Businesses large and small recognize how important Search Engine Optimization is to improving online visibility and driving revenue. With SEO becoming essential in generating online exposure, more and more businesses are seeking out SEO agencies to develop strategies that will provide them greater visibility to an untapped consumer base.
Unfortunately, with such a high demand it becomes tricky in determining which agency you can trust with your most important digital asset – your website. In this day and age, it’s easy to claim certification, but creating SEO strategies that align with business goals (while maintaining best practices) is the mark of a truly competent digital agency.
In the ever-changing SEO industry, strategic evolution is a key aspect that agencies often fail to keep up with. Below we outline what to look for when looking to detect an inept SEO agency.
1. Anyone who claims ‘Google has partnered’ with them
Claiming that Google has partnered with them is a popular method that salespeople will use to try and grab your attention to entice you to sign with their agency. There is a difference between being a ‘Google Partner’ & ‘Google partnering with them’. If the agency you are considering makes claims they are a ‘Google Partner’, ask them to provide verification – you don’t want a team of uncertified SEO professionals looking at your data and making decisions about your website.
If an agency claims that ‘Google has partnered with them’, that is an immediate red flag. Certainly ask to see verification from Google, but also investigate the product they are claiming Google has partnered with them on.
If the agency has claimed ‘Google has partnered with them’ on a product, and the product is actually open source (which anyone can utilize), they are misrepresenting the truth to acquire your business. If Google partners with another company, the world will know about it. Deception is not a positive start to your business relationship, so be aware and ask those important questions.
2. Guaranteed web rankings
An agency that promises immediate rankings is another red flag. In addition, if an agency boasts they have a certain technique or tool that will achieve immediate rankings, they are misrepresenting what they are capable of. Obtaining rankings requires time, effort, and an understanding of content, coding, and user experience, along with the variables within each that make up the search algorithms.
If any agency promises you guaranteed web rankings, don’t be afraid to ask how. Knowing that only high-quality content and an expert SEO strategy will increase visibility will help you to recognize fraudulent agencies.
3. Their own website
How can you trust an agency to optimize your own website when they can’t optimize their own? When you are considering an agency to handle SEO for your company, look at their website to see how well managed it is. While you may not know exactly what to look for, try to answer the following questions when you visit their site:
- Does their site look spammy or unnatural?
- Do they offer case studies or a portfolio?
- Does their content look thin with little information?
- How does it look and load on your mobile device?
- If you are familiar with SEO elements – what does their meta-data look like?
- Do the links on the page go where they say they go?
- Are their social channels properly connected?
4. SEO case studies
Case studies are a great way to get a better understanding of the success an agency has had deploying SEO strategies that drive organic traffic and generate leads. While not every business’ goal will be the same, having hard evidence to make an informed decision is the best way to determine what an agency is capable of.
Any agency that has proven success will have no problem showing case studies that layout strategy, challenges, and the results that were generated. If an agency doesn’t have supporting evidence to back up their success in driving organic traffic, you may want to consider a different agency.
5. Google Analytics & Search Console
These are two of the most important tools an agency will use. Google Analytics is used to monitor Key Performance Indicators and website traffic, while Search Console monitors the health and performance of a website. When determining whether or not an agency can be relied on to make decisions about your website, there are a few questions you’ll want to ask:
- Will they need access to your current Google Analytics?
- Are you a ‘Google Partner’ & can you verify?
- How often are they in Analytics?
- Will they be using Google Analytics data for reporting?
- What goals will they be using?
- Quality, well-rounded SEO works best
SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. There are no gimmicks or secret sauces. To succeed in generating quality organic traffic and driving leads, it takes time, hard work, and a complete understanding of user behavior and search algorithms. Don’t fall for presentations that don’t provide you substance around your websites issues.
A reputable SEO agency will be able to answer all of your questions and offer complete transparency from inception to completion. There are other agencies out there that claim to be successful, but can’t provide the ‘how’. Stick to the basics, ask the questions above, and you will be able to find a quality SEO agency that is focused on your business and driving fully transparent results.
To learn more about how our SEO strategies can help you improve your online visibility, please reach out to our SEO Team today!