Nobody wants to pay thousands of dollars per month to an SEO company only to have their valuable marketing budget wasted! Below, I’ve outlined the top 5 reasons we, as an Internet marketing agency, have seen budgets underutilized or even wasted. Trust me, we want your involvement and input so we can do amazing things for your company. We’re passionate about SEO and marketing…not busy work. Use the following 5 tips to get the most out of your SEO vendor. I promise it will lead to a mutually loving relationship!

Set Goals – By setting goals, both you and your Internet marketing company know what you’re working towards. Both parties should agree on the goals and be involved in the goal setting process. At Web Talent, we’re advocates of SMART goals; specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-bound. A good example of a SMART goal as it pertains to SEO might be: Decrease bounce rate by 10% by the end of Q3. This goal could be an indication of higher quality traffic or a more relevant site/page. It’s both measurable and specific. Both parties should focus their efforts, discussions and work on achieving this goal. If something comes up that derails your course it might be time to revise the goals. For example, a Google algorithm update could very well change the primary focus of the campaign. Avoid costly mistakes that could have been avoided by setting goals and milestones at the start of your next project.

Smart-Goal-Setting

Align Expectations – Raise your hand if you have ever paid an Internet marketing company and did not know what you were receiving in return. Yes, I see your hands. You send your monthly check in like the amazing client you are, but you’re not sure what the company is doing to earn that payment. This is where aligning expectations is crucial to the success of any campaign as well as the ongoing client-agency relationship.

The first step to aligning expectations is to re-read the first tip. Once SMART goals have been established, there should be an agreed upon plan regarding strategies, responsibilities, scope of work, monitored KPI’s, and reporting (e.g. frequency, delivery method, content, metrics, etc.). Included in this plan, is an agreed method and timeline to communication. Without proper communication, the “alignment” will not stay aligned!

My personal approach to expectation alignment is to ask questions until I have a solid understanding. After all questions have been answered, I will reiterate what I heard. This allows the other party to correct any misperceptions before they become an issue. For example, if you don’t understand who does what in the organization you should ask. Clarify who should get the reports, who should be on calls or in meetings, who approves documents, strategies, content, and so on. Especially when speaking in terms of deliverables, it’s crucial to have common expectations of when it will be completed, who it will go to, what the purpose of the deliverable is, and how it plays into the bigger campaign strategy.

Respond Quickly – One of the quickest ways to burn your SEO retainer is to ignore the phone calls and emails from your agency. Often times our staff will reach out to a client in hopes of getting a quick response for a time sensitive opportunity. Or, we might reach out to explain or discuss the upcoming work, or even check on the progress of a site update that we need in order to move forward. If we do not get a response we feel we are left with no other option than to do what we feel is best. If you’re slow to respond, or do not respond at all, the “opportunity ship” may set sail. It is safe to say that the clients getting the best results are the ones that are highly engaged and readily available.

Explain Your Capabilities & Limitations – The goal is to maximize your capabilities and develop limitation workarounds. If you are a small business, an agency should develop a strategy that coincides with your available resources. You may have an in house developer or content writer that gives you an advantage. Or, you might be the only person and you’re already too busy. When working with a marketing agency it’s really important to explain what you’re able to offer for the betterment of the campaign. We worked with a client for over a year before we found out they had in-house developers. Had we known this from the beginning, we could have taken advantage of the opportunity leading to even better results. The opposite is true as well, if an agency thinks you have the ability to research, write and post 15 blog articles per month but you don’t, it only sets you up to fail. In order to maximize your marketing dollars and get even better results help your SEO agency understand your capabilities and limitations.

Share Your Knowledge – You know your business far better than any vendor or partner. We’ve worked with some of our clients for a very longtime, but we still learn new information with each conversation. Much of the information helps us market their business more effectively. Letting your SEO team into your business will help them in a number of ways; new content ideas, different ways to promote the benefits or capabilities, different angles for public relations and outreach, identifying new keywords or opportunities, etc. We love to hear the details about our clients. Whether it’s about your supply chain, employee benefits, or the upcoming television commercial, we can learn, and possibly improve, the way we market your business.

In the end, all Internet marketing companies should want to do the best they can for their clients. I know we do. There are a number of tips I mentioned in this article that will help you give us the information we need to carry out a successful campaign. They all really boil down to establishing a strong business relationship with mutual trust and frequent communication.