SEO takes a lot of skill to implement effectively and when it comes to SEO agencies, there’s a lot of competition out there. There are a lot of good agencies with seasoned SEOs that have earned their stripes, however, unfortunately, as there’s no barrier to entry and anyone can set up an SEO agency or become an SEO there’s also a lot of poor performing agencies that’ll just take your money and deliver very little.
How do you choose a good SEO agency? By asking the right questions. Below are some important questions you should ask an SEO agency before you hire them. They’ll help you determine whether they’re the right person or company for your business.
1. Can you itemise the services?
This is essential. A good service agency won’t have any qualms about telling you what they intend to do to help your site perform. If they have suggested an Audit, you’ll need to determine the breakdown of that audit. Does it include a discovery call, benchmarking, keyword research, competitor research, on-site SEO, and a technical SEO review? After the audit, does the SEO agency implement the findings and what else do you get as part of the monthly services?
2. What kinds of SEO work do you offer?
Not all SEO Agencies will offer the same service. Some agencies will be focused on technical SEO, some content marketing, some link building, some UX. Speak to them and ask them what their strengths are.
Are you targeting multiple countries with different languages? If that’s the case you’d want to speak to an agency that has international SEO experience. Are you running a local SEO campaign or eCommerce SEO? If you are you might want to speak to an agency that has experience in these areas.
3. How do you work?
In our case, we start with a discovery call followed by an audit. The audit helps us benchmark, analyse, and plan a roadmap with actions and recommendations to implement over the following months. The audit lets us build the strategy, and list the tactics that we’ll need to implement as well as assign who on the team will be responsible for these tasks.
4. Who’s on the SEO team?
Who are you going to be dealing with? Is there an account manager and a project manager? What are their credentials? Will you be working with senior, seasoned professionals or junior staff?
5. How will you improve the business’s rankings?
If your agency really plans to move the needle for you, they’ll devise a serious strategy. Targeting keywords and building a few links may have a small, temporary impact, but you’ll need a more comprehensive approach to witness consistent results.
What does a well-devised strategy look like? They may, for instance, start with a site audit; look for a few quick wins, then start looking for the best keywords to target and go from there.
6. How will you optimise the content?
Content is essential, and your SEO agency should be able to enhance it. You need to know how the agency would go about optimising the content. Are they going to create a new content strategy for you or just work with existing content? Are they going to do a content gap analysis and make suggestions for you on what to cover?
7. How long will it take to see results?
Many of our clients have seen results within months, particularly if they are a well-established site that is clearly underperforming, as opposed to a new site that has little authority. New sites with little authority will take the longest time to improve.
8. Do you have any case studies or examples of results you’ve achieved?
Any serious SEO agency should be able to show examples of case studies and go through the strategy and tactics that they used to achieve the results they did.
9. How will you analyse and report on campaigns?
This is about knowing what to expect from your SEO agency. They’re likely to report on search traffic, keyword rankings and, importantly, conversions, so you can see what results they’re achieving for you. They’ll also give you a summary of the month’s activities and next month’s strategy. You’ll also want to know about how and when you get reports.
10. What platforms have you got experience working with?
Has your agency worked with the platform that your site is on? Do they have experience of Shopify, WordPress/WooCommerce, Magento, or will there be a learning curve for them to get up to speed.
11. What tools do you use?
Good agencies will have a toolbox of paid tools that they use, including tools such as Screaming Frog, OnCrawl, AWR and Ahrefs. SEO isn’t just about running tools and firing out reports. The tools will complement and enhance the skills and competency of the SEO.
12. How will you determine the success of a campaign?
Again, this is all about client expectations. If you’re spending a lot of money, but not seeing the results you expect, you’re going to experience some frustration. The agency should be clear about what success looks like and provide realistic timescales. Do they aim to increase traffic by a certain amount within a certain number of months? Are there certain keywords for which they want to rank higher? Is there a certain metric they wish to improve?
Note that almost any SEO will report on bounce rate, keywords and search traffic. If they discuss conversions and return on investment, this is a good sign. It shows they’re actively looking to apply SEO to build your business.
13. What do you know about my industry?
You want to have confidence that your agency really knows what they’re doing. If you run a travel business, ideally you’d want them to have experience of providing SEO services for businesses in that industry. They don’t necessarily have to be experts in travel — SEO is their jam — but they do have to understand what works within the industry. If they do work with other businesses in the industry, they’ll have assets and partnerships that could benefit your business, too.
14. Do you work with any of our competitors?
This is important to know. If they’re working with one of your competitors, the competitor(s) may be paying more and getting more services than the service provider is proposing to offer you. Note that the fact that they have competitors on the books means they’ll also have some experience of working within your industry, which is a good thing, so you’ll have to weigh up whether it’s in your interest or not to hire this agency.
There are plenty of other questions to consider like timeframes, availability, workload, contract length and costs.