While I worked as an SEO Manager in-house, I spent time thinking about how to get the most value from my agency and supplier relationships. A great relationship is important when you’re outsourcing some of your SEO activity. Thanks to some inspiration from our earlier discussion on getting the most from your SEO, this post looks at things you can do to keep the SEO honeymoon alive for much longer.
Photo credit: Photo_gratis
Before you begin
Is there anything you can do before you select a new SEO supplier? Consider working through this checklist of tips and ideas to help your future agency, and to hit the ground running when all the contracts are signed.
- Make sure you have resource available to deliver your agency recomendations internally and recruit a stakeholder from each area of your business – technology, sales, marketing & comms, even finance. Even if little involvement is required, it’s great to have a representative from each area of the company who can help answer questions or make decisions, should the need arise
- Consider setting up “SEO” as a project with a sponsor and project board to represent the interests of each department inside the company
- Defining the KPI’s and success metrics for an SEO project early on
- Make “selection of SEO vendor” part of the project itself and involve the entire project team in the decision to select a supplier
- If you have project managers in-house, definitely get one! Project managers are amazing at keeping projects running on schedule (obviously) and you can learn a lot from the good ones
Found an SEO supplier? What’s next?
Decide which are the best tasks to outsource and keep in house
What does your in-house skill set look like? The agency could assist with an evaluation of your in-house capability and suggest where they can add value. What types of activity might you consider reviewing with your agency?
- Link building
- Social media (setting up and running profiles, or maybe authoring the strategy and handing over to the client)
- Content authoring (blog posting / content for linkbait)
- Technical SEO
- Keyword research, data analysis
- Auditing competitor SEO strategy – great for inspiring your own SEO strategy, you could use agency SEOs to report on the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors
Tip: Reviewing websites outside of your own industry can lead to glorious inspiration for SEO strategies in your own market.
Strategic planning with your agency
Think about the strategic planning process and how your agency should be involved with this as soon as they are selected. You wouldn’t build a website without SEO so why would you plan your annual marketing schedule without the input of your SEO agency? Try organising a 1 day workshop with your agency and work through the key deliverables that you’ve set for the coming year as part of the SEO project.
Tip: After a planning day you should expect your agency to return with a documented plan, statement of work with a schedule for each deliverable over the year. If there’s a project plan, all of the stakeholders are able to project manage the agency activity, helping the operation feel organised, planned and productive.
Be a great SEO client
The onus isn’t just on the agency to keep an SEO relationship working well. Far from it! My best clients are genuinely interested in SEO – they take the work seriously and SEO is the main contributor to their traffic plan. We work closely together on the strategy and I’m normally very close to the operation of the internal team. Being a great client includes being able to respond quickly to requests (and vice versa) providing information and feedback on the work planned. Commitment to the technical delivery is vital here, too.
Tip: Be a great client by keeping your agency in the loop, up to date and reply to their emails!
Stick to the plan
You may have invested a lot of effort into creating a nice project plan or statement of work so when was the last time you mutually looked at it? It’s ok if items in the plan have evolved, but on the larger projects you should really consider staying on top of the project plan. It’s something I do with SEOgadget clients on large projects and I think it’s a lifeline to a successful project. The plan doesn’t have to be complex, you don’t need to own expensive project management tools, the point to a plan (in my opinion) is that it’s simple, easy to interpret and allows room to move items around.
Keeping a valuable work flow
Finding ways to keep your agency busy? You’re buying their time but then struggle to email them regularly to ask questions or brief in new work. There are frequently problems and issues cropping up with the marketing process in-house and you can quite easily ask your agency to produce answers to problems you have by way of small adhoc projects. It’s highly likeley your agency can take projects and items of work off your hands, if you ask.
Ask for quarterly reviews
Book in quarterly reviews to allow your agency to get some exposure to the senior leadership in the business and present on a job well done. Having quarterly reviews helps to hold the entire project team accountable for the work delivered against the original statement of work.
There’s a lot more to this subject than a single blog post and I strongly believe that experiences can be different. Feel welcome to share your thoughts on what makes for a great SEO agency and client relationship, or to hear more, definitely check out this conference call with Will and I over at Distilled.