How to Choose an SEO Agency

Choosing An SEO Agency

Learning how to choose an SEO Agency can save you time, energy and a ton of money. Hiring the right SEO company should improve your websites’ visibility in search engines and ultimately provide a return on investment.  Because search engine optimization takes time, it can be months before you realize that you choose the wrong SEO firm and you could be facing disastrous results.

If you are in the market for a Digital Marketing partner to handle your SEO, we will cover what questions you should ask SEO candidates as well as what to avoid when choosing an SEO Agency.


Understanding Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization has to be professionally researched, well planned and technically executed.  Each SEO strategy should be implemented according to the unique business needs and the industry. While there are a lot of digital marketing agencies in the marketplace, not all keep up with the everchanging industry of search engine optimization. Even with the best intentions, many marketing companies don’t possess the skillset to compete in competitive Google searches. True SEO experts spend enormous resources on research, development, testing, case studies, marketing trends, understanding Google’s best practices, and emerging technologies.


The Wrong People Offering SEO Services

Everyone has gotten robocalls or a spammy email from companies offering shady SEO services. Anyone offering to handle your SEO campaign without understanding your companies value proposition should be a red flag. Many of them are simply scams you should avoid altogether. Anyone that promises you a guaranteed placement on page one of Google should be ignored.

It can be hard to tell the difference between a reputable SEO agency and a fraud.  Below are some common mistakes you won’t want to make.

Common Mistakes When Choosing an SEO Company

  1. Choosing “quick fix” SEO firms. Be careful in choosing an SEO agency that promises first-page placement or no.1 position for your website. Never choose an Agency that claims to have an SEO strategy without knowing your business.
  2. Don’t choose an SEO agency who develops your site using multiple iframes.
  3. Be careful of any SEO firm that uses hidden links and text.
  4. Be on the lookout for any SEO Agency that “spins” copy as opposed to publishing original content.
  5. Avoid any SEO Agency willing to work with a site that is not mobile friendly.
  6. Do not work with a digital marketing company that participating in suspicious linking schemes with sites from unrelated business or industries.
  7. Avoid any SEO firm who is buying numerous paid links from unknown sites.
  8. Don’t choose an SEO agency based off of unrealistic promises.
  9. Be wary of a digital marketing company that will let you change the content on an optimized page without consulting the SEO firm.
Black Hat SEO

Black Hat SEO is implementing SEO tactics that are outside of Google’s rules. In many instances, Black Hat SEO exploits a weakness in Google’s algorithm.

Hiring A Bad SEO Company

Choosing a bad SEO agency can also harm your brand and cause damages to your business by having your website to get deindexed. In some circles, this type of SEO is called Black Hat SEO. Issues from black-hat SEO can take years and tons of money to correct and can crush a small business. These bad actors in digital marketing follow unethical practices that violate search engine guidelines in manipulating results.

Some of these unethical practices in SEO are:

  • “Shadow” domains – the use of misleading redirects to channel users to a site.
  • “Doorway” pages – a page filled with keywords that are automatically created within the site.
  • Attempting to hide keywords on a page (this technique has been defunct since the inception of Google).
  • Working with fake WHOIS information or using a variety of aliases.
  • Obtaining traffic from counterfeit search engines or traffic generators as well as scumware or spyware.

The result of bad SEO practices can be very damaging to your website and your business. Either it will drag your site’s ranking down to the bottom or worse, remove your site from the search engines altogether. Unscroupouls SEO tactics can get your website penalized or de-indexed. For that reason, you have to be very careful in choosing the right SEO Agency to work with.


Finding a Good SEO Company

Finding a good, quality marketing partner, that makes honest predictions and delivers results can be a challenge. Developing a good Search Engine Optimization strategy is not an easy task and should not be underestimated. There are many misconceptions in choosing who to trust with your online visibility.

Some of the most common misconceptions when choosing an SEO Agency are:

  1. The best ones are the highest ranking SEO companies.
  2. To rank to the top of search engines, you only need SEO consulting.
  3. Results can be guaranteed.
  4. Any good SEO will do.
  5. All SEO prices are the same.
  6. All we need for SEO is a bunch of Citations with correct NAP.
  7. SEO should cost the same regardless of your business vertical and keyword needs.

Make sure that you don’t fall into any of the above traps and you will save yourself countless hours frustration and a lot of money.  It is best that you will educate yourself on what is SEO and how it works. Learning SEO basics will help you to have a better understanding of the processes and strategies used by the SEO gurus.

Asking the right questions of potential SEO firms is an important step in choosing a long term internet marketing partner.

In choosing an SEO company to work on your site, you should ask at least the following:
  • Ask for references
  • Get a sample of results of successful SERPS
  • Ask how many years they have been in business and what type of Internet Marketing experience do they have
  • Ask how many pages do they intend to optimize for a specific price
  • Do they offer website monitoring, backup, and maintenance?
  • What is there Social Media strategy
  • Ask about their strategies for traffic generation and conversion rate optimization
  • Ask them what is their content marketing strategy
  • Ask if they offer reports. What reports can be delivered? What systems will be used for reporting on success or failure?
  • Ask what Supporting Digital Marketing Services do they provide?

Some SEO agencies provide web-page or even sitewide SEO audits. Look at the quality of their free SEO audit to get an idea of what they consider important.

So what makes a good SEO company?

A Quality SEO agency is the one that:

  1. Can audit a huge website efficiently and effectively.
  2. Has the skills to improve Search Engine Positioning and website Domain SEO Metrics.
  3. Can provide in-depth keyword research and create a full digital marketing strategy.
  4. They should be able to explain advanced backlinking strategies such as guest posting.
  5. A good SEO agency should be able to define your internal linking strategy.
  6. They should be available after hours and offers good customer service.
  7. The best digital marketing agencies never promise results.
  8. Does the SEO Agency offer supporting services to assist in your SEO campaign?
  9. Any good SEO lives and breaths reporting so should be able to deliver detailed performance reports.

Although online reviews can be helpful, they also can be manipulated by a savvy online marketer. Take all reviews with a grain of salt.

Choosing The Best SEO Agency

Once you find good candidates, the selection process will follow. Check the company’s ability to rank a website, to target the right keywords, to measure success based on goals, and then assess the quality of SEO work and strategy.

  1. Check their ability to rank a website. Any reputable SEO company should rank themselves.  Search for keywords containing “SEO” and the city that they work in or their specific specialty such as SEO for real estate.
  2. Look for long term rankings. To check whether or not they can rank a website in the long term, ask for the company’s samples of client results for a period of at least 6 months and whether they have a traffic graph with an overtime upward trend. In some instances, Black Hat SEO firms will rank a site quickly only to eventually fall like a brick.
  3. Can they target keyword properly?  To check an SEOs ability to target keywords, ask for examples of keywords they have targeted and successfully ranked on page one of Google. Have them include search volumes with the keywords.
  4. What level of tools are they using?  Ask them what SEO tools do they use? How do they manage their projects? Do you get access to their project management system? Do they offer a Free SEO Audit?  If so, how detailed are the results?


The Penalties of Choosing the Wrong SEO Firm

You will want to familiarize yourself with the major Google algorithm updates and penalties.  Choosing the wrong company to implement your digital marketing strategy can cause big problems.

Some concerns you should be on the lookout for when choosing who to work with are:
  1. SEO Outsourcing – Outsourcing specific SEO tasks is not unusual in the world of digital marketing. But if a company extensively outsources almost everything, it can lead to issues on quality control.
  2. What is their primary link building strategy – Ask for their link building strategy. Do they write content and hope for backlinks? Do they offer PBNs? Do they use black-hat tactics?
  3. Original Content – How is their content created? Do they have consistent copywriters? Will they use spun content on your website?


Things to Consider When Evaluating an SEO Agency

  1. Are they a task-based service provider or long term partner?
  2. What is their plan and frequency of communication?
  3. Ask how the company measures success and how the Return of Investment will be benchmarked and forecast. The answer can tell whether the company you choose will stay with you for the long term or not.
  4. Ask for a communication plan that states the component, frequency, and extent of contact. This must align to how frequent and detailed the delivery of updates you want to be.
  5. Ask about their Project Management skills. Ask how the project will be managed and what are your role and access to the timelines, resources, duties, and objectives. This has to be interwoven to the communication plan for your satisfaction.
  6. What is the quality of their reporting and analytics? Are their reports branded to them?

Their SEO Toolset Can Tell You A lot

There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of tools used by a reputable SEO agency.  The type and quality of SEO tool can provide valuable insight into how a digital marketing company operates.  Are they only using free tools?  Have they invested heavily in tools and reporting?

Google Analytics and Google Search Console are bare minimums for any SEO company.  These tools are absolutely free to use and every SEO should be familiar with them.  Many of the larger SEO firms have invested in more elaborate paid tools such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, MOZ Pro and CORA to provide data and provide valuable insight on what it will take to rank.  As a general rule, most serious SEO agencies spend a lot of money on multiple tools to properly do their job.

What Reporting is the SEO Agency Using?

Your current and future decisions should be based on facts and credible statistics, not “I think we should try this”. Ask how the company will use analytics to optimize your site. Any professional company will be able to explain it well enough to implement any recommendations made. What other tools do they use for analytical and reporting purposes?

It is very important that you not only get quality SEO services from the company you choose but that you also feel comfortable working with them. They should be a long term business partner that shares in your success. The best SEO companies in the world provide a return on investment for their clients and can act as a resource for all Digital Marketing.

Also, we’ve discussed above that there are many fraudulent SEO companies everywhere that would be happy to take your money.  You have to be always on the lookout so as not to be abused by those scammers. If possible, ask to meet face to face. How do they sound on the phone? Can you call them within regular business hours and get a hold of the same person?

Keep in mind that nothing and nobody can give you the guarantee of getting your site into the #1 rank on Google results. Be careful of those SEO companies that send random emails, and those that do not give a clear explanation of how they will optimize your site. Choose wisely.