Why Hiring a Local SEO Agency?
Want to take your business to the next level? Then hiring a local SEO agency can help you do that. But there are options you need to know in order to evaluate the person or company you can trust with this task. Here’s how to choose the right SEO provider in Cyprus.
The fact that you’re thinking about finding a local SEO agency to help you achieve your goals is an indication that your internal SEO isn’t working as expected, right? Then it’s time to look for the local options we’ve on the island.
It’s a decision that most local businesses make sooner or later. Especially if your business doesn’t have a good brand presence. (Frankly, the amount of work required to have a solid online presence becomes too much).
Increasing business exposure with a Local SEO agency
It’s been proven in the industry that the solution comes when you hire a well prepared or trained in the subject matter, a local SEO agency. This agency or freelancer won’t only do the extra work for you, but also work to take your business to the next level with their knowledge.
This article is mainly intended for local businesses in Cyprus, but if you read on, you’ll find that you can apply these guidelines to any other geographical region where your business is located.
Whether your business is based in Cyprus or another country, it’s important to ask the right questions and know what answers to expect from the SEO agency or person you’re interviewing when it comes to hiring a local SEO agency.
After reading this article, you’ll be sure that the SEO provider you might work with is a good fit for your business goals. The following 12 questions will help you find the answers.
Identify your local SEO goals.
Before choosing a search engine optimisation agency in Cyprus, you should identify your local SEO goals. It’s important that you prepare yourself before you start looking for a local SEO agency.
Here’s what you should do first:
- Identify your business goals.
- Know your competitors.
- Identify the products you need to promote firsts.
- Gather enough local SEO information before you start so you can choose the right candidate.
Understand your options (e.g. a freelancer vs. an agency).
- Work with a timeline or the best way to monitor the progress of the strategy and work with the SEO company or person you end up hiring.
Important questions to ask before hiring a local SEO company in Cyprus.
Once you’ve selected the candidates who’ll offer you the SEO service, they’ll present you with your options, these are important questions you should ask them before hiring an SEO CY provider.
1. What’re your experiences with companies in our sector?
You really want to know upfront if the local SEO agency has worked with other businesses similar to yours.
Because if they’ve, the agency has the advantage of being able to better address certain optimisation tasks that your business needs.
A good SEO marketing strategy certainly varies greatly depending on the industry and size of the company, so the more direct experience a local SEO agency has in your industry, the better.
The kind of answer you’re looking for is this:
At best, you want to hear a resounding “yes” and then immediately follow it up with some evidence and examples of other companies they’ve worked with to back up their “yes”. However, you shouldn’t immediately dismiss the agency if the answer is “no”.
They’ve probably worked with brands similar to yours and could help your local business succeed online.
If this is the case, a portfolio of examples they provide you with is key. After that, you can better assess whether the work they’ve done for others is a good opportunity for you.
2. If we choose your Search Engine Optimization Services, can you guarantee us a suitable result?
The results you want are the ones that bring more sales or business (branding, leads, exposure).
Many SEO service providers claim to deliver guaranteed results or to have “proven” themselves in some way with search engine optimisation practices.
One of the most common guarantees comes in the form of “Guaranteed ranking on page 1 of search results for any keyword within 6 months”.
The answer you need is this:
The honest answer to this question is “no” because search engine optimisation isn’t a task you just do. Regardless of how good an SEO expert is, there’s absolutely no way to guarantee SEO results, even if he claims to have some kind of secret skill that other SEO experts or companies (or even your in-house specialists) don’t have.
Of course, you’ll find those who are confident enough to achieve a goal that’s important to your business. If they offer you a money-back guarantee, then you should consider giving them a chance.
Simply put, a guarantee of a #1 ranking for a particular keyword is no guarantee that it’ll move you up in the organic results and bring you new customers or more sales.
Your goal in this matter is to find an agency that’s confident they can help your business, but based on honest, realistic and legal practices with the work they might do on your behalf.
Some of them use something called the Black Hat SEO strategy to get ahead. And if you land one of these black hat SEO agencies or freelancers, they could get you into real trouble, even worse than before you hired them and then you’ve to dig yourself out of an incredibly time consuming and money-wasting hole.
3. Which areas of SEO should we outsource?
Both local SEO and international SEO are multidimensional and when you choose an agency to run your SEO campaigns, it’s not always necessary to outsource every area of your SEO plan.
When you interview an external SEO provider, they should be able to give you a clear idea of the areas of local SEO they’ll work on for you to improve.
The best answer should be this:
In an ideal execution of an SEO strategy, the SEO agency should be able to do all the areas of SEO work you ask them to do. (Make sure they’re able to manage every part of the execution of the strategy).
Also, the local SEO agency should give you some advice on certain aspects that you can do together.
If they tell you that they outsource any of these three areas, that should be a reason to be cautious. Because these three aspects are important aspects for any SEO you want to have done directly by an agency, even more so when it comes to hiring a local SEO service.
Local SEO Cypriot Agencies
This is something I’ve often experienced with Cypriot SEO agencies. There are very few that cover all aspects of SEO in-house as we do.
With an all-inclusive SEO service, the hiring company reduces costs and manages all billing, monitoring and communication with an agency that covers all aspects of SEO, as opposed to an SEO agency that outsources the content creation, and then leaves someone else to manage the backlinks and a third party to take care of the technical aspect of SEO.
You want effective solutions for your local SEO efforts.
4. Which KPIs Are Most Valuable to Monitor?
You can’t miss a question like this because it’ll help you understand what they consider best practice when it comes to looking at your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) from the beginning of the SEO service contract.
You must first identify your local KPIs that are important to your business. The next very important step is to make it clear that your chosen agency and your business goals are on the same page.
For example, if your business needs to drive more calls and foot traffic to its doors, but the agency wants to prove its success to you through specific local citations it’s built or rankings at the top with 20 keywords it’s chosen, then it won’t do any good.
If they answer this, it is a good sign:
The best fit for this SEO strategy management must aim to increase the following:
This is the main reason why you outsource your SEO. Consequently, these two KPIs are the SEO agency’s top priority.
You should now know that metrics analysis is a multi-faceted task. Rankings, traffic and backlink profiles are important and these are the KPIs you should also hear from the agency.
SEO is more than what they have told you
SEO is more than just increasing organic rankings, improving bounce rates or increasing traffic sources.
An effective SEO puts your business at the centre. Leads and sales are the keys to maintaining a healthy SEO strategy for your business as a whole.
If the leads come from sources you can’t work with, it won’t do you any good. SEO agencies you consider need to understand this very well.
So what’s the thing you need to see:
- The redemption of promotional vouchers?
- Clicks on your location on the map for directions?
- A healthy citation profile?
- Backlinks from local websites?
How is all this measured?
You and the selected SEO agency must be on the same page.
5. Can we see some of your best clients or examples of the results you’ve delivered to them?
Cyprus is a small island, but that doesn’t mean local businesses should ignore SEO. A portfolio for an SEO agency is very important and if an agency you may be interviewing is unable to provide you with real examples of their client results, then you should move on to the next agency. Numbers speak louder than words when it comes to SEO.
A good portfolio usually includes KPIs, client testimonials actual screenshots and even a live example.
The answer you’re looking for is this:
“Yeah, sure, let’s show you these three clients!”
If they’re willing to show you some pages with examples of success, it’ll certainly make you ask more questions about your own business website.
If they don’t have a portfolio to show you, then that’s a negative sign. You need to be sure that the agency can increase your sales.
6. About reports or performance overview updates, please say what kind we’ll get?
Will the reports be weekly or monthly? What’ll these reports look like? This is the most important information you need to know to be prepared and understand where your organisation stands before and after the report.
Understanding SEO terminology isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary if you’re considering working with external SEO service providers. In Cyprus, reporting will be easier if the agency doing the search engine marketing speaks your language, but you still need to make sure you’re familiar with the terms when you receive the reports.
Answer indicating a well-informed SEO Expert:
You need them to report on progress, yes, but they also need to guide you through each KPI and its measures.
The ideal report needs to be easy to understand, efficiently explained and clearly present the metrics that matter most to you and other members of your marketing team.
What a good SEO report should include:
An SEO report must answer questions like:
- Tasks completed and why.
- Effectiveness before and after the task.
- Did the SEO effort bring more sales? and the corresponding before and after figure.
- What tasks are still outstanding?
- The steps needed to complete the outstanding tasks.
- Next steps to make the strategy work better?
Analytics, such as reporting conversions for each online shop to in-shop visits becomes very important. Think about dwelling on this question longer. Look at what tools they’ll use and how effectively the results can be measured.
Everything gets better with clear examples. It’s a good exercise to let them assume you know nothing about marketing and SEO, just to see how clearly they’d explain an SEO report to you.
However, effective measuring of SEO implies that the right digital marketing KPIs need to be applied in a meticulous manner and at the right time for conclusive and credible results that can be quantified.
7. What about the SEO tasks that our team can take on In-House?
If you hand over the SEO strategy to an external agency, most of the tasks related to SEO will be done and managed by outsourcing.
Still, there’s no reason to push your team aside. There’s always room to merge both efforts, those of the external and the internal team, for further and faster results.
The answer you’re looking for is this:
You need them to make sure they take on the big part of the SEO workload, but never neglect the areas of SEO you can keep in-house.
For example, if you have a team that handles content creation, that internal team probably already knows your company’s vision, shape and goals. When it comes to reusing old content or creating new articles and messages, it’s best to bring them together with the SEO agency and create the kind of content you need that’s specifically targeted to your audience.
Here comes a golden nugget; they could complement your current content creation efforts and the actions needed to take your content to a whole new level to promote a more successful and profitable local SEO campaign.
8. How do you plan to select the keywords our brand needs to rank in local search engine results?
SEO is multidimensional, we told you that earlier in this article, which means there’s no single reason to narrow down the answer to this question.
This is the kind of question you need to be flexible with but focus on the answer that the local agency can give.
As indicated, there’s no one direct answer to this question and it’s definitely not just about “traffic” and more traffic without audience interest.
When it comes to researching the best keywords for your business, you also need to consider relevance, user search intent, potential traffic and the competitive landscape. All these indicators are important for you when it comes to choosing the best keywords.
In their response, did you feel that the agency really understood your business objectives? Yes? Then that’s exactly what you wanted to hear.
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9. When can we start seeing results and improvements?
Depending on how well established your business is and what improvements it needs, this can vary greatly.
As with the previous question, flexibility in the expected answer is key, but don’t go overboard with the expected results, they need to be realistic and make sense for your business.
When to raise one eyebrow or smile?
Firstly, you want honesty above all else. If they mention anything under 6 months, you should raise an eyebrow.
Not to lose the honesty here: If your business already has a top-ranking for keywords in your industry and you hire an external SEO agency just to keep it that way, then they might be able to make you understand how long it takes and what improvements certainly won’t happen overnight.
10. What’s the current position of your company in the current Local SEO industry?
What happens to any industry also happens to the SEO industry, it changes, adapts and evolves. If an online business doesn’t keep up with the latest trend in digital marketing, it simply falls behind.
A well-positioned local SEO agency will explain its strategy for staying ahead of its competitors and staying relevant with the changing local SEO trends. Pay close attention to how the online agency exploits the opportunities and whether it fits your business model.
When to be careful
Don’t be surprised if the SEO agency you talk to claims that SEO practices stay the same over time, and if you hear something like that, you should definitely be careful.
The core, the basics and the important aspects of SEO kind of stay the same, but with the new technologies come many highly effective tactics that force online businesses to get up to speed if they want to stay relevant ahead of the latest updates.
A good sign of comfort is when they can guide you through the latest changes and trends and present what’s happening in a way you can easily understand.
Cyprus, like any other country, faces certain challenges when it comes to local markets because they’re competitive and dynamic. You need to be sure that the local SEO agency you work with has the necessary skills and tools to move your business forward.
As you read this article, prepare yourself because you want this agency to have the skills to help your website rank better in your area. Your goal is to be the first option in front of your target audience.
11. Are you able to solve problems with listings?
The local agency must’ve experience in managing local listings, citations and business directories according to your company size and industry.
This refers not only to GMB but also to other local platforms such as Apple Maps, Yelp, Cyprus business directories such as Angloinfo, Cyprus Yellow Pages, Expat, which are local directories that rank very well on the island.
- What tools do they use for that?
- What methodology do they use to find irregularities and fix them quickly?
The answer you should be expecting:
Be careful here, because this is an important point.
The Google My Business listing is a time-consuming matter that requires a lot of attention to manage properly.
There are sections where your business needs to showcase product news and relevant things, as well as your articles, news, promos, appointment, etc. Yes, Google My Business allows all that and more. Beyond that, there will be some challenges you’ll have to deal with. Things like wrong NPA information (number, phone, address), working hours and the double-edged sword of reviews.
As you can see, GMB is an important issue. Check out this post to learn more about GMB. They’ve to tell you that as a local SEO agency, they have the experience. But you can’t just rely on words, you need to see some examples.
SEO Agencies in Cyprus’s common mistake
A common mistake I see not only in Cypriot SEO agencies but also in the international SEO industry is that an agency working on local listings focuses only on GMB and ignores other important platforms for local listings.
This is where you should hear more about their experience, especially in your niche and business type.
Probably a listing on the Yelp platform is an incredibly important listing for a restaurant, but for Cyprus, a listing in the Yellow Pages could be a must for a general contractor.
A good hack you can do is to Google the brand name of your business and separately the brand names of your competitors. Pay close attention to which local sites rank better than yours and make sure you get more information about these websites from the local SEO agency you’ll hire.
A bad sign is if the local agency has no experience with these sites, or in other words, they aren’t familiar with your industry. Yes, that alone is a deal-breaker.
12. Do you offer review monitoring and response? What does that look like?
If you’ve been in online marketing for a few years, you already know that reviews are important for local businesses – and very important!
82% of consumers read reviews for local businesses, based on a study by BrightLocal last year
Local reviews also influence your business’ ranking in the major search engines and visibility.
How important is monitoring for the SEO expert?
Ideally, they monitor reviews, good and bad, on GMB, Facebook and other related platforms.
To see how knowledgeable they’re about your industry, don’t mention your niche networks at any point in the conversation. If they’ve enough information about your business at this stage of the conversation, they may mention some of it right away.
If not, that might be a sign they are not well prepared for your industry!
For Cyprus’ online marketing landscape, niches aren’t that hard to find. When it comes to larger countries like the UK or the US, things get more complicated, but the method remains, what changes are the size of the budget.
Information is power if used right?
Also, after all these questions, they should tell you something about the companies they’ve already worked with. So it shouldn’t be difficult to understand their expertise in the industry, but this is the chance they’ve as a local agency to prove it.
On the other hand, you should pay attention to how they handle negative reviews so that you take note of them.
Negative reviews need to be dealt with promptly for the good of your business, but more importantly, within the framework of current laws and regulations. So the help of a local agency should be to monitor and deal with basic reviews, but when it comes to bad reviews, you should reach out to them. Let the agency publish the answers you give for these bad reviews.
Don’t let the agency respond to negative reviews. If they tell you they’ll take care of it and you never get to read them, that’s definitely a warning sign.
Local SEO Agency Conclusion
These 12 questions you should ask when hiring a Cyprus SEO agency have been carefully selected and are based on our own experiences with clients. We want you to be well informed when you decide to outsource your local SEO. We’ve seen companies lose tonnes of money just because they didn’t know what to ask or what to expect from local SEO agencies in their respective countries.
The Cypriot marketing industry is more of a reference example, but all of these 12 questions work in any country, just be careful and pass these 12 questions to your marketing manager or CMO. They’ll surely hire better external partners for SEO services.
We’ve built collaborative and cooperative relationships with our clients because as an agency we want to help our clients generate more revenue and work as a true partner you can rely on.
These 12 questions will help you if you’ve doubts about whether the local SEO agency you’re talking to is right for your local or multinational business!