How to Choose an SEO Agency in 15 Steps (2024)

Learn how to choose an SEO company for your business with our guide. Follow these important tips and key steps to make the right choice for your business.
How to choose an SEO Agency
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Managing Director Benjamin Paine at Digital Nomads HQ

Written by: Benjamin Paine

Managing Director at Digital Nomads HQ

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How to choose an SEO Agency

So, you are looking for the best SEO agency for your business? 

Brace yourself, because there’s a sea of options out there – literally thousands of them (no kidding). 

Just type “the best SEO agency” into Google, and you’ll see what I mean. 

The number of results might just blow your mind! 

And here’s the tricky part – every agency claims to be the best. 

But can we really take their word for it? 

And that’s why it is important to do some research. 

After all, the success of your website depends on the SEO agency you choose. 

In this guide, I will show you how to choose an SEO company for your business. 

What is an SEO Agency?

As the name goes – it is a company or an agency that provides SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) services. 

They help to improve your website’s visibility on search engines like Google. They do this by using various techniques to make the website rank higher in search results. 

These techniques include, 

  • Optimising website content
  • Improving website structure
  • Building links from other websites

 

To put it simply – an SEO agency specialises in making sure that your website gets noticed by the right people when they search for relevant topics or products online. 

What Types of Services Do SEO Companies Offer?

SEO includes many things, and that’s why the majority of the agencies offer full-suite services covering everything. 

But there are a few agencies that only offer core SEO services. That’s why it is important to know the different types of services the company offers when learning how to choose an SEO agency. 

Let’s take a look at the services SEO agencies offer: 

1. Keyword Research

This is one of the most important SEO services. Keywords form the base of every SEO strategy. SEO companies conduct keyword research to find the most relevant terms people use when searching online. They analyse search volume and competition to identify the best keywords. 

For example, if you own a bakery, they might find that “best bakery near me” or “freshly baked bread” are popular keywords to target. 

2. On-Page Optimisation

It is important to optimise your web pages so that Google can properly index them. SEO agencies help to optimise various on-page elements of your website, such as 

  • Title tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • Headings
  • Content structure
  • Website structure 

 

On-page optimisation also makes your website more appealing and functional to visitors. 

Compelling Title Tags & Meta Desc

3. Content Creation

SEO companies develop high-quality, relevant content for your website. This content could include, 

  • Blog posts
  • Articles
  • Product descriptions
  • Infographics 

 

Did you know? Websites with blog content have 434% more indexed pages on average. 

4. Link Building

Link building is the process of getting other websites to link back to your website. SEO agencies help acquire high-quality backlinks from reputable websites, which boosts your site’s authority and credibility. Websites with more backlinks tend to rank higher on search engines. 

Read more here on “What are backlinks

Infographic on "what is a backlink"

5. Technical SEO

Technical SEO includes optimizing the technical aspects of your site to enhance its search engine visibility. SEO agencies help to optimise these elements – such as,

  • Site speed
  • Mobile-friendliness

 

Did you know? 53% of mobile users abandon sites that take longer than three seconds to load. So, having technical SEO is important for your website.

6. Local SEO

Did you know? 46% of all Google searches are seeking local information. Local SEO is focused on optimizing your website for local searches.

SEO companies use various techniques to improve your visibility in local searches, such as,

7. Analytics and Reporting

SEO agencies provide regular reports on your website’s performance, tracking key metrics like,

  • Traffic
  • Rankings
  • Conversions

 

These reports help you understand how your SEO efforts are performing and identify areas for improvement.

How to Choose an SEO Agency in 15 Steps

Did you know? 82% of companies choose to hire an SEO agency instead of doing the work in-house.

That’s a majority!

It shows just how important it is to find the right team to boost your online presence.

Follow these simple steps if you are wondering how to choose an SEO company:

1. Figure Out Your Goals

First things first! Let’s start with writing down your goals!

SEO is huge and offers many benefits. That’s why it is important to figure out what you want from an agency.

The best way to do this is by focusing on the problems you are facing. Here are some examples:

 

How can I improve my website’s search ranking compared to my competitors?

How can I grow my brand’s online presence and increase the visibility of my business?

How can I acquire high-quality backlinks from relevant sources to boost my website’s authority and credibility?

 

This will help you set clear goals and expectations for the SEO agency.

Think carefully about the specific and measurable goals you want to achieve.

Once you know your goals, the rest of the process of choosing an agency becomes much easier.

 

Why is it important to set your goals in the beginning?

Because it helps you to discuss the project during the initial consultation, this is the first question the agency will ask you, so it’s best to be prepared.

After a good discussion, most SEO agencies will tell you if what you think you need is actually what you need.

Example:

You might think you need ads to improve your search engine rankings.

But it could be that – content marketing is more suitable to achieve the goal and what you really need is good quality content instead of ads.

2. Use Your Connections to Get Recommendations

While most people simply use Google to find the best SEO agency, asking around is the best approach.

Why? 

Because reviews on Google can’t really be trusted.

So, ask people in your business network about agencies they’ve worked with before.

This way, you might receive honest recommendations that aren’t available in online reviews.

But be cautious!

Even if recommended by a friend, vet the agency thoroughly before committing.

Create a list of the top agencies and then do your research to find the best fit for your needs.

3. Create a List of Potential SEO Companies

This is what I was talking about in the previous step. You need to create a list of potential SEO agencies that you want to work with.

Here are some ways to make your list:

Start with Referrals: Ask around for recommendations, as referrals often lead to good SEO agencies.

Online Search: If referrals don’t work, try searching online.

Use Social Media: Check social media platforms to find potential SEO agencies.

Check Industry Events: Attend industry conferences or events where you might come across suitable agencies.

When searching online, be mindful of how you search.

For Example:

If you’re looking for affordable yet reputable SEO services, avoid searching for “cheap SEO agencies” as they might not meet your needs for quality service.

Want more insight on the cost of SEO services? Check our “Cost of SEO” article.

4. Check Their Website

After you create a list – it’s time to check the website of each agency.

Why it is important?

Because a good SEO company should have a well-designed website that ranks for keywords in search results.

Think of it like a designer selling clothes but wearing poor and outdated clothes themselves.

Here are some things you need to check:The design and functionality of the websites

 

  • Page loading speed
  • Internal linking
  • Optimised pages and content structure
  • Simple and easy navigation

 

To put it simply – focus on user experience!

Each page should be easy to find, read, and offer solutions to your problems rather than just bragging about the agency.

And if you want to play Sherlock Holmes, you can always go a step further and use free SEO tools to check their backlinks and keyword ranking.

5. Schedule an SEO Consultation

Once you’ve narrowed down your options, the next step is to set up SEO consultations with these agencies.

This is your chance to understand how they work and if they’re a good fit for your business.

During the consultation, focus on these key points:

6. Understanding of Your Company

Make sure the agency understands your goals and challenges.

For example, if you’re a local restaurant, you might prefer an agency experienced in local SEO rather than a general consultancy.

7. Communication Style

Pay attention to how they communicate. Do they match your company culture and preferences?

Ask questions around meetings, and the frequency of these. Do you have a dedicated point of contact? and the expectation to how often you should hear from them.

8. Passion and Creativity

Look for an agency that shows real excitement and innovative ideas for your SEO strategy.

They should be dedicated to driving your company’s growth, not just getting your website to appear in search results.

9. Ask Questions

The whole purpose of setting up a consultation is to “ask questions” and determine whether the agency is right for you.

You can ask questions in person or through a video call.

Come prepared with questions. Don’t hesitate to ask questions during the meeting.

Examples of questions to ask:

  • What experience do you have in our industry?
  • How much do your services cost?
  • How do you implement SEO strategies?
  • Can you provide examples of your past successful projects?
  • What tools and techniques do you use to track progress?
  • How do you communicate with clients throughout the process?
  • What steps do you take to adapt your strategies to our specific needs?
  • Do you have any client references we can contact?
  • When can we expect to see results?

 

Brainstorm questions that are important for you to make the decision.

Also, make sure you feel comfortable with the agency. You should feel free to ask questions, voice concerns, and more.

Note:

A good agency will be transparent and have satisfied clients willing to share their experiences.

10. Check Past Projects and Results

Every good SEO agency has evidence of its success that can be shared with potential clients. It can be in these forms:

  • Case studies
  • Testimonials
  • Reviews

When considering an SEO agency, request examples of previous websites they’ve worked on.

They should be able to show you a project example from a similar industry or niche.

Furthermore, they should be able explain how they got these results…

If they can’t share a client’s name, they should provide other details on Google Search Console or Analytics.

This way, you can see the progress and compare results before and after the work.

If you’re not familiar with SEO metrics, ask the agency to explain the results to you.

11. Question Their SEO Strategy

When it comes to choosing an SEO agency, you must steer clear of the ones that use black hat practices.

One way to uncover this is by questioning their strategy!

Ask them how they plan to reach your goals and see what answer they give. They should be able to give you a clear plan of action.

If the SEO Company is secretive and doesn’t share information, be cautious.

For Example:

You could ask them about their SEO strategy for your website using these questions:

  • How will you decide what type of content we should publish?
  • Do you plan on using link building?
  • How will you increase our authority on specific topics?

 

A reliable SEO company will use ethical SEO techniques and disclose every step they take in optimising your website for search engines.

If they use unethical practices, they could harm your website.

Make sure they’re not taking any shortcuts. This means they’re not,

  • Getting links from private blog networks (PBNs)
  • Generating only AI content
  • Using malicious tactics against your competitors

12. Check for Guarantees

Another thing you need to steer clear of is – guarantees!

While most clients love getting a guarantee, sometimes it can be too good to be true!

For Example:

If an SEO agency promises to get your website to rank for specific keywords within a certain time frame, be cautious.

No SEO company can guarantee that a website will rank for a keyword in a specific period.

Instead of promises, they should provide an estimated time frame for when you might start seeing results.

For example, it could take 2-4 months to see initial improvements.

The time it takes to see results depends on various factors. Generally, if there’s less competition and your website is in good shape, you may see results sooner.

Remember, there are no guaranteed results in SEO. As a client, you can have expectations, but it’s important to understand that most SEO companies can’t guarantee specific outcomes.

13. Get to Know the Team

It is also important to meet the people you are going to work with.

A capable team with various skills can make a big difference. Look for a team with a mix of talents:

  • Technical SEO specialists
  • Link building experts
  • Content strategists
  • Content creators
  • Designers
  • Developers

 

If you want to know who will handle your project, you can ask for an introduction to those team members.

It’s also important to assess the communication skills of the team. Investing in an SEO strategy is a long-term commitment, so you make sure you are comfortable communicating with the team.

Also, establish how often you’ll communicate and the preferred communication method if you hire them.

14. Check Their Pricing

“Good and cheap SEO company” – there’s no such thing!

SEO can’t really be cheap because it is a long-term process.

If it is actually cheap – it won’t be good!

Consider this scenario:

You ask three agencies to optimise your website, write five blog posts per month, and get 15 quality backlinks each month. Here are their pricing options:

The first agency charges $700.

The second agency, with some experience, charges $2,000/month.

The third agency, a specialised local SEO firm, charges $4,000/month.

The first choice is cheaper, but the agency doesn’t really have any experience with this.

So, don’t make price the deciding factor.

It is best to focus on – quality, expertise and experience.

Keep in mind that agencies charge $50-150 per hour on an average. If they offer 60 hours of work at a $700 retainer, something might be off.

15. Be Clear on the Agreement and Terms

Before making your final decision, it’s important to set clear rules. A transparent agreement can avoid future misunderstandings and create a strong partnership.

Pay attention to:

Service Scope: What services are included, and are there extra charges for additional services?

Performance Metrics: Make sure there are agreed-upon goals to check the success of SEO.

Contract Duration: How long is the contract? What are the terms for renewing or cancelling it?

Common Red Flags to Watch Out For

Simply learning how to choose an SEO agency is not enough! You need to know about the red flags too!

Here are some warning signs to watch out for:

1. Guaranteed Rankings

Avoid agencies that promise specific rankings within a set time frame. It’s unrealistic and could indicate inexperience or dishonesty.

2. Black Hat Backlink Techniques

Be cautious of agencies that prioritise quantity over quality when it comes to backlinks. Low-quality links can harm your site’s SEO in the long run.

3. Very-Low Pricing

If the pricing seems too good to be true, it probably is. Extremely low rates might mean the agency cuts corners or provides subpar service.

4. No Portfolio or Testimonials

A reputable SEO agency should have a portfolio or client testimonials to showcase their previous work. If not, it could indicate a lack of experience or poor performance.

Do You Really Need an SEO Agency?

Well, the answer totally depends on what you want!

If you want your website to rank higher on Google and attract more visitors, then yes! SEO agencies are experts in improving your online presence.

With 93% of online experiences starting with a search engine, having a professional on your side can make a big difference. Plus, it saves you time and effort, letting you focus on running your business.

When to Hire an SEO Agency?

Your business can survive without an SEO agency.

However, hiring an SEO agency can make your life easier and help your business grow.

Here are some good times to consider it:

1. Launching a New Website

If you’re starting fresh with a new website, an SEO agency can help set it up right from the start. They’ll optimise it to ensure it gets noticed by search engines.

2. Declining Traffic

Noticing a drop in your website’s traffic? An SEO agency can diagnose the problem and implement strategies to get your traffic back on track.

3. Lack of Time

SEO requires ongoing effort and attention. If you’re too busy running your business, hiring an agency can save you time and ensure your SEO is always up to date.

4. Expanding Your Business

Planning to expand your business into new markets? An SEO agency can help tailor your SEO strategy to reach a broader audience.

5. Staying Ahead of Competitors

Your competitors are likely investing in SEO. To stay competitive, you might need an agency’s expertise to outrank them.

Wrapping Up

And that’s a wrap on how to choose an SEO agency!

Let’s face it – most of us aren’t SEO wizards, and at some point, you will need professional help. And when the time comes, you’ll know just how to choose an SEO company that’s right for your website.

I hope you find your ideal SEO partner with this guide!

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