So far in this series we have asked questions related to in-sourcing search marketing efforts for anyone considering doing SEO themselves, subbing out SEO to another person, orhiring an in-house SEO with and without SEO experience. Then we answered questions for those looking to outsource their SEO campaign completely by hiring an SEO consultant or hiring an full-fledged SEO firm. In the last installment we discussed issues of cost and value of the SEO campaign and what kind of expectations one should have.

In this final installment our questions will be centered on control and expected involvement of the business owner. The site owner, to some degree, will likely have to give up some control of their site if they want the SEO firm to implement anything themselves. At the same time, there is a reasonable expectation that the SEO cannot have 100% control over the site in order to ensure the client approves of the specific changes that the SEO is asking to be made. Somewhere in here is a balancing act from the business owner having to do everything themselves and handing over all decisions to the SEO completely.

Question 55: Will I have to give up too much control of my site? Unless you want to do everything yourself then you will have to give up at least some control over your site. When it comes to on-page SEO, most SEOs want or need at least some access to make changes. If you are unwilling to give them basic access to the site then you need to be prepared to make all of their recommended changes yourself. How much control you give up will be entirely up to you and most SEOs will work with you either way. Some don't want access and only want to provide recommendations. It also means less work the SEO has to do. On the other hand, the less the SEO does the more you will have to do.

Question 56: Am I willing to give out sensitive site access information? Part of giving up control means giving the SEO some sensitive data such as FTP info, CMS logins, etc. And with every bit of access you give them that becomes one more person potentially responsible when something goes wrong. No person is completely error free so the SEO should maintain backups of any changes so if anything does go wrong it can quickly be fixed. But the only way to eliminate risk 100% is to keep all but the most essential people out of the site. You'll just have to decide how essential the SEO is.

Question 57: Will I implement recommendations as they are provided? Even giving the SEO full access to your site there will always be recommended changes that fall beyond the scope of their service contract. As those recommendations are presented to you, you then have the option of implementing them immediately, ignoring them completely, or putting them off to the side to revisit another day. Keep in mind that SEOs feel justified in every recommendation they provide and so long as there are any outstanding recommendations they will use that as a justification to explain why the campaign may not be performing as expected.

Question 58: Can I veto recommendations and still expect results? Not all recommendations made by the SEO are going to be urgent or important to the success of the campaign. Some recommendations are "mission critical" while others may have various degrees of importance. Your SEO should distinguish between those which are urgent and those that are not. Even urgent recommendations should be carefully considered. SEOs can often focus on getting rankings over getting conversions. Any recommendation may improve rankings but could at the same time be detrimental to your site's usability. Ideally the SEO will tag each recommendation appropriately so you know what you need to focus on first and foremost.

Question 59: Will I be expected to do anything? The short answer is yes. It's a rare circumstance that you want to turn over 100% of the decisions to the SEO. Things such as keyword selection, text changes, title tags and anything that changes the look and usability of the site should be subject to review. Short of that you run the risk of having the SEO implement strategies that are not quite what you have in mind.

Question 60: How much will I have to be involved? This depends. Some firms will do nothing more than provide recommendations and leave you to implement them. Others will require client feedback before moving forward to the next phase. You'll want to know what the expectations are for your involvement in the various stages of campaign so you can budget your time appropriately.

Question 61: How much will I be allowed to be involved? As noted above, some SEOs will not move forward on a particular issue until they get the client's input. This means that your involvement is mandatory, not just recommended. You don't want to be in a position where your inability to invest time with the SEO is holding the SEO process back.

The amount of access the SEO needs and time you'll be required to invest in a particular campaign can dramatically change the dynamic of the campaign as well as the SEO's ability to ensure the campaign's success. Having this information before you begin can help you plan and prepare for the logistics of campaign implementation.

Any marketing campaign you begin needs to start with a list of questions. After all, you can't know which way to go unless you question the direction and consequences of each option that lies before you. Only after you have considered as many of the questions as possible can you truly make a wise and informed decision over what to do and what you can expect in return.

See Questions 1-11
See Questions 12-17
See Questions 18-24
See Questions 25-32
See Questions 33-40
See Questions 41-47
See Questions 48-54

April 1, 2009

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


It's true we can never be more careful and planning (asking questions) about any project, whether doing it in-house or out-sourcing is very important. Thanks for the tips, they were very useful.

Thanks for sharing this list of questions on search engine optimization. This is a gem, and for sure can serve as a guide.

Comments closed after 30 days to combat spam.

Search Engine Guide > Stoney deGeyter > The Big, Bad List of Pre-SEO Questions You Need to Answer, Part VIII