Are you looking for an SEO Consultancy to manage your Search Engine Optimisation or just want to find out what is out there? There are a lot of agencies out there and some are better than others so it is important to consider which one is right for you and your marketing goals. To help we have created a list of tips that you can use when vetting potential agency partners to ensure you make the right choice.As we have already mentioned SEO agencies can vary in terms of their quality of service. That means a large number of brands and organizations have been burned at least once by an agency that has promised the world and delivered, well….less.What makes the process more difficult is that many agencies look and sound the same, like a Whitelabel for the service that has been provided, all you need to do is swap out the logo and branding and there you go.The key is to find one that has the level and depth of experience and expertise that you require for your project. However, it is important to mention that those agencies with a wealth of experience and expertise and likely to cost more. SEO isn’t a one-size-fits-all service, and getting into a bad-fit relationship can be costly in terms of both time and money.To help improve your decision-making process we have created a list of tips to ensure that you pick the right SEO agency for your business.
Develop and define your business goals
If you haven’t thought about your business goals, now is the time. All good SEO agencies should ask you within the discovery call what your goals are, whether those are based on ROI, conversions, other KPIs or whatever you define as success.It is fair not to know what is possible to expect from SEO without the agency helping with the research. However, what you can provide is a baseline ROI that you need in order to make this project a success.
Check what you have available Internally
If you are in a situation where you are looking for an SEO agency it is likely because you don’t have the internal SEO expertise or resources required to succeed in your SEO project. When you begin working with your SEO Agency there will be some level of collaboration or effort by you or your team to have a successful agency partnership. Remember that all Agency partnerships are just that, partnerships. Although the Agency will have the SEO knowledge and expertise no one knows your business as you do. Even if you have the agency do everything, you’ll need certain amounts of time and availability for approvals, feedback and performance reviews.In many cases, companies will keep the remaining areas of digital marketing such as PPC or CRO in-house or have other partners that specialise in those areas, unless you are using a full-service agency that can cover all of those specialisms in one place.
Know your budget
Even if you want to hear the cost from the agency first, knowing your budget will help you to qualify the pitches faster and filter the ideal agencies in terms of size, scope, and suitability.However, if you don’t have a budget in mind and are just looking for the right agency that’s okay too. It is often tied into the ROI ratio rather than a fixed number – viewing SEO as an investment rather than an expense line item.
Do your research
As you perform your initial outreach to different SEO and performance marketing agencies, be mindful that specific details matter.The most important of these is how capable they are of serving your company and its goals. Agencies can be pure generalists who take on any clients who have the money to pay them. With this in mind, it may be worth thinking about the details of the requirement to help narrow things a bit, like pricing minimums, focus on particular niches or industries, and audiences. The best way to save time and money is to find agencies that match the list of requirements that you have created and contact those. Are you looking for an eCommerce SEO specialist? Only contact them. Resist pitches from agencies that seem out of your league or not aligned with your market or goals. Great ways to do so include:
Looking at the mix of clients they work with currently.
Be prepared for the interview
The more organised you are in the questions you ask, the more objective your comparison can be at the end of the discovery process. Plan questions related to anything and everything important to you, whether that is tied to:
Their Specialism and focus
Ways you'd work together.
Be prepared if you have internal resources that will provide the content, development or other things that require a close working relationship.Additionally, know who you're working with and how your culture and the agency's culture align (or don't, as the case may be).In the end, you can be objective and go back to your finalist(s) with more profound details you're seeking to firm up.
Is it a good fit?
Do your personalities and cultures match? I don’t mean between the person pitching for the SEO Project and yourself. In the end, it will be your team and the agency's team who'll be working together in the trenches.Assess the fit between the teams. Learn about retention rates of employees and stability. Understand what level of transparency to expect. These aspects, plus agreement on the agency's approach, are critical.
Do a gut check
Does something sound too good to be true? Is something off? Is there a red flag somewhere?Always dig deeper. If you have concerns about how you match up with the agency, validate them. Ask the hard questions that will save you and the agency a lot of time down the line. Don't move forward if things are off or don't feel right.I am not saying you should cut your losses and call them quits. Maybe you're the first client they have had in your industry. In some cases, it can be great to go with someone new who may be more innovative rather than the one size fits all strategy everyone else in the industry uses.
Understand the process
Aside from a lack of resources and understanding of SEO strategy, communication and mismanaged expectations are among the most significant issues.Every client has a different level of SEO knowledge and awareness of SEO processes.Sometimes we (agency people) can take it for granted that not everyone knows the terms and acronyms used within SEO. We recently produced a blog on this subject to help our clients understand the acronyms and terms used in SEO. You can read it here in our SEO Glossary.Ask, and ask again if you're unclear on what the process is. What will this look like in terms of steps from contract to discovery, onboarding, research, strategy, optimisation, reporting, communication, timing, and result accountability?
Be clear on the agreement terms
Don't sign something that you haven't read! We shouldn’t have to keep saying this, but we have all been guilty. If you don't understand the agreement's contents, have a lawyer or advisor familiar with SEO look over it.Beware of long-term agreements, sticky cancellation clauses and work ownership claims. None of those things is wrong, but you want to know what you're getting into. Long-term might save you money and commitment from both sides of the relationship. SEO does take time. However, you want to avoid the following scenarios:
Having your work product, content, or properties to be held hostage.
Working together a couple of months in, only to get hit with change orders.
Assuming that other areas (such as content, dev updates, CRO, etc.) are covered and part of the agency's responsibility, only to find out they weren't.
Getting into a grey area where they weren't spelt out.
The ideal scenario is that the relationship is built on trust and accountability, where billings and value stay balanced over time.
Selecting the right fit SEO agency is difficult. It can be challenging to get through the clutter, find ways to assess the experience and expertise or map out your fit with them.More than that, it can lead to wasted time, energy and money. We don't want that for you.Hopefully, the tips we have shared will help you prepare for and think about the process in a detailed way to ensure that you find the right fit for you and succeed.