Search engine optimisation or SEO lies at the core of digital marketing. It is all about a brand, content or a web page’s visibility. The more visible your content, the more frequently it is being viewed, better are your business prospects. However, in the world of internet, where information of every kind is available to one and all, right at the fingertips, the competition is getting fierce with every passing day. Marketing companies are getting smart at their jobs, and search engines are getting even smarter in detecting the deserving content for its top search results. There used to be a time when things were simple. A few backlinks and anchor text were sufficient for Google to rank a particular webpage. But, with the advent of more and more Black hat SEO techniques, search engines have kept updating their algorithms to tackle unethical practices.
In such a scenario, the job of SEO agencies has got even tougher. Unless an SEO agency has the required expertise and developed processes for handling optimisation of a website, it can easily get beaten in the world of competition. There are stories of bad experiences of SEO clients with SEO agencies and vice versa. The point here is, giving the crucial responsibility of search engine optimisation of your website, which is a sole representative of your business in the internet, needs right assessment. One wrong choice and it can cost you not only search rankings but revenue and ultimately, profits.
Note below a set of factors to consider while choosing an SEO agency.
• Your SEO goals must be clear and specific: A goal forms a basis for any action. Before you set to look for the right SEO agency, it is essential for you to set clear and specific goals that you desire to achieve by appointing an SEO agency. The return on investment (ROI) should be well-known and assessed before starting with the SEO processes. Whether you want to reach a target segment, or you want to increase the number of visitors to a website, if you wish to boost the revenues of a specific product or you want to manage your online reputation – there can be multiple objectives. Once the goals are set in mind, follow up gets convenient. You will have something to refer back to, understand the deviations and keep a check on every step taken by your appointed SEO agency.
Unless your goals are measurable, say, for example, you set the goal of increasing traffic to your content. Now in case of such ambiguous objectives, calculating return on investment gets difficult. Understanding the deviations and judging the progress gets tough. Hence, the first step to choose an SEO agency is to have clearly defined objectives.
• Search for an SEO agency that is capable of tracking your data: It is important for the SEO agency to be capable of monitoring your company’s various information. The information can be – incoming and outgoing calls, the number of site visits, the frequency of site visits by a particular set of users, click-through rates, etc. Unless the agency can track the necessary data, no SEO strategy can prove to be effective. It is this information that forms the fundamental basis for any SEO strategy.
Here, it is recommended to search for an agency that specialises in a particular field of SEO, say local searches. The agency should be well versed with things such as ‘Google my business’ and ‘Google Maps’. It is these nuances that are crucial in stepping up the search rankings, often ignored by the agencies which claim to be one stop shop for SEO, without having the in-depth expertise of all the SEO related activities.
• Check the company track records and testimonials: Once you have shortlisted some SEO agencies as per their specialty, be it industry specific, vertical-specific or local search specific specialty, the next step will be to check the track record of the companies. There are multiple ways of doing so. Reviews on online forums or testimonials on the agency website are a good way of assessing the experience of previous clients of the agency. Many online platforms offer opinions and reviews on these agencies.
One can also ask for case studies of the agencies by requesting them. There are also options available to submit an online request for case studies. Moreover, you can also request references. If the agency is reputed enough, it will be able to put you in touch with some good references that can speak about their personal experiences of working with the agency in the past.
• Look for Certifications and White-Hat practices: There aren’t any specific certifications for SEO, but certain certifications given by search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo for Pay-per-click or PPC does indicate that the agency possesses sound knowledge about the advertising platforms of these search engines.
Unless you are well acquainted with the ethical and unethical practices of SEO agencies, you might fall prey to black hat practices that can potentially penalise you in the long term. Hence, it is essential to ask the agencies about the type of strategies they use and let them make you understand.
• Schedule a consultation and define them your SEO Budget: A consultation can answer some crucial questions for you such as – are you able to understand all that they explain? Are they quoting a reasonable price? How is the team’s attitude? Are they getting into overselling? What is their style of communication? Are you able to connect with the team? It is during the consultation when you can experience how it feels to work with them and to see if they can conduct thorough research on the industry you belong to and able to offer some useful strategies. Coming to the charges, it is observed that the agencies that quote a lower price provide low-quality offerings and the ones citing a higher rate than the market standards are probably commercially unaware.
Also, set a budget well in advance. There are packaged deals with different price ranges. Having a budget in minds helps you to wisely choose the package that suits you.
Think, assess and analyse thoroughly before you go for an SEO agency!