If you’re new to search engine optimization (SEO) you might not be sure where to start when looking for a suitable agency to fit your needs. Usually, clients and customers expect a reliable and experienced agency to appear right at the top spot of search engine results (SERPs).
This sort of thought process is logical in nature, but being placed at the top spot does not necessarily mean that the agency is competent, reliable or even trustworthy. The market is filled with hundreds of SEO agencies, and only so much room at the top of the SERPs. This makes it unreasonable to judge the capabilities and experience of an SEO Agency by simply reviewing their position in the SERP’s for certain keywords.
You need to get a basic understanding of what services an agency offers and what you can expect from the agency. Also ask yourself what is important to you as a customer. Start by creating a list of pros and cons to determine if an agency is right for you. What criteria is included in your checklist really depends on factors such as your industry, competition and your goals. Keep in mind that choosing the wrong SEO agency can cost you a lot more than just money. Over optimization, bad link building tactics, etc. can get a website penalized.
Search the Web for the Agencies Name
If the company you’re researching has been around very long it is sure to be listed in directories such as Clutch, 10 Best SEOs, Yelp, etc. It will also bring up their social media accounts and other properties related to the company. For larger companies you can also look for reviews posted by employees and clients, which can give you some insight of how the company works and the relationships the company has had in the past. But remember one thing, you should never take these reviews as facts. Try searching for the reviewer. Obviously I would trust a review left by a director at IBM over an employee at John’s Local Pub. Also look for patterns. If you see lots of reviews about bad customer service and customer service is important to you then I would steer clear.
Review the Agency's On-Site Testimonials
An experienced agency will usually have testimonials on their site. Keep in mind these are going to be best case scenarios. Obviously a company isn’t going to list mediocre or bad results. You can also ask them for samples of their prior work so that you can better understand the services they offer and what you can expect if you purchase that service.
Review the Links Pointing at the Agency's Website
Backlinking is an important part of SEO. You can learn a lot about a company by reviewing their backlinks. You can find things such as directories and review sites they are listed on but the most important part is you can see if they are using shady SEO tactics. If you see a lot of spammy links then you know to ask them about it. If one of the services you’re looking for is link building then you want to make sure that these aren’t the types of links they are going to build for you. Keep in mind that every sight is going to have some suspicious links. A website really can’t control who links to them. What you’re looking for is a pattern of suspicious links.
It is very important to ask questions when vetting an SEO agency. Sometimes the questions that need to be asked aren’t obvious. These 3 tips will help you learn more about the agency and what questions to ask.