SEO & SEM

How to Choose an SEO Agency

By Oier Gil, on 26 May 2020

If you want your brand's SEO strategy to be in good hands, you'll have to turn to experts. And often, that means hiring a specialized agency.

Your SEO agency should be a professional partner in which you have total confidence in. Remember, you are putting your brand's visibility and reputation into their hands. So how do you know who to trust?

We’ll explain the keys to understanding what an SEO agency can do for you and how to choose the best one for your company.

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How to Choose an SEO Agency

First of all: Why do you need to do SEO?

Hiring an SEO agency is not a decision that is made lightly. Not only can it be a significant investment, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, but SEO can have a direct impact on the authority and trust of your brands. There are many reasons why SEO is important:

  • SEO boosts your brand’s visibility. Today, Google and other search engines are the starting point when consumers conduct online research about a product or service. This means they are an essential source for users who might be interested in what your brand offers. If you manage to position yourself among the first search engine results, you'll be putting your brand in front of thousands of potential customers.
  • Increases the quality of your website. Creating a brand website is a significant investment of time and resources. Using proper SEO ensures you’ll generate more traffic to the website you worked so hard on. SEO also requires a lot of technical optimization, which will then improve your overall website overtime. Remember, Google’s main goal is to offer the best possible result to users. Therefore, the techniques that help with ranking are also aligned with improving user experience and the quality of your website.
  • It boosts your brand’s reputation, trust, and credibility. In general, users perceive a brand that is among the first Google search results as more relevant and authoritative on a topic, which contributes to better brand awareness.
  • It's a great long-term investment. Today's SEO work will translate into tomorrow's organic traffic. The sooner you start implementing your SEO plan, the sooner you will enjoy the benefits. SEO is not a quick fix, but instead a long-term investment into the positioning and credibility of your brand online.
  • The results are measurable. SEO provides concrete and measurable results, so it's easy to see what affects your strategy is having on your brand and correct course if necessary.
  • It will make you more profitable in the long run. Hiring an SEO agency may seem like a big investment, but if you value it in terms of how much it would cost you to train your team and devote resources to doing SEO in-house, or the benefits you're missing by not doing good SEO, you'll see that it can be a very cost-effective solution.What is an SEO Agency?

An SEO agency is a company that is dedicated to improving the ranking and visibility of its customers on search engines (mainly Google). To do this, the goal is to make your brand’s website appear among the first search results when users enter relevant search terms.

Web positioning depends on many factors, therefore, it is normal that within an SEO agency you will find professionals specialized in various areas such as:

  • Content creation: Blog articles, landing pages, product descriptions on an online store, and even YouTube videos from a branded channel must be properly optimized to improve positioning.
  • On Page SEO: Technical aspects of a website, such as titles and descriptions or the structure of pages. It also covers different functional aspects, such as ensuring a good website speed and avoiding duplicate URLs.
  • Off Page SEO: This focuses primarily on improving the reputation of a website by creating quality incoming links.
  • User Experience: It's always important to remember that while we want to conform to Google’s regulations, the actual users of your website are people, not robots. Therefore, SEO and UX should always go hand in hand.

What Does an SEO Agency Do?

So, how exactly does an SEO agency work to bring you results? Normally, your work is done in a series of steps:

  • Prepare an SEO briefing together. Communication is key between a client and SEO agency. Therefore, the first step of working with an SEO agency is to sit together and prepare a document that outlines the objectives, the strategy, and other goals of the partnership.
  • SEO Audit. In most cases, the brand already has its own website or other online content, so the first thing the agency will do is study how they are in terms of positioning and what gaps need to be covered. This study should also include an analysis of major competitors.
  • Preparation and execution of a positioning plan. With all this information, the SEO agency will be responsible for defining the actions to be carried out and then put them into action. It's critical to remember that SEO is an ongoing process: after initial tuning, it will be necessary to carry out a series of maintenance tasks.
  • Measurement and communication. The SEO agency will carry out a series of results reports and communicate regularly with the client. Often, there are meetings to analyze the results together and come up with next steps to continue success. 

How to Choose an SEO Agency

Unfortunately, not all companies that sell themselves as an "SEO agency" are able to offer a quality service. There are some key features you should look for in your chosen SEO agency, as well as some red flags that you should avoid.

What should I look for in my SEO agency?

  • Comprehensive services. As we’ve reviewed, SEO covers different aspects, some more technical and others more related to marketing and content. A good SEO agency should be able to cover all of these bases to provide a complete plan.
  • Clarity. Positioning techniques can become very complex, but a good SEO agency will be able to explain to the client what they are doing and why, so that it is easily understandable.
  • Fluid communication. The agency should always inform their client of what they are doing, send them periodic reports, and be available to resolve questions as they arise.
  • Customization. Every client’s situation and needs are unique, so "copy and paste" solutions do not work. The strategy and budget should always be customized to you.

What should I avoid at my SEO agency?

  • Exaggerated promises. No agency can guarantee Google's top position, and less so in a short amount of time. So if they do make any of these promises, your warning bell should be going off.
  • Charge for keywords. SEO "by keywords" does not work anymore. As search engines have evolved, they are more geared towards long phrases and general thematic searches. So look for agencies that offer a full service and not by keywords.
  • Dubious policies (especially linkbuilding). Many agencies make use of black hat SEO (unethical or banned positioning techniques), but in the long run this always ends up backfiring. In particular, be very careful with agencies that promise to generate free incoming links.
  • Prices are too low. Doing quality SEO takes time, knowledge, and resources. This means those cheap prices end up being expensive, if not done right.
  • Undemonstrable results. A good SEO agency should always be transparent with what you are doing. If not, run away!

Steps to hire an SEO agency for your company

Finally, let's look at what the fundamental steps would be to find the SEO agency you need and establish a fruitful long-term collaboration:

  • Define your needs. There are some general characteristics that define a good SEO agency, but, ultimately, each case is different. Some agencies are specialized in different industries, some work only in specific aspects of SEO, some are specialized for large or small companies... Decide what would work best for your brand and see if you can find an agency that would be a good fit. 
  • Be clear about what you want. A professional SEO agency will help you evaluate your situation and set specific objectives, but you always need to have a prior idea of what you are looking for. Why do you want to improve your Google positioning, and what is your ultimate goal?
  • Search and compare. Finally, it's time to choose! In addition to the things we have already discussed, I recommend taking a look at other professionals' opinions. Don’t be afraid to call the candidates on your shortlist to see how they communicate and what kind of solutions they can offer you. If everything goes well, your SEO agency will be your ally for many years, so don't rush this decision.

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Oier Gil

Social Media Strategist at Cyberclick