written by Derrick English Jr.
Plenty of businesses fail to take advantage of free organic web traffic due to not having the experience or knowledge on how to be found online. Working with an SEO agency can be what you need to help boost your business exposure on the web and ultimately take your brand to the next level. However, you shouldn’t settle for any SEO agency because they can do more harm than good.
Here is what you should look for when you want to find a reliable one that complements your marketing efforts to establish a strong online presence and brand recognition:
Why hire a reliable SEO agency
An SEO agency offers search engine optimization services to help your business improve your online presence amongst search engines. However, we insist that you take the time to choose a reliable and trustworthy one who will also focus on complementing your marketing efforts. This is crucial because a reliable SEO agency will also spend time understanding your business and what is needed to reach your goals and deliver lasting results.
Many content marketing and SEO agencies don’t focus on your needs and goals when they make promises of delivering more web traffic, better SEO rankings and more qualified leads. It’s important to make sure that you avoid any SEO agency that promises you results such as:
- Getting top SERP rankings in a short amount of time
- Doubling your website traffic
- Instant leads
- Hacking search engines with their secret sauce
- A specific number of backlinks
- Any sort of ROI projections
If these promises sound too good to be true, it’s because they plan to use black hat SEO practices that you will regret when the results aren’t what you expected and you get punished by Google resulting in damage that can take years to reverse. Also there are 200 Google SEO factors that comes into play with their algorithm and even if you improve on the top 7 SEO ranking factors, it could still take about 3 to 6 months before you see any positive results.
By choosing a reliable SEO agency they should be open to educate your team and be transparent with their work, issues and results while having you avoid losing any future web traffic or leads due to black hat SEO practices once their work is completed.A reliable SEO agency will spend time understanding your business and what is needed to reach your goals and deliver lasting results.Click To Tweet
How to find an SEO agency that complements your needs
Working with SEO is a long-term engagement, so you need to be sure that you have a good understanding of what SEO really is all about so that you can find a reliable one. Searching Google for the “best SEO agency”, or only for the biggest agency or a local agency that dabbles in every marketing service may not meet your expectations. Also SEO can be done anywhere in the world, so take the time to find one that will complement your needs by:
Getting recommendations from your professional network
Word of mouth has always been a key influencer in decision making. So speak with your professional network on any recommendations they have or know of an SEO agency that has a good reputation.
Getting recommendations from your industry insiders
We all have our trusted sources or attend industry conferences who can provide you with information. So ask them who they would recommend because that SEO agency probably has a better understanding of your industry.
Getting recommendations from specific social media groups
Once you get a list of agencies that you have found interesting from your search results, we recommend that you ask one of your social media groups for their feedback.
How to validate a potential SEO agency
When you reach this point, it’s good to figure out the goals you’re trying to achieve with SEO before reaching out to any potential agency. Once you have these goals, then here are ways to validate the SEO agency:
Check the quality of their online presence
A reliable SEO agency will practice what they will preach to you. Take the time to search for their name and see if it’s in one of the top results. Also validate other results that come up with their branded keyword search. Are these pages optimized and does the meta description make you want to learn more? And have they properly set up their Google My Business and social media pages correctly?
Check their reviews, case studies and references
Checking reviews, case studies and references is a great way to receive unbiased opinion about your potential choices. With this information you will have a better idea about an SEO agency’s capability and track record. A reliable one should gladly have you speak with one of their references so that you can learn more about the results delivered and the experience their client had working with them.
Review the knowledge that they add to the SEO community
SEO is a field with a sizeable learning curve that is changing constantly (thanks to the many Google algorithm changes each year) that may prevent your business from being found on Google. Thankfully, there is an SEO community, such as Search Engine Journal and Moz, that seeks to pass on their knowledge. The SEO agency you choose should have a blog and share their knowledge as well.
Ask them these questions to see if they fit your business culture
- What methods are you going to use and why do you use them? This is a great question to ask so that you can get a better understanding of the tools or methods an SEO agency will use to increase your online presence and help you reach your goals. Stay away, if they can’t explain what they will do or it sounds like one of the many black hat SEO practice that may do harm to your website.
- How does Google rank results, and does using Google Ads help my rankings? You should get good answers about how Google does things because they are constantly making changes. Most SEO agencies will stay updated through Google’s SEO Starter Guide or from the SEO community. You should never hear that paid advertisement will help your SEO ranking.
- How often will we communicate and what reports will you show me? It’s helpful to set communication expectations early on and understand what metrics they will use which should be tied to your overall goals.
- What resources will you have me commit to internally? You should know this before signing any contract because depending on the size of your organization, majority of changes may need you to allocate time from your marketing and IT team to work with the SEO agency to execute the changes needed.
- What is the price and package deals? You have your budget, so it’s good to know if their upfront and monthly services are in your price range or not. If they aren’t in your price range but you feel like you still want to work this SEO agency – maybe it’s better to hire them to educate one of your marketing staff.
- Is the work done in-house or outsourced? Some SEO agencies may outsource their work to freelancers or other agencies. While the agency should monitor the quality of the work, you should still consider whether you are comfortable with this approach.
- Can you conduct an SEO audit first? Another way to evaluate the work of an SEO agency is through an SEO audit. An SEO audit is an evaluation of your website’s online presence and foundational issues affecting its search visibility and performance, including what recommendations are needed to improve it. An SEO audit does cost, but it’s a quick way to see if this is the agency you want to partner with for the long-term.
Finding an SEO agency can be a tedious process and take 6 months before you see results. With a reliable one you can feel at ease that you have found a partner who is transparent and will work well with your team to ensure they will complement your marketing efforts. The positive ROI will deliver a strong online presence and brand recognition for your business.
What feedback would you give when choosing a reliable SEO agency? Share your thoughts in the comments below.