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SEO for Growth

How to Choose an SEO Agency in 6 Steps

If you don’t know how to improve your website’s rankings, it might be time to seek help from the experts. Discover how to choose the best SEO agency in six steps.

8 mins read time
Clara LoCricchio
Clara LoCricchio

Feb 15, 2024

 Today, increasing organic traffic and improving inbound marketing is all about SEO, or search engine optimization. When done right, your website will appear when your target audience searches for keywords related to your services, attracting more qualified traffic, converting more leads or users, and generating revenue.

Many brands don’t know where to start to improve their search performance. This is where an SEO agency can make all the difference. Not only will an SEO professional help to increase your traffic and conversion rates, but they’ll free up your time to focus on more important things — like managing your team and setting the marketing strategy for your company.

If you’re unsure how to find the right SEO agency for you, here are six tips to point you in the right direction.

In This Article:
1. Define Your Goals
2. Research SEO Agencies 
3. Set Up an SEO Consultation 
4. Ask The Right Questions 
5. Get to Know the Team 
6. Be Clear on the Agreement and Terms
SEO Agency Red Flags
Can I DIY My SEO? 
The Search For Your Perfect SEO Agency is Over

1. Define Your Goals

When you’re choosing an SEO agency, you have to start by figuring out what your company actually needs. Consider what you’re trying to achieve with SEO — is it to improve rankings for certain keywords, increase website visitors, or enhance your online presence in a specific market? Are you seeing traffic, but missing conversions? How many leads or new users do you want to generate from organic search? What about revenue? Defining your goals not only provides a direction for your SEO efforts but also helps in evaluating the effectiveness of the agency's work.

2. Research SEO Agencies 

There are plenty of SEO consulting services for you to choose from — and you’re going to want to do your research before you decide to partner with any of them. Start by exploring agencies that have a strong track record in your industry. Look for agencies with case studies, client testimonials, and a proven history of successful SEO performance. Consider these points while researching:

  • Look at Agency Portfolios: Review their past work to gauge their expertise and success in your industry or with similar business models.
  • Read Client Testimonials and Reviews: Client feedback can provide insights into the agency's reliability, responsiveness, and results.
  • Evaluate Their Online Presence: An agency’s own SEO performance can be a testament to their skills. Check how well they rank for key terms in their industry.

Grow Your SEO  The right SEO strategy can drive thousands of qualified leads to your site.  We've grown organic traffic by 400% and revenue by 300% for clients – see what  we can do for you.  Learn More

3. Set Up an SEO Consultation 

Once you have a shortlist, the next step is to arrange SEO consultations with these agencies. This is your opportunity to get a feel for their approach and expertise, as well as their rapport. During the consultation, pay attention to their understanding of your industry, the suggestions they offer, and their willingness to tailor strategies to your specific needs. Key points to consider:

  • Assess Their Understanding of Your Company: The agency should demonstrate a clear grasp of your goals and challenges. For example, a SaaS brand might want to partner with a SaaS SEO agency, rather than a run-of-the-mill consultancy. If you’re a large enterprise brand, you’ll want to be on the lookout for enterprise SEO agencies. 
  • Evaluate Their Communication Style: During the call, ensure their communication style aligns with your preferences and company culture. Are they hands-on? Do they work asynchronously? Either way, does it work well with the way you do things?
  • Gauge Their Passion and Creativity: Look for an agency that shows genuine enthusiasm and innovative ideas for your SEO strategy. A gold-star SEO agency should help move the needle when it comes to your company’s growth — not just get your website pages to appear on the SERP. 

4. Ask The Right Questions 

You can never ask too many questions when you’re deciding on an SEO consulting service. Before hiring, be sure that they can meet your needs and that you have a clear understanding of how they’ll do so. Here are some questions you should ask before committing to a partnership: 

  • What is your approach to developing an effective SEO strategy for a company in our industry?
  • How do you stay updated with the latest SEO trends and Google algorithm changes?
  • Can you share some success stories or case studies that highlight your achievements with past clients?
  • What metrics do you focus on to measure the success of SEO, and how are these communicated to clients?
  • How do you handle SEO challenges, like penalties or sudden drops in rankings?
  • Can you explain your link building strategy? How do you ensure the quality and relevance of backlinks?
  • What is your process for integrating SEO with other growth marketing channels and tactics such as content marketing and lead generation?
  • When will we start to see results?
  • What happens if I want to cancel?
  • Will I own the website if I leave the contract?
  • What will you need from us to be successful?
  • Do you offer multiple contract/budget options? If so, what are they?

5. Get to Know the Team 

Understanding who will be working on your SEO is as important as the agency itself. After all, a competent team with diverse skills can make a huge difference. Look for a team with a mix of skills, from technical SEO specialists to content strategists.

This is also a great opportunity to assess the communication skills of the team. Good communication is essential when choosing the right SEO consultant. Investing in an SEO strategy is a long-term commitment, and you need to know they’ll communicate with you effectively as the partnership grows. 

Establish how often you’ll communicate and how you’ll communicate if you hire them. It should be easy to reach them even while you’re in the consideration process. If you find yourself waiting long periods to hear back, or even if you’re just not on the same page as the agency on a personal level, it could be time to move on.

6. Be Clear on the Agreement and Terms

Before finalizing your decision, you have to establish the rules of engagement. Clear and transparent agreement terms can prevent future misunderstandings and lay the groundwork for your partnership. Focus on:

  • Service Scope: What exactly is included in the services, and are there any additional costs for extra services?
  • Contract Duration: How long is the contract, and what are the terms for renewal or cancellation?
  • Performance Metrics: Ensure there are agreed-upon KPIs for measuring the success of SEO efforts.

SEO Agency Red Flags

Knowing the signs of sketchy SEO consulting is incredibly important when you’re trying to choose the right service for your brand. Here are some not-so-obvious red flags to keep an eye out for: 

  • Black Hat SEO Tactics: Avoid agencies that use black hat SEO tactics like buying links or keyword stuffing. These can lead to penalties and hurt your long-term online reputation.
  • Overpromising Quick Fixes: Genuine SEO takes time. If an agency promises sky-high traffic in just a few days, it's likely they're not playing by the rules.
  • Mysterious Methods: Transparency is key in SEO. If an agency can't clearly explain its strategies, that's a concern.
  • One-Size-Fits-All Solutions: Your company deserves a tailored approach, not a generic strategy. A good agency understands and adapts to your unique needs and target audience.
  • Poor Communication: Early communication issues often signal future troubles. Responsive and clear interactions are a must.

Staying alert to these signs will help you avoid problematic agencies and partner with one that truly supports your goals. Remember, if an agency seems too good to be true (i.e. very cheap for what they’re saying they’ll deliver), it probably is. 

Can I DIY My SEO? 

While DIY SEO might seem like a cost-saving option, it can put a drain on your resources faster than you might think.

SEO is more than just inserting keywords or tweaking your website's layout; it requires a deep understanding of various factors, including technical SEO, content strategy, user experience, and more. Here's why professional SEO agencies are worth the up-front cost:

  • Expertise and Experience: SEO professionals are equipped with the latest knowledge and tools to effectively navigate the ever-changing SEO landscape.
  • Cost-Effective Resource Allocation: For the cost of hiring one in-house SEO expert, you can gain access to a team of specialists through an agency. This means you can benefit from the collective expertise of multiple professionals — each with their own unique skills and insights — for a more comprehensive approach to your SEO strategy.
  • Save Time: SEO can be incredibly time-consuming. By partnering with an agency, you free up valuable time to focus on running your company.
  • Better Results: Agencies have the skills to create strategies that yield long-term, sustainable results, something that can be challenging to achieve with a DIY approach.
  • Staying Ahead of the Curve: Professionals are always updating their strategies to stay ahead of the latest trends and algorithm changes, ensuring your SEO doesn’t fall behind.

While handling some SEO tasks yourself is doable, for a comprehensive strategy that delivers measurable results and a solid ROI, the value of an SEO agency is unmatched.

The Search For Your Perfect SEO Agency is Over

SEO is a fast-paced, high-stakes game that brands need to engage in if they want to compete. While many are tempted to tackle this on their own, there are plenty of reasons why working with a growth marketing agency may make sense for you.

The many benefits of an agency mean a better return on your investment in SEO. At First Page Strategy, our team of SEO experts lives up to the highest standards (and you'd better believe we meet all the criteria we listed above). With our help, you’ll keep up with your competition, qualified traffic to your site, and convert that traffic into customers — all at a fraction of the cost to hire an in-house SEO specialist.

Ready to elevate your SEO game? Explore our SEO services and discover how we can improve your organic search performance. 

 Grow Your SEO  The right SEO strategy can drive thousands of qualified leads to your site.  We've grown organic traffic by 400% and revenue by 300% for clients – see what  we can do for you.  Learn More

Clara LoCricchio

Clara is a creative copywriter and content strategist living in Nashville, TN. She loves working with companies to find their voice, define their brand, and translate their objectives into compelling stories that consumers can engage with. In her free time, you’ll probably find Clara at a yoga class or curled up with a good book (probably with one of her dogs on her lap).

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