Sidhartha Tripathy
IT Consultant | Blogger

SEO Agency – 10 Points to Select the Right one

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SEO Agency - Services
Services

What is SEO Services

SEO Agency works on the various process by which they improve your digital content (website, blog, videos etc) visibility in search engines results page.

Under SEO there are numerous activities SEO Agency perform which are required as Search Engines use hundreds of parameters to evaluate your web content to create a ranking index.

Broadly there are 3 part to SEO Services

  1. Onpage SEO
  2. Technical SEO
  3. Offpage SEO

Why SEO Services are Required

Getting customers is key to your business and for Small Business it’s even important as the competition is the more and geographic area is small.

In the case of a small e-commerce store, we face similar challenges as well. Competing with bigger and already established stores is a paramount task.

With the increase in the usage of digital platforms, there is a great chance and way for small business owners to achieve success.

This is possible in various ways and one among them is Search Engine Optimisation or SEO

Is it difficult to perform SEO Services within your team?

SEO is not rocket science but its continuously changing as Search Engines are evolving with human behaviour and not all algorithms are known to the public.

If you have a dedicated team with the right skills then doing SEO within your team is a good option. But if your primary business area is not IT (information technology) and you do not want to have a dedicated team then you need a partner to perform SEO on behalf of you.

Small Business can perform SEO to a certain extent but with resource crunch and the gap in SEO skill its always good to outsource this to experts. 

SEO need different types of skills and not one and also you need a few free and paid SEO tools to perform SEO with good quality so in some cases it’s not cost-effective also to do it within your own team.

Is it worth doing SEO Services within Team?

SEO Agency - Services
SEO Services

The answer to this question depends on

  1. How big is your company?
  2. What is the future plan for the digital platform growth?
  3. Do you want to invest in an internal IT / SEO Team?

If you have a sizable company with decent review and profit then you can afford to have your own team for SEO. 

If you have big plans to leverage Digital Platform and wants to have the control within your reach then having SEO functions within the team is preferable 

Its always not on size, even bigger organisations who want to focus more on their primary business function and do not want to manage IT team they also outsource SEO & other IT Services to specialised vendors.

If you don’t have the right team with proper SEO skills, it is advisable not to perform SEO by yourselves. In some cases, it may impact adversely as well.

Is it difficult to Select SEO Agency? 

The simple answer is Yes. The primary reason for this is, in SEO it difficult for anyone to predict and guarantee that your web content will show up on the first page of SERP.

If you don’t know much about SEO then it’s going to be difficult for you to find out the right SEO partner for your business.

Many agencies provide SEO Services and with different packages. Which one is right for you it’s going to be a tricky question. 

You need an expert to choose the best one for your need or do some research and understand key aspects of SEO to find out the right SEO Services company or agency.

Types of SEO Agencies

SEO Agency - online marketing
Online Marketing

There is various type of agencies available who perform SEO services for your needs. 

  1. SEO Agencies 
  2. Digital Marketing Agencies 
  3. Full Services IT companies 
  4. Freelancers or Independent Consultants 

Depending on your future plan and strategy you need to select the appropriate one. Each one has its own advantages. It’s your need that will decide which one to choose

SEO Agencies

Pure SEO agencies focus on SEO areas such as Onpage, Offpage and Technical to improve your ranking in Search Results.

While they are very effective but if you need other forms of Digital Marketing than SEO then you need to go for a different partner. 

Digital Marketing Agencies

They provide more services compared to SEO Agencies such as Pay Per Click (PPC) Services or Google Ads or AdWords, Social Media Marketing Services, E-Mail Marketing Services, Conversion Rate Optimisation Services etc.

In reality, you need various digital marketing services apart from SEO and if that is the case then selecting a Digital Marketing Agency over pure SEO agency will be beneficial and easy to manage.

Full Service IT Company

if your business needs continuous development and refinement of web pages and also complex and dynamic pages such as e-commerce sites then its always good to go with a full service IT Company who can develop these sites and maintain for you.

SEO is always good to start from the source and now after you develop your website. So If you are selecting an IT company its always check if they can implement the best practices of SEO while developing the website and in the maintenance phase

Freelancers or Independent Consultants

For an ad-hoc or small piece of work, there are plenty of freelancers available with various skills. If you are interested then you can think of using the pool from the market.

Local or Global (Offshore) SEO Agency 

Local and Global SEO Agency
Local and Global Agencies

Should you always look for an SEO Agency near you or it’s ok to have a global or offshore SEO agency? Both have their advantages and also disadvantages (primarily on cost factor). 

While most of the SEO work can be done remotely but the local know-how and face to face meetings and discussion add lots of value into the SEO work.

In case of a Global SEO Partner, Its always good to have a local touchpoint or the person who can interact with you and offshore team and get the work done for you.

SEO Service Packages

Primarily SEO agencies profile below  types of service packages

  1. Website Audit & Recommendations
  2. One time SEO Implementation
  3. Monthly Packages (different types under this as well depending on the customer need and future growth plan)
  4. SEO Consultants (pay as you go per hour basis)

Website Audit & Recommendations

SEO Services - Audit
Audit Report

If you have already a site and planning to implement SEO then the first thing you should do is to do a detailed Audit from an SEO standpoint

Many SEO agencies do this for free as value adds for the prospective customers but those may not include all aspects of SEO and related recommendations.

For this, they use sophisticated software and also expert consultants to come up with recommendations. This should be the first step in your SEO journey and I suggest you go for a thorough and detailed one for this to know the current status of your site from an SEO point of view

This is also required regularly as you would like to know how the SEO efforts are impacting your site ranking and what other areas to focus on. 

One time SEO Implementation

If you have an existing site and wants to start SEO then performing the Audit and implementing the recommendations one time is highly essential.

These packages implement most of the recommendations out from the Audit but as it mentioned its one-time implementation and may become outdated in future when you update the content or SEO rules changes.

You can decide to do this with some time interval if you are not interested or don’t see a requirement of continuous SEO effort is required for your site

Monthly Packages

This is the most common package and SEO Agencies work on your site continuously depending on how much effort is included in the package. This is also called the retainer package.

Generally, SEO companies come up with different types for these monthly packages and also if you want you can create your custom type package after performing site adit and strategy session.

This has advantages over other types but need regular review and tweaking from an SEO agency and also review and monitoring from you as a business owner to get the right value.

What is the right Pricing for SEO Services?

I will write a detailed blog on SEO Pricing as I feel SEO Agencies generally interested to get into a long term retainer contract but clients are not happy with the outcome

We should more focus on what will be the outcome and how much time or effort SEO Agency will be spending per month on the SEO activities rather than how much monthly fee they will charge.

Pricing will be based on the outcome and services lines for each business.

This is a very interesting and important area every business should know in detail to select the right SEO Agency.

Factors to consider while selecting an SEO Agency

There are various factors which makes an SEO Company better than others. SEO need various skills from Technical and Non Technical areas. A blend of all these skills required for your SEO and you need to check if they are present in the SEO agency or not.

Below are the factors you need to consider while selecting your SEO Agency 

  1. Reputation 
  2. Location
  3. References
  4. Case Studies
  5. Commitment 
  6. Industry Awareness
  7. Knowledge of Locality
  8. SEO Skills
  9. Project Management Skills
  10. Consulting Skills
  11. Profiles of Employes

Reputation

We all go by reputation because it gives a peace of mind that others are telling good about the agency. If the agency is there for some time it’s a good idea to collect the reputation of the company from the market and existing or past customers

Its always good to contact the past customers and find out the reason for leaving or terminating the contract with the agency.

For new agencies, you may not have this but rely on other factors. Sometimes it is beneficial to go to a new agency as well.

Location

google local
Local

These days Local SEO is on-demand and for small business, local SEO is what they should focus on. In that case, the location of the agency is one of the key aspects of selecting the agency.

You can go for a global agency or an outsourcing company but ensure a local representative is available on-demand and also liaise between you and the offshore team.

A fully local company may charge more but if you are getting a good value from the fully local company then you can select them.

References

Reputation and references are interrelated. Generally, SEO companies provide references or customer testimonials in their websites but its always good to ask them and check if you can directly peak to their existing customers on the services they are providing.

References give you a good idea on how the agency is performing and you can consider these in your selection criteria.

Case Studies

Case studies provide an agency’s approach toward a real-life issue or problem and how they solved it. 

If any case study resembles with your case then it’s very good else it will give a good indication of an agencies thought process and how they approach a problem.

Commitment

It’s difficult for anyone or agency to give any sort of guarantee on SEO efforts but an experienced SEO agency can give some sort of indication on how many weeks or months required to bring your site to the first page of SERP.

This may not be in the form of a contract but providing a realistic view and facts based information can be provided by matured SEO agencies.

Industry Awareness

industry knowledge
industry knowledge

SEO is different for everyone and its also true for different business types (for example restaurant, lawers, real estate, e-commerce etc). SEO agencies need a full understanding of each business types to perform better.

Look at the previous work of SEO and find out of they have done any specific SEO Servies for your business areas or not.

Knowledge of Locality

For Local SEO this is a key factor and knowledge of local know-how is going to help a lot for SEO activities.

It’s not always true that a local SEO agency can only do this. People search for “SEO Agency near me”, but it’s better to find out the right one, not the nearest.

Information is available all over the web and a good research team and dedicated effort and process can help offshore or global agencies also to do a good SEO execution.

SEO Skills

This is given and a must-have a factor for every SEO company. Get the profiles of the people who are going to work for you and see how much experienced they are in their field of SEO.

It’s always a good idea to speak to the resource from an SEO agency and be confrontable so that it would be easier in future for you to collaborate and work together.

Project Management Skills

SEO requires a lot of planning, coordination between various teams, people etc. Project Management skills are needed to carry out the work within budget, time and with good quality.

Every SEO Agency should have good PMs and work for each client to provide better value for their money. Look for the PM profiles and their previous records in the SEO field.

Consulting Skills

For Audit and complex scenarios, you need high-end consultants to work on your SEO needs and come up with the right strategy. 

If you need these types of services then normal SEO resources may not fit into the role but you need senior consultants to work on your case.

These consultants are also required by SEO agencies to review the work by the SEO team and provide feedback to improvise continuously.

Success factors for using SEO Agency

SEO Agency - Success Factors
Success Factors

Selecting the right SEO Agency is only the first step towards SEO success. SEO is a continuous process and ever-changing field so you need continuous engagement with your agency for your success

Below are the key success factors that are recommended while employing an SEO agency

  1. Select the right SEO Agency
  2. Select the right package
  3. Share your business objective and future roadmap and update regularly
  4. Make sure you have one touchpoint locally available
  5. Induct one full-time person (if you have an appetite) as Digital Manager or Lead else train one enthusiast from your existing team who can liaise with the local touchpoint and offshore regularly
  6. Agree on 3-6-9 months plan and targets depending on the current status and future objective
  7. Decide metrics to review and monitor monthly on the progress of SEO efforts
  8. Train SEO to your technical team (if any) so that SEO can be planned from design phase not after creating the digital content
  9. Review and adjust the plan regularly to adhere to the business needs and also handle any non-performing SEO techniques.
  10. Make sure the SEO agency is focusing on generating appropriate content for your customer and able to understand the search intent than hacking Search Engine algorithms (black hat SEO techniques) to rank better

Finally…

SEO is an exciting area and not optional these days if you are in business. It is good to do some research or take expert advice to select the right SEO agency than change time to time and waste money. More importantly, lose time in the meantime.

Sid

IT Consultant | Blogger

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