So your looking for an SEO Agency to help with your SEO. Here’s the thing about search engine optimization: optimizing your website so it performs better in search engine results can be difficult and complex. Jon Rognerud at Entrepreneur maybe put it best when he described an SEO as a combination of copywriter, web designer, product designer, developer, marketer, advertiser, analyst, and entrepreneur.
Often, this causes folks to wash their hands of it all and hire an outside consultant.
And that’s okay.
What is definitely not okay, however, is to be hasty with selecting your SEO hire. If you’re on the lookout for a search consultant, here are a few things to look for along the way:
Look for experience and track record in an SEO Agency
When considering experience, don’t just think duration, even though that’s important, too. Take a look at their portfolio (any serious SEO shop will have one). What’s the variety like? Does their portfolio consist of a lot of similar sites, for clients in a single industry, maybe two? Or, does their portfolio show a variety of design features and structures for a mixture of companies from different trades? Because different kinds of sites, serving different purposes, require different SEO tactics, a rich portfolio suggests they h a more nuanced — less cookie-cutter — understanding of the SEO process.
Don’t forget to investigate client-retention rate, as well (see below, “Look for an SEO looking out for you.”)
Look for all the angles
CIO points out three different angles from which SEO is accomplished:
- Technical (structure of the site and its features)
- On-page (keywords, HTML labels, other design and meta-level features)
- Off-page (backlinks, social signals)
Very rarely will efforts in just one of these areas yield any significant results. An effective SEO agency will know how to leverage all of these site components to your site’s benefit.
Look for clear goals.
With something like SEO, which is so obscure to so many, it can be easy to find yourself in a situation where you’re not quite sure how to tell if their efforts are working or not. Andrew Shotland at Search Engine Land puts it this way:
A good search marketing consultant should be able to come up with some kind of tangible ROI metric that can relate to your own business.
Keep in mind, though, that your SEO cannot know this without your input and guidance. Different SEO end-games require different strategies. Trying to optimize an e-commerce site to rank higher? There might be more emphasis on user experience and site structure than on backlinking or social media. Trying to drive traffic to your company blog? The content will sit center stage there. Bottom-line is, though: there is no SEO template, and that’s because each site is trying to accomplish something slightly different.
Looking for an SEO who can clearly articulate to you the value of the work they are doing is also critical. It not only shores up your faith in their expertise and works to prevent future misunderstandings, but it also gives you the proper firepower when having to defend the expense of an SEO consultant to partners or superiors.
Look for an SEO who’s looking out for YOU.
The number one priority of any SEO agency worth their expense is servicing your website at the speed of the Internet. Effective SEO will almost always involve periodic if not frequent updates to your site’s content, working to identify potentially fruitful keyword strategies and updating the site’s meta-descriptions and page titles accordingly.
One way to gauge this is through looking into your prospect’s client-retention rate. Clients don’t stick with consultants that do not deliver results. By the same token, you can investigate yourself by trying to find a site you know the prospect has optimized, and experimenting with different search terms in order to determine where the site ranks in a set of results.
Look for ways to learn and participate.
The best way to guarantee SEO success, even if you plan to hire an SEO consultant, is to educate yourself on, at least, the basics of how SEO works. You’ve already started that process by reading this post! And, of course, there is a certain level where an SEO will keep their “trade secrets” close to the chest, so as not to become obsolete or not worth what they charge.
That said, it’s usually the most successful SEO agencies that work to educate and involve their clients in the SEO process. Melissa Fach, at Small Business Trends, explains,
Educated clients know they are not wasting their money with me and they know what to look for in regards to traffic, leads, and goals. By educating, we become a “team” and long-lasting working relationships are formed.
We’re proud to say that webFEAT complete meets all the criteria of a credible SEO Agency!
Hiring an SEO Consultant (Entrepreneur)
4 Tips for Hiring an SEO Firm (Forbes)
13 Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Local SEO Consultant (Search Engine Land)
3 Unique Things to Look for When Hiring an SEO Company (Small Business Trends)
7 Signs of a Reputable SEO Company (SEO Works)