In today’s competitive digital landscape, a robust online presence is indispensable for businesses aiming to stand out from the crowd. One of the foundational elements of this online presence is Search Engine Optimisation, commonly known as SEO. Implementing a successful SEO strategy is no trivial task, considering the ever-changing algorithms of search engines and the multifaceted nature of online marketing. This complexity has led many businesses to seek external expertise by hiring an SEO agency. The challenge, however, is locating an agency that not only talks the talk but walks the walk. In this comprehensive guide, we will endeavour to answer the question, “How do I find the right SEO agency?”, with key considerations and factors to consider when looking for a quality SEO agency you can work with to grow your business online presence.
Understanding the Importance of SEO
Why SEO Matters
SEO isn’t merely about climbing the search engine rankings; it’s an intricate strategy aimed at enhancing the user’s experience and building a relationship with your audience through valuable content. Improved ranking positions are just a beneficial by-product. SEO involves a plethora of activities, optimisations and ongoing work; including keyword research, link-building, content creation, on-page optimisation, and data analytics.
SEO today is more than adding keyword mentions in text content and creating backlinks in bulk. Search engine algorithms are complex and designed to allow established, reputable businesses to rank at the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
The Multi-Pronged Approach of SEO
A well-crafted SEO strategy is multi-faceted. Keyword research identifies what your target audience is looking for. Link-building provides your website with authority, while high-quality, fresh content, added on a regular basis, keeps visitors engaged. On-page optimisation ensures that your website is both user-friendly and search engine-friendly. Finally, continuous review of analytics data, helps in fine-tuning SEO strategies based on user behaviour and engagement metrics.
Setting Your Goals
Before beginning your search for the right SEO agency, it’s imperative to know what you want to achieve. Are you looking to increase website traffic? Do you want to improve conversion rates, increase sales, or perhaps elevate your brand’s visibility online? Setting explicit goals will not only help you gauge the effectiveness of your SEO campaign but also offer the agency a roadmap to meet or exceed your expectations.
Often, a client will not be aware of the best goals or approach. That’s why finding the right SEO agency is imperative; to advise and guide you on the best course of action, depending on your business activities.
Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to evaluate the success of your SEO efforts. Whether it’s the user click-through rate, on-page engagement rate, or conversion rate; having measurable metrics provides you with an objective basis for performance assessment.
While some SEO agencies may operate solely on ranking position changes, it’s important to ensure that the right SEO agency will help to develop a solid, long-term strategy that involves both increased traffic and with an added focus on conversions. Website traffic is a starting point, but generating enquiries and / or sales should be the ultimate goal for your website.
Researching Potential SEO Agencies
Methods of Search
- Referrals: One of the most reliable methods to find a credible SEO agency is through word-of-mouth. Business colleagues, partners, or other professional contacts can offer valuable recommendations based on personal experience. This could be a success story from working with a particular SEO agency in the past.
- Online Research: Utilise search engines to find top-ranked agencies. However, remember that just because an agency ranks high doesn’t mean they will be the perfect fit for your business. Take time to read through multiple review sources, such as an agency’s Google Business Profile and their Trustpilot profile, paying attention to reviews from companies that may operate in a similar space.
- Industry Events: Conferences, seminars, and other industry-related events provide an excellent opportunity to network and meet potential agencies. Most towns and cities will hold at least one business networking event on a regular basis.
- Directories: Websites like Clutch.co or agencies directories give you an extensive list of options complete with client reviews. Directories often separate listings by specialisms or their target client company size. This helps to narrow your search for the right SEO agency from the start.
Assessing Online Reviews and Testimonials
Public reviews and client testimonials can offer invaluable insights into an agency’s professionalism, expertise, and reliability. Sites like Trustpilot or Google Reviews often provide unbiased opinions from previous clients.
Remember to assess an SEO agency based on more than one review platform, to get a comprehensive overview of how long the business has been trading, any areas of expertise, and overall client satisfaction.
Initial Screening for the right SEO Agency
Experience and Expertise
Look at the number of years the agency has been operational, the industries they’ve worked in, and their areas of expertise. An SEO agency with a proven track record in the digital marketing industry is usually more reliable, experienced and will have considerably more case studies available than a startup.
Case Studies and Portfolio
Request case studies or a portfolio of their previous SEO work. This provides practical proof of their expertise and offers insight into their working style, creativity, and effectiveness. Numerous recent case studies will paint a better picture of ability and types of businesses they work with regularly.
Range of Services Offered
Some agencies are full-service digital marketing firms, offering everything from SEO to paid advertising and social media management. Others may specialise solely in SEO. Your choice may depend on whether you’re looking for an all-encompassing digital strategy or focussed SEO services.
While many agencies offer remote services, your business may benefit from close collaboration, making geographical location a factor. This is helpful when considering whether a regular or occasional face to face meeting might be beneficial for your business and SEO strategy.
Asking the Right Questions
Strategy and Approach
Enquire about the agency’s approach to SEO. They should be able to outline strategies tailored to your business objectives and industry requirements. Many reputable SEO agencies will offer an initial SEO audit and suggested strategy, to give you an idea of what a strategy would look like to achieve the goals you have for your business.
The SEO landscape is constantly changing. How does the agency keep itself updated with the latest industry trends and algorithm changes? Membership in industry bodies and ongoing staff training are good indicators as a starting point; but it’s also worth considering how their own website ranks for their key services. While this isn’t a deciding factor, most reputable agencies will generate much of their own business from a successful and current SEO strategy for their own website.
Reporting and Metrics
Discuss how performance of your SEO campaign will be measured and reported. Will they offer monthly reports? What metrics will be included? The right SEO agency should be upfront about reporting and data available, offering regular reports will explanations and guidance available when reviewing the reports.
Many agencies will provide an example report to ensure you are happy with the format of the report, what’s included and how easy it is to review and understand.
Understanding the terms and conditions can save you from future pitfalls. Make sure to clarify the duration of the contract, payment terms, and termination clauses. It’s worth considering whether you want to be bound by a lengthy contract when you are unfamiliar with the SEO agency’s skills and experience.
Consider an agency that works on a month by month, or rolling contract basis; giving you chance to review what has been achieved before committing to a longer contract.
Agencies might offer various pricing models including project-based pricing, hourly rates, or monthly retainers. Consider what best suits your budget and the scope of your project. The right SEO agency will be one that understands your goals, advertising budget and offers a pricing model that will work with your business style.
As SEO is an ongoing process, it’s common for SEO agencies to offer monthly SEO packages. This is generally considered a worthwhile approach, as there is no ‘quick fix’ for SEO, and continuous analysis, review and website changes are required.
Value for Money
Don’t automatically opt for the cheapest option. Assess what you are getting in return for your investment. Cheaper isn’t always better, especially if it means sacrificing quality or expertise. Value should be an important factor; what is being provided for the fee being paid. Often a better customer experience with frequent contact with experienced professionals is the sign of a good SEO agency, and worth the extra investment.
Proposal and Pitch
After initial consultations, agencies usually send a proposal, often followed by a meeting or call to discuss in further detail. The proposal should be customised to your business and provide a detailed strategy. Evaluate it critically, checking for unrealistic promises and ask as many questions as you feel is appropriate to fully understand the proposal and strategy.
Making the Decision
Consider all factors, including expertise, pricing, and your level of comfort with the agency. Trust your instincts but make sure your decision is also data-driven, taking time to fully consider all factors available.
Review and Reassess
Regularly evaluate the agency’s performance against the agreed-upon KPIs. Don’t hesitate to reevaluate the relationship if your expectations are not being met. If an agency isn’t providing value, guidance and notable ranking increases after a number of months, it may be worth reconsidering and looking for an alternative SEO agency.
How do I find the right SEO agency? : Conclusion
The selection of the right SEO agency is a consequential decision that can significantly influence your business’ online success. By meticulously researching, asking pivotal questions, and continuously monitoring performance, you can ensure that you are making an informed choice. Your due diligence now will lay the foundation for a fruitful long-term relationship with the right SEO agency, contributing to the sustainable growth of your online presence.