20 Key Questions

Recently, Search Engine Journal came up with a list of 20 questions you should ask your SEO agency. Most SEO agencies are terrified you'll ask these questions. Here are EBS Digital's answers:

1.  Do You Guarantee Results in the Search Engines?

No. In fact no ethical SEO company can guarantee you top rankings or make any similar claims. Google has essentially stated that any agency that states otherwise is violating their guidelines.

 

2. Do You Make Predictions?

Since our team has vast experience, we can predict results, but we never guarantee thembecause of the ever-changing nature of search engines. For example, a fresh ecommerce site could take more than a year to rank, while a local site could take a few months to get to the top. It all depends on the industry competition, the keywords targeted, the client’s value proposition and the competition in the market. 90% of our clients see excellent and very measurable progress within their first 6 months with us, and some sooner than that.

 

 3. How Do You Measure Success?

We have setup several Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track the success of a campaign and these are incorporated in your dashboard. The most prominent metrics are:

Improvement in Keyword Rankings in Google& Bing

  1. Improvement in Organic Search Traffic
  2. Improvement in Referral / Direct Traffic (as a result of branding)
  3. Increase in ROI

Secondary KPIs include improvement in Site Quality Indicators like Domain Authority Score, Unique Backlinks to your Site, Pages Indexed, Content Pieces Created, etc.

 

4.  Can I Speak With Your SEO Department Head?

Once you join us, you are assigned a dedicated project manager who manages all the activities throughout your campaign and you will be regularly in touch with him or her. You will also have regular reviews with your business consultant and both the consultant and the project manager will always be on hand to discuss any queries as well as proactively keeping in touch with you.

5. How Will You Report Your Progress?

Our marketing dashboard has all the features that make reporting easy and effective and clients can access it 24/7. We provide automated Weekly and Monthly Activity reports to track the work done on each project. You also get a real time view of the rankings for your keyphrases on the dashboard and when we say we’ve built links or made submissions, you can see them right on the dashboard and click through to them. That’s ultimate accountability.

 

  6.How Much Will We Be Involved?

 At the beginning, we work with you to be sure we understand your business goals so that your SEO produces meaningful results for your bottom line.

Then we regularly communicate with you via email and, if required, by phone throughout the course of the project. Clients also receive weekly and monthly updates about the activities and progress reports.

Most crucially, you can login to your own dashboard 24/7/365 and not only see the progress and work done over a specific time period, but click on all the submission links. No PDF reports. It’s all trackable and accountable.

When it comes to content creation (site content, blogs, infographics, videos)- all content we create is approved by you first. All changes that need to be done to your website content is only done withyour consent.

 

7.  What Do You Do if You Fail to Provide Results On an Agreed Timeline?

We have an exceptionally high success ratio. It’s extremely rarely that a projectlags due to client constraints or perhaps even due to unexpected updates. In such cases, we try to resolve the constraints and always work to provide alternative ideas and solutions that create value for our clients.

The fact that progress is tracked constantly on your dashboard helps to flag those rare issues early.

 

8. Who Else Are You Working With, and For How Long?

Our team have 10 years of experience, and have executed more than 2,000 search marketing projects. We are proud to have a Google Agency and a partnership with You Tube. Our clients and case studies can be found on our website but we’ve worked with diverse clients from hotel chains like Holiday Inn to beauty brands like This Works.

 

9. Do You Use Tools?

Yes, we use tools that track and measure all SEO work including a dashboard that uses third party APIs from Moz, Ahrefs, etc. Our team regularly track other SEO tools available to bring in any new features that are useful to add to the dashboard, which is constantly evolving.

Our team has also pioneered a few SEO tools for our internal use based on the needs of our SEO team. And we regularly benchmark our SEO work using third party industry standards like Moz.

However, we stay away from tools that :

  • Automatically build links in bulk
  • Automatically produce content or content spinning
  • Automate outreach or social media efforts

 

 

10. Why Should We Hire You?

We’ve narrowed it down to 6 reasons why we feel that we outperform other digital agencies:

  1. 1.  Results You Can See Within Months

90% of our clients see real progress and ROI within their first 6 month engagement with us and often earlier than that.

  1. 2.  82% Renewal Rate

Our team has had an 82% renewal rate for clients after the first 6 months and 90% of clients would highly recommend us.

  1. 3.  24 Hour Support

24 Hour Support from Monday to Friday. We have people working on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

  1. 4.  350 Search Marketing Experts

Our team of 350 experts receives continuous training on best practices so that they can offer the best solutions to our clients in this ever-changing industry. The team also holds brainstorming sessions once a month in which we look at new industry trends and how we can use them to help our clients.

  1. 5.  Value for Money

We offer some of the most exceptional value for money in the industry when our deliverables are compared with the pricing.

  1. 6.  We understand business as well as digital marketing

We take the time to understand your business and your goals before we start. And when you start work with us, we give you complimentary access to EBS Digital University, an exceptional lead generation and conversion system that helps you make the all important leap from gaining more site traffic to making more sales. No other digital agency that we know of does that.

 

11. What Are Your Relationship Building and Outreach Skills?

Networking and experience are key. Unlike many digital agencies, we take a lot of time upfront to understand your business objectives and USPs – nothing helps us differentiate you in the search engine results like understanding your ultimate goal, which is generally to grow your business, not just to rank.

We also make introductions where appropriate between clients where there is a symbiosis that can help both clients’ businesses. Our founder, Hanan Kattan, has 30 years success in businesses as diverse as toiletries and cosmetics brands and film production. Our contact base is deep.

 

12. How Does Your Team Adapt to the Needs of Different Clients?

When a customer shows interest in our services, our business consultants do just that – consult with a business owner or marketing manager to understand their exact requirements and goals. Our technical team often then assist in pinpointing the best plan of action to deliver results efficiently.

We can tailor make a digital strategy for any client, but our core packages have been prepared with deep research. The deliverables are always updated as needed and to accommodate Google’s continuous updates. We also create customised solutions to suit budgets and requirements.

 

13. What is Your Technical Experience?

Different team members’technical expertise includes implementing all on-site code changes (like titles, meta tags, sitemaps), keyword analysis, content creation, and keeping up with Google’s updates! We also have a full website and apps development team who know how to design a site that’s SEO-friendly to begin with.

 

14.  How Experienced are Your Content Producers?

High quality content is the backbone of any long term SEO strategy. Our writers are highly experienced and US or UK born (as appropriate geographically), often with industry specific knowledge.Content production includes:

  • Promotional Website Content
  • General Articles
  • Press / News Releases
  • Guest Blogs
  • Viral Social Media Content

 

 

15. Do You Employ Social Media Optimisation? How?

Yes, we do employ Social Media services, even within our SEO packages, as social engagement is important for good organic results. Our Social Media services include the creation and optimization of Facebook Pages, Twitter Accounts and, most importantly, Google Plus Business Pages. We also do a few basic tweets / posts. For greater viral content and higher engagement we also offer our clients a range of social media marketing service plans or we can create bespoke campaigns.

 

16. What is Your Link Building Strategy?

Link development strategies that used to work a couple of years agosimply aren’t working anymore. In the wake of Panda and Penguin, we have some best practices that our team follows to ensure all our SEO work is meaningful:

  • We get clients links from different types of websites – this includes regular websites, blog posts, review sites, curated business directories, article syndication, video sharing, press release channels, local directories and social media profiles.
  • We vary the anchor text – we include Naked URLs, Brand Name, Business Name and variations. 80% anchor texts will be naked URLs, 10% will be exact anchor texts and remaining 10% will be variations of the anchor texts (even long tail keywords).
  • We get clients links from various Top Level Domains (TLD) – While we agree that links from .gov, .edu and .org domains are given high importance, Google would also like to see your site getting links from .info, .net, .co and .biz websites.
  • Deep Linking – Wherever applicable we get links to our clients’ inner pages as well. Linking to just the home page can get you in trouble.
  • Since Google+ Local verification and Authorship is imperative, we always request co-operation from our clients to help us get this done.
  • For Guest Blogs, we include keyword density on guest blog content and also include the keywords in titles. This helps Google see the relevance of the blog post to the website and give it higher contextual weightage.

 

 

17. What is Your Knowledge of Content Marketing?

Content marketing is time consuming. As mentioned above, we provide you with  content written from highly experienced US and UK born content writers. And we create unique content for different distribution channels. For example, a press release can be promotional but articles are generic in nature. Once the content is written, we send it to the customer for an approval. Once it is approved, we go ahead and market that content across various distribution channels via

  • Article Syndication
  • Video Sharing
  • Press Release Distribution
  • Guest Blog Posts
  • Social Media Channels

 

 

18. Do You Share Your Strategies Transparently With the SEO Community?

We have a blogand newsletter through which we share our thoughts, but we are particularly proud of the online dashboard we provide to each client.Using big data analytics we regularly slice and dice SERP data and share our research. In fact our team use a customised crawler which crawls over 1 million of our client website pages every week to analyse the data.

 

 

19. What do You Know About the Recent Google Algorithm Updates?

The Panda, Penguin and the latest January 17th updates were the most significant ones rolled out by Google recently, with Panda and Penguin refreshes rolling out every 2 to 3 months.

  1. Panda Update (Feb 2011) – This major update hit sites hard, affecting up to 12% of search results (a number that comes directly from Google). Panda seemed to crack down on thin content, content farms, sites with high ad-to-content ratios, and a number of other content quality issues.
  1. Penguin Update (April 2012) – this adjusted a number of spam factors, including keyword stuffing, and impacted an estimated 3.1% of English language queries.

Apart from these, there were other important updates as well carried out by Google over the past couple of years. Below are a few key ones:

  • Freshness Update (November 2011) – Google announced that an algorithm change rewarding freshness would impact up to 35% of queries, signaling a much stronger focus on recent content.
  • Search + Your World (January 2012) – a radical shift in personalisation, aggressively pushing Google+ social data and user profiles into SERPs.
  • Venice (February 2012) – This local update appeared to more aggressively localise organic results and more tightly integrate local search data.
  • Knowledge Graph (May 2012) – In a major step toward semantic search, Google started rolling out “Knowledge Graph”, a SERP-integrated display providing supplemental object about certain people, places, and things.
  • Domain Crowding (May 2013) – Google released an update to control domain crowding deep in the SERPs (pages 2+).

 

 

20. How Do You Identify the Cause of a Penalty?

It’s important to understand what caused the penalty in the first place, in order to resolve the issue effectively. The first thing to check is Google Analytics data (for any drop in organic traffic) and then your Google Webmaster Tools Account (for an unnatural links warning). Here are some common recent penalty issues we’ve seen:

Domain – If your site was named after a keyword, instead of a brand, it may have taken a hit. For most sites affected, this wasn’t necessarily a penalty so much as the removal of a special boost you once had because of your site’s name / keyword in the domain. However, if your site was over-optimized around that keyword, this update would have hit you much harder.

Content Level If your website is penalised under one of the Panda updates then the primary issue is with your on-site content. Panda affects sites that show low-quality or duplicate content. Panda does not attack sites directly because of links. If your own site has only high-quality content and it is affected by a Panda update, this is because a large percentage of your links came from sites with low-quality content. In other words, the sites that linked to you were hit by Panda, which made those links less valuable.

Link Level Penalty – Google sent out over 1 million notifications to webmasters saying that they had unnatural links on their website. So, if you have received this notification in Google Webmaster Tools, there is a very good chance you were hit by the unnatural links penalty.

The best way to identify the cause of a penalty is to track your organic traffic on or near the dates when the updates are released. If you notice a dramatic drop in traffic around these dates, you can be sure that the site has been affected by a particular update. For example, if your traffic has dropped around these dates – April 24, 2012, May 25, 2012, October 5, 2012, you can be sure that your site is affected by the Penguin update.

Apart from this our team also makes sure to check the backlinks data using premium tools like Moz, OpenSiteExplorer and Ahrefs. If there are any unnatural links found, we take necessary actions via link removal or by using the Google Disavow Tool.