At a recent presentation I gave at the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) Minnesota chapter, I was asked a very interesting question that I am sure others have considered. How do I evaluate my SEO provider? This is a great question because in SEO things are always changing and it can be difficult to know what real value am agency is providing to the firm. If you’re like most accounting marketers you are likely aware of the amount of traffic coming to the site, but beyond that you may have limited time and resources to analyze the rest of the data. To help accounting marketers and others assess their current SEO provider and hopefully affirm they rock or (at least) make positive changes, I have provided a brief list of key areas to review. Please note that the information included below applies mainly to organic SEO programs and not pay per click (PPC) work.
- Goal Setting – One thing I learned from listening to Tony Robbins is that satisfaction, or the feeling of happiness, comes from making progress towards your goals. So, I was thinking about this statement when the question was asked. Are there SEO/digital marketing goals? Are they set regularly? How are they being tracked? Many firms that we encounter are doing something with SEO but have not set goals and are not measuring progress. This is an important first step essential to any marketing program is to identify the outcome. So, one way to evaluate your provider is whether they have asked you to set goals. Now goals can be as simple as increasing the amount of traffic, number of new e-newsletter subscriptions or even amount of new leads through the site. Whatever the case, if your SEO agency is not prompting you with goal setting then it’s not a good sign.
- Monthly Reporting – Once the goals have been set it’s essential to have the tools and reporting mechanism in place to track performance. Whether it’s traffic, keyword ranking or new subscribers, your SEO agency should be providing you with monthly reports about how your digital outlets are performing and offer context on what the results indicate. I work with many firms that receive a monthly report from us and they don’t really understand what the numbers mean. When this is the case it’s essential to ask for context. Often, I don’t provide additional context because I assume my clients understand the data. So, be sure you are getting regular reports and that you understand what the data means. If you are unsure then ask until you do. If you are not getting regular monthly reports then it’s a red flag.
- Content Marketing Plan – All the SEO in the world is not going to help a website that is not consistently publishing new content. Google has repeatedly said that fresh and new content is the best way to get the attention of the search engine. As a result, it’s important that your agency work with you to develop a content marketing plan (assuming you have hired them to help you with this). If not, then they should at least inquire about whether a plan exists and be encouraging you to be developing new content regularly. It’s a red flag to me if this conversation has never been had.
- New Leads/Business – Accountants think in numbers whereas marketers think in words. So we need to be able to demonstrate to Partners and others that we are getting results. The best way to do this is through increasing the amount of leads that come in through the website and the corresponding closed dollar value. This is an area that, so many SEO agencies miss but is super critical in the accounting profession. What is the point of all the SEO work if the firm is not getting any new business? A good SEO agency will regularly inquire about the volume and type of leads coming into the site. While no agency can be accountable for whether your firm closes leads, at least a regular conversation should be had to determine what they can adjust to enhance the leve and quality of leads.
There are many other factors which can be used to determine the value of your agency, but these are the ones that seem most critical. If you have questions about SEO techniques, updates or would like assistance managing your firm’s SEO program, FlashPoint Marketing can help. For additional information please call us at 720-535-5047, or click here to contact us. We look forward to speaking with you soon.
About Brian Swanson
Brian Swanson is a Partner of FlashPoint Marketing, an accounting marketing firm that provides inbound marketing consulting including SEO as well as assistance with traditional lead generation programs. He joined the company in 2008 to manage the digital marketing programs. He has over 18 years of experience in marketing and business development for the accounting profession.
Through his deep understanding of the marketing, business development and accounting disciplines, Brian offers a unique perspective and practical approach on firm growth. Combining practical knowledge with his technical understanding of digital marketing programs, Brian is able to offer clients a powerful portfolio of marketing programs focused on building brand awareness, market penetration and new business opportunities.
Previously, Brian worked as the Director of Marketing & Business Development for a regional CPA firm in South Florida and as the Audit Quality Growth Manager at KPMG.
Brian obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University and has a Master of Business Administration in Finance from Benedictine University. He is a national speaker on SEO, content development, and inbound marketing for CPA and accounting firms. In 2010, he became the first accounting marketing professional to earn certification in Search Engine Marketing and Advanced Search Engine Optimization from the Search Engine Professionals Organization (SEMPO). Brian is also a National Board Member of the Association of Accounting Marketing.