How to Evaluate SEO / Digital Marketing Company. Independent Marketing Consultant Assessment. Part 1
October 20, 2013
Attention small business owners: Do you need an independent analysis of your SEO company or the one you are about to hire?
By Maureen McCabe
Imagine a political party that delivers what is committed. Now imagine an SEO or digital marketing company that does the same. It is possible? You bet it is – or – at least it was in the following political example.
The Common Sense Revolution (CSR) was a policy document and foundation for the Ontario P.C. Party’s 1995 election victory. Leader Mike Harris catapulted his weak third-place finish in the previous election into power. An affable, straight-talking leader, Premier Harris bench marked his government’s progress based on the CSR commitments i.e. election promises. The political lessons gleaned from this leader will be applied to SEO companies in a series of blogs.
Premier Harris and his entire government’s mantra was, “a promise made, a promise kept”. People trusted this leader to deliver on its commitments, like no other politician had in recent memory. No wonder they were easily re-elected in 1999, as they documented and updated the voters regularly on their promises made and kept.
NOTE: they were justifiably defeated in the subsequent election by not keeping their promises along with a few other issues! If you want to discuss Canadian national or provincial politics, please contact me as it is a passion of mine. I love to debate the issues and relive the campaigns!
Whether you are evaluating an existing agency or exploring your options to hire a new one, this blog series is written for you! I will cover the following topics:
- Part 1: My background and how I came to provide independent assessments for small business owners (Part 1 – this is the blog that you are reading!)
- Part 2: Why I recommended that a client fire their mediocre agency after a 25-minute analysis of the agency’s website and a half-hour phone consultation with the client and agency management team. (Hint: trust and credibility.)
- How to evaluate the website of a SEO company and identify empty promises.
- Discover ‘red flags’ by understanding the ”Ins and Outs” of a SEO contract.
- TBD – please send me your feedback!
Toronto Marketing Consultant for Small Business
Last week three clients each described me as: passionate, savvy, and trustworthy. These adjectives were used after discussing their experiences of working with SEO companies over the years. Agencies that promised the world but did not deliver. Two clients suggested that I write a blog about SEO companies for the uninitiated small business owner. They believed it would be relevant for many small business owners who need help to discern the criteria for a good agency – in plain English, without jargon.
A little background about me. I’m a small business marketing consultant with clients primarily located in the Toronto area (GTA). I work exclusively with small business clientele. Although I freely acknowledge that I’m not an SEO expert, clients over the years have frequently requested that I critique an SEO proposal or their current agency’s work – or lack thereof!
One of the marketing services that I provide is independent analysis of SEO agencies which are also known as digital marketing and internet marketing companies. An aside, I also provide evaluation services of websites, web developers’ skill set, and the content (copy writing) on the site. This service was initiated based on clients’ frustrations – feelings that they based on the fear that they had and were being taken advantage of or swindled.
Where required, I manage the SEO relationship on your behalf or provide resources when required. Look to a marketing consultant who:
- knows the right questions to ask when evaluating the agency’s work
- identifies when or if the agency needs to be ‘whipped’ into shape
- recommends when it’s time to cut-rope and engages a new company
- dissects agency contracts (existing or new) based on the political adage of Mike Harris. A promise made. A promise kept.
Transparent Marketing Consultant – no SEO referral fees
I neither accept nor request SEO referral fees, commissions, kick-backs or provide a white-labelled SEO service (e.g. sell a SEO agency’s services). This is not how I conduct business, although I have been approached multiple times since my small business marketing services consulting business launched in 2007. Should this practice ever change, I commit to you that I shall: update this blog and disclose this information to my clients seeking SEO and Adwords (pay-per-click online advertising) advice.
Do I have an agency that handles my own work? Yes, I do. They have handled my work since 2010. I pay my monthly fees, with neither a discount nor any ‘freebies’. I have made referrals to them and other SEO companies based on the needs of the small business and their budget.
When you engage me, I will share my experiences as I have worked with many Toronto-based SEO digital marketing companies and a few from the U.S. and U.K. When a client has an existing agency relationship, I’m pleased to work with that company which increases my breadth of best practices (and “not so” best practices). This is important for my currency – skill set. These experiences compliment the ongoing professional development through attending conferences, reading and synthesizing authoritative blogs which include:
Political Lesson #1
Like the former Premier, I’m a straight-shooter, and if you find my style too direct, I am not the right marketing consultant for you. I candidly admitted my SEO knowledge and how I keep current. I promise to work diligently upon your behalf to the best of my abilities, looking out for your interests at all times.
You’ll have to read the other blogs to learn more SEO political lessons. Please subscribe to my blog to ensure that you don’t miss any SEO tips or other valuable marketing insight for your small business.
If you are seeking help to evaluate the work and/or contract of your current SEO company – or – need support to research the right SEO company for your business, contact me for a free a consultation. I would be pleased to share best practices.
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