5 Tips for Choosing an SEO Agency
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Choosing an SEO agency isn’t easy, especially if you’re unfamiliar with all the jargon and technical talk.
Back in 2017, before I started a career in the digital marketing world, I didn’t have a clue what ‘SEO’ was.
I’d hear my friend who worked in the industry talk about it, and I’d just smile, nod politely, and wonder whether he was speaking a different language as he uttered confusing acronym after confusing acronym.
Fast forward to now, and I’m writing content about SEO pretty much every week – it looks like I picked it up eventually!
Because of my days as an SEO novice, I know how confusing it can be for someone on the outside to understand the lingo and what it’s all about.
So how do you choose the right SEO agency if you don’t understand the ins and outs of SEO?
Well, that’s why I’m here to help you out!
In this blog post, I’ve covered the main things you should consider when choosing an SEO agency.
Establish a baseline of your needs
Before doing anything, you should get a general idea of the areas of your SEO that need some TLC.
This will help you narrow down what type of services you need and the agencies that offer them.
Because SEO involves so many processes, some agencies might focus on one specific area, like building links or creating content. But others, like us at Damteq, will offer the full shebang of services.
Getting a general idea of how your website performs and some areas that need attention will paint a clearer picture of what type of agency you’ll need.
It will also help when making enquiries to SEO agencies if you can give them a quick run-down on what you’re looking to focus on.
This will help you get more accurate quotes and proposals and ensures that no stone is left unturned when optimising your website.
Below are some of the main areas you should check – but don’t worry if you don’t know how, as most agencies will conduct an audit to find areas of improvement for you.
Current Website Traffic
If it’s connected to your website, you can use tools like Google Analytics to see how many visitors you’re getting.
If your website isn’t getting a lot of ‘organic’ traffic, it’s an indicator that it isn’t ranking very high in search results.
Another thing to look at here is your bounce rate. This will be displayed as a percentage and represents the number of people visiting your website that leave without looking at other pages. If the percentage is high, it shows your website needs some work.
Site speed & Core Web Vitals
How quickly your website loads is really important to Google and other search engines.
If your entire website or specific pages struggle to load or are noticeably slow, it can affect your website’s ranking position.
Aside from just site speed, Core Web Vitals are also essential to look at.
This is something that Google introduced a while back, and it scores your website against a load of factors, including site speed, that Google uses to determine your position.
Technical SEO is a broad topic that refers to the structure and layout of your entire website, individual web pages, and written content.
Some of the main areas of technical SEO that need to be monitored and maintained on your website are:
- XML sitemaps
- 404 Pages
- Duplicate content
- Thin content
- Site structure
- Structured data
As you’d imagine from the name and the list above, these things get pretty technical. But, some areas are less technical and can be seen on the surface of your website.
A few areas of technical SEO you can quickly check yourself are:
Look at the website address on each page of your website. Is it short and sweet? Can you easily understand what the page is about?
If it seems too long or is just a long string of random numbers and letters, your URL structure needs some work.
Google and other search engines love websites that are full of information and valuable content. If your website seems a bit sparse on written content, then you probably won’t rank as highly as other sites.
Look through your website and see if any pages could do with some more text.
Search engines don’t like websites that repeat themselves. If some pages on your website repeat the same text and images, it could affect your SEO.
Read through some of the pages on your website, and note any big pieces of text that get repeated.
If any pages on your website result in a ‘404 Error’, the page or the link pointing to it is dead, and that’s bad news for your SEO.
To see if any of your web pages are ‘404-ing’, you can use free tools like Dead Link Checker to run a quick check.
Content Creation & Optimisation
Content plays a big part in optimising your website.
If you’re consistently adding new content to your website, for example, with a blog, you’re already halfway there!
The other half is ensuring that the new content and the rest of the content across your website are optimised for the right keywords, and after Google’s helpful content update, the content provides value and keeps your audience engaged.
This can be a time-consuming part of the SEO process, so if you haven’t got a process in place for this already, this is something you’ll need to mention to an SEO agency.
Building your domain authority – essentially a score of how trustworthy your website is – is a vital aspect of SEO.
Getting backlinks (links on other websites that point to yours) is the main way of improving your authority.
It’s good to know roughly how many backlinks you’ve got at the moment and the overall quality of these links because this can have a big impact on your SEO – either positive or negative.
A great free tool to use is the SEO Review Tools backlink checker.
Just pop your full website address into the tool and hit ‘Perform check’, and it’ll show you the links that point to your website, and the domain authority of the sites that the link comes from.
If your portfolio of backlinks needs reviewing, cleansing, or expanding, then this will be something you’ll need to raise with an agency as well.
Choosing an SEO agency that suits your needs
Once you’ve got a good idea of what aspect of your SEO needs improving, you can start making enquiries.
Start doing your research and compile a list of potential partners that offer the services that you need.
For example, if the structure of your website and on-page SEO needs looking at, focus on agencies that specialise in technical optimisations.
If you need to build up your domain authority, look at agencies that provide white-hat link-building services.
If your target audience is businesses rather than consumers, look for a B2B SEO agency – or vice versa.
Remember that you’ll want to find an agency that’s flexible too. If they only focus on one specific area of SEO, like link building, you won’t be able to expand your strategy if you want to look at technical optimisations, for example.
Choosing an SEO agency that offers a range of services will mean you can tweak your strategy or expand it if you need to, without having to go through the whole rigamarole of employing multiple agencies at once.
Beware of guarantees
Let me just premise this point by saying that not all guarantees in SEO are wrong, but guarantees for specific ranking positions or traffic figures certainly are.
If an agency guarantees they can get you to position 1 on Google in ‘X’ amount of time, or they’ll get you 10,000 website visitors a month, then run for the hills!
No one can precisely predict your SEO results. No one.
So, agencies that make promises like this are just whispering sweet nothings in your ear, hoping you’ll fork over your hard-earned cash.
On the contrary, there are some great agencies out there that will offer meaningful guarantees, like:
- Promising to follow search engine guidelines and best practices
- Promising to uphold high standards of work
- Guaranteeing 100% white-hat SEO strategies
- Monthly reports showing the progress of your SEO
Always be vigilant when it comes to guarantees!
If it’s results they’re guaranteeing, steer clear. But if it’s honesty, consistency, and good industry practice they’re promising, then it’s a good sign.
Look for honesty and transparency
There are a lot of dodgy dealers and cowboys out there, choose an SEO agency that is honest with you from the start!
The marketing industry is pretty unregulated, and some badly-run agencies sadly take advantage of that by following bad practices that end up with you getting stung.
Going with an agency that offers complete transparency and is open and honest about their process and the results you’re likely to see, means you’re far more likely to see worthwhile results and a return on your investment.
In SEO, this will look like this:
- Monthly reporting of keyword position changes – whether it’s good or bad
- Monthly reports of site performance – traffic, site speed, domain authority
- Weekly communication on project focuses and strategy
- Setting clear and realistic targets and timeframes for when you might start to see results
- Being honest about content quality or if any aspect of your site needs improving
- Keeping you in the loop with any changes in strategy
Set realistic expectations
This last point isn’t about agencies; it’s about your expectations.
No agency in the world can flip your SEO around in a matter of weeks, nor will they be able to tell you precisely when you’ll start to see results and how substantial the results will be.
Always remember that SEO is a long-term rather than a short-term process, so consistency and patience are vital if you want to see results.
You need someone consistently planning, implementing, and testing optimisations to gain traction – so make sure you give enough time for the agency to build consistency.
If you pull the plug because it’s been two months, and you haven’t seen results, then your investment into the strategy would have been wasted.
We typically tell our clients that they should start to see results within 3 – 6 months. But, depending on the sector that you’re in, the keywords you’re trying to rank for, and how serious the competition is, this can vary.
Remember, you’ll need to allocate enough resources to your SEO for it to work!
Fancy a chat with one of our digital specialists?
If you’re still not sure where to start with choosing an SEO agency, then get in touch!
One of our in-house digital specialists will jump on a call with you to find out more about you, the current state of your website’s optimisation and performance, and tell you how we can help supercharge your SEO.
Go ahead and book a discovery call today!