Before hiring an SEO company, you need to ask yourself, why you need to hire one and what are your goals and expectations.
When you hire an SEO agency, you need to make sure that both of you share the same interest.
It’s like building a partnership where both the partners have a:
- Common interest for a positive outcome like growing organic traffic, higher ranking in SERP, building topical authority and domain trust.
- Helping each other grow in organic SEO
- Untangling complex situations with each other
Search Engine optimization campaigns can bring success to your organization and grow its popularity and awareness. SEO is a critical element for a holistic search marketing strategy.
Google receives about 63,000 search queries every second. Each user sends a search query 3-4 times a day on average.
Hiring SEO professionals for your website can help your company to bridge the gap between you and your customers by increasing your visibility on search engines.
Over the past few years, SEO has gone through a lot of changes which forced companies to revise their digital marketing strategies over and over again.
The revised Google algorithms and regulations have not only made SEO a challenge for the companies, but an opportunity to grow as well.
What is SEO?
SEO, full form Search Engine Optimization, is a process of optimizing your website according to the search engine ranking factors.
SEO is considered by search engines when ranking a website/webpage for a particular keyword or topic.
When a search engine like Google ranks a website for a particular query, it crawls and indexes millions of sites to determine which result answers the query most appropriately.
In the best case scenario, when you hire any SEO service agency, your vision should be turning your website into a lead-generation machine by leveraging organic search.
To achieve what you expect, your website needs to be on top of the SERP, or at least within the top 5.
According to Google, the top 5 organic search results account for 67.60% of all the clicks.
To be at the top, you need to make sure that your website abides by the Google ranking factors.
How to Hire a Trusted SEO Agency?
Rather than hiring, consider this as building a new relationship. A mutual trust where you are comfortable with sharing your search engine marketing goals and the other person can give advice on how to work on them.
However, things aren’t always that flamboyant. So, when you are partnering with any SEO firms, there are 4 factors to consider. They are:
The first question that you should ask when hiring an SEO agency is- What deliverables are they providing?
Some of the most common SEO deliverables that reflects the best SEO services are:
- SEO campaign initiation process
- Competitive analysis
- Extensive keyword research
- On-page and off-page optimization
- Technical SEO
- Topical Authority Building
- User centric content creation and optimization
- Conversion rate optimization
- Leveraging search data from Google Search Console, Google Analytics and other third party analytics tools.
- Link building services
- Online reputation building
A responsive SEO campaign seeks for thought leadership. From content production to detailed analysis, a great SEO agency has specialized teams amongst whom the campaign responsibilities are split according to their expertise.
Generally, an SEO campaign consists of:
- Strategy: A great SEO campaign requires a solid content strategist who knows the industry’s keyword market. A flexible planner who sketches out a solid strategy after closely inspecting your rankings, goals, and conversion rate to figure out the deliverables needed for the campaign.
- Organization: We all need a Monica(FRIENDS reference) in our life to get things done. An organizer who will be responsible for managing the team’s workflow, deliverable pipeline, and constantly stay in touch with the client, to maintain a cordial relationship. In short, a client-pleaser with a “get things done” attitude.
- Writing: A writer who is familiar with the industry or who is ready to learn everything about the industry and become a subject-matter expert, so that your website content doesn’t sound generic or low quality.
- Editing: All the content must pass through an editor who would proofread the content and make sure the content matches the tone of the company.
- Designing: Custom visual content plays an extremely important part for improving a brand’s digital presence. It is believed that visual content has a good effect on your marketing strategy, which includes social media, SEO, video marketing, etc.
- Developing: A wizard who can resolve technical SEO errors and develop new web pages with a whip of their wand.
- Monitoring ROI and Attribution: An SEO analyst who will monitor the growth and progress of the campaign using Google Search Console, Analytics, and other in-house SEO tools. Along with their client, they build a system to track ROI and leads of the campaign and develop quarterly reports to monitor the success.
How well did the SEO service providers you are about to hire performed in their last campaign? What is the success rate of their campaign? Are they overpricing you for the deliverables?
These are a few questions you need to ask and analyze when opting for SEO services from an agency.
To analyze, you need to go through their published case studies and success stories featuring ROIs.
The next step is to check their blog to see if the company practices what they preach.
Go through the points that the company emphasized on their website. Especially the ones that will matter for your campaign such as conversion rates, lead generation, and ROI.
Glassdoor is one of the best places to learn about a company’s reputation and what their employees think about the organization’s culture.
Though the review doesn’t reflect their best practice, it gives a good overall idea about the company. Employee satisfaction shows that the entity maintains a healthy culture and working with them will be a good experience.
Next is market reputation and reach. Talk to the sales team and dive into the other aspects of the organization.
Becoming the leader in your own industry is the road to success. However, to be at the top of the internet, you need to pool in resources from outside your organization. SEO can be done across industries as well.
So, in short, you need to check client reports, onboarding process outlines, and ROI dashboard to analyze the success rate of the SEO agency.
The last puzzle to solve is to process the intangibles. Not everything will be on record, some needs to be experienced.
For the intangibles, you need trust your gut and follow a few tips, that are:
- Good listener and Questioner: You need to realize that no agency will know your business better than you. Nobody can understand your goals better than you, but there’s always scope to learn.
Questions must keep flowing and till both parties understand each other like thieves at a fair.
- Ability to learn from feedback: Nothing is more disappointing than hiring an SEO agency who doesn’t appreciate constructive criticism.
Things will wobble in the start, plans will fall down like a house of cards, but that shouldn’t stop the operation.
One of the best aspects of a good agency is how to appreciate feedback and improve/improvise/change their strategy.
- Internal organizations: A well organized company reflects the best practices of an organization. A well organized establishment knows how to ram through challenges to reach the final destination/goal.
Why Should You Hire an SEO Agency?
Once you realize the importance of SEO for your organization, the next thing you need to work on is whether you should hire a in-house SEO team or outsource it to an SEO company,
There’s a lot of advantages to hiring an in-house SEO team. However, sometimes companies don’t have the resources and structural support for an in-house SEO team.
Sometimes, despite having an in-house SEO team, companies hire an SEO experts for additional support.
Hiring an SEO service agency is incredibly cost effective. Apart from that, an opinion from someone outside the organization often helps us to get a better perspective.
Some of the top benefits of hiring an SEO agency are:
- Saves a lot of time
- Cost effective
- Work along with industry experts
- They are already aware of your industry and competitor
- Improved efficiency with quicker and better problem solving skills
- Aware of the latest SEO trends
Questions to Ask an SEO Agency Before Hiring
A great SEO agency will maintain an uninterrupted communication with their clients, keep them updated with the progress, provide them with valuable insights,
What is their way of approaching SEO for delivering results?
There are mainly five types of SEO that every effective SEO company considers, that are:
- Technical SEO
- ON-Page Optimization
- Outstanding Content Creation
- Good User experience
- Off-Page SEO
Technicality will not always lead you to success. You need someone who values the importance of UX optimizations along with the rest. There are several SEO agencies who will either provide only one type of SEO, but most of the time, this plan fails horribly.
To be at the top of the industry, you will require a more holistic SEO approach. So, make sure that the SEO agency you choose provides all the five facets of SEO.
How do they make strategies for different industries?
There is no one-size-fits-all SEO strategy. Every industry, every organization requires a tailor made SEO strategy that caters to your goals and business model.
Not every agency will have in-depth experience about your industry. But, that shouldn’t stop them from conducting their own research to learn about the industry to articulate an SEO strategy that fits your needs.
On what metrics do they measure success?
This is a trick question that will help you to sieve the quality from the quantity.
There are general success metrics that agencies follow to measure achievement. But, not always do they match the business’s success mindset.
Ranking at the top of the SERP shouldn’t be the only goal, and even after multiple efforts, your website may not rank at the top but that shouldn’t interfere with your success.
Though it is true that 53% of real-life users click on the first organic link, no agency can promise that you will be at the top.
If they do, stay away from them as they might be using black hat SEO which may get you to the top initially and bring in traffic. In the long run, these “secret” methods will severely affect your ranking and traffic and may even attract a hefty manual penalty or complete ban from SERP.
How long do they need to deliver results?
SEO takes time to show results but that shouldn’t take forever. A good agency will provide you with a tentative time frame.
Generally, within 6-months, you should start witnessing progress of your website.
If the time-frame is shorter than you expected, then ask them about their process. If it sounds legitimate, then process. If not, be aware as they might be using bad SEO techniques that will eventually result in a penalty.
How does SEO fit with your overall marketing strategy?
SEO should be a part of your overall marketing strategy. It goes hand-in-hand with your social media marketing, content marketing, and PR.
The agency you choose should be comfortable in collaborating with the rest of the teams, rather than working in isolation.
What tools do they use?
SEO requires a lot of competitive and search data analysis tools. A legitimate SEO service company will use various best-in-class industry specific tools to perform day-t0-day SEO operations. SEO tools can help to get a detailed analysis of:
- Conducting keyword research
- Monitor ranking
- Monitor backlinks
- Conducting competitor analysis
How do they report their progress and how often do they do it?
A trustable SEO company will have a record of the past reports. Ask them for the past reports to analyze their way and quality of reporting the results.
Stay clear of companies who cannot show a detailed report from their past campaigns.
Also, don’t forget to ask how often they will send their report. Whether they will be weekly, monthly, or quarterly.
What do they need from you to perform effectively?
It’s a team game and both parties need each other to ace the plan. An effective SEO agency should come up with a long list of questions for you.
They will study, analyze, and collect information about your industry goals, audience, competitors, KPIs.
A successful SEO campaign requires a collaborative endeavour.
How to Identify and Avoid Bad SEO Companies?
To be honest, the industry is filled with shady SEO companies claiming themselves as the best and the numbers are in thousands.
This agency doesn’t have the experience, SEO knowledge, or resources to deliver what they promise. They use fabricated and manipulative sales speeches as baits to fish clients.
However, with a little awareness, you will be able to spot the rotten tomato. Here are a few signs of a bad SEO agency that you should look out for.
⚠ Generic packages that fit all
Reality: Every successful SEO campaign requires a tailor made SEO strategy. There is no one-size-fits-all SEO strategy yet.
⚠ Cheaper than the rest
Reality: If the offer sounds too good to be true, take a step back and analyze how they can offer a cheaper rate then the rest of the agencies.
⚠ Promises “rank 1” for every individual pages
Reality: Top rank is not the only priority and a company promising top rank must have shady tactics that will harm you in the long run.
⚠ Google Partner
Reality: This is a term that all the shady agencies highlight. Google doesn’t give anyone a back door entrance to be at the top.
Cheap and dirty SEO tactics won’t help you to grow your business. The results will be short-term and will have a lasting negative impact on your business.
Bad agencies look out for clients with little to no knowledge about SEO. A good agency will help their customer to understand what SEO is and how it will benefit their website.
Before you set out to hire an SEO agency, you need to set your goals, get multiple bids, consult experts, and analyze their stories and case studies. That’s how you will be able to hire the best SEO agency for your website.