LAC 2011-How to choose an agency


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We all probably know someone with a horror story of poorly done SEO, link farms, being held to ransom by an SEO firm, not having any work done or getting banned as a result of SEO work. In this session, Judith Lewis looks at what questions you should ask, how to understand the answers, what to look for in a pitch/proposal, how to read and understand reports, how to spot danger and also how to be a good client. This is a must-attend session for any individual or business thinking of oursourcing any search work.

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LAC 2011-How to choose an agency

  1. 1. How To Choose An Agency And avoid the coming zombie apocalypse
  2. 2. Who Am I? <ul><li>I do work at an agency (but I am not a zombie) </li></ul><ul><li>Got on the Internet in 1986 at my school lab </li></ul><ul><li>Working online with search since 1996 </li></ul><ul><li>Paid & Natural Search – all aspects </li></ul><ul><li>Worked in-house within e-Commerce, Publishing & High Tech </li></ul><ul><li>At i-level worked with Orange, COI, NatWest/RBS, National Gallery, CIPD, Fidelity, GalaCoral, NBC Universal, Readers Digest, Bayer & more </li></ul><ul><li>At Beyond have worked with Virgin Trains, Family Search, Amadeus, AMD, AmEx & more </li></ul><ul><li>Chosen as a founding Modern Muse, contributed to a book on promoting websites, top finalist “Female Social Media Guru” (not yet awarded) </li></ul><ul><li>One of the SEO Chicks </li></ul><ul><li>...and I blog at </li></ul>
  3. 3. How to Start...
  4. 4. How to Start... <ul><li>Establish what your goals are </li></ul><ul><li>What level of help do you need </li></ul><ul><li>How much do you know about search </li></ul><ul><li>What is your budget and is the ROI worth it </li></ul><ul><li>What level of competition is there </li></ul><ul><li>Are your goals realistic given your budget </li></ul><ul><li>Is there an internal champion for the work? </li></ul><ul><li>Co-ordination between all agencies is a must </li></ul>
  5. 5. Guarantees – We Haz Sum Credit: Declan McCullagh
  6. 6. Guarantees – We Haz Sum <ul><li>No guarantees possible in natural search </li></ul><ul><li>No “special relationship” possible for most search engines esp. Google </li></ul><ul><li>Paid search can cost more than expected </li></ul><ul><li>Paid Placement in Yahoo not a guarantee </li></ul><ul><li>Social media exposure and fans no guarantee of conversion </li></ul><ul><li>Yes, the DDA is important </li></ul>
  7. 7. What *IS* Possible Then?
  8. 8. What *IS* Possible Then? <ul><li>Adjusting on-site elements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Keyword analysis/research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Technical audit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Competitor/Gap/SWOT analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>etc </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Link building through on-site baiting, competitions, advertorials/advertising, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Analytics-based intelligence & adjustments </li></ul><ul><li>Lots... Just not special secret relationships </li></ul>
  9. 9. Link Farms
  10. 10. Link Farms <ul><li>Links built on farms are artificial </li></ul><ul><li>Built too quickly results in penalty </li></ul><ul><li>Profiling results in penalty </li></ul><ul><li>Wrong kind of link results in a penalty </li></ul><ul><li>This kind of building requires an extremely expert hand – look for recommendations from people already using service (i.e. LinkFish existing customers) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Expectations
  12. 12. Expectations <ul><li>What the agency might do </li></ul><ul><li>What reports you can expect </li></ul><ul><li>Link-buying issues </li></ul><ul><li>Analytics </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Link analysis & reports – what you can do to check </li></ul>
  13. 13. How To Check An Agency Out NewMediaAge
  14. 14. How To Check An Agency Out <ul><li>Paid Search? Member of IAB, Google AdWords certification </li></ul><ul><li>No official SEO industry body but do have SEMPO membership (voluntary) </li></ul><ul><li>Check search results on name & social media on name </li></ul><ul><li>Companies House in the UK, other business registration services through government elsewhere </li></ul><ul><li>Due diligence </li></ul><ul><li>Professional Indemnity Insurance </li></ul><ul><li>Non-disclosure agreements </li></ul><ul><li>Ask: Number of years in business, company turnover, staff levels, staff split, awards, etc </li></ul>
  15. 15. How To Check An Agency Out <ul><li>Case Studies </li></ul><ul><li>Public visibility of staff </li></ul><ul><li>Question methodology – not always possible to be transparent but lots </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Things like level of reporting </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Client levels – do they have lots or few & are any long-term </li></ul><ul><li>Escape clause – make sure you have one </li></ul><ul><li>Input – if it is a retainer establish exactly what you are getting for your money </li></ul><ul><li>Excellent resource from the IAB - </li></ul>
  16. 16. What Can I do If They Screw Up?
  17. 17. What Can I do If They Screw Up? <ul><li>How have they done so </li></ul><ul><li>Can it be specifically traced to a change they made and </li></ul><ul><li>Can it be rolled back and if so does it fix the “penalty”? </li></ul><ul><li>If not, and it is traced to a specific change they made, and you can prove it, that’s what PI insurance is for </li></ul><ul><li>Fraud = police involvement </li></ul>
  18. 18. But Remember...
  19. 19. QUESTIONS?
  20. 20. Judith Lewis Head of Search Beyond [email_address]