainly because we were talking earlier about aligning expectations with delivery, if there isn't a good process of communication early on, and those expectations are going to get quickly overlooked. And then delivery is going to completely miss those those expectations. And so you as a client need to ensure that when you're when you're asking this question from an agency, what you're really looking for is an agency that's listening, I would say, because the biggest thing that an agency can offer to you is a completely customized solution, something that's very clear, that is going to help you. And the only way it can really help you is if that agency is listening to your problem. They understand what you're dealing with. And so I would instead of going with an agency that seems like they're gonna maybe just offer you the same old cookie cutter thing. Look for an agency that has put a lot of work into asking the right questions. And in getting all that stuff kind of fleshed out in the early stage that communication. You shouldn't have even paid $1 to have some really deep good quality communication with the agency or the consultant. Thinking about working with before you actually get a project started. And I say that because how are they going to know what they're gonna sell you if they're not communicating with you early on and finding out exactly what it is that you want. So all that kind of stuff I think can really help you pick the right agency, if you find one that listens to you really well, and then honestly tells you here's right, based on what you said, here's where we can help you in this area over here is not really our specialty, it's not really something we can do. That's the kind of communication you're looking for early on, that's going to make your decision easier about what agency to hire, but also, it's going to help you align your expectations really well with what the agency is going to deliver for you.

Jessica King  10:37  

totally true. And I mean, if they aren't listening in the beginning, then they're going to try and shove you into a box of one size fits all, and everybody is different. Everyone has different needs. Um, which then brings us to the next question of what SEO tools does your team use? And

why is that important?

Jeremiah Smith  10:53  

Yeah, I think the tools that we use, it's funny, because that's a that's an early question that I get from a lot of a lot of people who are looking to get into SEO actually is like, what, what tools do you use? And I think, in in the marketing industry, in general, marketers are typically pretty attracted to flashy things. So if there's something fresh and new, we like to jump on it. And just as gullible to that as anybody else. So I would say, when it comes to tools, don't get too obsessed with the toolset, we've changed the tools that we use so many times over the course of what we do here at simple tiger. But asking this question, helps you understand if the agency that you're talking to is really using something that you personally believe is a good tool. So I'll give you an example. When when talking to let's say, let's say an SEO agency, it's good to find out some of the tools early on that they use, because it means a couple of things. First, if you ask an SEO agency, what sort of tools do you guys use? And they give you kind of some nebulous answer, and they say, you know, it's proprietary information or something like that. My, my red flags would go up, because there's no reason for them behind the tools. It's kind of like if you hired a contractor to work on your house, and you said, you know, how, what's your process going to be forgetting this stuff? How are you going to get this built, and then the guy doesn't want to, you know, tell you that he's going to use a hammer and some nails and saws, it's like, come on, that's obvious. But like, you know, Now, of course, all the contractor, I'm not as concerned about what brand tools they're using, because they're they're a lot more the same. But in SEO realm, you have a lot of different types of tools. And if you're using something that I would consider to be archaic and not that good or not really well supported, I don't want my consultant or agency to be limited by a poor choice and tools. So that's all right.

Jessica King  12:39  

So the T, then, yeah, still the tea, what is the best tools that you recommend to use but you think are a good flat, a good side?

Jeremiah Smith  12:50  

Okay, at the moment, in the SEO industry, I'm a big fan of a tool called a refs, H rdfs, calm really, really good. Everybody who's SEO should have heard by that I've heard of that by now. A lot of other people like sem rush have been using that for a long time, too. I'm more of a fan of a refs and I am sem rush. By the way. I think sem rush is awesome, though, for paid search, kind of doing some investigative work. I think that's really cool. For technical deep dives, we love a tool called Deep crawl, we've been using that for a couple years now really, really happy with it. All of these tools, by the way, they offer kind of a free trial opportunity for you to check them out. But they can get a little expensive. So just keep that in mind. But really, I like when talking to an agency or you know, if I'm a client, I like to see that that agencies investing in what they do. And so for us, these are expensive tools that a lot of our clients just would not use our clients don't use deepcrawl. That's, that's too much money for what it does. But for us as an agency, that's a worthwhile investment. So we make that investment for our clients, they don't have to, what that does is that makes it to where our client gets the best output and the outcome from the talent and the work that we put in for them. So that's another kind of indicator when when an agency can answer what kind of tools they use, shows, they're confident shows, they're transparent, and it also shows that they're professional, they're using really good tools to do the job.

Jessica King  14:14  

So let's say an agency uses like a proprietary tool that they've created internally, do you think that that sparks a red flag?

Jeremiah Smith  14:20  

Um, it could, I would test that a little bit harder. And I would really, really look at the data that they send you. So for example, on keyword research, if they're using a proprietary tool for that, I would measure the data on that, versus some data that's more readily available from a tool like a refs, or Google's Keyword Planner. And I would check that data and just make sure is that data in line there? Is it? Is it somewhat close to the data I'm getting from these other sources? Because if so, it's probably a good tool. If it's way off then I would question the validity of First of all, if this is a proprietary tool, how proprietary Is it because it doesn't really seem like it's it's getting the kind of data that we need to be getting it's it's getting an accurate data. So now I'm questioning how well the tool is built. But also if it's getting the exact same data that I can get from these other tools, actually question whether or not it's even proprietary at all, a lot of SEO agencies that I've heard of in the past like to kind of cover things up behind the scenes what they do, they're afraid to give away too much around the skill and the trade, thinking that someone's going to come in and do it. In places them, I find that to be really rare that someone would actually replace what you do in SEO, the same way I find it rare that if you watch a contractor, build your home for a moment that you're suddenly going to take up a business building home, it's not what's going to happen. So I see it as an opportunity to get transparency, good, good communication relationship by asking those kinds of questions early on. And I wouldn't necessarily shy away from someone who's using proprietary software, I would just look at the output of the software to see, does this data look useful and accurate? And if it does, All good?

Jessica King  15:53  

Well, that kind of takes us back to a previous question that we were talking about, you know, ask them for sample work. Um, and if they are using a proprietary tool, then perhaps matchups in the data that they give you in their sample work. See how that aligns. And if it's good, then great, good tool, go for it. But if not, maybe use a little bit of caution then.

Jeremiah Smith  16:09  

Yeah, yeah, exactly. And I've had people question me on stuff like that in the past, where they've looked at some of my keyword data. And then they say, well, that's not what we're seeing in our tool here. And then I asked them, and we dig into the tool they're using, and I show them how, actually the tool you're using, I wouldn't recommend there's some others out there that are better, like Keyword Planner, a ref, stuff like that there's a lot more accurate. And what's cool is, even in that case, if you're really doing your best as an agent, let's see, you just look a lot smarter to your client all of a sudden, so now they're much more likely to trust you because you just educated them and help them through a bit of a short sightedness that they had.

Jessica King  16:43  

Well, uh, moving on to the next question here, you know, something that we've noticed in SEO is that it is never the same. It is always changing. It is a beast, and Google keeps us on our toes. But Google also keeps us employed. So the next question that we think you should be asking is, how does your team stay up to date with the most current trends in SEO?

Jeremiah Smith  17:04  

Yeah, that one's actually be honest. That one's a little bit tricky. And I'll tell you why. When I first got into SEO, that was 2006 2007. So it's a long time ago. But the publication's of around talking about SEO back then were very few. And they were pretty trustworthy. To be honest. I mean, there was SEO Moz, which the MAS used to be called SEO Moz. Back then, Rand Fishkin was teaching a lot. I would trust anything, by the way that Rand Fishkin says in regards to SEO, he's kind of the grandfather of the SEO industry, I would say. So so anything, Rand Fishkin says, I like Moz a lot. So I would trust a lot of what's said there, too, but I would be careful about trusting what said on their contributor forum kind of area, because anybody can jump on there and publish something. So you kind of have to be careful, you'll find a lot of nonsense there. Other than that, to be honest, it can be a little difficult to navigate the landscape of what all actually does impact SEO and what information you should be staying on top of. So I think, when you're asking an agency, that kind of question, like, how do you guys stay innovative? How do you how do you always know what's going on? And how do you keep yourself sharp? This is as much of a question that I think would help you as a client, to know what to look at, as it is to kind of filter out maybe some answers that aren't good. You know, if somebody is fumbling to answer that question doesn't know who they really get their info from. Or maybe they learned one time, they haven't looked back, since they just keep doing the same thing. You're going to be able to tell right away, but they start giving you some names of some folks take note of that, and then go look those people up, see how good their information is. And if their information seems legitimate, and you feel pretty confident in those answers, and cool, they're learning from some good, reputable resources. That doesn't mean that you as a client need to go learn from those, although you're more than welcome to, it just gives you a better idea that the agency is consulting you as well guided themselves if they're going to be guiding you. So I think that's an important kind of place to begin. That makes it easier as someone who's going to be hiring someone to manage them, because you know, you can trust them more if you know where they're getting their information from.

Jessica King  19:13  

So that being said, How do you feel about conferences? Do you think that there's a lot of information to be learned at conferences? Or do you think it's a bit of a sales tactic to get people to buy products?

Jeremiah Smith  19:24  

No, that's a good one. Um, I think conferences can be really, really effective at both of those actually, and the sales tactic side of things. I feel like it's almost less um, less salesy as much as it is just good quality interaction and relationships that could easily develop in the sales but in a very authentic way. So I don't see them too much as being like that, like the old Expo type of thing where it's just very salesy. Now haven't been to a ton of different types of, of our industry conferences, SEO conferences, but the few that I have been to I've learned a few things connected with a few people also heard a few things that I disagreed with. So you have to watch out for that. Rare rarely that I've seen that happen because the audience would quickly pick that up and, and disagree and it would turn sour. So I think generally you can trust what you learn at conferences and things like that. But anyone who's in the SEO industry, if they go to a conference, everyone, it seems like likes to share their notes afterwards. And so I've gotten really lucky not having to go to so many conferences over the years, and just kind of sat back and waited for everyone to publish all their posts about what they learned there. And I'm like, Oh, this is great. I got all this info for free. And I didn't have to go anywhere. So I think there's there's value in that. There's also valuing going to the conferences, who you get to learn from and kind of the one on one conversations, and you can, if you've spent some time in the industry, you can connect with some people who are also kind of connected or very experienced, you can kind of figure out a few things that nobody is really talking about, that's a little bit more like this is becoming a little more popular, or here's a strategy that's working really well. So there are some of those opportunities in conferences as well.

Jessica King  21:06  

Oh, I've been to a few conferences, and they feel like a 72 hour work day, they are very long. But some of the best dance parties I've ever been to a bunch of conferences. So

Jeremiah Smith  21:17  

right, both sides.

Jessica King  21:19  

Us nerds like to break out of our shell sometimes.

No, their conferences to be a lot of fun, for sure. But I agree. Sometimes it's easier to just read the blog post afterwards. Um, but moving on to the next question. Here is number seven. How do you measure results? Why do you think that's a really important question to be asking?

Jeremiah Smith  21:37  

Yeah, that's a great question. And that goes back to the expectations thing. So you as a client looking to hire an agency, you're looking to achieve some sort of a result. And so I would try to focus that conversation around results. If after a little while, the agency you're talking to has it? To me, it's actually a bit of a red flag, if the agency doesn't bring up results sooner. And that goes way, way back to how you communicate with the agency, the agency should be early on asking you, what is the result you're after? What's your goal? Like that should be pretty much day one first sentence about your business? What is it that you got in touch with us about what is it you need help with, and that should start the whole conversation around goals and and and what the result is that the client is achieving, or attempting to achieve to begin with, then backing it up from there, how you measure those results is then a little bit more of a kind of a rabbit trail of a conversation. Because the thing about results is so many different types of companies and clients consider so many different things to be the valuable result they want. Most of the clients that we talked to want conversions into paying customers, that's really, really common. Now we work with SAS companies. And so for that, that usually looks like monthly recurring revenue, people signing up for software subscriptions and things like that. So that's a really common goal. But in a lot of cases, we're dealing with some marketing teams, some content teams who are saying, we just want to see more downloads of our PDFs, because we know that those PDFs lead to good lead nurturing, which lead to really good sales kind of qualified leads. And so then we can kind of see Alright, they're kind of phases to their, to their goals here. So then we can know that when we look at their analytics, we want to see are they tracking really well, the PDF downloads, are they tracking the signups into free trials are the signups the paid subscriptions, things like that. And just make sure that if that is their number one goal is to drive conversions. Are they tracking that? First of all, how are they tracking that? And then once that's answered, we like to connect the dots back to where we actually start having impact. And so as an example for for our agency, when I talk to clients about this, always start with that kind of what's your end goal? If it's conversions, okay, cool. Let's step back from conversions. Traffic, traffic leads to conversions. If it's the right traffic, now you get the right traffic that comes down to the right keywords, which is pretty easy to measure rankings around see how well you're doing there. So we like to measure results based on rankings, traffic conversions, and that's our agency. We think that works really well from an SEO perspective. But if you're doing paid search, it may not look the same, you know, rankings may not really applies equally to paid searches with SEO. But I would start with the goal, the end goal, and then just connect the dots backwards to where you are right now. And and by asking that question to the agency, it gives them the chance to really kind of show you authentically how they plan on doing that. And you can detect if this is going to be a good relationship or not based on how they plan to make those connections.

Jessica King  24:35  

So you're saying when it comes to measuring results, like a lot of the other questions, it really just depends on your business, what you have in place and what you're really trying to achieve.

Jeremiah Smith  24:44  

Yep, yep. And that folds back into that question around communication and making sure that they're asking about your business more than just selling you what they have to sell you.

Jessica King  24:54  

I'd say the number one question that I think everybody always asks during every single wholesales call it How long is it going to take to see results?

Jeremiah Smith  25:03  

That's right. Yeah. And that's that's much more of a tricky question that actually requires even more conversation, we got to learn a whole lot more about our client before we can answer that. So now that's for us in the SEO industry, other industries may be different, like, for example, paid search could show results, depending on what those are in a couple of weeks, like SEO usually can do that. Email Marketing might be able to today, for example, because you may have a huge database, you may have the templates ready to go, you just need to create an email and send it and bam, there's your results. So it really depends on the type of agency you're talking to in terms of what their answer is going to be how fast they'll show results. But I think it's a good question to ask because then it puts in in frame, it puts in proper alignment, what the medium of marketing that you're going after, is and how that aligns with the goals you want to achieve, right. So for example, if you have a long term goal of like four to six months to see results, you want really good conversions, you want this to all be new business, SEO is a great area because as a general rule of thumb, that that's a good kind of a good rough estimation without looking at anybody's specific data. But if you're if you're meeting results, like this month, you probably don't want to talk about SEO right now, you probably need to be talking to somebody else. So getting their answers on how long it takes to see results helps you measure their authenticity as an agency, because you want to kind of know that things are in alignment with industry standard, for example, you don't want an SEO agency who says guaranteed results in two weeks, like red flag right away. But so getting an alignment there with authenticity of the agency. The second thing is alignment between your expectations as a client and what they can actually achieve. So if they're authentic, then they'll tell you, here's what we can actually do. Now, does that align with what you want as the client? If it does, this might be a good trail to go down? If it doesn't, you need to talk about another channel, probably. And I'd say those are pretty much the two biggest things that also sets though, the expectation for the relationship that then needs to be managed. So if an agency tells you, it's going to take four to six months to show results, hold them to that. I mean, you're spending money on this. They're the ones who said that. Now listen to what they say. But also, don't be afraid to push them on. And so you said 46 months, what's going on? That happens to us all the time people ask us that kind of question early on, and we we always make sure we're handling it properly, and that we're delivering results properly and evolving our agency to make sure we do things faster and better and stuff. So asking that question really lets you have a deeper relationship with the agency you're planning on?

Jessica King  27:38  

Yeah, no, I mean, I've always thought that SEO is kind of like growing a garden, you know, you're you're not going to plant seeds, and the next day have beautiful flowers. And to me, I think the biggest red flag when you're going through the sales process, is if an SEO agency tells you, you can be number one and anywhere from two to force, you know, two to four weeks, that's as you and I both know, that's absolutely not possible, unless they're like ranking number two right now, like lecture like right on the first page, and it's just not going to happen. And and that to me, it just says that they're probably don't have your best interests at heart.

Yep. Um, so that being said, How much is this going to cost? Right, that that's an important question is how does your pricing work?

Jeremiah Smith  28:17  

Yeah, I think how the pricing work is an important question. And this actually covers, it's funny that I'm putting this towards the end, I promise, I don't put this towards the end for some kind of a gimmick other than if you've had all the other conversations, then this part of the conversation should be easy. If you ask that question to me right off the bat, I can give you some number ranges, but they're way out of context, you know. And so I like to figure out all that context first. And then I give my number ranges, which are still the same. But now it's within context. And I can explain every part of that pricing and why. And you as a client would understand that better. So I would say this is a strong question for multiple different reasons. to a large degree, there are some industry standards, right? Like if you go to hire a paid media agency, really common for a paid media agency to charge 15 to 20% of ad spend as their cost from PR management for ad management, but for producing creative, additional creative beyond what you already have creating landing pages. So there may be additional fees for that. And that just makes sense. That's more scope, you should pay more. So that kind of stuff is pretty logical, pretty straightforward. When hiring an SEO agency, for example, though, I found that the pricing is usually not as straightforward. And a lot of it comes down to the fact that I think a lot of people who sell and do SEO aren't necessarily sure what all they need to be doing all the time when they're when they're working on a project and that they're really compensating for a lot of consulting. They're planning on doing so, using tools to find problems and talking about those problems with their clients. They're kind of covering that to a large degree. agencies like ours, though, and there are some awesome competitors of ours out there that I see frequently, who are I think doing it really, really well. They charge for scope. So We've got kind of a chunk set up for the strategy consulting portion. And that's very fixed and clear what that's going to include. And then we charge for content. And we're very clear on our pricing for content. And then we charge to build links. And we're very clear what that cost for us to go build links and do PR and outreach and things like that. So I think making sure that they're tying the cost to scope to what you're actually going to be getting is a good kind of first place to begin with, I wouldn't steer too much on the hourly basis, I would probably steer away from hourly relationships. The reason is that it, it disincentivizes, the performance per hour of the agency or the consultant, and an actually puts puts you as the client on the hook for how they're using their time. So I wouldn't do that. That takes a lot of work. I've seen that.

Jessica King  30:49  

No, I mean, that makes complete sense. And that's really insightful as avoid anybody who's trying to hire, you know, pay by the hour, because of course, they're not going to work as hard for you. But that being said, the next question is, what if a company say is willing to scale up their budget? Do you think that they could get better results and maybe get faster results?

Jeremiah Smith  31:07  

And that that goes perfectly offens? Last question. So if a client is if you're looking to like get more results, if your agency has said, Well, we just charge for scope here, and the more scope that you get, the more results you get, and be really clear about what that is like, for example, for us, it's rarely ever more consulting delivers the results. Mostly, it is more content and more links deliver the results for our clients, we notice an immediate difference, if we double the amount of content they're producing, or we double the amount of links that we're building for them, we notice immediate results from that. So we have a lot of clients who over the course of the relationship scale up their budget to three 510 X, because they've seen the growth in the value of it, that's a really good thing to do. Now, kind of a sticking point on that, or I almost want to say like a catch 22 scenario for that is we do have some agent, or some clients who come through who say, we'd like to start at a really small budget. And if that generates results, we'll scale it, I like to kind of challenge that, that makes a lot of sense to me. But that's kind of like buying into the stock market, I'd like to buy one share of something. And if it does, really well, then I'll buy more shares, it's like, that's not really the best way to do it all the time. because trust me, if I could generate results for a client for 50 or 100 bucks, I would be a multi billionaire, which, because everyone will be throwing their money at me. That's not exactly how it works. Usually, there's like a minimum threshold of money that you've got to put in, in order to see the results. And so we set our minimum threshold fairly high for some companies, but fairly low for other companies and like just right for our target clientele. What that does is that guarantees that we will be able to deliver results for the pricing. And then of course, hopefully leave plenty of room for them to scale into later if they want to continue growing. Yeah,

Jessica King  32:55  

that makes a lot of sense. And, you know, like a lot of the different questions, you know, it's always going to be dependent on who you are as a company, how much content you need, you know, what keywords you're going after, how much content how many links that you need, but my personal opinion is, everybody needs at least four blog posts a month. And I think more than that, so but that's just my personal opinion. And I am a little biased. Well, I like Jeremiah, thanks so much for joining me today. I know, these are the 10 most important questions that we think you should be asking agency when you're vetting them. Um, anything else you'd like to say before we wrap up today?

Jeremiah Smith  33:27  

These are really good. I think these are solid questions. I think, you know, when when you're hiring an agency or consultant, it's kind of a scary thing, it may be something you've never done before, or you may have done it before and it not worked out. It's kind of like being in a new relationship. Don't Don't blame this next person for the problems from the last person. be cognizant, pay attention to those things, you're going to be more watchful, more wise, the second or third time around. But but don't blame the new agency for what the last folks did. Another thing is ask the questions asking really well, and if that agency is asking you a lot of questions, that's a really good sign, especially if when they provide you any kind of okay, based on our conversation so far, here's what I think. And if they give you a lot of explanation, connect everything back to those questions that really shows you they were listening that they're going to they're going to care about, about you as a client. And then it doesn't hurt to look at their case studies and dig into the experiences of other clients in the past, if possible. Some clients choose to ask us for references. We try not to do that too much. Because we don't want to nag our existing clients and say another company wants to talk to you and see how we're doing. So that's why we get them to talk about us once and we build a case study put it up on our site. So look for an agency with case studies. I think that gives you a lot of opportunity, because then you can always see the data there you can always go talk to the people at those client companies and see is is that case, study accurate? You know, that kind of thing. And that really helps a lot to see. So I would say that's pretty much it though. This is a great list of questions and if you ask these you should be able to 90% of the time start off on a great foot with a great agency relationship.

Jessica King  35:05  

Perfect. Yep. Do the research, ask the questions, and you're going to find a great agency. Thanks so much for watching today. Have a great afternoon.


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Sean Smith
Sean Smith

Sean is Chief Operating Officer at SimpleTiger, responsible for operations, process creation, team utilization and growth, as well as sometimes direct client consultation.

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