What To Look For In Your SEO Agency
In the world of search marketing, there’s one particular experience that many small businesses share. Their branded website is stuck on the second or third page of Google’s organic search results and has failed to create any financial return.
So, like many others, the company goes to an SEO agency to receive the expertise and results they need.
But after investing a few thousand dollars over six months, they are still not seeing results and aren’t even sure what the agency has done to promote their website.
Unfortunately, this tale of a mismanaged search marketing experience is so prevalent that it’s now hard for many businesses to wade through the self-proclaimed “gurus” and “ninjas” in order to find an agency that provides a quality partnership with measurable results.
If you’re starting the search for an agency or are in need of a new one, here are a few of the points you should discuss with any prospective company so that you don’t end up in this unfortunate situation.
Work With Experience
While it may seem like asking for an agency’s experience is a given, many business owners don’t know how to qualify the answer they receive.
First, you’ll want to know the experience of the agency’s employees. It’s fairly common for digital marketing teams to be completely made of interns or fresh out of college beginners.
An ideal team will have both novices and seasoned veterans with at least four years experience in organic search marketing.
Another important aspect to check is whether the agency does the work in-house, or if they outsource some of their services to other parties.
If an agency outsources a majority of their work, this can mean you’re paying a premium for them to merely act as a broker.
Most businesses understand the importance of engaging content to attract new leads, but aren’t sure how to create such content or properly distribute it.
Here are a couple points to keep in mind when discussing content strategy with a prospective agency:
Being Unique AND Relevant Is Not Optional
If you want to be seen as an authority in your industry, you must present yourself as such. This means creating both compelling and original content for your audience, not constantly repeating yourself or sharing someone else’s thoughts.
Not only is it important to create content that is unique to your brand, it is also important to deliver that content in a meaningful way. With tools like HootSuite and Sprout Social, many companies will share the same message across their social media channels.
This might be a great time saver, but but will not lead to conversions on your social platforms.
The audience you have on Facebook may be completely different than the one you have on Twitter with your YouTube audience looking for a different connection too.
Your search agency needs to understand the difference in your audiences and cater to each of them as you build your content portfolio and online authority.
“Content is King” Sensibility
Many articles and experts will spout that “Content is King!” With this mindset, many businesses will publish weekly, even daily, blog posts but not see a return on their time and effort.
This is because all content you share needs to be meaningful and relevant to your audience.
Blogging shallow pieces everyday because a “SEO Expert” told you that frequent articles would make Google happy is nonsense. Only post content that adds value to your brand to ensure that your time and money aren’t being wasted on ignored drivel.
At the same time, make sure that the articles your agency develops are actually in-depth and have longevity in subject and word count.
There is a tremendous amount of evidence that demonstrates how lengthier content catalyzes results dedicated to:
- user engagement
If you are serious about maximizing your online opportunities, then you need to make sure your next agency has a minimum word count of 450 words per blog article and at least 750 words per landing page.
Communication plays a significant role in dictating the level of success a particular partnership experiences.
A successful relationship in the world of digital marketing develops from an environment that sees clients receive proper education on what strategies are being used, why they influence consumer conversions and what the company should expect in terms of tangible results over the next fiscal quarter.
Perhaps the search agency you hired has great rankings of their own, but if they are not able to articulate how they build visibility or if their monthly progress reports are automated and filled with attractive graphics rather than hard data, how are you to know whether or not you are moving in a positive direction?
Another concern for business owners is their inability to understand what great SEO work even means in 2014. Too often, businesses fall into the trap of believing in some charismatic salesmen’s glorious pitch promising “first page rankings” or “70% increase in traffic in just three months.”
And, of course these promises sound amazing; they are the standard for what every business wants out of their digital marketing campaign.
However, like most things, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Make sure that the agency you work with provides sound education on what specific tactics they use in order to generate qualified traffic. Ask them why they choose to build particular forms of content like blog articles over videos and see if they can carefully explain how they identify your target audience’s specific motivations behind their search behavior.
This level of communication ensures that you not only understand the work that’s being done, but can also be able to measure meaningful results.
If the agency you are talking to claims to be the “best,” why are they trying to lock you into a six or twelve month contract?
Agencies that provide the most substantial results for their clients do not require contractual commitments and are more interested in proving that their services are successful each and every month.
So before you sign a contract, make sure the agency is up for the challenge of proving their worth, rather than primarily making a profit.
As you start, or continue, the search for a search marketing agency, keep these points in mind to find a partner who is not only competent in managing your online presence, but also understands your business, your brand and your goals.