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SEO Company In Dubai: Questions To Ask

Many companies are intimidated or skeptical when searching for an SEO company in Dubai, because these companies know so much more — or appear to — about the intricacies of SEO.

But rest assured: SEO is neither rocket science nor black magic. If you learn the right questions to ask, you’ll be able to distinguish SEO companies that only appear to know what they’re doing from ones that actually do.

Read this article to avoid the mistake of hiring an SEO company that tells a good story but doesn’t have the expertise to back it up. The information contained in the answers below is the product of more than a decade of experience in managing SEO campaigns for a multitude of B2B and B2C clients.

I’ve seen firsthand the difficulties our clients encountered because they didn’t ask these questions — don’t make that same mistake.

1. How will you define the success of my SEO campaign?

If the SEO company doesn’t get this one right, there’s no point asking the next 16 questions!

Clearly wrong answer: “We’ll get you more organic traffic and better rankings for keywords.”

  • Traffic and rankings do not always correlate to increased sales leads.
  • Rankings have become an unreliable metric because Google and Bing customize organic search results depending on the user’s geographic location, search history, and other factors.

Deceptively Wrong Answer: “We’ll generate more sales leads.”

  • Although increased sales leads is the right metric, many SEO companies grossly inflate their numbers because they don’t validate sales leads and distinguish them from inquiries. If the SEO company merely counts form submissions and phone calls generated by the SEO campaign, your “leads” will include misdials, sales solicitations, job applications, customer service inquiries, etc.
  • Because Straight North validates sales leads by reading every form submission and listening to every phone call, we know that on average, 40% of what are typically reported as leads are really not sales leads.

Right Answer: “Our SEO campaign increases the number of true (validated) sales leads.”

2. How do you determine if SEO is a good fit for my business?

Wrong Answer: If the SEO company gives lip service to this question, or hands you a proposal without providing any preliminary research, it is more interested in collecting fees than delivering value.

Right Answer: The SEO company begins with a review of:

  • The search volume of target keywords in your niche
  • The competitiveness of target keywords in your niche
  • Your firm’s current SEO performance/potential
  • Your firm’s budget parameters and expectations

Based on the results of these combined criteria, some prospective clients are better served by investing in other types of Internet marketing campaigns. SEO can’t work if it is not a good fit.

3. What is your process for creating a custom SEO strategy?

Wrong Answer: All SEO companies claim they deliver custom strategies, but in reality, many of them are merely selling pre-packaged campaign templates in disguise. One telltale sign is a proposal that offers service packages at different cost levels.

Right Answer: A custom strategy includes the following elements:

  • A strategy document that specifies target audience, keywords and website pages to be optimized along with goals and metrics to measure progress toward those goals.
  • A documented set of integrated on-site and off-site tasks that support the strategy, including content themes, topics, copywriting and outreach.

4. How do you report the activities provided for my monthly investment?

  • This question is all about transparency. Since you are investing marketing dollars into your SEO campaign each month, you have the right to know what activities are being completed each month. You also need to understand how your monthly investment affects the amount of work completed each month. With this information, you can decide whether or not to increase your monthly investment to see an increase in actions leading to an increase in campaign performance.
  • Many SEO companies provide no reporting on the tasks they complete each month for your campaign. Some companies report retainer hours rather than activities. Others report a few highlighted tasks from the previous month, but not all of the tasks. The common theme: Beware of companies that lack transparency. A lack of transparency creates trust issues, which then lead to campaign issues. Many companies that hide monthly tasks are likely doing very little to improve your SEO campaign performance. The sad truth behind many SEO companies that operate without transparency is that these companies are taking your money and doing as little as possible in return.
  • Breaze8 provides full transparency. Each month we report every task that was completed as part of a client’s SEO campaign — as well as communicate strategic and tactical adjustments we plan to make to improve campaign performance.

5. Will you make SEO-related development changes to my website?

Wrong Answer: “No.” Most SEO companies will not touch your website when it comes to making development changes. This causes a number of problems:

  • Your staff has more work to do.
  • Mistakes are more likely.
  • Because the SEO company is not fully accountable for your on-site SEO work, it tends not to get done at all, or in a very limited way, and very slowly.
  • As a result, your site remains under-optimized, which creates a huge drag on results.

Right Answer: “Yes!” An SEO company with a Web design/development department can make any changes to a website that the client is willing to let it handle. This means:

  • Your staff acquires no additional work.
  • Work is completed quickly, fully and expertly
  • Your site is properly optimized, greatly enhancing the performance of your SEO campaign.

6. Do you report SEO rankings?

Right Answer: “No!!!” SEO began in the mid-1990s, when everyone was focused on getting their targeted keywords to be ranked number one in all of the search engines. Since then, many things have changed in the SEO industry, making rankings irrelevant. Here’s a brief history:

  • In 2000, Google became the world’s largest search engine
  • In 2007, Google released a universal search and blended results. This change marked the beginning of the end for the standard top 10 organic listings in search engine result pages.
  • In 2009, Google forced personalized search on all users. This change caused search engine users to see results in different positions for the same keyword search based on a specific user’s search history, geography, IP address, browser, cookies, time of day, year, bookmarks, device type, language, etc. On top of this, Google’s multiple data centers serve up results in different positions.
  • In 2013, Google began encrypting organic search for all users. This change resulted in Google hiding organic keywords from the public (and website analytics) for all searches done through its search engine. What value do rankings have when you can no longer see what keywords are driving traffic to your website?

7. Do you include call tracking as part of my SEO campaign?

Very Wrong Answer: “No.” Phone lead data are crucial to evaluating an SEO campaign. At Straight North, our tracking statistics indicate that phone calls account for over 40% of lead generation activities. Without this data, your reporting is hopelessly incomplete and dangerously skewed, making it almost useless for reviewing campaign performance and making strategic and tactical adjustments.

Right Answer: “Yes.” Because lead tracking is the single most important component of an SEO campaign, proficient SEO companies employ top-tier phone-tracking technology — at no charge to the client — for every campaign. This is the standard you want.

8. Do you report on conversions generated by my SEO campaign?

Very Wrong Answer: “No.” As mentioned earlier, sales leads are THE key metric for an SEO campaign. Getting more sales leads is WHY you are investing in SEO.

Possibly Right Answer: “Yes.” Remember that all conversions are not sales leads! You must dig deeper, or you run the risk of hiring an SEO company that will lead you to an expensive dead end. The next question explains how big this issue is.

Right Answer: “Yes.” Because lead tracking is the single most important component of an SEO campaign, proficient SEO companies employ top-tier phone-tracking technology — at no charge to the client — for every campaign. This is the standard you want.

9. What's the difference between a conversion and a sales lead?

Here is where you become really smart, and peel back the curtain to see how competent an SEO company truly is.

  • Many SEO companies use the terms “conversions” and “leads” interchangeably. The reality is that they are two completely different things.
  • If an SEO company tells you the two terms are the same thing, this is a major red flag. This reply demonstrates that the SEO company doesn’t understand the vast difference between the two
  • Conversion is a soft metric. In addition to true sales leads, conversion data may also include how many people clicked a link on a page, how many people downloaded a PDF, how many people watched a video, etc.
  • For an SEO campaign focused on sales lead generation, you should be hearing “leads” rather than “conversions.”
  • However, many SEO companies use the word “leads” – but they aren’t telling you the truth. When you hear the word “leads,” you should be confident that means real sales leads, not a mix of sales leads and non-leads. But, as mentioned in Question 1, over 40% of what most SEO companies call “leads” are actually non-leads.
  • The dirty secret of most SEO companies is that they provide totally inadequate tracking and reporting for your most important SEO campaign metric: sales leads.
  • The big problem is that most SEO companies simply count the number of form submissions and phone calls without validating any of them. To make matters worse, many companies cannot tie the form submissions and phone calls back to specific prospects. So in the end, you are left with only numbers, not facts. Even if you wanted to validate those leads, you (and the SEO company) wouldn’t be able to do so
  • So, beware when an SEO company talks about “leads.” What it really may be saying is that 40% of the leads it is reporting are misdials, sales solicitations, job applications, customer service inquiries, etc. And, they will take credit for all of these junk inquiries as if they were true sales leads.
  • If the number of sales leads from your SEO campaign is overstated, then all of your business metrics — most importantly campaign ROI — will be overstated. You cannot effectively manage a marketing campaign under these circumstances.

10. Does your company validate every form submission form phone call to make sure it is a legitimate sales lead?

Wrong Answer: “No.” If the SEO company doesn’t understand what you mean by “validate,” you can be sure that it is reporting leads that include 40% non-leads. To confirm this, ask the company if it reads the text in every form submission and listens to every phone call recording to verify that every “sales lead” it reports is actually a sales lead — and not a misdial, sales solicitation, job application, customer service inquiry, etc.

If the answer is, “No, we don’t do that” — disqualify this company from your list of potential SEO companies.

Right Answer: “Of course.” A competent SEO company defines the success of your campaign by a continual increase in the number of validated sales leads, and has the resources to listen to every campaign-generated phone call and read every campaign-generated form submission.

Anything less leaves it — and you — operating in the dark.

11. How do you report validated sales leads?

With sales leads being the number one metric for an SEO campaign, you need a way to view these leads through an online dashboard.

Advantages:

  • View results at any time, rather than waiting for a month-end report.
  • By reviewing sales leads quickly, you can take further action on them while they are still hot. This could make the difference between landing a new customer and letting it slip through your fingers.

12. What SEO metrics do you report each month?

Wrong Answers:

  • Rankings. Companies that report rankings are way behind the times; this is no longer a metric that professional SEO companies should be using.
  • Leads (that are not validated). See Questions 9 and 10 for a full discussion of this
  • Total Website Traffic. Believe it or not, some SEO companies report total website traffic instead of organic traffic. Make sure you see organic traffic in the report.
  • Number of Phone Calls from SEO, without the data behind those calls. If you see the number of phone calls but no data behind those calls, how can you trust that those phone calls really took place? Or more importantly, were the calls actual sales leads? The truth is that you cannot possibly know for sure without being able to review this critical data to verify the accuracy of your reports.
  • Number of Form Submissions from SEO, without the data behind those form submissions. If you see a number of form submissions, but no data behind them, how can you trust that those form submissions really took place, or more importantly, were really sales leads? The truth is that you can’t. You need to see this form data to know your reports are accurate.

Right Answers

  • Summary. Each month your account manager provides custom details from his or her analysis of your campaign’s SEO metrics.
  • Validated Leads. You want to see a benchmark month for validated leads, and then a year-over-year comparison for the current reporting month. These numbers show the campaign growth from the first month to the current reporting month together with a year-over-year view of the current calendar month.
  • Organic Traffic. You want to see a benchmark month for organic search traffic and then a year-over-year comparison for the current reporting month. These numbers demonstrate the campaign growth from the first month to the current reporting month together with a year-over-year view of the current calendar month. Monthly numbers on direct and referral traffic should also be available, as SEO efforts increase those numbers as well.
  • Actions. Your SEO company must be transparent in the tasks it completes each month. While your main focus is validated sales leads and organic search traffic, understanding how your money is being spent and what tasks are working toward your goal of increased validated sales leads are important.
  • Phone Calls. Every detail of every phone call should include a way to listen to the call recording and the ability to download all data into an Excel spreadsheet. This data is the proof behind a simple count of how many calls came in. You need to know how many phone calls were sales leads vs. non-leads. Otherwise, you should assume 40% of the phone calls are not sales leads. Phone call data to look for:
    • Date and time of the phone call
    • Recording of the phone call (in an .mp3 or .wav file format)
    • Marketing source
    • Segmentation of validated sales leads vs. non-leads
    • Keyword (if search engine other than Google)
    • Call duration
    • Caller name
    • Caller location (city, state)
    • Referral URL
    • Website entry URL
    • Pre-conversion URL
    • Conversion URL
    • IP address
    • Browser type
  • Form Submissions. Every detail of every form submission should be provided, as well as the ability to download all data into an Excel spreadsheet. This data is the proof behind a simple count of how many form submissions came in. You need to know how many form submissions were sales leads vs. non-leads. Otherwise, you should assume 40% of the forms are not sales leads. Form data to look for:
    • Date and time of the form submission
    • Text of every form field
    • Marketing source
    • Segmentation of validated sales leads vs. non-leads
    • Keyword (if search engine other than Google)
    • Referral URL
    • Website entry URL
    • Pre-conversion URL
    • Conversion URL
    • IP address
    • Browser type

13. May I see a sample of monthly SEO report?

After the SEO company has explained its reporting method, ask to see a sample report for confirmation, and make sure you understand it. If the company is hesitant to provide a sample, this is an obvious red flag. If the company doesn’t want to email a sample report, ask to walk through it together via an online meeting.

14. How many full-time employees does your company have in Dubai?

  • SEO campaigns require a number of people with a variety of talents. Companies that rely on outside contractors (often overseas) have less control over their campaigns, and no “bench depth” to maintain continuity.
  • SEO companies that rely on contractors or have a very small staff generally provide a “jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none” level of service. This results in mediocre execution and results.
  • Ask detailed questions to ascertain the “who, where and how” of the SEO company’s organization. An ideal staff looks like this:
    • All staff is full-time, directly employed.
    • All staff works on-site at the company’s office(s).
    • All staff is based within UAE.

15. How many team members are full-time, experienced account managers?

An account manager coordinates all aspects of an SEO campaign. He or she is indispensable because:

  • Without full-time account managers, communication suffers and scheduling issues are common.
  • Account managers, untrained in SEO, add little value and become a “third wheel” that impedes all aspects of the campaign.

With these 15 questions in hand, along with a comprehensive reference check, you will find yourself on equal footing with the SEO companies in Dubai you are vetting.

You will also obtain the information and insight you need to select a partner that can implement an SEO campaign capable of transforming your business. Many great companies are out there — don’t settle for less than the best.

Breaze8 (Awad) specializes in lead generation and e-commerce revenue generation; in fact, that’s just about all we do.

Awad Abdelgayoum brings over 10 years of experience in digital marketing his clients as Digital Marketing & Performance Consultant. Awad is responsible for bringing in Marketing Insights & Insights for businesses in the Middle East. Awad is also involved many companies in the start-up space as an external consultant.