How to Choose an SEO Agency: An Unbiased Guide

There is no shortage of SEO agencies and they are all ready and willing to compete for your business. With so many options out there, many businesses find it challenging to choose the right SEO agency for their needs. To simplify the decision-making process, we have created an unbiased guide to choosing an SEO agency. The guide is divided into three core categories: Pre-Work, The Interview, and Final Selection. By following our process not only will you select a great agency; you will have selected the right agency for your specific needs.  

1. Pre-Work

Before getting into contact with an agency ensure that you review the following two items. If the agency meets your requirements go ahead and ask for a consultation, proposal, or quote. If they do not tip the scales, stay clear, and keep searching.  

Don’t Underestimate First Impressions 

First impressions go a long way. When you visit the agency’s website how does their site look? Beyond design choices and personal opinions, try digging deeper.  

 Explore the quality of the website in its entirety. If you easily spot spelling mistakes, distorted images and general site errors its a strong indication that the agency does not value quality. How do you think the quality of their work will be on your account?   

Evaluate Trust Signals    

Upon completion of the first impression test, it’s time to look at other trust signals. Explore their website and find answers to the following questions: 

  • Are they a real business?  
  • Do they have a location or a clear demonstrated ability to manage a remote team?  
  • How long have they been in business?  
  • Do they have client work samples, testimonials/case studies?  

If the agency doesn’t have strong trust signals it may not necessarily mean that they aren’t capable, however, it does call into question how much experience they have in getting real results for their clients.    

Find the Perfect Match 

Most agencies are not a one-stop-shop for every type or size of business. They likely have a specific clientele that they work with. Some agencies base their decision to work with a business based on the size, industry, or minimum budget spend the client has.  

At Search Engine People we work on both B2B and B2C clients at Local, Regional, National, and Global levels. To be completely transparent, there are however some industries that we simply do not service.  

Most agencies have focus areas, industries, and/or service types. Do your homework, make sure you are the right fit for the agency, and they are the right fit for you before reaching out. Otherwise, you might be wasting your valuable time.  

2. The Interview  

Most agencies have a defined client discovery and proposal process. This gives you an early opportunity to evaluate them and their operations prior to receiving a proposal.    

Understanding the Process 

Once you reach out to an agency your evaluation of that agency should begin right away. How soon do they respond to you and who are you dealing with?  You are looking for any agency that has a reasonable response time and connects you with someone who can truly help.  

Once you speak with them what are the next steps? Do they take the time to research your business/industry or do they just send you a “package” quote? Finding an agency that takes the time to build a plan for you shows you upfront how much effort they’re willing to put in to win your business. In addition, it can be a strong indicator of how they will work on your account if you choose them as your agency of record.  

Prioritize Goal Setting 

Understanding your goals is imperative to success. What are your businesses SEO goals? Do you want better local results, rankings, traffic, leads, phone calls or a combination of all?  

The right agency will take the time to understand your goals prior to building a proposal for your business. The proposal will provide clear solutions and strategies for how the agency will help you succeed in meeting your goals. 

If the agency you are interviewing does not take the time to customize the proposal for your unique goals and business challenges prior to sending a proposal, then that proposal was simply not built for you.  

Reviewing the Final Proposal 

When you receive the final proposal from the agency take into consideration what it looks like. If you were anticipating a simple quote and the agency provides it, then that is satisfactory. However, you may have required a complete strategy and proposal alongside a quote. Ensuring that you get a deliverable that aligns with your goals and objectives is key. 

If the agency misses the mark on the proposal it may be an indication that they have misunderstood the project from the beginning. Were they really listening to your grievances and needs? 

As a follow up to receiving the proposal, how much effort does the agency put into walking you through the proposal? If the agency does not spend the time to help you fully understand the solutions and strategies they are proposing or at the very least offer to walk you through this, then it is fair to question how much they are interested in your business.  

3. Making the Final Selection 

Congratulations if you’ve made it this far. Now it is time to select the right agency (if one of them is suitable). At stage of the process you are likely evaluating all of the agencies on final details prior to signing the agreement.   

Transparent Pricing and Value 

We understand your business is working within a budget. A great agency will identify your budget early and build a specific plan for you while keeping your budget in consideration. However, if your budget is not sufficient for your goals, the agency will alert you early in the process and provide a rationale for why your budget may not be appropriate 

There are usually a number of reasons why an agency would be able to hit your budget or come in over/under the budget. It’s important to understand how they determine pricing for providing the services to meet your business goals.  

Be Weary of Guarantees 

The right agency will always guarantee the quality of the work they do for your business. However, a trustworthy agency will not guarantee results. In fact, Google actually cautions against companies from making similar claims.   

Review Google’s support document regarding the best questions to ask your SEO agency/consultant: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35291?hl=enKeep in mind, if an agency makes claims that sound too good to be true, they may very well be.    

Ask the Right Questions: Contract Terms 

Any reputable agency will require you to sign a contract. This is actually a good thing for you since it means they are legally bound to doing the work outlined. However, it is important that you fully understand the terms of the contract prior to signing. 

  • Are you required to commit for the long term?  
  • What happens if they are unable to get results?  
  • If you leave what happens with the work that they have completed to date?  

You never want to go into a legal agreement planning for the worst, but you should know what happens if the worst occurs. Be prepared and ask the right questions before signing on the dotted line.  

How to Choose an SEO Agency: The Final Word 

There you have it, folks! Use the above categories and questions to help establish the quality and fit of an agency with your business. Keep in mind that working with an SEO agency is a partnership. Be open and honest with them, establish accurate budgets and goals. Don’t rush into signing the contract, take your time, and find the right fit. If you follow our guide the odds are heavily in your favour. 

 

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