Hong Kong is no different than any other market when it comes to SEO, with this exception–it’s not as developed, and that means there are fewer true SEO experts in Hong Kong, and less basis for comparison. In more developed SEO markets there are dedicated SEO firms with long track records of success. These crowd out less skilled SEO firms, as well as firms that aren’t true SEO firms but offer SEO services. In less developed markets you see individuals offering SEO services whose skills are lacking, or you see ad agencies, PR firms, and other types of companies that would normally not offer SEO services acting as though they can provide these services as well as anyone else. Hey, if someone offers to pay you for SEO, and there’s hardly anyone else even offering the service, why not?
While some ad agencies and PR firms outsource their clients’ SEO to true SEO agencies, which means the quality of the SEO work will be good, some try to make it work with in-house resources who aren’t true SEO professionals. At best there will be nothing positive to come from this for clients, but at worst this type of “service” could hurt clients, causing damage that will take months, even years, to overcome. Here are a three ways to identify poor SEO offers in Hong Kong and avoid them:
1. Get educated. If you don’t know anything about SEO, the chances you’ll make a mistake in who you hire go up. Here’s an article on how to teach yourself SEO.
2. Ask for case studies. The ideal SEO firm to work with is one that has worked with exactly your type of company with successful results. This is unlikely to be the case, especially in Hong Kong, but even if the SEO firm you’re looking at hasn’t worked with your type of company before, they may have worked with a similar company and may have a relevant case study.
While a nicely designed case study might be handy, sometimes the most authentic case studies are delivered spur of the moment during conversation. Ask the firm you’re talking to to tell you stories about past client successes. Also ask them about failures and how they handled them. No SEO firm has a perfect record, and it will be instructional to know why certain engagements didn’t work out and what the firm learned from those experiences.
For example, we had a number of client engagements where clients didn’t feel like they were getting the results they wanted in the desired time frame. The problem was that we hadn’t educated each client to have realistic expectations, nor had we verified each client’s ability to invest in SEO for as long as it would take to get results. Some clients were only prepared to pay for SEO for 3 to 4 months, and thought our services would break even within that time. Had we known this was what they were thinking, we would have clarified, but we didn’t know. To fix this, we implemented a 12-month minimum commitment for new clients. This means every single client is committed to a time period in which we know we can produce the results they’re looking for. It forces a discussion about expectations and budgets, and we’ve seen client satisfaction rise as a result.
3. Ask for references. At a minimum, you want to ask an SEO firm’s references the following questions:
a. Would you be willing to recommend this SEO firm to your friends and family? Why or why not?
b. Is the firm quick to respond?
c. Does the firm share details about the work they do? Are they willing to educate their clients?
You may have additional questions depending on your circumstances and wants.
Most SEO clients hire an SEO firm without knowing much about SEO, without asking for case studies, and without asking for or contacting any references. This is risky, not just in terms of the money that will be spent, but the time that may be wasted. Taking these three steps is quick, and any SEO firm that knows what they’re doing should be not only willing, but eager to share this information with you.
Have you had any experiences, bad or good, hiring an SEO firm? What have you learned?
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