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How to Evaluate a New SEO Partnership

Oct 14, 2021

At Workshop Digital, SEO analysts are data driven, creative problem solvers. Our team takes a collaborative approach, working with clients to build custom strategies focused on business goals.

Before on site optimization begins, thoughtful pre-work conversations set the stage for SEO success stories. We asked our analysts what clients can do to evaluate a new SEO partnership and prepare for initial consultations.

Read on for their expert input:

What advice would you offer marketers considering a new SEO partnership?

The first step is making sure you understand and prioritize the purpose of SEO. While some may think SEO is all about improving rankings on search engine results pages (a.k.a. SERPs), it’s really about producing quality content, a satisfying user experience, and efficient pathways for search engine crawlers.

SEO Analyst Charlotte Rule says, “Think about your target audience. Does your website reflect knowledge and capabilities to meet the target audience’s needs? Are website conversions and customer feedback meeting your goals and backing up content effectiveness?”

If your website isn’t reaching conversion goals, there’s room for SEO improvement.

Assess specific areas where SEO will bring value to your company, for example:

  • Do you want to increase lead generation?
  • Do you want to rank higher than your competitors on SERPs?
  • Do you want to build brand awareness?

Define your goals, and center all conversations with your SEO partner around achieving them.

Next, think about what you need from an SEO partner. Some companies need analysts to carry out tactics with little input, while others are looking for thinkers and educators that will help your team contribute to SEO achievements.

SEO Team Lead Jack Boland recommends, "Be honest with yourself (and your potential partner) about your business needs."

What should clients expect from an SEO timeline?

SEO goals and business needs are incorporated into projects within a strategic timeline. A healthy SEO strategy focuses on long term tasks that may take months, but also shorter optimizations that can happen over days or weeks.

SEO Analyst Michael Adelizzi suggests, “Make sure there’s a balance between tasks your SEO partners can accomplish within a month, a quarter, and a year.”

Quick fixes can lead to instant improvements, while your analytics data can provide context to determine what works and what doesn’t.

During strategic planning, what are some questions a client should bring to the table?

1. What percentage of the organic market could we capture?

Predicting SEO effectiveness has always been a difficult ask. Throw in unprecedented times, like a global pandemic, and it becomes a little more challenging - but not impossible!

Statistical forecasting relies on past performance data to predict future SEO impact. After a year of likely uncharacteristic performance (be it positive or negative), the reliability of statistical forecasting is in question.

So, why is it still an important question to ask your SEO partners?

Asking how much of the market the client can capture is also asking, "How big of an investment should we make in SEO?" These are the questions that tell me I’ve got a great partnership on my hands.

- Larissa Williams, Director of SEO

2. How will ROI be communicated?

Making sure your SEO partner can reasonably communicate your ROI is important when evaluating your partnership. Ask how the completed work will be tied back to ROI, even if it’s only tangential due to the innumerable variables. Director of SEO Larissa Williams says a good way to do this is to look at the difference in lift between optimized vs. unoptimized content.

Senior SEO Analyst Ariana Hooper recommends asking, “How can we tie this initiative to our traffic?” to show the connection between SEO investment and conversions.

3. Why are Core Web Vitals important?

Core Web Vitals (CWV), influence organic SERP rankings with an algorithm used to score a user’s experience loading a webpage.

The CWV algorithm considers how quickly a webpage loads, how quickly a webpage can respond to a user’s input, and content stability as it loads.

Although it can be easy for an analyst to simply show snapshots of a CWV score, Workshop SEO analysts like to walk through the metrics with the client to explain why the score was created, what it is addressing, and how improving the score will improve user experience.

When reviewing a CWV score, clients tend to ask why a recommendation to improve the score matters.

SEO Analyst Charlotte Rule says, "This is a great time to not only demonstrate that we understand the client’s business and goals, but also walk through exactly how we can help them succeed. For example, sometimes clients ask, "Why should I care about internal linking if it’s already a page on my website?" I can explain that internal linking will help users continue to navigate through their website and help search engines establish relationships and relevance between the pages."

Walking through a CWV score and providing different examples, fielding questions, and justifying specific recommendations with data helps the client walk away happy.

4. Why isn't our website ranking for branded keywords?

Clients frequently ask why their website isn’t ranking highly on SERPs.

This question provides the perfect opportunity for us to educate client teams on how search works. We talk about the keywords we’re targeting with our strategies, and where the client stands in the digital marketing maturity model.

- Jack Boland, SEO Team Lead

When an SEO tactic isn’t going as planned, how can the client contribute to a solution?

Think about how your company will evaluate SEO results after you’ve established your partnership. If you’re not seeing the results you expected or are unable to implement SEO recommendations because of website issues, remember to loop in your SEO partners. Workshop SEO analysts may have seen the same issue on another site, or can problem solve and troubleshoot with your development team. Anticipating how you can ask for help or clarification will keep projects on track and make the work more successful.

What questions should the client ask themselves?

You’ve asked your potential partner all the right questions. Now, it’s time to ask yourself:

  • Does this partner truly understand my industry and align their strategy with my business goals?

  • Do I feel like this partner is collaborative with other partners/internal marketing teams?

  • Is this partner contributing to my ROI and is able to prove it?

  • Are they communicative? Proactive? Adaptive?

Once you answer these questions, you’ll have a good idea of how to proceed with your SEO partnership.

In need of a new SEO partner? Check out Our Process, a framework that ensures we understand your company’s nuances and incorporate a tone unique to your brand into every marketing effort.