How to Choose an SEO Agency – 6 Important Points
by Alex T.
Choosing an SEO Agency to do your online marketing is an extremely important task. As many experts will tell you, the search engines are constantly changing, and it takes a keen eye to stay on top of the trends. We got you covered, 6 important points to consider when you choose an SEO Agency to help you with your goals.
The last thing you want to do is jump the gun and choose an SEO Agency that ends up wasting your time and money. As a startup, you are putting a lot of faith in whoever you select. Don’t agree to work with the first one you talk to. Be picky!
Know What SEO is
Perhaps the best way to ensure that you find the best fitting SEO Agency or consultant is to know the basics yourself. By understanding how SEO works, you’ll be much better prepared to ask the right questions, analyse the answers, measure results and your return on investment.
As your online presence is so important to your business success, considering over 80% of consumers do their own research online before purchasing (source: Cisco), spending a little time to familiarise yourself with the basics is one of the best investments you can make.
Make certain that your prospective SEO Agency has a wealth of experience. They should have been doing SEO for at least 3 years before you consider taking them on. Be sure that they follow SEO best practices. Stay well away from agencies that guarantee top rankings. While agencies can, in fact, guarantee that you’ll be able to generate traffic via paid alternatives, including pay-per-click, they should never tell you that they can definitely get you at the top of search results.
You may consider hiring an SEO Agency with particular experience in your industry, as this specialism will help them to understand your needs better and convert more customers. However, be prepared to be charged higher fees.
Past Clients & Portfolio
A good SEO Agency should not only have case studies readily on-hand but should be more than happy to show them to you. The case studies should highlight their work and give concrete examples of their performance, validating their expertise and skill. Case studies are a testament to the company’s ability to provide positive results, so make sure the companies you are considering are able to provide them for you.
When you are looking at the testimonials on an SEO agency’s website, they will most likely be the most outstanding success stories. While these are always good for reference, you need more to judge a company.
The stories you want to hear are those from the average clients. What was their experience with the company? If you can, try to get a hold of at least three businesses that have used the agency’s services. In addition to asking about the end results, you will want to get a feel for the day-to-day interactions.
What to expect
Find out what you can expect from hiring an SEO Agency, ask them what volume of traffic increase it’s reasonable to expect and over what time-frame. While there are a lot of factors to consider with this question, assuming your site is technically sound and has quality original content, you should be able to expect a 50-100% increase in quality traffic within around 3 months. Potentially a lot more if your site is languishing.
Keep in mind, SEO is not a field where you generally see results overnight. In most cases, it’s a slow process that requires consistent effort. As important as you overarching goals are, you need to have a clear roadmap developed with reasonable KPIs to judge your success rate. Without it, an SEO Agency will find it much harder to help you.
Get to Know the Team
Get to know the people you’ll be working with and establish whether you want to hire a small, medium or large SEO Agency. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. Small or one-person firms can be fantastic but they may get busy with other, more lucrative clients, while large firms, on the other hand, can be like sausage-factories, churning out SEO in bulk.
As communication is a big factor in deciding which SEO Agency you take on, you’ll want to know who exactly you’ll be working with. As many SEO Agencies outsource some of their workload, you’ll also want some information on who they outsource to and what their experience is.
As SEO Agencies continue to take on more and more clients, outsourcing is an efficient way to handle the increased workload at reasonable costs. So you may want to consider just how much work your SEO will be outsourcing and how much they’ll be doing themselves. According to the BrightLocal Local SEO Industry Survey 2014, over 50% of SEO Agencies outsource under 10% of their workload, while 39% outsource more than 25% of their work.
Creative and innovative
Once the requirements of the customer are known well, the appointed SEO Agency should have the capability to put forth the ideas in an unpredictable way. This is where their creativity comes to aid. The product/service of the client has to stand out unique among the competitors. Innovative methods have to be opted for.
32 Questions to Ask an SEO Agency By SEJ
Any honest and well-established company will happily answer your questions and address the concerns or reservations you have about SEO.
Pay attention to how receptive they are to providing answers.
Most importantly, don’t sign a contract with an SEO agency without asking these questions first:
- Can you guarantee that my site will have a top ranking position?
- Start with this question, because it’s a quick way to weed out shady SEO agencies. Legitimate SEO Agencies will never guarantee a client a top ranking position because they know there are no guarantees with SEO.
- How do you handle penalized sites?
- Does your agency ever deviate from Google’s best practices?
- Has your agency ever bought links?
- How do you build links and what kind of links do you build?
- How many links can I expect to have built per month or over the duration of my contract?
- How much on-page, off-page, and technical work can I expect to be done and what specific practices do you do for each?
- Which tools do you use to achieve results and carry out SEO services?
- Do you edit and/or optimize existing content on my site?
- Is any of the work or content outsourced? If so, who does it?
- How does your team handle content strategy and development?
- What specific content pieces will be done for my site?
- How do you plan to optimize that content?
- Do you have any examples of work you’ve done for a similar business?
- Successful SEO Agencies are quick to provide case studies or examples of other businesses they’ve helped, so if you hear “that’s classified” or “we don’t share the results of other clients” in response, be wary.
- On average, when do your clients start to see results?
- How many active client accounts do you have?
- How many people on your team are working on them?
- If an agency has 500 active client accounts and only 30 people on their team, chances are they’re either stretched thin at the expense of quality or outsourcing some of the work.
- Do you work with businesses that would be considered competitors to mine?
- This isn’t always a bad thing, but if a direct competitor hires the same SEO company and has a bigger budget, you could be in trouble.
- How often do you run site audits?
- What specific metrics do you track and report on?
- How do you handle reporting and tracking of my account?
- How often can I expect to receive reports and updates, and how will you communicate them to me?
- Ideal answers to these questions will include information on conversions, rankings, traffic, campaign and outreach updates, etc. Most agencies provide clients with access to reporting software so they can view a dashboard with trackable metrics.
- How many people will have access to our website?
- What steps do you take to ensure the security of our website?
- Will you be making changes to the structure, web design, or coding of our website? If so, is that handled in-house or outsourced?
- Who would be my point of contact, and how can I contact them if I have questions or concerns?
- Can I meet the people who work on my account?
- What will you need from my end?
- How much time per month is needed from our end?
- Can you itemize the pricing package by specific services and hours spent working on each?
- What separates you from other SEO agencies?
- Overall, what results can I expect for my website?
Did we miss any points? Tell us your opinion in the comments and we might use it to improve this article.
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