How to choose the right SEO agency for your business

Putting your trust in an SEO agency can be nerve-racking, especially if your team’s reputation hangs on the results they deliver. Knowing which details to look for in an SEO agency – and which questions to ask them – makes all the difference when you’re drafting up a list of potential partners to work with. So, let’s explore the key considerations for hiring an SEO agency and how to choose the right one for your team.

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According to insights from Semrush, 94% of companies outsource some or all of their marketing activities.

Survey asking "do you outsource marketing activities?"

More importantly, the most common reasons (by far) for outsourcing marketing activities are:

  1. Not having enough in-house expertise
  2. Not having enough in-house resources
  3. Needing to scale up marketing activities
Reasons for outsourcing marketing activities

If you’re looking into hiring an SEO agency, you probably recognise that you don’t have the expertise or resources you need in-house. This leaves you with two options: improve your in-house capabilities or outsource – either to an agency or freelancers, consultants, etc.

In most cases, agencies are more expensive than freelancers, but you should also get more for your money from an agency. For example, agencies can afford a full suite of enterprise SEO tools, giving you access to them for a fraction of the price.

An agency should also have more resources to take on larger workloads while individual freelancers can only do so much.

Know what you want from an SEO agency

Before you start taking a serious look at SEO agencies, make sure you know what you expect from one. Set out clear goals and get the necessary approval/clarification from any stakeholders you’ll be reporting to.

Next, determine which SEO services you need from an agency. If you’re a retail brand with stores in multiple locations, you want an agency that excels at local SEO, not one that works with international software companies.

How do I choose the right SEO agency?

Once you know what you’re looking for in an SEO agency, you can start drawing up a shortlist of potential candidates. Pay close attention to the following when you’re comparing different agencies:

  1. Analyse their website: Does it look like the website of a company that excels at online marketing, does it make you want to work with them?
  2. Look at their blog posts: You can learn a lot about an agency by looking through their blog posts: topics they cover, insights they provide, expertise they demonstrate, etc.
  3. Services & specialisms: Look at the services the agency provides and what their biggest strengths or specialisms are – eg: local SEO, eCommerce SEO, B2B, etc.
  4. Client list: Look at the agency’s list of current/former clients – what industries are they in, how big are these companies, does the agency have experience working with a company like yours?
  5. Google Premier Partner: Google only awards Premier Partner status to the top 3% of agencies, so this is a good indicator that you’re dealing with a top agency for SEO and PPC.
  6. Accreditations: Does the agency have any accreditations other than their Google partner status, such as verification with the Digital Agency Network or industry awards?
  7. In-house team: See what the agency’s in-house team looks like – do they have the expertise and resources you’re looking for?
  8. Reviews & press coverage: Check customer reviews and search for any press coverage for the agency.

When you’re speaking to potential agencies, try to pay attention to what they say and how they say it. If the conversation leaves you feeling uneasy for any reason, trust your instincts and speak to more agencies to see if you get a better first impression.

Obviously, a lot of this is subjective but trust is key to working with an agency and it’s difficult to shake off any early misgivings. You’ll probably get a sense of whether you can work with an agency by answering the following:

  • Do they listen to what you have to say?
  • Do they properly address and answer your questions?
  • Are they specific about what they can do for your business?
  • Does it feel like you’re talking to marketing experts or a sales team?
  • How much time can they dedicate to your account?
  • How will they show results in reporting?
  • What do they outsource?

Yes, most agencies outsource certain tasks. For example, they might hire a few content writers and graphic designers. This doesn’t mean you’re getting lower quality and an agency should be transparent about any activities they’ll outsource on your behalf.

Next steps once you’ve chosen an SEO agency

Once you feel ready to move ahead with a particular agency, you’ll start drawing up a roadmap for your SEO strategy and working relationship. Just make sure you don’t sign anything until you’ve discussed the following – and got the specifics in writing:

  • Deliverables & pricing: Specifically, what your agency is required to deliver and how much you’re being charged.
  • Goals and targets: Realistic SEO goals and targets the agency is expected to meet.
  • Measurement: Agreed KPIs and metrics for measuring the results of your SEO strategy.
  • Assigned tasks & responsibilities: A detailed assignment of tasks and responsibilities between the agency and your own team.
  • Reporting: An agreed reporting system where the agency provides you with performance insights, including anything you need to pass on to senior executives.
  • Timeframes: Setting out clear timeframes for deliverables, activities, payments, contract lengths, etc. means everybody knows where they stand.

Get copies of proposals and potential contracts, so you can go through them with stakeholders. If anything seems off while you’re discussing the details, it’s not too late to hit the pause button. Again, you can speak to other agencies to get a better feel for how these discussions should go.

Still not sure what you need from an SEO agency?

If you’re still not sure how to choose the right SEO agency for your business, our team can give you impartial advice. Call us on 023 9283 0281 or send us your details to schedule a call.

Michelle Hill profile picture
Michelle Hill

Michelle joined Vertical Leap in 2011 as Marketing Manager, having spent the previous 15 years of her marketing career in the recruitment, leisure and printing industries. Her passions include dogs, yoga, walking, cycling, the beach, mountains and tapas.

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