How To Choose an SEO Agency?
Curious about how to choose an SEO agency?
Choosing the right SEO agency for you can be a tricky job, especially when you don’t have much background in SEO and haven’t engaged in such partnership previously. SEO is a complicated digital marketing strategy.
Just as it’s not easy for a non-pianist to distinguish between a virtuoso and an average graduate student pianist, it’s can be daunting to choose one agency out of so many out there without in-depth SEO knowledge. But there are some helpful tips you can refer to before making a decision.
Without further ado, here are the 5 simple tips you can refer to when choosing the SEO agency to work with.
1. Be specific about your goals and find an agency that can meet them
Ok, first of all, before progressing any further, you need to clearly define what you are trying to achieve by engaging with an SEO agency.
You may have a vague goal in mind such as “increasing organic traffic”, but this is not concrete enough. Depending on how your website is structured and how your business model works in your industry, you need to understand the organic traffic does not always lead to increased revenue.
Are you planning to boost sales by targeting and ranking for certain keywords? Are you having an issue with your website’s bounce rate ? Are you getting some organic traffic, but is the conversion rate too low? Are you targeting younger generations and trying to leverage social media and attract potential customers to your website through social media? Or, you’re just starting out and would need an advice from a professional on possible SEO strategies?
If you’re just starting out, you’ll need more guidance from the SEO experts, but if you know something about SEO and have a decent online presence already, it’s always recommended to set a concrete goal so that you can bring up that goal to the agency and ask whether they can help you fulfil it or not. If they claim they can, ask what methods they are proposing to use and why.
You might be tempted to go with the biggest agency possible for the reputation, but think McDonalds over home-made burgers. Biggest agencies managing thousands of clients will likely to have an automated “system” in place, which often times lack personal touch and care.
Systemising and automating a service-based business from operational perspective is very attractive and has a lot of advantages from the company management point of view, but you need to question yourself whether it would be beneficial to you and not the agency.
2. Ask for a website audit
The first thing to do is to simply ask the agency to do an audit of your website. They can either do it for free as a service or you may have to pay for it for a more comprehensive audit.
Audit basically shows the current SEO status of your website and it is always the first step in all SEO strategies. Check out the report and see what they have to say about the current SEO status. Ask about what can be improved and what strategies and tactics can be utilised to improve the current ranking.
In-depth and custom strategies will require some time for the agency to implement, however, they should at least be able to tell you one or two specific tactics they can use to improve the ranking just by looking at the audit result.
If they seem to be hesitating on giving concrete advice or solution and keep repeating a vague conceptual ideas without substance, doubt their capability.
3. Validate their website power
It is natural for a professional piano player to teach a student pianist, but does it make sense for a student to teach a professional player? No.
Before engaging with any SEO agency, you need to check their website and find out if they are actually practicing what they are preaching. There are many metrics and tools that can be used to identify the agency’s optimisation status and ranking, but a quick free way is to go to ahrefs and check their website’s DR(Domain Rating) and compare it with your own website’s DR.
DR stands for domain authority and it is basically a score that indicates how well a website is likely to rank. If the score is above 30, it can be deemed the website is doing a decent SEO. Of course, DR is just one of many metrics in determining the SEO status of a website and for a website like Wikipedia will have a DR over 90, which is top 1% worldwide, but it is also possible due to the nature of the website being a wiki page where anybody can come and contribute or even write about themselves. This creates millions of natural backlinks and therefore relatively higher DR compared to normal business websites.
To check the DR, simply click to here.
Type in your and their URL in the “Enter domain or URL” section and click “Check website authority”
ahrefs is one of the world’s most well-known SEO analysis tool and platform with a monthly traffic of almost 1 million people.
They are used by many professional digital marketers around the world and the data produced by their platform is deemed trustworthy.
If the agency’s DR is lower than 30 or lower than your website’s DR, you may consider looking into other agencies because you would probably want someone to help you with the SEO who is doing a better job than you – wouldn’t you?
4. Meet the SEO agency and ask the right questions.
Before you sign with a SEO agency, you need to meet and actually speak to them in person or at least do a video call and gather as much information as possible on their competency by asking the right questions.
Some of the questions you can ask would be:
- What are the industries that you’ve worked on ?
- What were the size of the companies that you worked on before ?
- Based on the website audit, what strategies should we take to achieve <your goal> ?
- Do you have any case studies you can share with the result?
SEO is all about personalisation. The strategies need to be suited and custom-made based on specific industries and specific business situations.
It is always a good idea to work with someone who has previous experience in your niche. Whether you’re a property law firm, dentist, SaaS company or e-commerce company, ask them about their previous experience in specific niche.
Each industry has certain jargons they use which can be helpful in ranking the websites. These seed keywords can be provided by yourself to the agency, but previous experience really helps in finding the relatively unknown, less competitive and profitable keyword variations for better ranking performance and to come up with niche-specific savvy tactics.
Agency’s may or may not able to provide case studies and the data depending on the type of contract they signed and whether their clients were big corporate, in which case there may be an NDA(Non-disclosure agreement) in place which might prohibit them from showing the rather sensitive data that includes revenues, but they should at least be able to give you an idea of the scale and outcome of the business and the strategies they chose to develop and why.
5. Does the SEO agency guarantee ranking?
Agency being confident is a good thing, but when they say they can “guarantee #1 ranking,” that’s when you need to be careful and start digging deeper.
If the guarantee is within a reasonable range such as ranking improvement from page 5 to page 3 within x amount of time, or guarantee as in working for free until the goal is reached, it can be extremely beneficial to you as they are putting the risk on themselves to make the campaign work out for you.
But, the important keyword here is “#1 spot guarantee.” No one, not even Google, can guarantee a spot and there is no special method or backdoor tactics to achieve such thing as Google search engine works strictly by the crawler (algorithm).
Look at what Google says about SEOs guaranteeing #1 spot:
Check out the agency’s contract terms and conditions to see if they have a guarantee policy. If they do, ask about what they specifically guarantee. Do they guarantee #1 spot? Improvement in ranking in x amount of time? and so on.
Once they say anything about guaranteeing #1 spot, it’s time to walk away.
Choosing an SEO agency that is perfect for you can be a daunting task especially when you don’t have a previous experience. Some say finding a business partner is like finding a husband/wife because you have to spend so much time communicating with them in regards to so many different aspects over the course of the relationship.
Do you have any experience working with SEO agency? How was the experience like? Or, are you looking for an SEO agency to work with and have additional questions?
Share your feedback in the comment section below.