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As a business, there are numerous ways to market, generate leads, and find new prospects. In 2015 the air is filled with buzz words around Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Digital Marketing, Online Advertising, and others. It almost feels as though there is some “get rich quick scheme” that everyone is buying into!

So what is really going on here… is Internet marketing right for my business? How can I find out if I am ready to test the waters and find the right company to work with?

There are definitely a lot of options. With limited time, internal resources, and budget, small/local businesses often have a hard time finding the right partner to work with the first time. Many spend years cycling through company after company. Sometimes accumulating penalties online without even realizing it.

So how can a business determine the right fit?

To help start the conversation we have pulled together this list of questions any business owner can use to shop the numerous options out there and to see if Internet Marketing is right for them.

Questions to get the facts you need:

  • What is the Universe of customers out there that I could be attracting? What research will you show me around this and what do the numbers mean?

To begin, we find it is important to discuss the potential of Internet marketing and Local SEO with our clients. We look into the estimated market size for a given company or industry and discuss research methodologies used to determine these figures. Transparency is key!

  • Is your marketing agency ranking locally on Search Engines for any keywords or phrases?

It is always a good idea for the agency to be generating results for itself! See what keywords and phrases they are ranking for and what page they are ranking on.

  • What strategies will you be employing specifically, how does that compare to your competition, and what results can we expect? 

Many companies will not be transparent here or will provide answers that apply very generally. Have the company get specific on how they have seen results in the past. Even go as far as to ask for a live customer example!

  • Are the strategies being used white hat or black hat? Do you follow Google’s Quality Guidelines?

If a company says they can guarantee you will be #1, run away, as they are probably using “black hat” tactics. These can achieve results quickly upfront but long term your business has a high likelihood of being penalized. In some cases being removed altogether! (White Hat = Good; Grey Hat = A little of both | In between, Black Hat = Sketchy) The company should be up to date and following Google’s Quality Guidelines. White Hat all the way.

  • How long have you had your longest clients? Why have they stayed with you?

This is a great question to determine the types of results and timelines the agency is working with. If their customers have been around for a while, there is likely a reason!

  • What is your technical SEO experience? Have you ever helped companies recover from Google penalties?

Have the company review worst-case scenarios and their ability to recover! Sometimes after starting into a contract with a digital marketing company, it can be revealed that perhaps penalties exist for a business from the past. A digital marketing agency’s experience navigating companies out of these can, therefore, be incredibly valuable.

  • What is your experience with local SEO vs. just standard SEO? 

FiveChannels emphasizes that for small or local businesses, Local SEO is incredibly important and is actually much different than standard SEO. Have the company review its local clients, results achieved, and methodologies used.

  • What happens if we part ways? Will I own my site and be able to keep any changes made?

Some digital marketing / SEO companies will maintain ownership of a website they build you. Ensure you will be given management access to any accounts associated with your business and that you would be given ownership of websites built, accounts created, or changes made.

It can seem overwhelming, but by asking the right questions we hope you find the right partner the first time!

If you want to chat more or ask US these questions, please drop us a line!

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