Choosing an SEO agency to help your business grow isn’t an easy task. With so many SEO agencies out there and many working in completely different ways, how do you know which to trust?
Don’t Believe Big Promises
We’ve heard far too many stories of clients being duped into working with agencies after they’ve promised results in a very short timescale. A promise of a page one ranking within a few weeks is unrealistic and screams shady tactics. If what you’re being promised sounds too good to be true, then odds are it is.
Understand Who They Currently Work With
Every company has those older case studies which they’re extremely proud of and want to tell the world and his wife (we have them too!), but make sure that the case studies that you’re seeing from your prospective SEO agency are recent. Recent case studies will help you to understand how they’re working today (rather than years ago) and the types of clients they’re working with now.
Check The Reviews
Google My Business reviews are always a great place to start, as the SEO agency can’t alter these or remove negative ones; whereas anything on your website you can control.
It’s also a suggestion to look at the GlassDoor reviews for the agency. These come directly from employees, rather than clients, but can help you to understand staff turnover and the culture you’re going to be a part of.
Finally, ask if you can speak with a current client: if the agency is proud of the results they’ve generated they’ll have no problems with this.
How Experienced Are The Team?
Most agencies are likely to have Junior team members as that’s how you train the next generation of SEOs, but find out the split between the Junior and Senior team members and just what their experience is. If everyone within the team has only ever worked at that agency, this could be a red flag as there’s limited experience between the team.
You may also come across agencies like ours where we’ve opted against a fancy office and instead put that financial resource into an experienced team, where every member has at least five years experience within the Digital Marketing industry.
Are They Easy To Contact?
Being able to easily get in touch with your day to day account manager is vital, so understand how the agency operates particularly when it comes to calls, turnaround times and outside of hours. You don’t want to be waiting a week for an important job to be done, as this could impact your business KPIs.
To give you an idea, we keep ours really simple – you can email, call, Skype and even Whatsapp us, with a 24 hours turnaround time (often it’s quicker).
Meet Your Account Manager
It’s really important that you build a good relationship with your day to day contact at the agency: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking to meet them before you sign on the dotted line!
This also ensures that your contact full understands your pain points and can brainstorm with you how they’re planning on resolving them, which will make your results much stronger.
What Are The Tactics?
You need to understand what your SEO Agency will be doing to improve your revenue. If they’re not willing to disclose the tactics used (particularly for outreach and link building), then this should be a red flag.
Your agency should be able to talk you through the first three months of your strategy. Generally the first month involves researching, auditing and optimising, with month two starting to look at content and outreach (although this can differ based on your KPIs).
Are They Transparent?
If an agency is dodging questions then it suggests they have something to hide. You should always have access to Google Analytics and Google Search Console for your website – we give client access to Data Studio too.
Your monthly reports should detail what the results of work completed are and how this has impacted your KPIs, as well as a clear outline of the next steps. If you’re constantly having to chase for data and an understanding of what your agency is doing, this isn’t a good sign.
What’s The Cost/Rates?
Most agencies work on an hourly rate or a day rate (we’re a day rate). It’s important you understand which your agency works on before signing as it could impact your work.
Day rates tend to be more flexible, whereas with hourly rates agencies tend to assign x amount of hours to each task. Hourly rates do give you a clear idea of what tasks are planned and how long is being spent on each, whereas day rates allow the agency to be more agile in their approach and you tend to find they deliver a deeper analysis.
Consider the monthly cost of your agency – higher cost does not always mean better quality work. At the same time fees that are extremely low should come with alarm bells. You’ll find that the average SEO Agency price will differ per location – naturally London agencies are more costly and those with city centre offices may charge a higher fee too. Know how much you want to spend beforehand, based on your margins and ROI.
We always recommend those looking for an SEO Agency speak with at least three different ones. This will give you a feel for the prices, the differing way each agency works and also which you feel you will have the best working relationship with. Most importantly, trust your gut.