Finding an SEO company is easy. It’s choosing the right one that people tend to struggle with. Simply open up your email inbox in the morning and you’ll probably be met with at least one or two SEO pitches from someone who obviously can’t craft catchy and unique subject lines. 🤦♂️ If they’re that bad at email marketing, do you want them touching your SEO? With all the spammers offering ridiculously low-priced SEO services of questionable quality, it’s easy to find yourself wondering how to find an SEO company that’s any good.
Fortunately, you’re here and you’ve run across content written by a good SEO, but until you finish reading this you’ll just have to take me at my word. Today I’m going to teach you how to be a savvy shopper when it comes to SEO. You’ll be able to hold your agency’s feet to the fire and never get ripped off again after reading this post.
Step 1: Check Out Their Website
The first step in finding an SEO agency is to check out their website. Do they have a blog? Are there examples of successful campaigns? Can you find content on the latest industry news or best practices for SEO? If not, it’s time to move on. A great SEO company may not have the best SEO for their own site, but they should at least cover the bases. You can plug their URL into SEMrush or AHREFS to get a decent idea of their own website performance.
Why Wouldn’t They Build Their Own SEO Up?
You may find yourself wondering about my last statement that their own SEO may not be on point. After all, wouldn’t they want SEO leads themselves? Yes, but SEO is unsurprisingly a crowded niche, and ranking your own site isn’t always the fastest way for an agency to get new customers. In fact, LinkedIn prospecting outperforms anything else in this space, so a lack of investment in their own website shouldn’t necessarily steer you away from an SEO agency. Instead, see how their customers are performing.
Step 2: Find a Current Client
Reading reviews can definitely help you find an SEO company that did good work at one point or another, but how do you know they’re not just resting on their laurels? Zero in on their most recent 2-3 reviews and run those sites through SEO tools to measure their traffic and keyword rankings. Chances are, if the review was left in the last 2-3 months you will get a good idea of the effectiveness of their SEO services. If they have a lot of current customers and reviews, that’s even better.
Step 3: Check Out Their Team
The best SEO companies will be staffed with talented professionals who can do the work you need. Do a bit of research to figure out who the team members are, read up on their experience, and see if they have any certifications or noteworthy past clients. This is a great way to get an idea of the level of work that the agency can deliver and whether or not it’s up to your standards.
LinkedIn is probably the best place to do this sort of research because you can look up a company’s business page there and find links to the profiles of employees who work there. Scroll down to the bottom of their profile to take a look at endorsements and past projects individual employees have listed and you’ll get an idea of their level of talent and experience.
Step 4: Ask About Their Process
The best SEO services will have well-defined processes for delivering rapid results. Get a good understanding of how they approach a project and what their timeline looks like. You want to work with an SEO company that’s transparent about the way goals are reached and the tools used to drive results. Those are important questions to ask, but most SEO buyers skip them over and go straight to a question that often sabotages their own website:
‘When Are You Going to Start Actual Work?’
Yes, as I mentioned above speed is of the essence because movements in the search results take time. But that doesn’t mean you should rush your agency into production before a proper strategy has been decided on. SEO agencies that say they can start doing work on your website the very first week of service should be avoided at all costs. That’s a clear sign of a cookie-cutter approach to content and link-building. Good agencies take at least 2-3 weeks to understand competitors, keywords, and all the important details about your product or service.
‘What About Industry-Specific SEO Companies?’
Some agencies that start work on a website in week 1 might argue in their defense that they specialize in your industry and therefore, don’t need strategy. After all, they have experience working with your competitors in the past and ‘know the space’, right?
I tend to disagree because no two brands are alike and just because something works for businesses like yours, that doesn’t mean it will actually work for you. No two websites are alike either, and your competitors may be on WordPress while your CMS isn’t as SEO friendly. SEO companies that put client interests first will always start a campaign with strategy and goal setting. This ensures that the SEO efforts are tailored to the individual website and brand, rather than cobbling together a generic solution from previous successes.
This is especially true of industry-specific campaigns where there may be additional hurdles like local language search engine results or competition for market share with larger companies. So if an agency tries to sell you on their expertise in your niche, ask them about the duration of their strategy sessions and brainstorming with each new account. That will tell you if you’re getting cookie-cutter services or not.
Step 5: Find Out About Their Tech Stack
Apart from goal setting, there’s another essential part of SEO campaigns: technology and tools. Even the best strategists will fail without the right tools to measure performance and track progress. A good agency should be able to tell you what kinds of software they use for keyword research, optimization, content measurement, and competitor analysis. You need to pay close attention to this because SEO isn’t just about optimizing websites for search engines – it’s also about improving the user experience.
- Do they optimize for conversions?
- How are keywords tracked?
- Is there in-house developer staff familiar with your website CMS?
- Will their reports include Search Console data?
These are all very important questions to ask about SEO technology and tools. The answers will tell you a lot about the quality of their work and the results you can expect from them. Many companies focus only on traffic and keywords forgetting completely about the importance of optimizing the website experience for maximum conversions. Their web design team should be able to find their way around the backend of your website, and it’s critical that Google Search Console data is added to your reports.
Make sure you understand the technology and capabilities of your chosen SEO provider before signing up, especially when it comes to on-page SEO, content production, and the use of AI.
‘Does Your Company Use Any AI Content at All?’
This is a question you need to be asking your prospective agency, but maybe not for the reason you’re thinking. You need to check because business owners who refuse to embrace AI will get left in the dust wondering where all their traffic went. Look for an SEO team that’s always embracing new technology and working to be two steps ahead of Google.
‘What’s One Way You’re Working to Future-Proof Your SEO?’
For us it’s ramping up content production in the immediate term, while also planning for a future when things like link-building and E-EAT carry more weight with the search engines. This article (Yes, I write in Jasper!) and all the others like it that are being published with the assistance of AI tools will flood Google with new content in the coming months, forcing them to focus more on link signals, user behavior, and expertise within your niche. We have a team of dedicated staff keeping up with the latest algorithm updates and watching for changes that can help our clients stay ahead of their competition. Additionally, we have a number of tools designed specifically to future-proof SEO campaigns, such as AI-driven link analysis, keyword research, content optimization, on-page SEO, and more. These measures allow us to be prepared before Google makes a move.
Step 6: Identify the Company Focus
Go back to their website and take a closer look at the types of businesses they work with. An established service provider will have a few large brands in their roster of past clients. Even if you’re a small business, it’s a good sign that they are experienced enough to work with the big boys. This can give you an idea of their expertise and what they specialize in. Additionally, look at their list of services provided. See if they offer any solutions related to your industry or marketing goals specifically. Having this information on hand will help you determine if they are qualified to provide the service you’re looking for.
Step 7: Ask the SEO Company About Pricing
By now you’ve probably narrowed your search down to a few select agencies. Before you finish the process, you need to understand that there’s simply no such thing as a cheap SEO service. The sheer amount of work that goes into marketing a website through search engines necessitates a high price tag.
If you’re in the process of comparing pricing, it’s important to understand that prioritizing the quality of the work is key. Take the time to carefully assess the different services being offered by each company, and make sure you’re comparing like for like, rather than apples and oranges. It’s important to bear in mind that the cheapest option is not always the best choice, especially if the quality of work is sacrificed. So, make sure you seek multiple quotes from different service providers and assess the value that each one can offer. By doing this, you can make a more informed decision and get the best services within your budget.
Finally, it’s also important to consider the long-term impact that SEO can have on your business. Just like any other investment, you will be reaping the rewards for years to come if you make a wise choice when selecting an SEO agency. So don’t be tempted to choose the cheapest option without doing some research first. Your SEO results will get better over time and the ROI will improve as long as you follow Google’s guidelines and continually work to improve your website.
FAQs On Choosing an SEO Company
Now that you know what to look for thanks to our 7-step process for choosing an SEO company, it’s time to clear up any lingering questions you may still have. Let’s launch right into the most common one and explain some of the more common search engine optimization tasks marketing agencies perform for their clients.
What Does an SEO Company Do?
Just like any other marketing services company, an SEO agency will work to help you achieve your goals by studying and analyzing your competition and past performance data. Specific to SEO, there are many tactics in our arsenal to boost revenue through your website. They typically try to work in three key areas:
- Technical SEO
- Content Optimization
- Link Building
Additionally, they may also provide services such as traffic analysis and reporting, so that you can see how your performance compares to the competition. This is all in an effort to give you an extra edge in the search engine results pages.
Technical SEO is the process of optimizing your website for search engine crawlers. This includes aligning website content and structure with search engine algorithms along with ensuring the proper setup and functionality of metadata, like title tags, meta descriptions, and header tags. Adhering to these factors as a part of your SEO strategy positions your site to favor search engine rankings, enhancing visibility and eventually driving more organic traffic to your platform. A robust approach to SEO will enable you to stay ahead of the curve, a significant challenge in today’s digital landscape.
Content Optimization is a vital aspect of digital marketing. It involves creating pages and posts that are tailored to user expectations and offer an excellent user experience. The primary goal is to match the search intent of the user by delivering content that is useful, informative, and engaging. Keyword research and analysis are key elements of content optimization. By researching the most popular keywords related to a brand’s offerings, digital marketers can develop an effective strategy to deliver the most relevant content to their target audience. Ultimately, content optimization is about creating a seamless experience for the user. By providing the right content to the right audience, digital marketers can increase engagement, build brand loyalty, and drive conversions.
Link Building is a technique for increasing the number of incoming links from other websites to your own. It’s an essential component of search engine optimization since search engines take into account the number and quality of external links to your site when determining your page ranking. Link Building helps boost your website’s ranking by signaling to search engines that other websites consider it valuable enough to link back. As a result, it can help increase your website’s visibility and attract more traffic, translating into greater success for your online business.
How Much Should I Pay Someone for SEO?
Since you’re not just paying for time but also experience, it is best to pay an experienced SEO professional who has a good track record in the field. Depending on the scope of your project, you may choose to pay them hourly or by the project. Prices for freelancers can range from as low as $20/hr for entry-level work all the way up to $250/hr for more advanced and specialized tasks like outreach link building or on-page optimizations with tools like Surfer SEO and Page Optimizer Pro. SEO companies will typically charge a set fee or retainer, while a few still bill by the hour.
Hiring an agency for your SEO needs can give you several advantages over working with freelancers. One of the key advantages is that you can access a team with diverse skills and abilities that complement each other. This means you are getting a more comprehensive and professional service that can help you achieve your digital marketing goals.
Working with an experienced and reputable agency can also provide you with a range of resources and best practices that freelancers may not be able to offer. With years of experience in digital marketing and SEO, such agencies have undoubtedly honed their skills and can provide a more nuanced and strategic approach to optimizing your website.
While there aren’t any guarantees that your website’s keyword rankings will improve with SEO, having a plan in place can keep you on track toward achieving your desired results. The right SEO agency can help you develop and implement a customized strategy that aligns with your unique business objectives and marketing goals. Trusting experts with this important task can help you focus on running and growing your business while the agency takes care of the technical details that will help you rank higher in search engine results pages.
Expect to pay at least $4,000 per month for an eCommerce SEO campaign and for local SEO you might expect to pay at least $2,000 per month. This ensures you’re getting enough work done each month to stay one step ahead of the competition on Google.
Are There Affordable SEO Services for Small Businesses?
Yes! Hiring an agency can actually be an affordable option for your business because it can save you time and money in the long run. Just think of the sheer costs of tools you would need to do SEO yourself in-house. You’re going to be needing solutions for:
- Keyword research and tracking
- Link building and analysis
- Content writing and optimization
- Citation management
- Website hosting and maintenance
Those tools can add up to thousands of dollars each month and since an agency can spread those costs over many different projects, they will be more effective than you possibly could be within your budget doing the work in-house. Investing in SEO now means your business will continue to reap the rewards for many months and years to come. With the right approach, you can make sure your business remains competitive and successful in the long term.
What Does a Bad SEO Agency Look Like
If you’ve read this far you should be able to spot them a mile away, but a few additional tips on identifying a bad agency include:
Unclear & Vague Pricing – A good SEO agency should have clear and concise pricing listed on their website. If they try to keep it vague, it’s a red flag.
Low Quality Results – If the results you’re seeing are sub-par or non-existent (or if they take too long to show up), it may be best to steer clear.
Poor Communication – A lack of communication between you and the agency is a major red flag. If they don’t respond to your emails or calls promptly, it’s probably time to look elsewhere.
No Transparency – It’s important that an SEO agency provides complete transparency about their services and processes. If they’re not willing or able to do so, you can’t trust them with the success of your business.
In the end, if you have done your research and followed these seven steps, you will be in a much better place to make sure that your money is well-spent when it comes to hiring an SEO company. Knowing exactly what you should look for and understanding the different services they may offer, will help protect you from scammy agencies or those who are in it just for the short-term money boost. Those sort of ‘churn and burn’ companies give SEO a bad name, but you’re now better equipped than most customers to spot one from the beginning.
Arm yourself with knowledge and question anything that doesn’t feel quite right during the process. Before signing any contracts make sure to know the exact scope of work, minimum project duration, and understand the billing process.
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