I am going to tell you want questions to ask your SEO Company, or a company you are thinking of hiring. These questions will help you gauge whether or not you are going to get your money’s worth out of them.

Background On SEO

SEO is very, very hard to do. Especially since the world’s largest search engine is in direct competition with search optimizing firms. They want the cost of providing SEO services to be so egregious that you will save more money going through their pay per click portal called Google Adsense.

Recently Google decided that videos are no longer going to rank for what they used to. Because of this, entire companies that based their content marketing strategies around videos lost a tremendous amount of traffic overnight.

Also, recently Google decided that Google Authorship, where your picture is displayed next to the article you wrote in search results, is no longer. Google Authorship in the search results went away just like that. And this happened just a few weeks ago. Authorship still plays a role, but not as prominently displayed as before.

Then, companies that ranked very high for local services like lawn mowing, plumbing, lawyers, doctors, etc. recently found their SEO world turned upside down because of Google’s Pigeon algorithm (implemented in July of 2014). This algorithm is designed to ensure the best results locally come to the top. This is a good thing, but not necessarily a good thing for companies that were already ranked high and now have to adapt and overcome these new challenges.

Principles of PageRank

Principles of PageRank (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Question 1:  What is Google Pagerank?

A typical answer should sound something like this. Google Pagerank is a numbering system assigned by Google to websites on a scale of 1-10. It is named after Larry Page, one of the founders of Google. It is on the exponential scale, meaning that a Pagerank of “2” is 10 times more in rank authority than a Pagerank of “1”. Pagerank increases on your website when a website with a certain Pagerank links to your website. Pagerank is specific to domains and specific to pages. There are certain pages with no Pagerank because Pagerank is specific to pages and not necessarily domains. Pagerank is just one metric in Google’s overall algorithm of hundreds of data points. There is talk of removing Pagerank in the future, but that is unlikely since it is a great distraction for people trying to do SEO to focus on and it helps Google find spammers trying to the game the system by pointing too many links to their sites.

Question 2: What is the difference between a “dofollow” link and a “nofollow” link?

Answer: A dofollow link is a standard link and passes Google Pagerank from one site to another site. A dofollow link also tells Google that you are associating your page with the page you are linking to. A nofollow link does not pass Pagerank and does not associate your page with another page. A nofollow link still affects the other page by sending Google signals in its algorithm, although no one knows how prominent or how important those signals are and what they affect.  I suspect it could be relevancy signals. Nofollow links do also dilute other dofollow links on the same page. For instance, if you have 4 dofollow links and 1 nofollow link, each of the dofollow links only pass 1/5 of the Pagerank because the nofollow link takes up one of the 1/5 Pagerank even though it doesn’t pass Pagerank.

Question 3: Who are my main competitors online, what are they spending on pay per click ads, what are their top keywords, what is their Pagerank, and how many links are pointing to their site?

Any SEO with basic SEO experience should be able to easily with a few clicks of a button do decent competitive analysis. They should be able to tell you very close answers to the above questions. If they can’t, you are probably going to waste a lot of money on them.

Question 4: Should I use an article submission service for back links?

If they say yes, fire them immediately. You don’t want to submit your articles to the be blasted all over the world wide web. If you article ends up in too many places with the same anchor texts, it can penalize your page and your website will get deranked from Google’s search until you clean up all the bad places the article went.

Question 5: What are the main Google algorithm updates and what do they regulate in Google’s search results?

If your SEO can’t rattle these off and explain what they mean during an interview, then how can they know how to properly implement an SEO strategy on your behalf?


Designed to reduce web content spam and low quality content by replacing them with higher quality content in the search results. Targets scrapers and content farms that add very little real content.


Targets link spam and websites that are trying to manipulate the search results artificially through linking schemes. Quickly identifies those websites using linking techniques that clearly violate Google’s webmaster guidelines.


An improved local search algorithm designed to produce a results page more like the traditional search results instead of a bunch of local listings of local companies. So if you search “Tampa Real Estate” you are no longer going to get a bunch of realtors and their offices on a map, but instead you will get a listing of websites like Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, and Century 21. Google is trying to hone in on what local results people want to see and Pigeon is trying to do that.


Focuses on the entire meaning of the search instead of just each individual word in the search phrase. It is Google’s attempt at conversational search, the “why” behind the search, and the “what” the searcher is looking for even if it doesn’t necessarily mean exactly what they are typing in.

Question 6: Who is Rand Fishkin?

He is the Founder of one of the most prominent SEO websites – MOZ and is one of the main SEO influencers that any good SEO company would be able to know about. Rand is infamous for his beard and curly mustache.

Question 7: Who is Mark Traphagen?

This is a little harder question, but if your SEO gets it right, he/she is not only into SEO, but sends a strong signal that they understand Google+ and its role in helping your SEO strategy. Mark is one of the main SEO influencers on Google+ (with 96K followers) and is Senior Director of Online Marketing at Stone Temple Consulting, an SEO company similar to Grow To Win Marketing.

Question 8: Are press releases good for back links to help grow Pagerank?

If they say yes, then run as fast as you can. Press releases are good for brand mentions, getting traffic, getting exposure, and sending relevancy signals to Google. We have had some success with press releases, but not for getting back links to increase Pagerank. It is important for your SEO to be able to articulate the pros and cons of a press release, to ensure the links are nofollow, and to ensure the links are to your main homepage at the bottom of the release and not anchor text dofollow links in the body of the release.

Question 9: Are directory submission sites good for back links?

No. Don’t submit anything to a mass submission engine that will blast your website to the four winds. You land in too many bad neighborhoods and your site will get tanked. It is always better to submit your website individually and manually to select, relevant, and specifically chosen directories. There are a lot of factors in submitting to a directory and the wrong one can create a lot of problems.

Chris Hooley drinkbaiting Matt Cutts

Matt Cutts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Question 10:  What is the best website platform/engine to use for SEO?

If they say anything other than WordPress they are missing the mark.  Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team recently told a room full of WordPress webmasters, “WordPress takes care of 80-90% of SEO“. Sure you can use other platforms, but the SEO pro will have to put a heck of a lot more work in to optimize the system and the client (you) will end up paying for that time. It is better to save yourself a lot of money and headache and just use WordPress. If they aren’t using WordPress to build your site, chances are they are not very SEO-knowledgeable.

Spence Rogers
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Spence Rogers

Spence Rogers is CEO of Grow to Win Marketing, a Social Media Marketing Services provider. Spence is a results-driven and deeply skilled executive who will bring effective SEO, web design, and marketing services to both emerging and established enterprises. With years of experience in management, marketing, and sales, Spence knows what it takes to lay the foundation for profits and incredible return on investment.
Spence Rogers
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