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SEO Agency Recommendations: What to Look for in an SEO Company

Working with the right SEO agency can turbocharge your organic traffic, lead, and revenue generation, but finding them can feel a lot like looking for a needle in a haystack. There are so many agencies, firms, and freelancers out there that it’s easy to be paralyzed with how many options there are.

We’ll be the first ones to admit it. Our industry is full of self-proclaimed experts, fake gurus, and straight up liars that are more than happy to take your money while knowing full well that they can’t get you results. It’s one of the reasons why we are so adamant about following our SEO code of ethics and refusing work if we know we aren’t a good fit.

Not all search marketing companies will hold themselves to this standard so it’s on you to do your due diligence before signing any contracts. Be sure to look at these 5 areas when you’re hiring an SEO company.

How to Find a Good SEO Company

organic traffic growth graph example

History of Getting Results

When you’re shopping around for an SEO company, you want to make sure you find one that can actually get you results. That may seem obvious, but I’ve worked for companies and had clients that simply went with the first agency they found or only contacted a single company and went with them without checking out their credentials.

There are a few ways to verify this because every company is going to say they can get you results, but they need to show you the proof.

Case Studies

Case studies give marketing companies an opportunity to do a retrospective analysis on how they got results as well as a great marketing tool that lets them show off their success with other clients. They basically let them show new, potential clients, “Hey. We know what we’re doing and here’s proof.”

Marketing companies should have these freely visible to anyone on their website, but if you can’t find them, be sure to ask to see them when you’re doing your due diligence.

Testimonials from Existing Clients

There’s a lot that goes into hiring an SEO firm to handle your search marketing. So much so that it should genuinely be treated as a partnership instead of the typical employer / consultant relationship. It’s not just about the work. It’s about cultivating and maintaining a fruitful working relationship.

You and whoever you end up working with need to be on the same page and moving in the same direction to make sure that everyone gets the results they want. Seeing what their previous clients have said about them will give you that insight.

Their Reputation

Customer testimonials are a good way to find out if a company get get results, but that’s only part of the picture. And let’s also be honest for a second. No company in their right mind is going to post a negative review on their website. (“Hey! Look at how much this guy hates us!”) They just aren’t. They’re only going to post the best success stories from the biggest clients with the most brand recognition.

To get a full picture of a company’s reputation, you need to look at their company reviews and not just on one site, but on many. This will give you holistic view on what their clients think about their work rather than what a select few do.

Important Review Sites

  • Facebook
  • TrustPilot
  • BBB
  • Google Business Listings
  • Glassdoor
  • Reseller Ratings
  • Shopper Approved

These aren’t all the review sites you can visit, but these are the ones we’ve found to be the most reputable and honest. When looking for an SEO company, be sure to check on their reputation before signing the dotted line.

Current Knowledge of SEO

Not all agencies stay up to date with the latest trends in search marketing. It’s more common than you might think and partnering with an SEO agency that’s using outdated tactics can cause your website to lose traffic instead of gain it. Worst case scenario, they can make your website get hit by an algorithmic filter or penalty and severely reduce your inbound organic traffic.

There are a few ways to make sure the people you’re talking to are actually know what they’re talking about.

  • Talk to multiple agencies: Compare their recommendations against one another and even ask them about what other agencies are telling you to do. You may get some bad / outdated advice, but you can negate that through crowd sourcing.
  • Learn about SEO: Having a general understanding about search marketing will help you have a better relationship with the agency you end up partnering with as well as helping you spot companies that aren’t a good fit for you.
  • Get free advice on forums: There are plenty of SEO forums out there, Moz’s is probably the most reputable, and you can post questions there to get professional feedback to make sure you’re being given solid recommendations.

If you partner with an SEO company that doesn’t know what they’re doing, you are going to be the one that suffers. Not them.

social media activity on smartphone

Social Media Activity

While social media does not have a direct effect on search engine rankings, there is sufficient data that supports a correlational relationship between a company’s social media efforts and their search engine rankings. The short of it is that companies that are able to create quality content will be able to earn more backlinks, shares, and mentions on social media which will lead to more engagement which will lead to higher organic rankings.

This also gives you some insight into what you can expect if you plan on handing them the reins to your social media accounts.

  1. Do they post regularly?
  2. What are they posting about?
  3. Are they posting about more than “BUY MY PRODUCT!!!!”?
  4. Is their audience engaging with their posts?
  5. Are they educating their audience or just posting memes?
  6. Can you deduce a strategy or do their posts appear to be haphazard?

At the end of the day, there are too many people on social media for SEO agencies to NOT have a social presence and you should be wary of any that don’t.

Brand Presence

What do you find when you search for a company by name? Is it a long list of their social profiles, web properties, and company profiles or is it just their website?

When you search for keywords related to an SEO agency’s services, what do you find? If the answer is “not them”, then there’s a problem. The only acceptable reason for an SEO company to not rank for search queries relevant to their business is because they’re just starting out. That’s it.

The richest excuse I’ve heard for this was, and I quote, “I have to say that it’s a bit like the Cobber’s shoes.” If you are unfamiliar with this saying, it boils down to the idea that one usually does not profit from one’s own trade because the cobbler’s shoes are supposedly in disrepair or their kids don’t have shoes despite them running a shoe shop.

Pardon the language, but I call bullshit.

If you’re a cobbler and you have beat up shoes, I’m going to think that you’re bad at your job. The same thing goes if you’re a search marketing company and I find out that you don’t rank for any keywords.

  1. If an agency can’t get themselves results, how can they get you results?
  2. If an agency doesn’t understand the value of building an inbound lead pipeline, how will they help you succeed?
  3. How serious will an agency take your business if they don’t take theirs seriously?
  4. If an agency isn’t willing to put in the work on their site, how much will they put into yours?

This is an excuse and a tired one at that. They’re not doing the work because A) they’re lazy, B) they’re too cheap, or C) they can’t get results. An SEO agency that does not take themselves on as a client is one you don’t want to partner with.

Full disclosure: We’re one of those agencies that doesn’t have rankings…right now (10/13/19). We just launched our business in September and, as such, we got nothing…for now.

Recap

You should never, ever roll the dice on an SEO agency. Doing your due diligence will make sure you partner with the right people that can help your website grow. If you’re looking at a marketing agency and aren’t sure they’re giving you the right info, give us a shout and we’ll be more than happy to give our unbiased opinion.

Kenny Empey

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