There was a time when small business owners could design a website on their own. A basic, no-frills site could reach customers, promote a brand and sell products. Customers didn’t expect much from a website, competition online was sparse, and almost nobody relied on a website as their main way to grow a business.
Today, almost the exact opposite is true. While most people can use WordPress or a similar platform to create a basic site, that site will almost certainly be crushed by the competition. In order to succeed online, your business needs to partner with an SEO agency.
Maintaining a strong web presence involves both technical and creative knowledge. New content needs to be published on a regular basis. User and sales data needs to be constantly analyzed. An SEO campaign is an on-going, fluid process which requires the full-time services of a team.
When looking for an SEO agency, business owners have a ton of options. SEO agencies can range from an office filled with hundreds of specialists or a single SEO pro who works from home.
There’s no one “best” type of SEO agency. Instead, you want to find the agency which best suits your specific needs. Before partnering up with an SEO agency, here’s what you want to consider:
The Length of the Project
Most businesses will get the best results by developing a long-term SEO plan. You’ll work with the same agency month and month, year and year. Most SEO strategies take months to develop. So you’ll want to stick with the same agency for as long as possible. They’ll be able to develop and fine-tune your SEO strategy over time.
Hiring an SEO agency for a short-term project is rare, but sometimes a smart option. If only one specific aspect of your site needs improvement, you might want to hire an agency which specializes in what you need.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to stick with just one agency for the bulk of your internet marketing. An SEO campaign uses many inter-dependent strategies. Letting one SEO agency manage all of your strategies will deliver the best, most cohesive results.
Cost of Services
SEO pricing can be tricky. As discussed above, the best type of SEO is one geared towards long-term success. Unfortunately, an SEO campaign can take many months to show results.
Don’t concentrate on the monthly expenses. Instead, determine what you’ll be paying by the end of six months or even a year. Is it realistic that your brand’s SEO campaign will increase traffic and sales to justify your expenses?
The cheapest agency isn’t always the best. Lots of SEO know-how is based on the skill of the people implementing the techniques. Underpaid pros are likely to leave an agency if they can make more money elsewhere. An SEO agency with high turnover is going to hurt your campaign.
For more detail on the cost of SEO services, check out Budgeting for SEO in 2017.
The Type of Hat They Wear
There are three types of SEO marketing:
- White Hat – Honest marketing which doesn’t violate any search engine policies
- Gray Hat – A mix of honest marketing and some questionable tactics
- Black – Marketing using shady methods which are prohibited by search engines
You want to work with an SEO agency who uses White Hat techniques exclusively. Black or Gray Hat techniques can lead to serious penalties from the search engines. Unfortunately, search engines don’t care whether or not a business owner knew Black Hat techniques were being used – they’ll still penalize your site.
Very few SEO agencies advertise Black Hat services. Instead, you want to watch out for unrealistic promises and guaranteed results. If the promised results seem “too good to be true” the agency might be using spammy techniques you’ll want to avoid.
The Type of Data They Provide
Think of your website like a car. Sure, the outward design is important. But what matters most is what’s underneath the hood. Behind your website is a ton of user and traffic data.
Your SEO Agency collects and uses this data to measure your site’s success and adjust strategies over time. The data is drawn from Google Analytics, social media, and other sources. Interpreting these data-driven trends is a major part of successful SEO.
As a business owner, you’ll get regular reports from your SEO agency. You want reports tailored to your interest and experience level. Don’t know a ton about SEO but want to learn? Know a lot already and want real technical details? Don’t know much and don’t want a ton of technical details?
Your SEO agency should deliver the type of reports you want. Google Analytics and other platforms will generate reports automatically. Don’t settle for the standard reports you can get anywhere. A high- quality SEO agency will create custom reports you can use.
The Personal Connection
Finally, you want to find cool, friendly people who are both technically brilliant and impressively creative. While obviously we’re a bit biased towards which SEO agency you should choose, feel free to contact us with any questions about hiring an SEO agency. We’re always here to help!