5 Ways To Choose A Good SEO Agency
An SEO agency is packed with talented professionals who can optimise your website so that it secures high search engine rankings and attracts customers by the bucketload.
However, SEO is a tricky technical game where big players like Google are always changing the rules. And some agencies fall behind with these developments and rely on SEO techniques that are either old hat or black hat – both of which can result severe penalties for your website.
To ensure that you don’t fall into the hands of one of these fiendish firms, here are five ways to choose a good SEO agency.
1. Find an SEO agency that can meet your goals
Before you begin your quest to find the perfect SEO partner, you need to work out which areas of online presence you want to improve. The key thing is that your SEO goals are specific, for example, to increase monthly website visitors by 5%. With detailed goals in place, you’ll be able to approach agencies with a clear idea on what it is you want, which will make finding the right partner far easier.
However, if you’re struggling to define specific goals, the best SEO agencies will be able to gather the data needed to help you. For example, they might conduct a Technical SEO site audit, which analyses every last inch of your site to see where improvements can be made.
Once your goals are set, it’s then a case of finding out if the agency’s vision aligns with your own and what processes they’ll use to help you to achieve them. Avoid any firm that makes performance guarantees – every business is different and search engine algorithms are always changing, so nothing’s ever 100 per cent certain.
2. Research your SEO agency
Don’t fall into the trap of being won over by boastful pitches and glossy brochures. When it comes to choosing an SEO agency, it’s important to do some research.
Looking at their online reviews on platforms such as Google and Yelp to see what past clients have to say is a good starting point. And browsing their website to see if they have customer testimonials or in-depth case studies is also worthwhile. If you can’t find these, you can always request them – a reputable SEO agency will gladly share.
You should also look at their website as a whole to see if it looks the part and provides a good UX (user experience). If it doesn’t, you can’t possibly trust them to work on your own site. As well as this, look for signs of originality and thinking outside of the box – for example, a dedicated blog section which covers a diverse range of topics and demonstrates their impressive industry knowledge.
Any SEO agency worth its salt will also have a social media presence, so be sure to check out their profiles. Ask yourself, are they active? Are they connecting with big industry players? Are they pushing sales too much, rather than producing interesting content which showcases their expertise?
3. Meet your SEO agency
Whether your SEO agency is based around the corner or at the other side of the country, arranging a consultation meeting is a must before you sign on the dotted line.
This is your opportunity to meet the people who you’ll be trusting with your website, so ideally this should be a face to face meeting. However, failing that, a video call is a similarly effective option.
You should use this meeting as an opportunity to iron out any creases of confusion with regard to your project and to ask key questions. Don’t be shy when it comes to questions either – the more you ask, the clearer the picture you’ll have of how skilled the agency are and the results you should expect.
Below are some examples of questions you might want to ask:
- Will I have full access and ownership of my website and analytics accounts? – Some SEO agencies have been known to hold logins and websites to ransom when a client chooses to end the partnership.
- How will we communicate and how regularly? – You should set clear expectations on this from the start to avoid disappointment and tension down the line.
- Have you worked with companies similar to mine in the past? – Every industry is different and has its own SEO requirements, you need to be sure that the agency understands yours.
- Can you show me examples of keywords your clients are ranking for? – Pay close attention to whether the keywords are relevant to the client’s product offering and be cautious of agencies who will not disclose the name of the client.
- What keywords does your agency rank for? – If an SEO agency can’t secure rankings for itself, they’ll be unlikely to be able to do this for you.
Another tell-tale sign of a good agency is when they ask you a lot of questions about your company. This shows that they’re genuinely interested in getting to know your business and providing tailored SEO services, rather than adopting a one size fits all approach.
4. Make sure your SEO agency has the right tools
The best SEO firms will not consist solely of SEO specialists, they’ll be home to other digital experts too. For instance, content writers who can craft enticing copy that encourages people to click onto your website and powerful CTAs (calls-to-action) which drive high intent visitors to the right destinations – for example, to a mailing list sign-up section, free download page or product ordering and checkout.
They’ll also have a team of graphic designers and developers who can build you a brand new site or enhance your existing one. These website pros will not only make sure that your site is aesthetically pleasing, they’ll also ensure that it’s carefully optimised to attract visitors and convert them into prospects and paying customers. A professional SEO agency will also have a terrific technical toolkit which encompasses industry leading SEO tools and software such as SEMrush, Screaming Frog and Answer The Public. And they’ll use these tools to keep track of your progress and drive data-driven improvements to your campaign.
5. Watch out for SEO agency red flags
When it comes to choosing an SEO agency, there are some major of red flags to watch out for. Here are some of the main ones:
Instant results: SEO is long-term marketing strategy and it can take between three to six months for the results to become apparent. If an SEO agency promises overnight success, they’re either clueless or using black hat techniques to game the system. Once the search engines clock onto them, they’ll punish you, leaving you with what could be years’ worth of damage to repair.
Secret sauce pitches: This is where the agency delivers a pitch where they boast about their insider search engine knowledge and successful and secret SEO tactics. In reality, there is no secret sauce of SEO, it’s a well-documented discipline and your agency should be able to explain its approach in layman’s terms. An agency that’s secretive about its tactics most likely has something to hide.
Their website sucks: If an SEO firm is unable to look after its own website, there’s no way they can be trusted to take responsibility for yours.
They’re a one man band: SEO is anything but a one man show, so be wary of agencies where a single person is carrying out the work. SEO requires a vast range of expertise and is far too complex to be carried out by one person alone.
Be mindful of these warning signs and you’ll quickly be able to separate the reputable agencies from the dodgy ones and avoid a chaotic cluster of problems later on.
Final thoughts on ways to choose a good SEO agency
Selecting an SEO partner is one of the biggest business decisions you’ll ever have to make. The agency you choose will essentially be responsible for your online reputation as a business, so it’s a choice that requires careful consideration.
However, if you follow our advice by carrying out background research, asking the right questions and looking out for the red flag warning signs, you’ll be on the right path to finding an SEO agency that’s trustworthy, reliable and competent.