7 Questions to Ask SEO Agencies Before Working with Them

A good SEO agency can help your business grow by as much as 5% to 15% per month, but they aren’t cheap. And on top of their costs, hiring the wrong SEO company can lead to additional unnecessary expenses due to penalties and lower traffic.

But how do you figure out if the agency you’re considering is worth the money?

Well, one of the first methods you can use to ensure reliability is simply asking your SEO agency the right questions. But unless you’re an SEO expert, knowing what questions to ask your SEO agency isn’t always easy. Furthermore, you should also be aware of what the answers to these questions should be.

That’s what we’re here for. Our team of experts at Heroes of Digital knows the right questions to ask your SEO agency, the red flags to look out for, and the answers you want your agency to give you. Throughout this article, we’ll cover the 7 most important questions to ask your SEO agency or service provider so you end up with some great help and not just another headache.

Signs That You Need to Hire an SEO Agency

There are some strong signs you can use to determine if hiring an SEO service would be right for your business:

Received an SEO penalty

A penalty can be the result of using dishonest SEO techniques in order to inflate your ranking. These penalties can destroy your ranking, lower your traffic, and severely hurt profits. Fortunately, they can be reversed if you hire an SEO company that knows their stuff.

SEO rankings are dropping

There are loads of possible reasons that you may experience a drop in ranking. But if your ranking is steadily dropping over time, or suffers a massive drop all at once, this is indicative of a problem. Whether you’ve been penalized, or your strategy is failing miserably, if your ranking is dropping, it’s a good idea to hire an SEO service to take a look at your site.

Website isn’t visible on Google

One of the worst things that can happen to your website is for it to be de-indexed by Google. This is usually done in response to breaking one of their guidelines. If your site has been deindexed by Google, hiring an SEO company is one of the better ways to solve it.

Organic traffic is nonexistent or dropping

A good SEO strategy should cause your organic traffic to rise, so if it isn’t, you may need to look into outside help.

The 7 Questions to Ask Your SEO Agency Before Hiring Them

While there are plenty of honest agencies out there, there are also loads of unscrupulous SEOs just looking to turn a quick profit. If you make the wrong choice, you could potentially end up paying someone to destroy your ranking through dishonest techniques and unnecessary penalties.

On top of this, you want to avoid hiring freelancers and SEO companies that use “old-school” techniques or who lack experience. Google implements hundreds to thousands of changes to its algorithm each year. In fact, in 2018, the company averaged 9 algorithm changes per day. So if your SEO provider is using outdated techniques, and isn’t staying on top of these changes, your rankings will suffer.

Luckily, if you know the right questions to ask your SEO agency, you can avoid the hassle that comes with hiring an inexperienced or dishonest company to handle your site’s SEO. These questions won’t stop someone from lying, but they will give you a glimpse into the methods and experience the agency may have.

Before making any final decisions, take advantage of these 7 questions to ask your SEO agency:

Question 1: What kind of strategy will your SEO team adapt to my niche/industry?

Any successful agency should have a solid SEO strategy and tactics that cater to different industries. SEO is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and any agency you’re considering should understand this.

Ideally, a reliable agency will tell you that they will begin with an audit of your site. They should also layout the best target keywords for your niche. These things should be done before they start your campaign and begin working on your technical SEO issues.

Any good SEO will have a proven process that they are confident will achieve results, so make sure this is true for the company you’re considering.

Question 2: What is your approach to SEO and what is the work to expect?

Any agency you use should cover all the relevant aspects of SEO for your site. To ensure that the company you're considering doesn’t leave anything out, ask them about their approach and what work you can expect them to perform.

If they know what they’re doing, you should hear them mention the following things:

SEO Audit

SEO Agency SEO Audit

This is when a company grades your site based on its ability to appear in a search engine’s results page. It will uncover things that should be improved or repaired to help bolster your ranking.

An SEO audit can help you compare your site to competitors, identify important changes, uncover weaknesses, set expectations, analyze keywords, and offer an overview of the efficacy of your current SEO strategy.

Keyword Proposal

 Keyword Ranking

This is when an agency conducts keyword research to determine the words and phrases that your target audience is likely to search on Google or other search engines. These keywords are then used for optimizing your content to help improve your ranking.

This is an essential step to help direct a higher quantity of quality traffic to your site. A good agency will propose keywords that will bring a reasonable amount of traffic, that aren’t too competitive, and that makes sense when applied to your site.

Competitor Analysis 

One great way to learn what tips and tricks are effective in your industry is to look at what your more successful competitors are doing. Knowing who they are, the websites they link to, the format they use, and the keywords that work for them are all incredibly useful when developing your SEO strategy.

This is especially useful for building your link profile. Finding the sites that your competitors are already linked to is an excellent way to determine which links would serve you best. It’s also a reliable strategy for narrowing down some solid target keywords. The key is to find the keywords that you lack but that are working for your competitors and optimize accordingly.

Technical SEO 

This is the aspect of SEO that focuses on how well a search engine’s spider is able to crawl your website and index your content. It’s used to identify every possible technical issue that could be preventing your site from reaching its full potential.

Some technical SEO issues include:

  • 404 errors
  • Slow loading speeds
  • Redirect problems
  • Finding and fixing web crawler errors
  • Evaluating site navigation

Example of SEO 404 Error

An agency should optimize these technical SEO issues so that search engines are able to crawl your website without running into any problems. However, having the most optimized technical SEO site isn’t the most important thing. While the basics of technical SEO do need to be done, a good agency should prioritize on-page and off-page SEO for the best results.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO is concerned with the content that’s featured on your site and how well it has been optimized to your target keywords. The user-experience you provide your visitors is also included in on-page SEO.

Any agency you use should identify the on-page SEO improvements you can make, such as removing duplicate content and improving your meta-descriptions. They should also reduce your bounce rate by providing unique and valuable SEO content that helps draw in relevant traffic from search engines.

Off-page SEO

This aspect of SEO is focused on building inbound links from other websites. The more relevant and authoritative the website that’s linked to you is, the better. Backlinks show a search engine that your site is trustworthy with content that’s likely to offer a good user experience.

However, avoid hiring any SEO company that tells you they buy links. Link buying is a violation of Google’s guidelines and is likely to get you penalized. Your agency should build backlinks by creating quality content that others would like to link to. Any shortcuts here and you’re asking for trouble.

Content Optimization

The agency should also mention content optimization. You want all your content to be as SEO friendly as possible, and content optimization is how an agency will accomplish this.

This is accomplished by doing things like adding well-researched keywords, taking advantage of headings, adding optimized images, and improving the overall content quality. Well-optimized content is more likely to rank and your visitors will be less likely to bounce.

Question 3: What backlink strategy do you use?

SEO Backlink Strategy

This is one area where you really need to be careful, as many SEO agencies use something called Private Blog Networks (PBNs) as their main backlink strategy. If your agency mentions that they use PBNs, this is a huge red flag. While PBNs are a quick and easy way to build up loads of backlinks, it’s also a great way to earn a Google penalty.

Google hates PBNs and has learned some tricks for recognizing them. For instance, if all of your backlinks are from websites without much activity and that are seldomly updated, Google will take notice. Many times, the backlinks you garner from PBNs aren’t relevant to your site or appear spammy as well, which Google’s Penguin algorithm is likely to catch.

Due to this, PBNs will not bring any long-term value to your site as the quick returns you may see will disappear when Google catches on. Using PBNs can even get you a manual penalty.

Some positive backlink strategies that your agency can engage in are:

  • Reverse engineer competitors’ backlinks
  • Local citations
  • Web 2.0
  • Relevant forum links
  • Branded mention links
  • Digital PR (if you can afford it)
  • Guest blogging

Just keep in mind that not all backlinks are created equal — one good backlink can be worth the same as thousands of low-quality ones. From an agency, a good backlink can cost well over $100 each. So if they’re offering them for just a few dollars apiece, there’s a good chance that they’re low-quality.

Question 4: How long will it take for us to see results from the campaign?

95% of newly published websites will not make it to the top 10 within their first year. How long it takes exactly is dependent on a few variables — the age of the domain, if old SEO was used, and your current website’s SEO-friendliness.

When you first start working with an agency, they should start by cleaning up your site (disavowing spammy backlinks, removing duplicate content, etc.) and building a solid SEO foundation. Once this is done, they should move on to the technical and on-page SEO aspects of your site.

This can all take time, so if your agency promises quick results, you should be suspicious. SEO can either be done quickly or it can be done right. If you’re told that they can raise your rankings without much time, they’re likely using spammy techniques that put you at risk of earning a penalty.

Question 5: Do you follow Google’s guidelines and are you up to date with algorithm changes?

Since 2009, Google, on average, has implemented more than 1,200 changes to its algorithm each year, or more than one change per day. This means that even if you’re able to get away with a guideline violation today, it’s only a matter of time before you’re caught. This includes on-page SEO, where violations are penalized by algorithms like Panda, and off-page SEO, where violations are penalized by algorithms such as Penguin.

Penalties for violating these guidelines can wreak havoc on your site through lowering your traffic, dropping your ranking, and possibly getting your site de-indexed altogether. Recovering from a violation can take months, or even years, and cost you tens of thousands of dollars. Therefore, it’s vital that your agency is always up to date with current SEO news and algorithm updates.

Question 6: What are the reporting metrics to expect?

SEO Reporting Metrics

First, make sure that your agency issues a report regularly. Once a month is fairly standard, but weekly is possible as well.

This report should contain all of the most valuable metrics for measuring the success — or failure — of the SEO strategy being used. The report should cover on-page metrics, traffic data, rankings, and conversions.

Some of the key things that your report should include are:

  • Keyword rankings
  • Top search terms
  • Organic traffic
  • Time on page
  • Bounce rate
  • Top pages with organic traffic
  • Analysis

Question 7: Can you share some of your campaign results from other clients?

Whenever you hire any service or make any big purchase, what’s the first thing you do? Well, if you’re like me, you check reviews, read testimonials, and look for case studies from past clients. Hiring an SEO service isn’t much different. If you’re dealing with a trustworthy company, they should have no problem providing these things for you, so don’t be afraid to ask.

One big thing you should make sure to ask for is a couple of big-name clients and the results they were able to achieve for them. You want to ask to see their long-term results. A shady firm often won't be able to provide long-term results, as they likely have difficulty retaining long-term clients.

Finding a good SEO agency is hard, so if your company does a great job, they should have loads of happy clients who have been with them for years. If clients keep dropping the agency after a short period of time, there’s likely a reason and you want to be aware of what that reason is.


Now that you have a better idea of the right SEO questions to ask your SEO agency, you’re ready to start the long process of finding a suitable match. Don’t rush this process. Like most good things in life, finding the perfect agency takes time.

And seeing as good SEO can help grow your business by 5% to 15% per month, you want to get this right. Heroes Of Digital was established with the vision of rescuing businesses from ineffective digital marketing - and that's exactly why you should hire us.

We are the only digital marketing agency in Singapore to have developed proprietary technology (HeroSEO Powersuite) to deliver campaigns that outperform competitors 94% of the time. Our track record of high-quality work can be seen on these industry-leading case studies, and is proven by our 96% client retention rate.

But that's enough about us - is your business ready for growth via best-in-class digital marketing? Get a free proposal here.

Xavier Tan
Xavier is the Co-Founder of Heroes of Digital. He started social media marketing and SEM long before it became popular in Singapore. His passion is in helping businesses grow through effective lead generation. He has overseen campaigns for Amara Hotel, NTU, Marina Bay, L'Oreal, and 100+ SMEs.
Get notified of the latest digital marketing trends and strategies
We talk about the latest digital marketing strategies, trends, and best practices, stuff that only insiders in the digital marketing industry like us know.
  • Categories

  • Newsletters

      Get the best digital marketing articles delivered to your inbox on time.

    • Find out our
      superpowers and
      see how we can help
      your business grow
      with digital marketing


      Our certified digital marketing consultants will provide you with a risk-free marketing consultation, which includes:

      Get a customized strategy to generate more leads and sales
      Find out the 5 essential elements for digital marketing success
      Find out what your competitors are doing and how to beat them

      Get a free proposal

        Share with us how we can help you!


        We were born to save SMEs from ineffective digital marketing. Most digital marketing agencies in Singapore lack the proper digital marketing expertise, and transparency. They take SMEs for a ride, over-promise them on results. The end result is unhappy clients wasting a lot of money and resources. We are here to save them.


        Google ads
        Social media marketing
        Website design

        WHY US

        Case studies
        Our team
        Our culture




        linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram