You are a business that has invested all of your efforts into developing a website that best represents your business online. You are happy with the result. But you know that if nobody can find you, then your website will be lost in cyberspace amongst the millions of other websites that are also on the internet. You need to be found, but you don’t quite know how. You know that you have the opportunity to use Google and quickly learn that you can appear by paying for Adwords, but then you realize that it will be a costly activity. You learn about SEO and how you can get traffic for free. Unfortunately, you also learn that it requires a lot of time and dedication to technical elements, content and off site promotional tasks. You want to seek the help of an expert, but don't know where to start.
Skilled SEO experts want to help web businesses succeed. When it comes to selecting your SEO partner, it is a cautious and strategic decision that you must make. Selecting the right SEO candidate or agency will help increase traffic to your site and ultimately produce a return on your investment. Choosing the wrong SEO partner may put your business in jeopardy by losing visibility and having to fork out for additional unexpected costs in order to get on the right track once again.
Below are five considerations to make before selecting an SEO agency to partner with for your digital marketing strategy.
See examples and proof of the work conducted in their previous engagements.
SEO is an industry where there are many that talk the talk, but few who walk the walk. The agency will pitch a good strategic plan, but it is the type of tactics employed, the execution of the tactics and the results produced by those tactics that will dictate the success that an SEO agency has had with their clients.
You will need to know what type of clients they have worked with. Doing SEO for large blue chip organisations that have millions of dollars worth of budget at their disposal and dedicated departments and teams to assist with the execution of the campaigns is vastly different from a company that has fewer than 5 staff and they require hands-on SEO management in order to have their SEO campaign succeed. Know the specialty of the agency and determine whether their niche skillset will be suited to your organization’s needs.
Do they practice white hat or black hat SEO?
You need to know as much about the company's practices as possible. Negligence won't save you from Google if you are penalized. All SEO companies should be practicing white hat SEO, however we know that when it comes to off site SEO practices, there are companies who are still using blog networks, paid link services and link spamming software such as Xrumer which will lead your site straight to the penalization judgment gates of Google. It is often cheaper to engage in these services, but once penalized, it is an expensive cost to remove the penalty and an even larger cost in the lost business opportunity caused from the loss of visibility. Ensure that you are working with an SEO agency who will work within Google's guidelines and that will work towards a long-term SEO strategy.
Agree upfront about the scope of work deliverables
Ensure that you receive regular report updates and transparency about the activities that's happening with your account. Ideally, get a dedicated account manager who will keep you up to date with all activities that's happening with Google and search engine updates, changes to your industry's search vertical, best methodologies and practices and that they can provide proof of the work conducted on your campaign.
Learn what is your SEO agency's USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
The majority of SEO agencies will have a similar SEO strategy. Onsite optimization of technical and content elements, and the offsite optimization elements through link building and web citations. The difference between the SEO agencies is in their strong execution areas. Prior to engaging in a campaign with the agency, find out the tactics that they use to implement the successful execution of their strategy. The agency may have existing relationships with media houses, they may have relationships with online influencers, they may be strong at developing shareable content. These are a few examples, but you need to know exactly what and how your agency is driving their SEO success.
Find out the capabilities or limitations of the agency that you are going to work with.
You don't want to have any unnecessary surprises with additional costs. There are some SEO agencies that only provide consulting services while there are others who are full service. You need to know exactly what you are getting. Find out if your agency has the capability to aid you with creative work, PR, pitching, content development, sales copy, content marketing. Are they an SEO specialist agency or do they offer cannibalization strategies with paid search marketing and attribution modeling across any cross digital marketing channels.
Ask them what they can and cannot do
Find out as much as you can about the engagement transparency. Get them to agree on the scope of work and campaign deliverables and make sure they know their Pandas from their Penguins and Hummingbirds. Hopefully, this has been able to help you with selecting an SEO agency that can partner with you for your future SEO success.