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SEO, also known as Search Engine Optimization, is something whose outcome you’ve interacted with a billion times.

Maybe not a billion times, but you’ve probably read enough about the topic to know the basics of what SEO is all about.

You see the term “SEO” getting thrown around the Internet, you know what it is, and you’re aware of the immense benefits that SEO can bring to your business’ growth.

Over time you start to think, “Hey maybe I should adopt an SEO strategy for my company too!”

So now you dive into the process of engaging an SEO agency. You want to hire one for your company’s marketing needs to take your business further and get ahead of the competition.

Picking the right SEO agency is crucial.

Most importantly, you need to find the best SEO agency for your company and not just an agency ranking 1st on Google for most articles.

A partnership with an SEO agency is long-term. Not all SEO agencies you come across can deliver on promises of more traffic, better rankings and more leads. 

How to choose an SEO agency

To help you get started, here is a checklist of 5 questions to help you find the best SEO agency for your company.

1. Is SEO a marketing priority for my company now?

SEO is essential for any business looking to boost their online visibility. However, SEO may not be a company’s priority when it comes to marketing. Some companies work with a limited budget, and they have to be smart with how they allocate their resources.

Before engaging SEO services, you need to be aware of your company’s marketing goals. Ask yourself, do you know what you’re looking to achieve in this financial year?

If your answer is no, you need to define your marketing goals first.

Gather your insights, pull out past monthly data and identify areas your business wants to improve upon. For example, if your aim is to grow your organic traffic, SEO would the right strategy for you.

However, if you need to boost sales or scale conversions over a short period (during seasonal and holiday periods for instance), then perhaps creating landing pages coupled with dynamic social media ads would be a more viable solution.

2. Can we do SEO in-house or should we hire an SEO agency?

There are certainly basic on-site SEO tasks that marketers are capable of handling if they have the time and knowledge for it.

Here are some examples of on-site search engine optimization tasks:

  • Keyword optimization
  • Title tags
  • Building internal links

However, these are just some factors that impact SEO.

Good SEO is a complex and time-consuming process that requires one to have a deep knowledge of various analytical tools. There are over 200 google ranking factors to optimise for, both on-site and off-site, in order to rank higher in search results, and the list is continually evolving.

Your SEO Specialist must keep up-to-date on the latest algorithm changes on major search engines and adapt his or her SEO strategies to successfully improve your site’s performance.  

If you don’t have the budget for an SEO specialist in your company, it is recommended to hire an agency to manage your SEO tasks and provide you with monthly updates. You can have peace of mind knowing your SEO is in good hands while you focus on other marketing tasks.

Recently, we sat down with one of our SEO specialists to learn more about “a day in the work-life of an SEO expert”. You can read his insights before deciding on hiring an agency for your business.

3. How credible are the SEO agencies that I am considering?

Make an effort to understand the company that you’ll be hiring.

Don’t rely only on listicles like “top 10 best agencies of 2020” or “the best SEO agencies in X country”. The best way to check the credibility of an SEO company is for you to reach out to the company and having a conversation about your SEO needs.

An easier way to find a credible SEO agency would be asking for referrals from your business partners in the industry. They may already have an established relationship with an SEO agency that they are happy to refer due to their good work. These trusted sources of yours can also recommend tips on how to search for your ideal SEO agency.

Additionally, you should conduct your own research to find an agency that will deliver the best results while providing you with a great working partnership. One effective way to check the reliability of an SEO agency is to download and read their case studies to understand:

  • The agency’s SEO approach (understand the agency’s work process)
  • Their SEO campaign objectives (what matters when it comes to SEO campaigns)
  • Their campaign results (understand the key metrics used to measure “success”)

Other things you should read about include client testimonials and the list of awards that the agency has won over the years. Awards are not just badges of honour, they are a testament to an agency’s capability to drive results for clients.

It’s also important to keep in mind what your needs are and your preferred style of communication. If you’re someone who likes to be involved in the work process, you need to keep a lookout for an agency focused on transparent communication with their clients. Hence, read up on the company’s mission and values to know the team that you’ll be hiring and working with.

SEO agency vs full-service digital agency

You may also wonder about hiring an agency specialised in SEO versus working with a full-service digital agency that could help you with other digital needs as well.

This decision is highly dependent on your marketing goals and available budget. If you’re working with a smaller budget allocated only towards an SEO project, an agency specialised in SEO may be the better option.

A full-service digital agency offers various marketing services, including search engine marketing, programmatic advertising and creative services.

The biggest advantage of a full-service digital marketing agency is that they approach your digital needs from a macro-perspective based on your marketing objectives and recommend services most likely to benefit your company by reaching your goals. They would be able to recommend SEO strategies that are aligned with your overall marketing plans.

Another big plus point of having a full-service agency managing both your SEM and SEO is that they can use the insights from the SEM campaigns to further refine your SEO strategy. Additionally, they can identify other areas of improvement on top of SEO services for your business. 

4. Local SEO agency vs overseas SEO agency – which is the better option?

More often than not, companies are attracted to agencies based overseas on the premise that they can provide cost-competitive SEO packages. However, that is a common pitfall that companies should avoid when considering which SEO agency they should hire.

That’s not to say overseas agencies do not provide quality service, because local agencies sometimes fail to deliver on their promises as well.

When you consider hiring an agency, you must weigh the quality of their work against the price that you’re paying. Are you obtaining greater value than the price you’re paying? Does the company have a proven track record of producing stellar results that justify the price they’re asking for?

It’s dangerous to assume:

  • Competitive rates = Lower quality of work/service
  • Expensive rates = Greater quality of work/service

Price Is an important factor, but it shouldn’t be the only factor.

Other areas of consideration such as credibility and types of services offered should also be critical to your hiring decision. Pay attention to the agency’s proposal and note their SEO approach. Is the agency hearing your concerns and proposing strategies that serve your needs while advising you on the key metrics that matter? 

Look through all the factors and consider carefully. Picking the right agency can make or break your success with SEO, so choose wisely and consider beyond the price and location of an agency.

5. When should I talk to an SEO consultant from an agency?

You should ask for an SEO consultation from an agency only when you have done enough research and after you’re sure of hiring an SEO agency.

While most agencies offer free SEO consultations, it is best that you come having done your homework.

Prepare a list of questions, define your SEO targets and SEO budget. This would facilitate an efficient meeting that wouldn’t leave you feeling overwhelmed with excessive information likely to be shared during the consultation session.

Of course, you should also expect the agency to come prepared. A sloppy presentation with unclear strategies is a warning sign that you should look for an alternative agency!

Be smart with your hiring decision and budget spend. Otherwise, you can risk spending more than needed or regret hiring an agency that’s not the best fit for your company.

Wrapping Up

This is the year of digital acceleration, with ever more companies joining the space of e-commerce and digital marketing. Many businesses are keeping a lookout for SEO agencies to fix their sites for optimal performance. While hopping onto the bandwagon of searching for an SEO agency, keep in mind that you’re looking for the ideal agency for your company. When you hire the agency that’s the best fit your company, it can pave the way to a long-lasting partnership. You might even be able to pick up important SEO tips along the way!

Kick your search off with the 5 questions we’ve provided and you’ll be well on your way to picking the best agency for your SEO needs!

We are a full-service digital marketing agency based in Singapore. From strategy to execution, we provide personalised SEO solutions for over 300+ clients ranging from government institutions to SMEs. Find out how you may grow your business with us. Contact us today!

Dhawal Shah is an entrepreneur, fashion writer and adventurer. He is the co-founder of Hucklebury, a online fashion label as well as 2Stallions Digital Agency. He is also the technical guru behind Little India Directory. Driven by adventure, he most recently summited Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak on the African continent.

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