How Do I Find the Best SEO Agency to Beat Tough Competition?
Do I really need to hire an experienced SEO agency? It may seem like a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe how many C-suite execs come to us with this exact question.
Maybe you’re reading this now, wondering the same thing. Afterall, the cost of that SEO contract might feel like a hard pill to swallow. The problem is that in the SEO industry, experience is the very thing that counts.
Want sustainable results that actually impact your bottom line?
Read on to find out why an experienced SEO firm should be able to deliver just that with:
- Three distinguishing characteristics
- Nine aspects of a comprehensive strategy
- Two answers to your burning SEO questions
And, a free eBook download too!
What You Need to Know About Experienced SEO Agencies
Three Distinguishing Factors of a Great SEO Firm
Lots of people can say they “do SEO,” but only the SEO experts will be able to flex their muscles by way of showing results. Let’s start with three basic indicators of an experienced agency:
- Their goal will be to develop qualified traffic to your site and boost actual conversions. An experienced company will understand that this is their primary mission (not just to increase traffic in general or get more keywords to rank). And, more importantly, they’ll know exactly how to accomplish it.
- They’ll demonstrate a technical understanding of algorithms. This obviously includes being able to manage whatever Google’s current requirements are, but it also means they’ll be prepared for inevitable algorithm changes in the future. They should be able to explain a strategy for protecting your website and your SEO investment no matter what Google decides to do—because algorithm changes will affect you, and they’re not going away any time soon. In fact, Moz states that Google makes between 500-600 algorithm changes annually!
Tip: If you want a quick way to review the history of Google algorithm changes from 2000 to the present, check out this helpful tool from Moz.
- It will be obvious that years of SEO services experience have taught them what NOT to do! Thomas Edison, when asked what it was like to fail so many times before eventually inventing the lightbulb, famously said that it wasn’t failure—it was simply learning what not to do.
This is a timeless principle that rings true for professionals across all industries. We can speak to this firsthand. As we’ve worked to develop and perfect our skills in SEO, we’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way. But, each mistake is like a teacher that points us back to a better path.
Okay, back to some practical stuff. In addition to these three indicators, your SEO agency should also show that they are actively pursuing all nine of the following critical aspects of a solid SEO strategy.
Nine Factors of a Solid SEO Strategy
An experienced SEO agency will include all of the following steps/factors in their process. If any of these critical pieces are missing, consider that a red flag.
- Comprehensive Approach
There are a lot of companies out there that are good at one aspect of SEO, whether that be web, technical, backlinking, etc. But, you need a comprehensive approach, and you need to know that the agency has enough experience to truly be able to build well-rounded SEO campaigns for you.
- Set Up
In order for SEO to work at max capacity, your website needs to be airtight. That means everything from being properly connected to Google Analytics and Search Console to the technical aspects like schema code and robot TXT files. An experienced company would never skip any of this nerd level stuff because they’ll know it’s the “stuff” that’s going to allow you to fire on all cylinders.
- Clean Up
Position your website for success through reoptimization of title tags, URLs, and the restructuring of your content. Know what Google is looking for and then make sure you’re in a scenario where you are not making Google work hard to reward your site. Make it a no-brainer for those crawl bots.
- Goal Setting
Experienced SEO agencies know the value of setting goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) to guide decision making. They’ll look at current metrics, including traffic, leads, conversion rates, etc. so that they can develop an ROI model to actually achieve your goals.
- Content Marketing Strategy
Something as simple as developing an editorial calendar can take you from a reactive to proactive marketer. Google cares about quality, consistent content, so you should too. Being organized with writing and publishing can position you as a thought leader, help you develop backlinks, and contribute to your overall SEO success.
This one is pretty basic, and while it’s not the end-all-be-all of SEO anymore, it’s still an important factor. Your SEO firm should be helping you find high value and authoritative sites that are willing to link back to you.
- Local SEO
If applicable, optimize for local search by getting your listings set up. Remember the importance of consistency across name, address, and phone number (NAP).
- Video SEO
Video should play in too—be sure to find out how your SEO agency is optimizing it as part of your overall approach. According to Wordstream, 49% of marketers grow revenue faster if they’re using video in their strategy, with 51% of professionals naming it as the best content for ROI.
When it comes to analytics, we’re not just talking basic stuff. You need to know which specific keywords, pages, and critical activities on your site are leading to conversions. With this critical info, you can continue to A/B test and always be turning the dial in order to:
- Tweak and make improvements to your site
- Reoptimize content
- Move keywords forward consistently over time
- Hit your goals and KPIs
- Understand if your investment is worthwhile
Two of Your Most Pressing SEO Questions
We’ve been working in this industry for so long that we can actually read your mind. We know you’ve still got a couple of burning questions, so let’s go ahead and address them now.
1. Do I really even need an agency, or can my team do this in-house?
We often hear this question and the short answer is: you can! SEO is doable, depending on the bandwidth of your marketing team, but there are a few significant obstacles.
Here are some critical things an experienced SEO professional will be able to provide for you that many businesses (even with excellent marketing teams and the best intentions) really struggle to keep up with:
- Subject Area Expertise
Can your team handle the technical side, the set up, the accompanying coding work, the keyword research, the analytics, etc.?
- Competitive Content
In a competitive online marketplace, can your team produce optimized, original content that adds value and positions you as a thought leader?
- Consistency in Publishing
Will your team be able to keep up with the demanding publishing schedule that is required to really get good SEO results?
2. How will I know if my SEO provider is up to snuff?
The answer is ROI. And, in order to know whether you’re actually getting a good return on your investment with SEO, you have to first know what your metrics and goals are.
One great indicator that you’re working with a solid agency is if they spent their time on the front end actually doing the following three things:
- Analyzing your starting metrics
- Helping you set clear SEO goals
- Developing a roadmap to get you from your current position to achieving those goals
“SEO reports will more effectively tie initiatives to outcomes, going beyond measuring “traditional” SEO KPIs like keyword rankings and traffic to showing the impact of SEO on broader business goals.” — Ryan Vanvalin, Hubspot State of Marketing Report 2020
As Vanvalin from Hubspot said so well, you’ll know you have a great SEO agency if you can verify that their efforts are positively impacting your bottom line.
Here’s how the math plays out…
An experienced SEO agency will have proper thank you page tracking codes set up, so it shouldn’t be rocket science to trace conversions back to leads, and then leads back to particular forms.
As long as everything is set up correctly on the front end, the rest is just a little mathematics.
Since everything from initial consultations and products, to newsletter subscriptions and offer downloads can be attached to thank you forms with tracking codes, you should always know exactly where your traffic is coming from.
If a potential customer converts, then calculate the lifetime value of the new client and you’ve got some solid data to work with.
Once the overall new revenue gained from specific SEO efforts equals the cost on your contract with the SEO company, then your SEO efforts have officially paid for themselves!
Don’t let anyone tell you that SEO is too complex to boil the results down to provable points. That’s just not true.
While SEO can be complicated, knowing whether your company is actually benefiting from it or not, just isn’t. It’s pretty simple actually.
SEO Audit: Get an Outside Perspective
Want an honest assessment from a company with 20+ years of SEO experience? We offer an SEO audit and review as part of our Gap Assessment process. This report provides you with tons of helpful info with none of the pressure attached.
Getting an outside opinion on where your SEO stands can be exactly what you need to really answer the ultimate question:
Is my investment in SEO worth it?
Or, if you’re not working with a firm yet, but you’re about to hire an SEO agency, we recommend downloading our free eBook, 50 Questions to Ask an SEO Agency, and using it during any upcoming meetings you have with prospective agencies.
If the agency you’re talking with can’t provide you with really solid answers to these critical questions, don’t sign on the dotted line.
We developed this list of critical questions from our years of SEO experience as we’ve worked with clients like you to develop transparency in all of our communication and processes. We believe every business owner deserves to work with an SEO team that is just as honest as they are hard-working. And we recommend you don’t settle for anything less.