In an early 2013 blog post on digital marketing and ecommerce professional community Econsultancy, blog author and Search Laboratory SEO Head Jimmy McCann shared an interesting and thought-provoking check list that he titled:

Six key questions to ask your prospective SEO agency.

McCann called this check list “a good list of questions to ask prospective agencies when in the process of selecting your new SEO agency partner.”

We took a look at McCann’s list here at Amplitude Digital, and we found it to be pretty smart, solid and sensible.

And we thought we’d respond to it with our own answers – about our own capabilities, philosophies and experiences – here at the official Amplitude Digital blog.

Here’s what we came up with…

1. Can I speak to an existing customer (in a similarly competitive sector) who has been with you for over two years?

No. Technically, no. It’s not that we don’t use references. It’s that we intentionally don’t keep SEO clients for as long as two years. You see, our SEO business is based on providing audits and strategy roadmaps of existing sites for our clients, then backing that up with strong education of their in-house teams in order to “teach them how to fish.” With that in mind, most of our SEO work only lasts for 1-3 months – if our clients decide to retain us while they implement a lot of our suggestions. Of course, if you want to keep paying us…we just might be persuaded to take you up on your offer.

2. Can we meet the team who will be working on the account, the whole team please?

But of course. And you can rest assured that the team will be comprised of smart, savvy, seasoned digital marketing and advertising professionals. Professionals who have cut their teeth and honed their craft working in various capacities on big-name brands. And professionals who are Google AdWords Certified for Standard, Advanced and Display. Plus, they all happen to be hard-working, good, likable people. But before you get to meet the team up close and personal, you can learn more about them right here.

3. Why do we have to sign up for 12 or 24 months, with no break out clause in the contract?

You don’t. At Amplitude Digital, we don’t believe in long-term SEO contracts. Because once we help you fix whatever ails your site from the get-go – then teach your own internal team how to continue with a smart, savvy SEO process – you just don’t need to keep paying us. See the answer to No. 1 for more details…

4. Who is the biggest SEO client you have lost in the past 12 months and why?

Nobody. Because truth be told, we haven’t lost any SEO customers. Part of this is because, as we addressed in No. 1 and No. 3 above, we don’t believe in long-term SEO contracts. But part of it is because we take great pride in understanding what we are doing, executing a smart, solid SEO plan, and imparting our knowledge on to our clients. And we have a lot of fun doing it, too. And, most importantly, we get measurable, real results. In McCann’s blog post, he stated, “everybody loses clients.” This is, indeed, true. And we have, from time to time, lost a few clients for other aspects of our business. But never any for SEO work.

5. Can you guarantee our SEO performance?

No. We can’t. And that’s a good thing. We would never dream of guaranteeing anything like an increase in rank, because changes in rank aren’t really how you track success in SEO. Rather, success is measured by an improvement in sales, revenue, leads, traffic, etc. via the organic search channel. Even then, however, we can’t guarantee that…because we’re just telling you how to fix things and continue to improve. In the end, it’s still up to YOU to implement those changes and continue that forward momentum. Regardless of what many others might tell you, SEO is really a collection of marketing and site development best practices. And like anything else related to marketing, there just really aren’t any guarantees. We can, however, promise you that we will work very hard on your behalf. And that we know what we’re doing…and are passionate about sharing that knowledge with our clients. You can also peruse some of the case studies on our site to read about some of the overall success stories we have helped author.

6. What do we actually get for our monthly fee?

Nothing. Because, with us, there are no monthly fees. Unless you decide to retain us after the Audit & Roadmap and SEO Education portions of our work has concluded – which some clients decide to do, so that we can continue to provide input on implementation of the changes we suggested and strategies we’ve taught them. As far as what you get for your regular fees, the Audit & Roadmap takes the form of a large document and presentation of all the issues we’ve uncovered during our audit of your site and processes. Once this document is complete, we present it in person and make ourselves available to any and all members of your staff that have a stake in the improvement process (we can even assist you in figuring out who those folks are). During the SEO Education portion of our work, we hold another in-person, day-long seminar where we teach the key stakeholders in your organization how to incorporate proper SEO principles into their daily job functions (we discussed a little how this works in a recent blog post and ebook, if you want to learn more now).

In summary, the overall point we’re hoping to make here in our own blog post is that questionnaires like this one outlined by McCann in his Econsultancy blog post are useful…if you’re looking to hire an SEO agency that works in a way that fits this particular questionnaire.

Here at Amplitude Digital, we don’t work quite that way. And we’re proud of that fact. Because we’re firm believers that the way SEO has often been done in the past – and is often being conducted today, in 2013 – is a broken business model that is in need of a drastic change.

Hopefully, our answers to the questions posed above illustrate that point.

Please let us know if you have any other questions. And feel free to add any thoughts or experiences in the comments section below this blog post.

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