Learn the secrets of what to ask for when hiring an SEO in Hong Kong. Save yourself very costly mistakes by reading this quick guide.
Crucial Points to Consider in Choosing an SEO Services Provider
By working with me on your SEO campaign, you’ll enjoy the following benefits. Make sure to ask the same of any service provider you consider hiring:
1) You’ll receive a world-class SEO service performed on a strictly month-to-month basis, no long-term contract necessary!
2) No up-front payment necessary either; pay only at the end of a monthly SEO cycle if you are satisfied with the results, or have the option to cancel the campaign instead with no payment required. Sometimes, such as during months when a very large Google search algorithm update (likely only once per year) takes place, your campaign could see unexpected ranking shifts, for better or worse. If for worse, then your SEO provider should not invoice that month that it takes to adapt your campaign to the new ranking algorithm and once again stabilize/improve your position. Simply put, you should not be paying to move backwards.
3) All actual SEO work is 100% performed by me, a search engine optimization expert with over two decades of experience. The only exception to this is any additional language-specific keyword research and search phrase recommendations performed by native speakers that assist me to increase cultural and colloquial sensitivity in audience targeting and click-through optimization. The importance of this cannot be overstated, for the following reasons:
When SEO providers speak of things like: “we provide our SEOs with the best tools and training, etc.”, this means your campaign will more than likely be handled by juniors who are learning on-the-job, risking your website’s domain authority/trust and using your marketing budget to fund their practice. The logic here is quite simple, in that agencies need to scale to satisfy their growth ambitions, and it is impossible for them to hire only mature SEO experts, assuming they can entice even a single one to forego the freedom and financial incentives of consulting. Only the smartest agencies partner up with highly experienced SEOs on a contract basis (white-labeling the work as their own, which is perfectly fine of course), but these are in the minority.
There simply aren’t enough experienced SEOs to fill the explosive growth demand, as *everyone* wants to be #1 online and search engine optimization is the key to this in today’s digital world. Thus the vast majority of so-called “SEOs” are invariably junior operators. If a true world-class SEO decides to start their own agency, then they stop doing the SEO work themselves and become a business/personnel manager, once again having to delegate the work to the inexperienced. A big red flag this is the case is a provider website team page with all sorts of executive titles, project managers, even “digital marketing” specialists, but no clear and explicitly named SEO specialist(s) who are up-to-date on all facets of your SEO campaign and whom you can *speak directly with* anytime you have questions and requests.
So one way to avoid this trap is to search for and engage an independent “SEO expert” or “SEO consultant”. Even then, don’t believe someone just because they claim to be an expert, but *demand* that they prove themselves before you make any payment; the best type of proof being an initial month of work, with payment only required upon your satisfaction with results. If an SEO tells you that “we can’t do this because it takes many months to see results”, they are either flat-out lying to you or are once again, inexperienced and lacking in confidence to deliver results. Of course it takes time to be #1 if you’re not yet even on first page, but a true SEO expert will be able to achieve substantial gains in the very first month of your campaign; meaning that your chosen keywords will increase by double digits (e.g. +10 to +30 spots increase) in ranking if you’re just getting started, or at least by respectable single digits (e.g. +3 to +9) if you’re already ranking highly.
If an SEO tells you “I don’t need to prove myself because my reputation is already established, I’m too busy, or too important, or too whatever”, then RUN, don’t walk, away. Such an individual does not truly value you as a customer worthy of being satisfied, and such an attitude will invariably translate into less than top effort being put into your campaign, as such people will consider you lucky to be their client at all!
Most of all though, it is imperative that you avoid signing any long-term contracts, as this is the favourite technique that both mediocre providers and outright scams use to trap you for a 12-month time period. Such contracts are the lifeblood of growing agencies especially, in that they supply guaranteed funding for expansion (or alternatively, for the “founder” to live very comfortably while enjoying the large profit margins of a scaled operation as they “oversee” lowly-compensated offshore teams trying to achieve your mission critical milestones) while locking you in and taking away your leverage plus freedom. Regardless of how their junior staff performs, you will now be forced to pay up.
One final point here regarding the “testimonials” that are often emphasized on many provider websites. These are not fake of course, mostly they have been provided in good faith by customers that surely received some positive results eventually (often only temporarily as checking the search results sometimes highlighted in the testimonials shows they are no longer present and thus had no “sustainability”). However, because the vast majority of business executives don’t know how much improvement and how quickly they should be seeing from an SEO campaign, many find themselves unknowingly praising an agency for a maybe twelve-month long job that should have really taken only two to three months, and with sustainable results as well, had an SEO expert been on task.
If you take nothing else away from my website, I hope you will understand this and save yourself the terrible and unnecessary loss that is a long-term SEO services contract. SEO operators, including experts, should be forced to impress you each and every month (or simply not invoice for a month that does not impress), as this is the only way to guarantee top performance from your service provider. Even if we don’t end up working together on your campaign, educating prospective SEO clients on this point helps to finally clean up this industry that thrives on disinformation and lack of transparency, and returns power to YOU, the customer who deserves much much better!
4) I will not use technical sounding terms and explanations to try and impress you, while simultaneously obscuring what work I’ll be doing and how I’ll be doing it. This is one of the most frustrating aspects of SEO provider selection, in that it sometimes feels like you need to become a technical expert yourself, just to be able to choose and then manage an SEO. What makes the situation worse is that a lot of the freely available information online about SEO is slightly, if not completely, misleading. While I will go more deeply into this subject in future blog posts, for now I will arm you with the following tools. There are two types of SEO that are vital to a successful campaign: a) on-page; and b) off-page.
On-page SEO is what I address in the first 1-2 weeks of your campaign and includes making small but powerful edits (with your approval) to text on your website, such as Web page titles and descriptions. Even these minor updates will result in substantial improvements to your rankings by the end of the first monthly cycle. By the 3rd week of your campaign at the latest however, any true SEO expert must have also started the off-page component. If your provider does not explicitly confirm they will be doing off-page SEO (also known as “creating backlinks” or “backlinking”), then you are not being given full value for your investment; i.e. such providers are hoping to delay this harder type of work until after they’ve billed you for a few months, coasting along on the results of the easier on-page work in the hope you won’t understand how quickly you should be seeing improvements (see point 3 above for more on this.)
Off-page SEO is what I address starting in the very first month of your campaign and includes creating links back to your website (which act like “word of mouth” references that establish trust and credibility.) One of the most important questions you should ask any potential provider is when this work begins and if they will show you the backlinks they’ve created to prove their claims. If a provider does not confirm off-page SEO will be done starting in the first month, or if they are unwilling/unable to show you what this looks like (not only up-front but also occasionally during the life of your campaign), then RUN, don’t walk, away. It is of course understandable that an SEO won’t be able to report on every little detail of the work they do (as this would be time/cost prohibitive), but you absolutely must have the option of general transparency regarding off-page SEO examples, with a very fast reply to prove that a fake sample was not created just to satisfy your sudden request. This is also the #1 way to quickly identify if your campaign is being executed by some shadowy team overseas, as providers that use them will want to hide the sloppy work such teams (whom are being paid much lower wages than their Hong Kong-based “overseers” and are thus not as highly motivated to protect your digital assets) do.
5) I will not try to up-sell you on any additional digital marketing services like the majority of other providers do, in an attempt to squeeze out every marketing dollar from your budget. If you genuinely desire pay-per-click, conversion optimization, user experience, or social media assistance as well, I can refer you to world-class experts in those fields that will meet your custom requirements. Everything I cover above regarding SEO also applies in varying degrees to these other digital marketing specializations, so be wary of being sucked into a provider contract thinking “oh well, at least I’ll get everything coordinated under one roof”. What you’ll likely get is even more of your budget trapped and much less flexibility. With the referral approach I can offer you, each part of your integrated campaign can be custom tailored, started and paused, specialist changed for another, or even terminated on any month, while still enjoying full coordination of all efforts. Now that is true power and freedom.