The popularity of SEO agencies is rising. Many businesses are now turning to these agencies to curate strategies that will propel their sites into the top spot of search engine rankings. But with so much choice out there, how do you know that you are choosing the right SEO agency to help your brand?
There are a few steps that all businesses can follow to help make this decision. From asking the right questions to being wary of things to avoid.
What Is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It is a process that involves increasing the visibility of your website so people who search for products/services relating to your business can find it. The overall aim is to help the website climb through popular search engine rankings to help them reach a higher position. This is achieved through the completion of several tasks such as optimising content around specific keywords and building backlinks. SEO focuses a lot on the content that is produced on your website, so a lot of SEO agencies will work to help you improve your content to a higher standard.
Why should it be important to your business
The need for SEO has risen significantly in the past couple of years. This is because more businesses are understanding the importance of digital and shifting their focus to online markets. According to Statistica, in 2021, as many as 97% of UK households made online purchases within the last 12 months. It became the highest online purchase penetration rate in the country over the past 11 years. So, in order for businesses to meet this demand, it is crucial that they adapt to an ever-growing digital market. With so much fierce competition out there, adopting a thorough SEO strategy is key for survival.
Questions to ask when speaking to SEO agencies
When it comes to choosing the right SEO agency for your business, there are some questions that you should consider asking. Luckily, to help get you started there is plenty of helpful information out there. For instance, Paul Morris, MD at Bristol SEO agency Superb Digital shared the following advice on the sort of questions you consider asking:
1. What experience do you have, and do you have it in my industry?
Industry experience is important when it comes to choosing your agency. For instance, if you are an online baking business, then you will want to go for an agency that has experience in the baking industry. You need to have the confidence that your agency has good knowledge of what works well within your industry so they can create and publish high-quality content that is relevant and will increase visibility. The agency doesn’t have to be the ultimate expert in your field, but some relevant experience is certainly necessary.
2. How much work do you do in-house vs outsource?
Asking this will help you understand how clear lines of communication will be with your agency. If they do most of their work in-house, you should be able to directly contact them to find out how they are progressing. Outsourced work can take longer for you to receive and, as a result, you may find it harder to find out how much progress is being made.
3. Will I have day to day contact with an account manager?
It is crucial that you are assigned a point of contact with an agency. If they don’t offer you this, then it is advised that you look elsewhere. You want the partnership between yourself and your agency to be a healthy one. This will be achieved through mutual respect for each other’s values. You should always be made to feel like a priority, and it will help you to understand what progress is being made and when.
4. What’s your SEO process?
When choosing your SEO agency, you aren’t just looking for excellent salespeople. You are looking for experts. You need to ask for the specifics as there are a lot of different approaches to SEO. Once you find out what their style is, you can then use this information to decide whether or not they will be a good partnership for your company.
5. Can I help?
It is important to ask this question as it opens up clear lines of communication from the start of your working relationship. Asking if you can be of any help will allow the agency to set expectations about what they need from you. This will work in your favour as you are less likely to be kept in the dark when it comes to the progress that they’re making.
6. What results can you achieve?
Every experienced SEO agency should be able to answer this question. What you are looking for is a holistic strategy and experienced execution. You need confidence that the agency knows how to balance their strategy to deliver the results that they say they can.
7. How long will it take?
Setting up an SEO strategy is a long process that can take a lot of time. However, it is important to ask this question so that you can gain insight into how to agency track and monitor progress. It helps to keep you in the loop about what is going on. An experienced agency should be able to give consistent time frames.
8. How do you select keywords?
Keyword research is a crucial part of SEO, and it takes a lot of effort to understand and select the relevant keywords. When asking this question, you want to hear the agency refer to user intent and try to find out what tools they use to determine keyword intent. This can help you to identify whether they are operating on outdated practices or not.
9. What content management systems do you work with?
Ideally, your agency will work with the system that powers your website. So, they have some knowledge of the right plugins to use. It’s also important that the agency is used to working with your platform so they can get the best from it, Such as dealing with common issues that hamper performance through to ensuring you have the best website structure.
10. What content will you create and how?
It is important to understand how an agency can enhance your content and the tools they need to achieve that. Your agency should be able to describe why they use these tools and what impact they can have. It is a red flag if your agency just recites a list of “great tools” that they use. Instead, get to the bottom of why they think they are great.
11. How do you build links?
Any agency can promise to find you hundreds of links within a matter of days. But the reality is, if you have hundreds of links that aren’t high quality and from a creditable site, then they aren’t going to be very effective. Asking them this question will allow you to identify whether they aim for relationship-building and quality, over quantity and expediency.
12. Do you do other forms of digital marketing?
There is no denying that SEO initiatives are a huge part of your overall marketing plan. So, it can help to ask this question to see if your agency is willing to collaborate with your other marketing teams. A good agency should have a basic plan for integrating its efforts with those of your existing marketing initiatives.
Avoid SEO agencies who
As well as asking the right questions, it is also important that you are aware of the things to avoid when choosing your agency. Take a look at the following.
1. Offer underpriced services
Underpriced services often reflect the quality that they provide. Cheaper services can cause irreversible damage to your business by damaging your reputation. Leaving your SEO in the hands of someone who is inexperienced can lead to bad link building which triggers an algorithmic penalty. You should always consider hiring an agency that is effective rather than cheap.
2. Offer overpriced services
Overpriced services can often come with a host of guarantees. The truth is an agency that tries to sell you the dream is not an agency to be trusted. Overpaying for a service does not mean it will be of higher quality. Instead, it’s important to ask the relevant questions and find out how they are going to help your SEO and don’t fall for guarantees. SEO is a long process and one that can be unpredictable at times due to changes in algorithms.
3. Doesn’t spend time doing to necessary research
Market research is essential in SEO as it helps you to understand the exact needs of your target audience so you can tailor your content to suit them. An agency that doesn’t prioritise research can fail to enhance the quality of your content. They are likely to struggle to understand your customer base which can be detrimental to your search ranking position as well as your revenue.
4. Offers guaranteed rankings within a week
This is a guaranteed red flag. An experienced agency will know that ranking increases take time and are not something that can happen overnight. A good SEO agency will give you a detailed plan on how they can help you increase your rankings instead of telling you what you want to hear. Instead of setting a date, they will give you timeframes to help you understand how work is progressing.
5. Offer to submit your website to hundreds of search engines
Submitting your website to hundreds of search engines can cost you a lot of money. The money spent on this will often be very unnecessary and it can also waste a lot of time, hindering progression. Instead of submitting your site to thousands of search engines, your agency should be focusing on the major search engines that generate the most traffic such as Google and Yahoo!
6. Want to build thousands of links to your website really quickly
Building too many links at a fast rate can be damaging to your company. If an agency can build thousands of links quickly, the chances are that most of them are of poor quality. An irrelevant or poor-quality link can damage your ranking and you may even fall victim to a penalty. You should opt for an agency that prioritises quality over quantity to help you avoid this.
7. Want to have copyright over SEO tactics or metadata used
Metadata used to play a crucial role in SEO. However, that has now changed. Meta descriptions are unlikely to increase your search ranking position and using meta keywords can actually make your SEO worse. Search engines like Bing now look at meta keywords as spam. Something that your business will certainly want to avoid so no penalties are incurred.
8. Claims to know someone at Google who can help
Google’s algorithm is constantly changing and claiming to know someone who works there will not get you very far. In fact, no SEO agency will know the exact requirements needed to earn a number one ranking. So, try not to be convinced by being told they have contacts at Google. The truth is, SEO is a long-term pl
SEO is a complicated process and one that requires a lot of expert knowledge to get right. Now, in order for businesses to survive and adapt to the digital market, it is crucial that they inherit a solid SEO strategy to increase their visibility and allow them to climb up through the ranks. With the help of the questions and advice listed above, your company can have confidence in choosing the right SEO agency for them. One that aligns with your company values and can deliver the results you are looking for. It is important to always compromise on the quality and effectiveness of services rather than the price.