4 Tips for Hiring the Right SEO Agency
Finding the best SEO agency for your business isn’t easy. There are numerous options available, and if there’s one thing most marketing agencies are good at, it’s making themselves look good.
If you’re not particularly familiar with the industry, finding the right agency can be even more frustrating. Much of the work done by SEO agencies is based on search engine algorithms, and no one knows their exact parameters. This leaves room for vague promises, wishy-washy progress updates, and hazy insights from unscrupulous firms.
Fortunately, there are plenty of agencies out there that can drive results for your business – you just have to find the right one. We’ve put together a list of four tips to help you do so.
1. Educate yourself about the process
You don’t need to understand everything about search engine optimization, but reading up on some basic principles of SEO can go a long way in keeping potential SEO agencies honest. At the very least, you won’t be overwhelmed by the inevitable marketing buzzwords and SEO acronyms when meeting with prospective agencies.
As a basic rule of thumb, keep an eye out for outlandish promises. Here are some common acquisition strategies from more dubious SEO agencies:
- Claiming insider knowledge of Google’s algorithm. No one has this.
- Promising quick, permanent results. “Quick” and “permanent” have absolutely no place in a conversation about SEO. All good agencies know SEO is a dynamic, long-term process that requires ongoing maintenance. Promises about speed and permanence are empty and lead to nothing but upset clients.
Write down any specific strategies agencies mention while pitching you, and be sure to do your research on them. If they mention any “black hat” SEO strategies, walk away. These are short-term strategies that will not get you the results you’re looking for, and they’re not used by legitimate firms.
2. Ask for proof of past performance and referrals
Would you hire a lawyer who has never won a case? Undergo surgery with a doctor who’s never successfully performed the procedure before? Neither would we, and the same sentiment holds true for SEO agencies.
Established, well-regarded SEO agencies will have multiple examples of past performance ready and waiting to wow potential clients. These can come in the form of raw data demonstrating a traffic increase of x%, as detailed case-studies on willing clients, or as online testimonials.
Asking for proof of past performance and results should be met with an instant “yes, we’d love to show you!” If there’s any hesitation or if they are unable to do so, save yourself a headache and find another agency.
Next, ask for referrals. While it’s great to hear of success from the agency that achieved it, it’s even better to hear of successful work directly from the clients it was done for.
Ask for referrals specifically within your industry. This ensures the agency has experience dealing with the needs of your business. Speaking with clients in the same industry also gives you the opportunity to get a clear understanding of exactly how they will benefit your business.
Reputable agencies will have a deep list of happy clients, and will never hesitate in encouraging you to reach out for performance confirmation. If you notice a lack of referrals, or so-so feedback from past clients, they may not be your best option.
3. Ask for pricing information early on
Any SEO agency worth its salt will have clear, up-front pricing information available for your business. They will be able to break down the cost in an easily accessible way, and will welcome questions throughout the process.
Ambiguous pricing information, promises to “get to that later,” and the inability to explain why X service costs $X are all clear indicators that the agency may not be worth your time.
Due to the nature of the industry, there really isn’t a “standard” rate to refer to. Instead of comparing numbers (unless the quoted price seems to be a real outlier), focus on measuring the level of transparency and consistency when talking price.
4. Shop around
Don’t feel like you need to sign a contract with the first agency you talk to. Many SEO agencies will be more than happy to give you a free quote, and you should take them up on it. Do this for a few firms at a time and compare the results.
If you feel pressured to enter into an agreement, take a step back. Great SEO agencies will be much more interested in making sure the pairing will be a good fit than pressuring you to buy on the spot.
Find the perfect SEO agency for your business!
Finding the best fit for your specific SEO needs is not a science, and it will take some trial and error. Thoroughly vetting potential agencies may be much more involved than you expected.
However, doing your due diligence is well worth it. There’s nothing worse than a strained working relationship and wasted money.
Start with these four tips, and do your research at the beginning of the process. You’ll be patting yourself on the back six months from now when your website is quickly climbing the search engine rankings thanks to your awesome SEO agency!
Posted in SEO In Depth