Tips on Hiring the Right SEO Agency

Hundreds of agencies claim they offer the best SEO services, here’s how to distinguish the good from the bad

According to BrightEdge, 51% of web traffic that brands receive comes from organic search. Spending on search engine optimization marketing is expected to increase to $79 billion a year by 2020. As a result, brands have begun to partner with SEO agencies to improve existing marketing efforts. Read on to find out how your company can find the best and brightest SEO agencies to work with.

  • Google’s tips on distinguishing “good SEOs” from “bad SEOs”
  • Researching companies
  • Questions to ask
  • Selecting an agency
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Google’s tips on distinguishing “good SEOs” from “bad SEOs”

Because Google tends to shy away from indulging too much information about its search engine algorithms, SEO experts often use correlative studies to decide which techniques work and which don’t. Since such information is easily exploited, it can be hard to tell an expert SEO consultant apart from a “false prophet.”

Luckily, Google’s Webmaster team recently released a video explaining how you can pick out the good SEO expert’s from the bad ones. According to the video, a good SEO agency will recommend basic practices such as descriptive page titles for a blog and more complex practices such as language markup for a multilingual global site. The most important tip they tell viewers is that “In most cases, SEOs need four months to a year to help your business first implement improvements and then see potential benefit.”          

Researching Companies

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Before you start searching for the right SEO agency, you need to ascertain the goals your company wishes to achieve through SEO. Doing so will help you narrow down the list of agencies that can help your company. Common goals for using SEO include increasing brand awareness, improving customer retention and driving more revenue. Once your goals have been determined,only then should you begin searching for agencies.

Use these factors to determine an agency that will work best for you.


Depending on a company’s needs, agencies can charge anywhere from several hundred dollars a month to $100,000 monthly retainers. The more expensive rates are usually reserved for complex, international projects.

Services Required

Agencies can provide services such as technical SEO, SEO strategy, content production, and link building. Technical SEO focuses on how well search engines can crawl through your site and index your content. SEO strategy is the process of tailoring your website to the algorithms search engine’s use to rank websites. Content production includes the development of visual or written assets, such as blog posts and infographics. Link building focuses on acquiring hyperlinks from other websites that send visitors back to your own.

Agency culture

Make sure you ask yourself if your agency’s culture aligns with your companies values.


Check out the agency’s individual case studies and portfolios.

Agency size

Consider whether you would like to work with a small agency or a large agency. There are pros and cons to working with either.


Ask industry contacts and colleagues to refer agencies to you based on the preferences you decided on.

Taking the time to decide your SEO goals and the type of agency that will work best with your company will help expedite the process of finding the right agency.

Questions to ask

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Once you offer agencies to pitch to your business, compile a list of questions to ask them once they are finished presenting. Observe how they answer the questions, as well as how quickly they can think on their feet and approach challenges with an open mind. The way someone responds to a question is equally as important to the answer to the question itself.

Here are some questions you could ask:

  • Do you outsource any of your work to freelancers?
  • How much time will be spent on the account each month?
  • What if things didn’t work out between our companies? How would you approach that situation?
  • How many resources will be required from our side to make this partnership a success?
  • How long will it be until we see results?
  • What role does SEO play in our overall business strategy?

Selecting an agency

Watch out for red flags, such as claims of an agency’s ability to bring dramatic short-term results to your business or agencies who outsource most of their work to freelance networks. At the very least, make sure that you are able to have full transparency on who specifically will be handling your company’s daily tasks. Suggestions of ‘buying backlinks’ or anything of the sort should eliminate an agency from your list too.

Knowing what you want to get out of working with an agency and using a standardized approach to evaluating agencies will make this process easier and will ultimately help you find the perfect agency.

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