By Raluca Crasuleac

There’s no shortage of digital marketing services, so it’s up to you to find a company that fits your needs. If you’re new to the landscape, it can be difficult to know what questions to ask to weed out a not-so-good SEO company from an excellent one. Make sure you’re asking these questions before making your final decision.

1. Who performs the work?

If the person who actually be handling your account isn’t interviewing with you, it’s a red flag. You should be talking to the person who is strategizing the day-to-day work right from the start.

Does the agency have an in-house team, or does it outsource some of the work? Some agencies have a combination of freelancers and staff, which is acceptable. But you should have an understanding of the experience of the people in the agency and who is actually performing the work.

2. How many accounts does the project manager handle?

The more accounts a project manager handles, the more overworked they’re going to feel. Do some math against how many accounts versus the number of hours in a week. Twenty accounts at 40 hours per week gives your account around two hours of time. That doesn’t take into account any administrative tasks the person has to handle. Do you want to be an afterthought of a busy staff member or want to be a priority of someone who has time to deal with your account?

3. What metrics do you measure and how are results measured?

Click-through rates were once an important metric for media campaigns, but what really counts on your bottom line is sales. Asking this question lets you know what metrics are important to the agency and how that fits into your goals. Good digital marketing agencies should want to see conversions and sales as much as you do.

4. How do you handle project management?

Project management is an important aspect for online marketing agencies. You don’t want your budget wasted on mismanagement. You want to see that the agency has processes and platforms in place to handle communication between you and your account manager and to handle internal communications between the team.

Having a sophisticated method of project management should give you confidence in the agency’s ability to set timelines, execute work and measure results.

5. Do you fit into my budget?

This may be an internal question that you ask yourself, but you do need to consider your budget. Even if you have a large budget, you shouldn’t be paying a crazy amount for online marketing services.

You might also want to ask how your agency spend matches up to other clients. You don’t want to be the biggest client, because the agency may have a hard time keeping up with you. On the other hand, you don’t want to be the agency’s smallest client, because you may not be a priority. You also want confidence that the agency’s business is sustainable and stable.

6. What does the first 90 days of my contract look like?

With this question, you can really tell how your digital marketing agency will hit the ground running. You should expect to get a list of to-dos that will drive results in the first month or two of your campaign. Online marketing isn’t a sprint, so you should also hear ideas that will forge a long-term working relationship between your companies. Having a timeline can help you understand what has to happen in sequence to see results.

7. How interested is the agency in my business?

This is an internal question you should ask yourself. The best marketing agencies will want to hear about your goals and objectives before they start offering suggestions on what to do for your business. You should expect your marketing agency to give you business assessments, surveys and questionnaires to answer before your first meeting. During your interview, you should be getting questions about your business strategies, model and brand to make sure what they’re doing is a good fit.

8. How will you build my website’s backlinks?

Last but not least, you should find out how and where your website’s backlinks will be coming from. You surely don’t want to be stuck with an SEO company that uses some black hat method for building links because it will do more damage to your site than benefit you in any way. Some of the proper ways to build quality links include: high quality guest posting, infographic promotion, video promotion and local sponsorships.

Of course, you should always ask about industry experience, marketing expertise, and types of services. You want an agency that will grow with you using good strategies and tactics. Ask for brand referrals, too. Current and former clients who have worked with the agency can tell you a lot about the services and organization. Once you have solid answers to these questions, you should get an idea if you want to work with this company or not.