Choose The Right SEO Agency: 6 Steps to Consider

By Elin Enrooth

Choosing an SEO agency is tricky- there are a ton to choose from, and they all seem to boast incredible results and fun company cultures. However, choosing the right firm is incredibly important. Paying an agency thousands of dollars to optimize your online presence is risky and the wrong decision can be devastating to your business and bank account. Choosing the right agency for your business can be the difference between a surge in organic traffic, better ranking, and increased conversions or a decrease in organic search ranking.

What are the benefits of hiring an SEO agency?

Hiring a professional agency to manage your online presence gives you more time to focus on running your business instead of trying to learn algorithms and best practices.

In order for SEO efforts to be successful, the agency will make sure your site is technically sound.

A reputable agency will make sure your marketing, SEO tactics, and website abide by Google's best practices to avoid Google penalties and provide a better user experience.

A solid strategy will help to bring more users to your site and grow your brand’s presence. More traffic and recognition mean higher rankings in search engines. Experts will be able to identify ways to improve the conversion process on your site. So, along with more traffic, your conversion rate will grow.

Define your goals and desired outcomes

No SEO agency is a one-size-fits-all for all strategies, industries, and company sizes. Different agencies specialize in different facets of SEO. To determine what agency offers the right services for your business, you must know your business goals and desired outcomes. It is important to have clarity about each of these, as one of them represents a beginning step and the other represents a final result.

Your business goals are broad statements that define the areas of your online presence that you want to improve. Identify the specific goal and the timeframe in which you'd like to accomplish it. For example, say you want to improve product sales. If you’re not sure which areas you need to improve, reach out to an agency for a digital marketing analysis.

To avoid ambiguity, you should outline exactly what you hope to achieve when you accomplish the goal. These are your desired outcomes. If your goal is to improve product sales, then the desired outcome could be to rank for certain keywords. A desired outcome is a way to make goals more specific.

Look at what services each agency is offering. This will help narrow your search as some agencies may specialize in keyword ranking while others may focus on social media.

Consider your budget

Before investing in an SEO agency, consider your budget. How much can you afford to spend? Set a budget and find an SEO agency within that budget.

Price does matter when it comes to SEO. You get what you pay for, which is why you need to set a realistic budget. Many business owners fall for agencies offering SEO for $50 per month and don’t know that they’re being scammed. The SEO companies promoting those ultra-low rates often underdeliver or use black-hat SEO strategies.

Although digital marketing is more affordable than other marketing tactics, proper SEO takes time. Search engines are constantly changing their algorithms and SEO should be a gradual, ongoing process in order to achieve the best results over time. SEO cannot be done overnight, so avoid any agencies that charge a one-time fee. A better way to handle SEO is by monthly or annual contract to ensure that the agency is maintaining results and continuously improving your site.

Watch out for SEO guarantees

If an SEO expert promises results in a certain amount of time or a top ranking on Google- run. While SEO agencies have a good idea about how to produce optimal results, Google algorithms are constantly changing. Be wary of agencies that guarantee specific outcomes because there is no way to predict website SERPs.

While you presumably want results, SEO doesn’t deliver immediate results. In most cases, it requires three to six months to start providing a return. This can be frustrating and can cause smart people to fall for black-hat SEO strategies.

Black-hat techniques describe unethical SEO tactics that violate search engines’ rules. While you can use black-hat SEO to quickly rank in search results, you will fall fast. Once Google’s bots discover that you’re using these tactics and tools, they’ll demote your site in their rankings, which will decrease organic traffic. Google may even ban your website from appearing in search results.

Black-hat SEO strategies include:

  1. Buying a ton of links from random websites
  2. Using a computer program to generate hundreds of pages of poor content
  3. Using duplicate or scraped content
  4. Submitting fake press releases in order to spam links

Connect with past or current clients

Next, you want to connect with current or past clients to collect references and learn about the client experience. This will give you insight into the agency’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the strategy and reporting process.

Ask the agency about the businesses they have worked with in the past and ask these clients for first-hand testimonials. This will go a long way toward giving you peace of mind when hiring an SEO agency to work for your business.

You can also look at review websites like Google and Facebook, and portfolio websites like Design Rush, Clutch and UpCity to find reviews and more details on each agency. Also, check out their social networking sites to get a better feel for the work culture.

All of this information can help you choose the best SEO agency for your business. It can also aid in narrowing your options so you can focus on the agencies that check off every requirement on your list.

Dive into the agency’s portfolio

Any good company that promises results should be more than happy to show you case studies to prove they've actually achieved the results they promise.

Most agencies have examples of case studies on their website, but if not, ask for a portfolio. The case studies should provide results of their performance, validating their expertise and skill. This will give you an idea of what you can expect from an SEO campaign.

With proof of an agency’s performance, you can schedule a consultation with confidence.

Schedule a consultation

Before you sign with an agency, schedule a meeting to discuss their plan of action. It’s important to build a trusting relationship with your SEO agency, so use this as an opportunity to see how well you connect with the team.

Some agencies will even offer a free website audit or share initial keyword and competitive research before you agree to partner up with them.

Remember that SEO is a complex process. However, hiring an experienced agency will make your website easier to understand by search engines, increase online visibility, and improve the user experience.

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