I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago who was working with a new company. That company had been outsourcing its SEO (Search Engine Optimization) work to a marketing agency for a few thousand dollars a month. However, it was unclear exactly what that agency was doing.
When asked for details on what work was being done each month, they were denied and reprimanded for daring to ask such a question. I don’t know the details of that situation, but I’ve seen similar before where companies were “doing SEO” for the company but didn’t disclose what they were doing.
Short answer: usually not much.
Marketing isn’t Magic
Even SEO, which can be complicated, includes tactics and practices that can be defined. If you’re working with a firm that doesn’t disclose details (even for “proprietary secrets”), you should break ties with them immediately.
The lack of transparency is unacceptable and often means they’re hiding something—usually because they’re not doing much work for the client. Strategy work can sometimes be a bit more opaque, but the ongoing tactics should be clearly defined, shared, and followed.
Get Proof of the Work Being Done
SEO is straightforward, though it can take work to keep it going strong. In most cases, this marketing service includes pieces such as:
- Keyword research to determine what specific phrases to go after.
- Work on the technical side of the website to make sure nothing is badly broken. This can take some time, but it’s not an ongoing expense aside from baseline security after a point.
- Generating strong content. This is often the bulk of the work, and companies deserve to be paid well if they’re doing a good job, but it’s not a secret.
Don’t let marketing agencies hide what they’re doing. Good marketing takes effort, but there’s no magic secret to this stuff. Follow best practices, know your audience, produce great content, measure the results, and repeat.
If a company says “We’re going to do A, B, and C for you every month for $x,xxx“, that’s awesome.
If they say “just trust us“, don’t.