November 14, 2012 Richard Hartley

Questions To Ask Your SEO

When you instruct an SEO to optimise your website there are some key questions you always need to ask.

Most people will ask the 2 major SEO questions of “can you get me onto page 1 of Google“, and “how much will it cost”? If you are dealing with a reputable SEO service the answer to the first should be a qualified “yes” and the second should be “as much as you can afford”.

The link between the first 2 questions is the relationship between the competitiveness of the keywords required. It should come as no great surprise that the more competitive the keyword is then the bigger the budget needs to be. A competitive keyword is one which lots of people are wanting to optimise their website for. For example, “personal injury claims” is much more competitive than “dog toys in Manchester”. If your competitors for the keywords are paying upwards of £1,000 per month for their SEO then you really must expect to pay the same.

Putting those 2 key questions to one side, there is one fundamental question that everyone should ask of an SEO that they forget. In my opinion it is an important strategic question that can have a direct impact on your relationship with your SEO and the service that they offer. That question is “are you optimising any websites for my competitors”?

It has become fashionable amongst some SEO companies to say that they specialise in a particular industry, say the sale of watches. If you are in the business of retailing watches and have either an e commerce website or simply a brochure based website, you are wanting SEO for a specific purpose. That purpose is to gain an advantage over your competition. I fail to see how any SEO company can, in good faith, take 2 competing websites and offer them both the same competitive advantage. Part of the job of an SEO is to assess the client’s competition and from there clearly adopt and promote a workable strategy. Surely it is as plain as a pike staff that an SEO company who is working for 2 competing clients has a conflict of interests and should at the very least declare that conflict to one or both of the client’s.

From a website owner’s point of view, surely the easiest way to deal with this potential issue is to ask whether or not the SEO deals with any other websites in their industry and if so what keywords they are optimising for. If it is the case that the SEO is dealing with 2 similar websites but the optimisation is for distinctly different keywords then the issue of conflict is diluted. If not then the client should steer clear.

In order to protect their position, the client can also request that the SEO does not deal with any competing websites during the currency of their contract and have that detailed within the SEO agreement.

Many of the clients I deal with require their websites to be optimised for highly competitive search terms and exclusivity of SEO service is something that it is offered as a matter of course.

In real terms your choice of SEO can make or break your business and asking the right questions at the start can give both sides the required confidence and closeness of relationship to make it a success.


Richard Hartley is a senior Manchester SEO at Big Red Rocket.

Richard works on many high profile and competitive SEO projects, both in the UK and overseas.

Richard has recently been asked to co author a new book on the fundamentals of SEO for small businesses which is due out in the new year.

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About the Author

Richard Hartley Richard Hartley is Head of Strategy at the Digital Marketing Agency, Big Red Rocket. Richard is a an expert in Digital Marketing for professional organisations, such as Solicitor's Firms, Barristers' Chambers, Accountants and Architects. He is a key exponent of content driven digital marketing and his commentary work is regularly published under the soubriquet of "wiredbarrister". Richard is a significant, prime mover in Content Driven SEO and specialises in the creation, publication and distribution of content though a number of media channels and social networks; such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. Richard has worked for a number of household names and has a loyal band of professional clients who retain his services. Richard can be contacted at Big Red Rocket by calling 0161 410 0351 or your can send an email by clicking here.