Deciding to hire an SEO agency is easy. The tricky part is to skim the chaff and find the best SEO agency that helps achieve your business goals and outcomes.
The global search engine optimization service providers’ industry is expected to grow from $63.19 billion in 2022 to $134.26 billion in 2026. It’s not surprising to see anyone with a computer become an entrepreneur today and start an agency offering their SEO services. But unfortunately, many don’t have the expertise to grow your business.
This article is to save you the heartache and money from choosing the wrong SEO agency. We list some basic but crucial questions that will help you see through the bells and whistles that agencies offer to bait you.
What is SEO And Why Is It Important For Your Business?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a critical digital marketing pillar for getting traffic organically from search engines.
However, it is difficult to get your company showing up at the top of the search engine’s front page listings. It takes time, effort, and patience to achieve the desired SEO results.
Most companies make the mistake of underestimating the importance of having a solid SEO strategy and action plan.
Some of the main SEO benefits include:
- Improves your site ranking on search engine results
- Generates organic web traffic without having to pay for each lead
- Improves brand awareness, loyalty and advocacy.
It helps make things easier for Google to find, index, analyze and rank your site. Not investing time in SEO activities can slow down your marketing efforts and hence, lead generation and revenue.
SEO is a broad umbrella that includes:
- SEO Audit
- Link building
- Keyword Research and Strategy
- SEO-optimized content marketing
- Local SEO
- Voice SEO
- Technical SEO
- eCommerce SEO
No one SEO professional can handle the above tasks. Any reputed agency should have a credible SEO team of experts in the respective domains.
If you have diverse SEO needs and scope of work, then you must consider an agency instead of hiring a freelancer or several freelancers. Hiring an agency will give you a holistic, streamlined, and effective SEO campaign instead of outsourcing the work to several freelancers and ending up with a disjointed campaign. At the worst, hiring several freelancers can hurt your marketing efforts and business.
What You Should Consider Before Hiring An SEO Agency
You should tread with caution before hiring any SEO agency. Just as an agency has the power to spike your business’ marketing efforts and revenues, it could also ruin your business’ reputation and hurt the bottom-line.
There are so many unfortunate stories of businesses crashing even before they take off, because of the wrong choice of an agency which scammed them.
While there will be many agencies that will promise the moon to you at a fraction of the cost, there could be a catch to it. Like adopting black-hat techniques or strategies that go against the platform’s guidelines, or getting tons of irrelevant traffic with badly researched keyword strategies.
Before you place your trust and hire any SEO agency, I want you to pause and reflect upon the following questions.
- Do You Know Your Goals and Outcomes?
No SEO agency can help you determine your goals and determined outcomes, however good it is.
There are many SEO agencies with distinct core strengths and specializations. If there is a mismatch in your goals and expectations and their expertise, then it’s a sheer waste of time, money, and effort.
If your goal is for your website to rank on the search engines’ 1st page for specific keywords relevant to your business that your target audience searches for, then you’ll need an agency whose core strengths include SEO-optimized content marketing. Your strategy will be to attract your audience and educate them with compelling content and pull them into your sales funnels.
Maybe your goal is to improve the domain authority of your site as you’re losing out ranking for your target keywords despite excellent content because your competitors have higher domain authority sites. You’ll need to find an agency whose core strengths include link building.
Maybe you’ve noticed that your organic traffic has dropped despite publishing more content. This could mean several problems including a bad robots.txt file or bloated site with duplicate content or something more serious. In that case, you’ll need an agency whose core strengths include technical SEO.
Maybe you’re a local business that caters only to local customers and needs leads/inquiries from certain locations. In that case, you’ll need an agency whose core strengths include local SEO.
Knowing your goals and outcomes will help you shortlist the relevant agencies tailored to your needs. Agencies will also prefer to work with clients who are looking specifically for their expertise as they know they can serve them better.
Based on your goals, desired results, and budget, you can choose an agency that has a specialist focus where it’s focused only on one or few aspects of SEO like technical SEO or a generalist focus where they offer a bouquet of SEO services.
- Does The Agency Have A Defined SEO Process?
A credible agency will have a unique and holistic SEO process that’s based on its vast experience with diverse clients. They have the experience of going through the ‘trial-and-error’ process in SEO to map out their process on what works to deliver the results every time.
At Webtage, one of the top Chicago Digital Marketing Companies, our process follows the below 9 unique steps:
- Business Understanding & Website Audit
2. Competitor Analysis, including:
- Backlink research
- Content research
- Keyword Focus
3. Keyword Research & Analysis
- Conversion-ready keyword research
- Monthly Search Volume
- Competition Index
- YoY changes
4. Tag Development & Optimization
- Title Optimization
- Description Optimization
- Heading Optimization
- Image Optimization
- Content Optimization
- Navigation Optimization
5. Technical SEO Analysis
- Add Sitemaps(XML & HTML)
- Add Robots.txt file
- Internal Linking to create topic clusters
- Structured Data set up correctly
- HTML & CSS Error Resolution
6.Blog / Article Content Creation
- High-quality, industry-standard content creation for backlinks and PR
7.Link Building/Promotional Strategies
- Domain & Page Authority strategies
- Percentage of Links Building Across Different Platforms Types, including:
- Guest article publication
- Local Listing /Business Listing Creation
- Directory Submissions
- Asset (presentation & video submissions)
- Q&A activities
- Spam Score policy
8.Tracking & Reporting
9. Google My Business profile Optimization
A good agency will not simply fix your SEO issues, but have a solid strategy and plan for growing your organic traffic in the long-term. They will have regular goals to achieve over a period to grow your SEO traffic and site every year.
An agency with a clear and proven SEO process with deep expertise across the various pillars of SEO will grow your business sustainably.
- Does The Agency Have A Knowledgeable And Experienced SEO Team?
There is a lot that happens in SEO and it takes specialized skills and in-depth expertise to be successful in this field.
Check the credentials of the SEO team of the agency. Most reputed agencies list their team members on their website with their expertise.
Ideally, the team should have experienced members with their unique strengths. They should have deep industry expertise after working with diverse clients.
They should not only be able to manage amidst Google’s ever-changing algorithms but also stay ahead of the curve by spotting the future trends and patterns.
An agency’s SEO team should also be able to give suggestions and recommendations for improvement, such as starting and growing on social channels, launching an optimized content marketing plan, starting a blog, improving the content on your website or the site speed.
Instead of viewing your SEO partner as being sales-driven, it would do you well to listen to the recommendations and opt for the suggested SEO services that should grow your business.
It should worry you if the team has no suggestions for improvements as it can tell poorly of their expertise, and it could also be a red flag of dubious SEO tactics to grow your business.
- Does The SEO Agency Produce High-Value Content?
A common mistake most SEO agencies make is to focus primarily on more mundane SEO-focused tasks, such as building backlinks. They neglect content, which is the major currency of SEO.
Search engines are getting so advanced and sophisticated that a lot of SEO tasks that were necessary a few years back are redundant today. Review the content on the agency’s website, and ask them for the content they’ve created for their client’s websites, social platforms, and other content assets. You should be able to gauge the worth of an SEO agency by the content they create.
At Webtage, our primary SEO focus has been on producing high-value content or content that’s original, well-researched, and resourceful for our clients’ target audience. This approach not only builds our clientele’s social repute but also boosts their brand identity with thought-leadership content and creates very valuable backlinks that help with their ongoing SEO efforts.
We are cognizant of the audience’s preferences and platform’s best practices to produce both long-form (above 1200 words) and short-form content (below 800-1200 words). Long-form content works best for in-depth blogs, how-to-guides, case studies, and white papers. Short-form content works well on all social platforms, snackable blogs, news articles, infographics, sales copies.
We have led several successful SEO and PR campaigns publishing high-quality content on high DA third-party sites and building the brand reputation of our clients.
- What Is Their Social Proof And Reputation?
A good agency will be proud to display their client portfolio and testimonials as social proof. They will also showcase their industry-specific thought leadership in the form of in-depth blogs, research papers, and social posts, which reveal how they are the top of the latest SEO trends. Have they published their findings in a report from their exclusive company research and surveys?
A reputed agency will be happy to share their list of clients, case studies, work samples, testimonials, and references. You can also check their online reviews, and especially the negative ones, to see if there are any red flags that you need to watch out for. Do they have the skills and experience to handle outreach, partnerships, and content promotion with journalists and publications?
Their website should also be a good indication of how they perform in the SEO domain. If they are doing their SEO well, they can undoubtedly do the same for your business. However, some agencies focus their complete attention on serving their clients, and so you can ask them specifically for their recent client work or a case study.
- What Is Their Company Culture Like?
While this might seem like an odd question to ask, it is crucial before you sign the final deal.
If you think about it, an agency is an extension of your business. What are your core business values and company culture? Check if you share a similar culture and values. This will make a fruitful, long-term relationship possible with them.
You would not want to work with agencies with a toxic culture and environment. Are they realistic and transparent in their communication process? Or do they set unrealistic expectations such as promising you #1 rankings in a record-breaking time? Are they too focused on vanity metrics instead of showing you monthly organic progress on deliverables and reasoning behind their strategy and results?
If they hide their SEO techniques under the pretext of confidentiality, you may have to think twice about proceeding ahead with them as the chances of a scam are high.
Why Consider Webtage For Your Business?
At Webtage, a Digital Marketing Agency in Naperville IL, we excel in delivering one of the most comprehensive, realistic, and proven SEO strategy plans with an excellent and consistent track record of implementing the SEO requirements to help our clients achieve their desired results.