Choosing the right agency for your business can mean the difference between the success and failure of your SEO efforts. Many agencies will claim their knowledge and experience of SEO far exceeds everyone else’s and that they’ll take you from page 100 to page one overnight. Do you believe them? How do you sort through the noise to find the agency that fits your niche and collaborates with your team?
It’s not a simple task and there’s no one way to do it. Here we take a look at some of the things you can do to give yourself the best chance of finding the right agency.
Clearly define your goals and budget
Before you pay an agency to do work for you, you need to decide what you want them to achieve. What are your goals? Ultimately, for most businesses, it will be more leads and more sales, but there are plenty of ways to achieve it. Do you just need huge volumes or visitors, or do you have a niche business that just needs to reach the right people? If you’re not sure, a good agency will help you to decide, but it’s a good idea to have at least an opinion on where you want to focus.
On the back of these goals, you should have an idea of how much you’re prepared to pay to meet them. It’s up to you whether you disclose the budget straightaway or keep your cards close to your chest but transparency from the start will ensure you’re both on the same page. A good agency will probably challenge you on the budget and be clear on to what extent your goals will be achievable.
Look at their experience
Any agency worth it’s salt will be able to back up its claims with real results. Often they’ll be readily displayed on their website, but it’s also worth asking for more should you require them. The case studies will also give you an idea of where their focus lies and how they’ve driven success for previous clients. Once you’ve got a shortlist of agencies it’s worth doing a bit more digging for reviews other people have written for the agency. Sites like Facebook, Trustpilot, Google My Business, Glassdoor and more will give you more unbiased opinions.
It’s also worth thinking about whether you want specialised sector experience. Also, the main tenants of SEO are consistent, you may benefit from an agency with expert knowledge of your business. Chad Harwood-Jones, founder and MD of travel SEO agency Ad-Rank Media says: “Partnering with agencies who already have relationships with top websites and influencers in your sector can be invaluable. It can be the difference between quick wins and having to wait a lot longer to see results.”
Talk to them
Once you’ve got a shortlist, make sure you have a conversation with them. This is the best way to gauge whether you think the agency will be a good fit. This shouldn’t be underestimated as you’ll be spending a lot of time with the team!
From a conversation, you’ll quickly get a feel for the way they work and where their focus lies as an agency. Before making your decision, it’s a good idea to meet them in person, or at least over a video call if a face-to-face meeting isn’t possible.
Focus on data and results
A good agency will always be talking about goals, objectives and results. Their case studies should include lots of data and ultimately focus on how they achieved their clients’ goals. This is important as you don’t want to spend money on an agency who looks busy and does a lot of work but ultimately can’t prove the impact.
Beware of black hats and bold claims
Be wary of any agency you feel is over-promising – this could be a sign of a lack of understanding and/or black-hat tactics, or downright lying! A reliable agency will be realistic about what they can achieve and the timescales in which they can achieve it. This doesn’t mean they’re being modest or pessimistic, it means they know how much work is involved in successful SEO and aren’t afraid to challenge you. This is a huge aspect of a trusted partner.
Trust your gut
Ultimately, you’ll meet lots of successful agencies you think will be able to do the job. The thing to do is to trust your gut and go with the one is the best fit for your business, team and budget. Starting with a more focused, short-term project can give you a chance to test how the agency works in reality. If you’re happy, talk to them about long-term goals. If not, you’ve not lost anything. Go through this process again with more experience and a better idea of what you’re after.
Good luck and happy searching!