Signs of a Quality SEO Agency: What Do You Need to Look for?
All businesses from the small mom and pop store to the major corporations need search engine optimization to beat the competition and grow their business. Since running a business is time-consuming and hard work, many prefer to hire an SEO agency to handle their digital marketing.
Not all SEO agencies are created equal and you need one that not only knows the latest about search engine optimization but also fits with your company culture. If you’re looking for someone to handle your SEO, but don’t know where to start, then we’ll tell you what makes a great SEO agency and what to look out for.
Good Agencies Don’t Offer Lofty Promises
Google owns the lion’s share of the search traffic. It also has the most complicated search algorithm that’s constantly updated by the leading programmers and engineers in the world.
The days of easily ranking for Google through keyword stuffing and trickery are over. It’s believed that there are more than 100 ranking factors Google uses including RankBrain, the company’s artificial intelligence.
When you couple this with the overall SEO efforts of your competitors, it’s not easy to rank and maintain that rank in Google. If a company says they can get you to the top spot in a short time or they can keep you in the top spot, then be careful. If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.
It’s very possible for search engine optimization to earn you the top spot for specific search queries, but it depends on the competition and the value of the keyword. A keyword with little search volume and low competition may easily get you to the top spot, but what is it’s worth to you as a company?
The goal is to improve ranking with keywords of higher volume, but lower competition or even high competition. The problem is that takes time and the search results are volatile.
If your site ranks 70 for a high competition keyword, it’s going to take effort and time to climb the search results. It can take weeks or even months to see significant rank improvements.
You first need to develop an SEO plan, make changes and then have Google notice those changes. A proper SEO plan doesn’t use just one keyword, but several. The goal is to improve rank over several search queries and gradually grow your rank, traffic and sales.
Cheaper Doesn’t Always Mean Better
There’s no shortage of freelance search engine optimization specialists on the Internet. You’ll find them on sites like fiverr.com and others offering services at a lower price than most agencies. Agencies cost more because they generally have higher expertise, more available tools, and overhead.
They’re paying for subscriptions to the top SEO tools, paying experts, renting a building and offering health insurance. You’re paying a premium for professionalism.
They’re on review sites like Yelp, so if they do something wrong people can give them bad reviews. They have a reputation and brand online that’s important to them. They are responsible for their work and suffer the consequences if it’s bad and the boons if it’s good.
Freelancers don’t have the accountability that agencies do. They probably don’t have a website or a business name. If they don’t do the work, then there’s no recourse for the customer.
Too many businesses have used freelancers for the cheap price only to have them not do the work or get little results because they don’t have the expertise or resources of an agency. They end up losing the money and get nothing out of it.
There are some amazing freelancers out there that do an amazing job, but there are many others that don’t and they’re the ones you need to watch out for.
A Quality SEO Agency Gets Organic Backlinks
One of the primary ranking factors for Google’s algorithm is backlinks from high authority websites. It makes sense because if an organization in your business niche links to your site, then it means they trust your information enough to send people to your website.
Many times, links are from guest posts or to informative articles. There was a time when you could buy links to link farms or join link chains to artificially boost your backlinks and improve your rankings. The links had no quality and Google swiftly improved their algorithm to punish those that bought low-quality links.
A quality agency does do backlink work but does so organically. They seek out high-quality sites and try to have a guest post or link to your site. It’s hard work, but worth it in the end. SEO agencies develop relationships with various sites.
If an agency offers to purchase many links, be wary. Most backlinks don’t hurt or improve your site ranking. They’re middle of the road links from business listings, etc. Good ones can skyrocket your rankings and bad ones can sink you fast.
You could even get a manual penalty from Google and those are hard to come back from. If an agency wants to organically grow your backlinks, then they’re trustworthy, but buying hundreds our thousands of backlinks could hurt more than help.
They Analyze Your Data
The bread and butter of SEO is data. We analyze your traffic, page popularity and other metrics before, during and following implementing SEO. We track rankings for various keywords and use tools like Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
The best way to determine how well the SEO optimization does is by seeing how these factors change over time. If the agency focused on creating high-quality blog posts, then they watch how the traffic to these articles changes over time and if people ended up visiting product pages, etc.
If they optimize a page for a specific keyword, then they monitor the ranking changes for that page and keyword over weeks and months.
A high-quality SEO company examines data extensively throughout the SEO process. If a company offers to just provide content without data analysis, there’s no way to determine how well the optimization does unless you do it yourself.
Many businesses choose to let SEO agencies handle everything with little reporting, but how can you know your return on investment if they don’t have the data to back it up.
They Provide Monthly Reporting
When it comes to search engine optimization, transparency is important. Along with the obvious content creation, there’s a lot of behind the scenes analysis, programming and technical aspects that customers don’t see.
If an agency doesn’t want to provide reporting or answers your questions, then it’s a sign they’re not doing the work or doing it correctly. They should provide you with information about what they did as well as what improvements or declines happened during the optimization period.
Declines will occasionally happen. SEO isn’t an exact science and a good agency acknowledges this and provides steps to either improve it or a new direction to take the SEO. If the agency only tells you the good parts and glosses over the declines, then they’re not a good SEO agency.
SEO changes constantly as Google updates its algorithm and turns the SEO world on its ear. A good agency keeps you abreast of changes and keeps you informed of changes in your SEO plan.
Their Website Ranks Well and Looks Good
A good SEO company leads by example. If you found them on the top search page listing, then they’re obviously working on their own SEO. They’ll also have a website that has lots of good content that shows their authority and expertise in the industry.
Many bad SEO agencies will cold email companies offering low prices and crazy claims, but one check of their website shows they rank poorly, and the site is full of thin content that is little worth.
SEO is a competitive niche across the globe. Many local SEO companies will rank well in local searches because they’re authorities in local SEO. They spend time and effort in making their website a shining example of what good SEO is about.
How can you trust a company to improve your rankings for SEO when they don’t show up anywhere on rankings or have an outdated website? The key to good SEO is showing Google that you’re a leader in your business niche.
An SEO agency that doesn’t have strong content on their site likely can’t create strong content for your site.
SEO Isn’t a One and Done Business
We talked earlier about how SEO companies analyze your data over weeks and months. This is because SEO is a journey that takes time to truly make a difference.
If your SEO agency provides a one-time service to create content or optimize your pages and that’s it, then they aren’t a good agency. The initial changes are only the first step in a long-term SEO strategy.
A business may want a one and done approach to save money, but that doesn’t serve them in the long run. They’ll likely see little in the way of traffic increases, sales improvement or ranking improvement with the one-time content approach.
Every SEO company should provide some type of follow-up maintenance to see how their efforts worked. Companies provide a one-time SEO and then leave likely didn’t do a good job of SEO.
Good Agencies Know Their Clients
Every business is different as is every SEO plan. A good agency needs to understand all aspects of your business and your competition if they’re going to create a quality SEO plan.
Why? Keyword competition is an important factor for SEO, and they need to know what your competition is doing for SEO. Should they go after the high competition keywords or would your business be better going after less competitive keywords, but more of them.
Similar to agencies that don’t want to do maintenance, agencies that don’t want to know about your business likely just look for a payday and that’s it. A good agency should understand at least the basics of your business niche because they’re creating the high authority content.
Customer Service is Everything
Communication is important before, during and after SEO optimization. It’s also important that the customer understands what SEO optimization is and how it benefits their business. If a customer has questions, then they should be answered quickly.
If your SEO agency takes days to get back to you or takes your money and you never hear from them, then you should look for someone else. Customer service is an important aspect of any business.
In today’s fast-paced world, agencies can get back to you within a few hours during business hours and at the very latest within 24 hours of your initial request.
They Know Their Limitations
Google’s algorithm is a mystery. While SEO experts know several of the ranking factors, they don’t know all of them and Google doesn’t tell anyone.
A good SEO agency understands its limitations and is upfront with them from the beginning. They can follow best practices and follow all the suggestions Google has to rank better, no one can guarantee the top spot.
A bad SEO agency may say they fully understand the algorithm or mention they have a relationship with Google that other agencies don’t. This isn’t the case.
Google keeps all information about the algorithm close to its chest and provides information to everyone when they do release information. Google doesn’t play favorites and doesn’t single out one SEO company or another.
Choose the Right Agency for Your Business
If you follow these tips, you’ll find an SEO agency that works well with your business and help get you the results you want. A good agency can help grow your business and bring it to the next level through great digital marketing.
If you want to know more information about what makes a great SEO company or digital marketing services, then please explore our site.
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