What to look for when choosing an SEO agency? 2019-03-01T18:28:11+00:00

What to look for when choosing an SEO agency?

SEO is a very real requirement for any business which has an online presence, but how do you go about choosing an SEO agency to help manage this aspect of your digital strategy?

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SEO is a very real requirement for any business which has an online presence, but how do you go about choosing an SEO agency to help manage this aspect of your digital strategy?

Search Engine Optimisation is a complex area in digital marketing. No longer is it enough for you to simply have a website with your company name and a few products. Instead, you need to have a website that fulfils a purpose and is useful for your customers, not to mention easy to find through search engines.

The problem is, to many people SEO is something they just don’t know very much about. It’s also moved on from an era when just about any trick backlink, or keyword hack could get you flying high in search engines to a time when content, quality, usability and security are just a few of the ranking signals that Google looks for.

SEO is also a very fast-moving part of the digital marketing world. While there are many search engines, Google is without doubt the biggest driver of traffic globally and they make on-going changes to their top-secret algorithms. This means that you cannot just ‘do’ SEO and move on – instead, it’s an ever-evolving job that needs to be maintained constantly.

So, when you reach that time that you need to appoint an SEO agency to help you manage your company’s SEO tasks, how do you go about choosing one?

Things to look out for when selecting an SEO agency

Unfortunately, the SEO industry has been marred by some so-called professionals in recent years that have hacked their way to the top of Google with some under-hand techniques. Terms such as ‘cloaking’ and ‘keyword stuffing’ are the types of thing you will see referred to on SEO blogs and industry papers. Broadly speaking, the term ‘black hat SEO’ is now given to these out-dated and illegitimate optimisation methods.

Some demonstrate a false return on investment to justify their next big payday. a lot of these black hat SEO agencies not only gave the industry a bad name, but also left many thousands of websites under significant Google penalties.

As SEO continues to evolve, it’s vital that you align your business with an SEO agency that is truly on the ball and passionate about SEO. They need to be realistic in their aims and how they sell this to you, the customer. Above all else you want them to be specialists in their area. They need demonstrable, on-going successes.

As you begin your search for a reputable SEO agency that knows what they are doing, here are some tips as well as some things to look out for.

Look beyond Google’s top results

This may seem to go against what you want from an SEO agency, but it’s important to see beyond the companies that are returned at the top of Google when you search for the “best SEO agency” in your location. Many smaller agencies will target keywords like that or pay to appear in directories. They’re highly unlikely to be the best or event near to it.

Too good to be true promises

A real warning sign when it comes to SEO agencies is when they begin to promise the delivery of certain things which appear too good to be true. They’re either lying, or they are going to try and use some sort of black hat methods of cheating the algorithm. That may deliver short-term success, but as we’ve explained, it will probably do more damage in the long-term.

SEO is about optimising your website and building out your content, there is no quick fix for everything to get you ranking number one for your keywords inside a week. There may well be some small quick wins in there but beware of anything that seems just too good.

If an SEO agency advertises or promotes itself to you as having the secret formula to get to the top of Google, then show them the door. There is no secret formula.

Ask for case studies and testimonials

We spoke earlier about making sure the SEO agency in mind has on-going success stories. These need to be legitimate, and any agency worth their salt will put these in to case studies with contact information for that happy customer. If they’re small, nameless sites that rank fort bizarre keywords, be careful and do your homework. Don’t be afraid to reach out to companies featured in case studies and ask for their experiences of said agency.

Any good SEO agency should be able to sit down with you to understand your business and what you want your website to deliver for you, and then subsequently explain what they will do and how they will do it. I.e. what they will deliver, and when.

Communication and reporting

Make sure you ask any SEO agency that you’re considering working with how they communicate updates to you, how regularly you should expect to hear from them and what format the reports will be delivered in. You could even ask them to show you some reports from another project.

Another great question to ask is ‘what will your SEO agency do when things don’t work?’. Just about every SEO agency or professional will have had a set-back at some point when something doesn’t quite work how they thought it would. So, what do they do next? What’s the back-up? How early do they identify issues?

Finally, resource

Last and certainly not least, ask the SEO agency to give you an idea of the resource required from your business to execute any actions. For example, if they advise a new content plan which you need to produce the content for, how much resource from your own team do you need to make available?

Also, what about their own resources? What does their team structure look like? It’s important to know this in case they get a couple of big clients and you’re suddenly relegated to the bottom of the priority list.

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