Fair warning, I’m going to go off on a bit of a rant. Not because I want to, but I honestly need to find new ways to actually get the attention of a restoration company owner. What I am referring to is the endless amount of conversations I have with restoration owners who:
- Refuse to believe SEO exists
- Because it’s Greek to them, refuse to do any homework in validating a reputable company
You might hate me after this, but here goes nothing.
It infuriates me to write about this....again, but restoration owners and marketers aren't doing their homework. I realize digital marketing, and more importantly, SEO might not be your area of expertise, but does that mean you can't do your due diligence where you’re spending money on marketing? There are plenty of articles and information out there to help you do this. I even wrote about it last year, the 11 Questions To Ask Your Restoration Digital Marketing Company Before You Hire Them. Yet, every time I speak to a company they have had some horrible experience paying an SEO agency, with no results, no regular reporting or communication and no clear reason why their campaign was so bad. Sometimes owners get into a contract where they don’t even own their own website, so they have to start over if they want to hire a different vendor. I wish this only came up occasionally in conversation. But, seemingly over and over again, there is disappointment from restoration company owners - to the point where SEO to the restoration industry is like finding Shangri-La.
This time I am going to make it real simple for everyone. I am going to give you a thorough checklist to use to help minimize your chances of being burned again. I realize there is no foolproof method, but honestly, we (the restoration industry) need to start doing a better job.
- The first and most important issue you need to get out of the way is ownership. If you want to take your site elsewhere, do you own the domain, contents, etc. to simply just hire another SEO agency? This seems obvious, and like you always should, but that is not entirely the case. There are many companies who have a procedure for onboarding clients where they will create a new site for you as part of their plan, but they own all the content. Sometimes, even using a new domain which they purchase instead of using your previously owned domain. The issue here is what happens when you find out 6-12 months down the road that the SEO campaign just isn't working and you want out. Sure no problem, you can get out, but you no longer have a website. Gone. They put the site on their hosting and they created the content for you and used the domain they purchased. So what does this mean for the business owner? Now you have to go buy a new website, right after you just spent thousands of dollars on a non-working SEO campaign. The cherry on top? If they had you use a new domain and maybe redirect one you previously owned, that new domain is theirs and all that "work" they did towards the domain is gone and they redirect the domain you had back towards their own URL (www.seocompany.com). Please read that last sentence again. Several companies have this business model.
- Do your research. Ask for references and actually call them. Ask how long they have been a client (more than 12 months is great sign) and DO A Google SEARCH. Here is what comes up for a big SEO company who we’ve taken on clients from after leaving. A simple search with their name and review would have revealed this.
As a restoration company owner, how can you blame anyone but yourself when the information is right there at your fingertips? This is the definition of not doing your due diligence and then thinking all digital marketers are charlatans. All you had to do was a simple Google search and the first result, from a reputable source, Yelp, gave you ALL the information you needed.
- Go to your water damage page – if you don’t see a minimum /water-damage-restoration somewhere in the URL, fire your SEO company. Not having at least that is a clear indicator you’re working with the wrong company.
- Call Tracking - Receive call tracking; this is how you determine your ROI. A company not setting this up is a red flag.
- Keyword Report - Receive monthly keyword rankings report. We attended a trade show and ran keyword reports for 8 straight hours over two days to contractors not receiving keyword reports from their SEO agency. Keywords can fluctuate a lot, you need to understand that. However, if you are not receiving the results from your SEO firm, that's kind of like not asking your sales/route marketer which visits and lunches they had with prospects. In the words of Ronald Reagan – “Trust, but verify".
- Changes - Don't just rely on the company to tell you they are going to do 'SEO' and take their word for it. Get them to show you exactly what they are going to change. Jump on a webinar and spend 60 minutes listening to the changes they will perform. This is important. A lot of the time you only deal with an account manager, which is really just a salesperson. Get them to bring on an SEO expert, if this is the case, and physically show you the changes over a screen share/webinar.
- Backlinks - This is arguably the most important and difficult task in SEO (for people who are charlatans, that is). Whoever you speak with, have them explain their process in acquiring backlinks, increasing Domain Authority (DA) and the more specifics, the better. 8) Hosting - Do you really need to move your hosting? A lot of times marketing companies try and resell you hosting plans so they can get that monthly income even if you move on. Yes, resell you. Because 99% of marketing agencies don't own their own server, they markup other companies (like Godaddy) and resell you. Does this sound like someone you want to be in business with? Most of the time it's not necessary to move your website hosting. Site speed and servers are important for SEO, but that doesn't mean you have to move your entire plan to a company you don't know yet. I suggest you just stick with who you are using and if you really need a better plan then the company you are currently using most likely has bigger and better plans.
Let’s understand that SEO is a challenging task, Google updates their algorithm daily. Depending on your market, website authority, domain age, your physical location and many other factors there may be many obstacles, but you should be constantly informed of the work being done on your site and the progress you are making in your market. SEO is an ongoing service, as I just mentioned, Google constantly updates it’s algorithm and it’s up to us marketers to stay on top of those changes, the same way restoration owners have to deal with the changing landscape in the restoration industry. SEO and digital marketing can honestly pay for itself, especially in the restoration world. It's easy to make one job pay for a whole year worth of SEO. It may take time, a long time to an eager person, but, when done correctly, it works.