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10 Tips on How to Choose an MSP for SEO that Aligns with Your Business Objectives

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10 Tips on How to Choose an MSP for SEO that Aligns with Your Business Objectives

Kristan Manley

December 5, 2023

Building a digital presence directly supporting your business objectives requires a strong SEO strategy. You can improve online visibility and capture organic traffic with the proper SEO practices. However, managing SEO in-house isn’t without its share of challenges. It’s why many businesses are outsourcing to Managed Services Providers (MSPs).

From maximizing the ROI of your SEO efforts to leveraging your digital content for lead generation, the right SEO vendor will deliver scalable growth. Here’s how to choose an MSP that can obtain results and help you grow.

Define Your Business Objectives

Before comparing MSPs, you should define your requirements. What are your SEO goals? Which strategies make the most sense for targeting your share of the 9 billion daily searches on Google?

You should also ask yourself how SEO will align with your business goals. For instance:

  • Will SEO improve visibility in a competitive environment and give you more market shares?
  • Will your SEO efforts target qualified prospects and generate leads?
  • Will using SEO to direct users to content that matches their search intent control and enhance your user’s experience?

SEO letters on wooden blocks

Assess the MSP’s Expertise and Track Record

Now that you have some insights into what your organization needs to succeed with SEO, it’s time to evaluate what different MSPs offer. Start by assessing their expertise and track record.

SEO includes technical components, from enhancing page-loading speeds to optimizing your site’s metadata. These components require expertise. Keeping up with the latest algorithm changes also requires competency. Unsurprisingly, SEO experts are in high demand, with searches for ‘SEO specialist’ up by 112% over the past five years.

Experts know how to get results. An excellent way to verify that an MSP has the right expertise and experience is to look at their track record. Do they have a history of consistently helping brands achieve their goals? Look at case studies, testimonials, and reviews. Beyond performance, pay attention to what customers say about their experience with the MSP.

Consider Customization and Scalability

With 14% of businesses citing a need for more resources as their top SEO challenge, outsourcing SEO is a popular solution. However, the specifics of an SEO campaign should be unique to each organization.

Can the MSP adopt a customized approach based on your target audience, competitive landscape, and other unique factors? Do they have a process to identify your special needs and develop a custom SEO plan?

Your needs will change over time. Can the MSP’s offering evolve as your organization grows? Look for a flexible partner who can scale their services if needed. An MSP that actively identifies new solutions aligned with your changing needs will become a valuable partner for long-term growth.

You should also consider whether the MSP will roll out new services in the future. Experts believe the use of AI for SEO will grow by 5% in 2023, and vendors that can keep up with AI and other trends will give you a competitive edge.

Evaluate the Range of SEO Services Offered

Review the services the MSP offers and ask yourself whether the service selection is comprehensive enough to meet all your requirements.

The most common services offered include:

  • Strategic planning, including keyword research and competitor analysis
  • Audit of your current SEO efforts
  • On-page optimization
  • Off-page optimization
  • Local SEO
  • Technical SEO
  • Content creation, with an emphasis on optimized content
  • Coordinating SEO and PPC strategies
  • Updating old content for SEO purposes
  • Reporting and analytics

Explore Communication Channels and Reporting

The best MSPs act as an extension of your organization thanks to their strong communication and reporting practices.

When evaluating the communication, determine whom you will communicate with and how often. Will you have an account manager as a point of contact? Which communication channels are available? Will the MSP provide regular updates? Contact the MSP with a few questions to see how quickly you get an answer.

Reporting is another important consideration. An MSP with sound reporting practices values transparency and can give you visibility over how your SEO budget supports your goals. Reporting also holds the MSP accountable for delivering results.

Find out which metrics the MSP tracks. Can you request additional KPIs? How often will you receive reports? What kind of data will you have access to?

Investigate Their Approach to Data and Analytics

Reporting and analytics deserve profound analysis. Data-driven SEO is a practical approach, an essential element for achieving continuous improvement and growth. Plus, using data to improve your SEO strategies can increase your ROI.

Your MSP should use data to measure the effectiveness of different SEO strategies against performance benchmarks.

Data can inform critical decisions, such as identifying new link-building opportunities, finding new keywords to target, or even predicting future search trends. Analytics can also reflect changes in search engine algorithms or user behaviors and make you more reactive.

The most effective MSPs have an established process for integrating data into their offering. They make comprehensive insights available to their customers and use analytics tools to drive results. With AI accelerating analytics through automation and deep analysis, you should also look for a vendor that uses the latest tech.

Consider Reputation and Client Retention

Vendors often make claims that highlight customer satisfaction. You need to perform due diligence beyond these claims.

Find out more about what industry experts and customers have to say by seeking reviews and ratings published on third-party sources and independent research.

Do the reviews align with the claims the MSP makes? Are the customers mentioning benefits that align with your requirements? If the reviews describe any drawbacks, how will they affect your organization?

Long-term partnerships and a reasonable client retention rate are sure signs that you’ve found a great MSP. If you can’t find any reviews mentioning how long customers have worked with the vendor, contact the MSP and ask how long their oldest customer has been with them.

Two women wearing office attire sitting at a desk and signing contracts

Seek Transparency in Pricing and Contracts

As long as you come across as a serious buyer, any reliable MSP should offer transparent information about their services, pricing, and contracts.

Take the time to review the contract terms and payment structure. Determine if the MSP will negotiate and create a customized service-level agreement. Not all vendors are flexible on contract terms, but asking for special payment terms can be beneficial.

Here are a few things to consider when reviewing a potential contract:

  • Will the cost be predictable from one month to the next? How much control do you have over the price?
  • The Service-Level Agreement should have a detailed description of the services offered and the responsibilities of both parties.
  • There should be a description of the measurement standards and methods used. You should also find a list of the performance benchmarks the MSP has to meet.
  • The SLA should explain what happens if one of the parties fails to meet their responsibilities and describe the terms that apply if you decide to terminate the agreement.

Request a Consultation and Ask for References

Schedule a consultation to ask questions and do your due diligence. It’s also an opportunity to discuss your specific needs and ensure the MSP can offer a customized solution.

Does the representative actively ask questions to understand better what your needs are? Ideally, the MSP should assess your needs before presenting a tentative plan that aligns with your goals.

You should also ask about communication, reporting, and how the SEO services will integrate with your other digital marketing efforts.

You can approach this initial consultation as a job interview where you aim to learn more about the candidate and determine whether they’ll fit your organization well. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Ask for references from past and existing customers.
  • Find out what the MSP’s retention rate is.
  • Do they have experience with businesses in your industry?
  • Do they typically work with organizations the same size as yours?
  • Ask about a time the vendor made a mistake and find out how they handled it.
  • Who will be your point of contact? What are your options for contacting the MSP?
  • How long does it usually take to see results?
  • What’s the onboarding process like?
  • Which strategies do they recommend for your organization, and why?
  • In the MSP’s opinion, what are your business’s top SEO challenges?
  • With 25% of searches being zero-click searches, do they have a strategy to address this growing challenge?

How to Choose an MSP for SEO

Choose a managed service provider that is a good match for your business objectives with these tips:

  • Identify your requirements before you start comparing vendors.
  • Look for MSPs with expertise, a customized approach, and the capability to scale.
  • Analyze the services offered against your needs.
  • Leverage independent research, reviews, and referrals for your due diligence process.
  • Focus on data, analytics, and reporting for transparency.
  • Schedule a consultation to ask questions and review pricing and contract terms.

Taking the time to perform due diligence before selecting an MSP will enhance your return on time and investment.

Do you need help with your SEO? Thanks to our result-driven SEO module, Tempesta Media’s managed services can improve your online visibility. Contact us to learn more about our SEO strategies and how we combine this component with other modules from our Bullseye Effect model for a proven approach to growing your online presence.

Picture of Kristan Manley

Kristan Manley

Kristan Manley is the Director of Managed Services at Tempesta Media. She has been crafting digital marketing strategies and content for over a decade and has been in the Customer Success business for 15+ years. She is the mother of 4 beautiful children (and three cats) and is an avid book nerd.

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