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Here are all the questions to ask and things to know to choose the right SEO agency for your company
Many users in the past have experienced at least one negative experience by relying on a search engine optimization agency.
This article does not aim to denigrate web agencies, nor to list them, but to illustrate to entrepreneurs the ways to evaluate and choose SEO agency, based on precise parameters, so as to be more likely to transform their experience previous negative in a positive in the future.
In this article:
- The ‘real’ reputation
- Digital agency or SEO agency?
- What results have they achieved?
- The costs of an SEO agency
- The services offered
- The management of services
- Choose the right SEO agency for your site
The ‘real’ reputation
This factor may seem simple to evaluate, but it is not exactly so. In fact, knowing the true reputation of an agency requires much more than looking at the positive reviews they receive from their customers. Furthermore, very often, it happens that the reviews and testimonials reported on an agency’s website are almost always selected by the same company and in many cases it is also completely artificial feedback created specifically; Similarly, user reviews on Google Maps and other review sites may also be unreliable and false.
Why is this happening? Many times the SEO agencies can ‘threaten’ customers with lawsuits in the event that negative reviews are not removed and the latter prefer not to take risks to retrace their steps; other even less correct agencies may think of retaliation for the customer through negative actions on the positioning of their website. Positive reviews can be easily encouraged or in any case can reflect experiences lived in the past but no longer current, for this reason the reviews and feedback may not be a true indicator of the reputation of the SEO agency.
To find out their true reputation it is recommended to contact some of their customers directly, so that they can actually find out if the testimonials are true or not, possibly also receiving valuable advice on how these users relate.
Digital agency or SEO agency?
An agency offering numerous digital services may not have a specialist in SEO management available. In fact, many web agencies start working as a web designer, later expanding their range with hosting services, Google Ads management, graphic design and search engine optimization. An independent technician, on the other hand, rarely has an overview and web marketing skills that can analyze your site in every possible aspect, failing to provide a complete service.
In addition, often, many independent freelancers end up acquiring many more customers than they can actually manage, ending up taking the longest step of the leg and therefore providing inadequate service and certainly not up to your expectations. A complete web agency, on the other hand, also has a different solidity and, usually, has staff specialized in the management of the individual areas and is able, if necessary, to expand its staff in parallel with the increase in customers, always ensuring a service up to the promised standards.
In addition, a web agency is able to offer advanced web marketing services and may be better able to evaluate and implement a multi-channel strategy, without focusing too much on SEO objectives, focusing instead on results in terms of sales and turnover of your company. On the other hand, an independent technician could give a more personalized management to your project, taking it to heart by committing himself well beyond the working hours and standards of a structured agency.
If it is generally better to entrust the work to a specialized agency, it is always good, therefore, to evaluate the overall offer of the agency, the results actually achieved and the seriousness of the proposed plan. In fact, a more complete agency will always be able to have a better global vision of your site and therefore provide the appropriate solution to achieve the objectives set in a flexible and effective way.
What results have they achieved?
The evidence regarding previous work is certainly the best testimony, since if an SEO agency is effective it almost always maintains this characteristic over time. Obviously, the agency should not be expected to reach the first place for each keyword and each topic, but if it is of a good level, it can still guarantee a good result for every keyword that is not excessively competitive.
Rather than asking them what the results are or believing the case histories shown on their website, it is advisable to verify the positioning of their customers’ websites firsthand. It is possible to identify these sites by looking at the information relating to the feedback, since very often they are indicated directly by the customer himself in the review. For a correct verification, by visiting these websites, we will have to read what are the keywords in the meta title and then verify, through a Google search, the positioning of those keywords in the relative search results.
It must be considered that however the Google algorithm is subject to many changes and evolutions over time and that based on this factor the search results can vary a lot, as well as the positioning strategies; consequently if the agency did a good SEO job a few years ago this does not guarantee their efficiency and effectiveness even today.
One of the major concrete indicators of positioning capacity is given by the agency’s website itself, although not all agencies try to position their portal for the main and most competitive keywords in SEO terms; this happens because using explicit keywords concerning search engine optimization does not always guarantee the best ROI in the face of a high commitment in economic and working terms. In any case, if an agency is positioned on the first page for the SEO keywords of your province, or even better than a big city, this represents a good result.
The costs of an SEO agency
The issue of costs is an aspect which, as often happens, requires our utmost attention; in fact it is not generally possible to obtain positioning services at a fixed price, indeed this is a feature that must make us doubt, as each site has its own history, its own objective and a different strategy to be implemented, therefore there cannot be a standard price but you need a personalized quote.
It is also good to check who actually performs the proposed SEO service, in fact it often happens that the work is necessarily entrusted to inexperienced staff or other skills, in order to take a greater amount of work. Furthermore, it is necessary to verify that the services provided are really useful for our case, avoiding fruitless waste, despite the fact that the web agency offers good results, usually obtained through the use of more resources and work in terms of SEO.
The best thing would be to speak directly with the person in charge of carrying out the SEO work when contacting the agency, so that this provides a correct and detailed estimate; this possibility is more frequent when relying on smaller agencies and the owner of the agency is also responsible for SEO.
The services offered
One of the major unfair practices implemented by the agencies is to offer a guarantee on the result in terms of positioning inevitably ending up measuring their success with the positioning of keywords that are poorly competitive and that do not bring incoming traffic.
It is good to understand that positioning, marketing and consultancy are activities on which it is not possible to provide guarantees on the results, but only on the effort made to achieve them: just as the doctor cannot give a guarantee of recovery or the lawyer guarantees of acquittal , so those who deal with marketing and positioning cannot guarantee to achieve a specific result for a whole series of reasons including market volatility, the uncertainty of search engine guidelines, frequent updates, uncertainties due to competitive reactions, the intrinsic margin of error in the estimates and evaluations.
The SEO agencies that guarantee the results do so by establishing a priori unambitious and easy to achieve objectives or by preparing results of little economic importance.
It is good to check that the suggested keywords are characterized by a number of monthly searches that are at least sufficient to offer a good return on investment. Positioning the name of your company, especially if unique, is usually very easy and often happens automatically by Google, without the need for an agency. Keep in mind that once the website is positioned on the first page of search for a keyword, you will only get a percentage of the total monthly search volume. This is why it is important to identify the right keywords with the best characteristics in terms of search volumes and related conversions.
The management of services
The best agencies are those able to professionally manage your entire online presence: services such as updating the design of your sites, managing hosting through their specific service, configuring for Google services in your account , the management of advertising accounts, etc. are not ancillary services but are an integral part of your web project and should be managed in a unified way so that they can work in synergy to achieve your goals. This possibility must be assessed for each individual case, although some may try to convince you that breaking up the management on multiple bone agencies will reduce risks and increase professionalism. On the other hand it is also true that by diversifying the services you run the risk of generating conflicts of skills,
It is preferable not to rely on different companies for web design, hosting, SEO and marketing, but to entrust the management of your entire online presence to a single agency able to offer a complete service: in this way not only will you have a single contact person for web development, SEO, web marketing, social and hosting but there will be the certainty of having entrusted the company to a solid partner able to manage the entire project in an integrated, organic and coordinated way.
Many SEO agencies protect their methods and strategies used; this is understandable since these aspects represent the ‘know how’ of their work and allow to maintain an advantage in a very competitive market. However, the work done must not be completely secret but there should be some transparency regarding the actions taken to improve SEO.
In some cases, the agency may use methods and techniques that it does not want to let the customer know, not to protect its advantage, but because it implements unfair practices such as the use of automatic software or the subcontracting of work to a other company. We must therefore try to find out as much as possible about the work we are going to pay, trying to identify the incorrect behaviors that could damage us and our company website. For this reason, particular attention must be paid to arrogant SEO specialists who offer zero transparency and who are unwilling to explain the work methodology used.
In principle, finding an SEO specialist to rely on is much better than trying to do SEO on your own, as there is a lot of contradictory information on the web and others that are no longer current; a true SEO expert, on the other hand, is aware of the techniques and strategies that work and offer the best results. However, finding the right SEO consultant is a task that requires a lot of attention, commitment and the right assessments in order not to run into choice errors that could have repercussions over time.