Transparency. It’s a big word in SEO, largely because the industry and its processes often seem somewhat shrouded in mystery to those not involved.
If you ask what information SEOs should share with their clients, the answer you get will probably vary from company to company. But here are some things we think you should definitely have visibility over.
Whatever Analytics software is used to track your traffic, you should have access. Whether it’s Google Analytics or another package, you should have the ability to go in and see all of the data within. Your SEO agency should report based on statistics from Analytics, but you should, in addition, be able to have a look for yourself and see progress, traffic levels and where that traffic is coming from.
Analytics should be set up in such a way that you are not depending on your SEO company to be able to access it. If you leave your SEO, for example, for whatever reason, you should still have your Analytics. That’s data about your site and the historical information can be valuable to your overall Internet marketing campaign going forwards.
It is perfectly reasonable that your SEO company might set up their own filters or conversion monitoring within Analytics and they may ask you not to edit the profile. This is valid – but should not prevent you from logging in and seeing the information for yourself.
We continually say, “˜SEO is not all about chasing rankings.’ And it isn’t! Conversion (we’ll talk about that in a moment) to lead or sale, thus a return on your investment is of course the fundamental objective. But rankings do of course play a major part in this and, particularly in the early days of a campaign, it will be a key indicator as to the performance of your campaign. So your search engine optimisation company should absolutely report on rankings for core campaign keywords.
Again, this is information that will be available within Analytics. But your SEO company should make clear in reports which traffic can be attributed to the SEO campaign – where traffic is coming from, which keywords are referring it etc.
The point of a SEO campaign is to generate a healthy return on your investment. Again, it is often something that can be tracked within Analytics and that you will then be able to see with access to Analytic, but you should expect your SEO company to be open and honest about conversion rates. If you get to number 1 for what you and your SEO thought was a great keyword and you find that it isn’t converting to sales or enquiries, you need to know that!
Your SEO company should be able to tell you how each keyword is performing.
Any changes your SEO company makes to your website should be changes you are aware of. There can be no valid reason for “˜secretive’ changes to your site.
At the beginning of a campaign, an in depth on page audit will often take place and the recommendations should be clearly documented for you so you know not only what your SEO wants to do to you site, but why they want to do that and what the potential benefits are.
It’s reasonable for you to want to know exactly how your SEO company will be going about acquiring links back to your site – after all, you will need to know that the methods are organic, sustainable and will not put your website at risk through “˜spammy’ methods.
So an overview of the methods they use, along with a few examples, is perfectly reasonable.
Now this is where we’d actually say there is justification in withholding some information. SEO agencies invest a lot of resources into building contacts, building relationships with bloggers and websites and acquiring high quality links this way. While we feel you are entirely entitled to know how links are being built as well as receiving examples, for a SEO company to hand over a complete list of links is essentially them handing to you a list of their suppliers.
Transparency and two way dialogue are critical for a successful SEO campaign. You, as the client, should be open prior to beginning a campaign with a company in terms of what you expect and your SEO company should be clear with you about the information they will be providing you with.
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About the Author
Stacey joined us in 2009 as a junior copywriter; now she’s a recognised figure on the global speaking circuit, having wowed audiences in the UK, Europe and US – including at MozCon 2014. She leads our search team and works with clients to deliver high-level campaign strategies.Visit Stacey's Page
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