An SEO agency is packed with talented professionals who can optimise your website so that it targets organic search traffic, 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 in 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 leading SEO agency.
1. Find the best SEO agency to meet your goals
Before you begin your quest to find the perfect SEO company, 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 percent 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 – reputable SEO companies 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 is 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.
You want to find an SEO agency that you can trust with your logins; your digital agency should respect your partnership enough to accept when your time together has come to an end.
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. You don’t want to end up working with an SEO agency who leave all the chasing to you.
Instead, find a specialist SEO agency who are committed to being proactive not only when providing seo services, but in their everyday reporting and communication.
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. If you work in a specialist industry, you want to ensure that your chosen digital marketing agency can put together an SEO strategy that caters to your business objectives.
If your chosen SEO agency has worked with similar companies in the past, they may already have the required industry knowledge to put together SEO strategies that work best for you.
Can you show me examples of keywords your clients are ranking for?
Pay close attention to whether the keyword research is relevant to the client’s product offering and be cautious of agencies who will not disclose the name of the client.
Keyword research is a vital part of boosting organic traffic, and it informs everything from content marketing to Google ads, therefore you want to make sure that your SEO experts have the skillset that they claim to have.
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.
Find out where they sit in the search rankings. If they have the SEO knowledge that they claim to have, they’ll be able to demonstrate their own business growth.
Is your SEO company interested in 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.
You also want to make sure that your chosen SEO team provides the digital marketing services that you’re looking for. Some of the areas an SEO agency could specialise in include:
Search Engine Marketing
Getting your brand to climb the rankings of Google and other search engines is vital for attracting new customers. This is done through a combination of relevant keywords and content marketing.
Link building is essential for building your trust flow with search engines. Link building services include creating content for other sites that link back to your own page.
If you want to be found in your local area, then you need to invest in local SEO. Local SEO services include the creation of citations; these business listings signpost to Google and your customers where you are and how to find you, helping to ensure you show up in local searches.
If you’re looking to expand into the international market, then you should find a company that can offer international SEO services.
From language targeting to a country specific outreach strategy, you want to ensure your chosen agency can provide you with the international SEO services that you need to succeed.
5. Watch out for SEO agency red flags
When it comes to choosing an SEO agency, there are some major red flags to watch out for. Here are some of the main ones:
SEO is a 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.
Find an SEO agency who’s skills in web design and web development are evident with their own site. That way you’ll be able to have more confidence in their ability to design and maintain your site.
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
SEO is one of the most essential branches of digital marketing, and 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.
Do you need a new SEO agency to help you climb the search engine results?
Contact Maratopia and get your free SEO Audit today!