You understand the importance of and need for SEO as you grow your small business, but how do you choose the right agency for your needs?
Perhaps your web developer is particularly skilled in SEO, but you lack the bandwidth for good, SEO-focused content. Maybe you’re alright with SEO right now, but lack the capacity and know-how to scale as your business grows into new locations. Or possibly you’re completely lost altogether with everything SEO-related.
The SEO landscape is a massive, $65 million industry and you have your choice of SEO firms that fit your particular situation. But what sets apart the truly great SEO agencies from the rest? Once you find agencies that fit, how do you filter through the choices and know what attributes and aspects to focus on?
While it’s going to depend on your individual business and situation, there are a few aspects to look for no matter your situation:
- Data insights
- Deep experience
Let’s take a look at these five key aspects that you should require of your future SEO agency.
Any SEO agency should be able to match (and aid) your growth strategies. Whether you’re growing your business across multiple locations and into new markets or are simply trying to attract a larger customer base in your one location, your SEO agency needs to be able to keep up.
If you choose a company that focuses on startups and small businesses, will they be able to keep up when you grow into multiple locations? And if you’re just looking to increase traffic but not necessarily expand, can they scale to the right level and keep your SEO strategy fresh and consistent without overdoing it?
This aspect might seem a bit superfluous in this list, since naturally you’re looking for an affordable option. However, this is an important attribute to be aware of. In SEO, often affordability and quality are at odds with each other as firms sacrifice one in order to achieve the other.
Good, comprehensive SEO is difficult to achieve and requires intensive, skilled labor. This generally means the better the agency, the more expensive the service. However, exceptions exist and you can find firms that have it figured out and provide high-quality, low-cost SEO.
So don’t hire a cheap agency, thinking all SEO service providers are created equal and you’re getting a deal. And don’t hire an expensive one simply on the assumption that is the only way to get quality SEO. You can have your cake and eat it too.
Since the beginning, SEO has been a misunderstood and somewhat mysterious marketing practice. Many factors contribute to this misunderstanding:
- Not all SEO tactics are strictly marketing. Many technical SEO strategies require a webmaster or programmer and, as a result, involve a different vocabulary.
- SEO strategies change and evolve frequently as search engines continually improve their algorithms and improve search results. If you’re not in the industry, it can be difficult to keep up and understand which SEO practices are in and which are out.
- Some SEO tactics are considered black-hat despite their initially-successful results. As a result of their unscrupulous nature, SEO firms who employ black-hat techniques desire to keep those activities secret from the client.
- SEO, like many marketing activities, is difficult to measure in strict ROI terms.
As a result, SEO firms are often not as transparent as they could or should be, leaving clients in the dark to just trust that the “magic SEO” will propel them upward in the search engine results.
Yet, there’s no reason that your SEO firm should be anything but 100% transparent with you. The account manager should be patient and skilled in explaining SEO tactics in easy-to-understand terms. You should be able to see exactly where your money is going and to which activities. And your SEO firm should be engaged in white-hat SEO and have nothing to hide.
Look for an SEO firm that has clear a clear reporting dashboard that you have full access to and can view and ask questions of at any time.
4- Data insights
Together with reporting transparency, the best SEO firms have extensive data pools that they have built over years of working with many clients in multiple industries and geographies.
This data is a valuable asset and can help them discover trends within industries and locations, better understand what tactics are working and which should be retired, and even discover search engine algorithm changes before they’re announced.
In this manner, SEO firms can make real-time changes to your SEO strategies, mitigate any negative effects of algorithm changes, and keep you ahead of the competition.
5- Deep experience
The data insights are a result of vast experience. All businesses have to start somewhere and SEO firms are no different. But you need an SEO agency that has a deep wealth of experience that can give you first-class service and not experiment.
SEO is a relatively newer discipline, but the industry has some seasoned players. You can be confident with an SEO firm that has been around for a long time because you know they adapt well to industry changes. Search engine algorithms change remarkably fast and SEO firms go under when they lack the foresight to adapt and keep up.
So when you find an SEO firm that’s been around for a while and worked with clients in many industries and across geographies and even countries, you can be confident that they truly understand how the SEO industry works.
Of course you will consider many other factors as you choose which of the many SEO agencies is best for your company and your situation. But these five aspects are hallmarks of the best SEO firms. So keep an eye out for firms that can scale appropriately, are affordable and quality, are transparent, have a wealth of data insights, and have the experience to prove they know how to navigate the realm of SEO.
Naturally, I’d like to throw Boostability into the ring for your consideration. You can get a free website consultation here.