Choosing an SEO agency to carry out your company’s website marketing can be extremely challenging. In an industry that is at present unregulated, and working in a medium that is constantly changing, it can be confusing to know where to begin.
The key to hiring the right search engine optimisation agency is to learn a bit about how search marketing works. You don’t need to become an expert, that is what you will be paying them for; but by understanding the basics of what Google and the other search engines look for, and getting to grips with how different agencies will meet these requirements, forms the basis of any successful working relationship.
Here are a few things that all good SEO agencies should have in common.
They use ethical/white hat techniques
There are many ways to trick the search engines, which can result in short-term improvement in rankings. Some of the ‘black hat’ techniques include cloaking, using hidden text or buying paid links – to deliberately try and manipulate the search engine results.
You need to check with your SEO agency whether they use any dubious SEO techniques – and if they do, avoid them. The search engines want good-quality sites in their index – so people continue to visit them. That way, they can continue to sell advertising, which is their main source of revenue. Tricking the search engines is a sure fire way to get dropped like a hot stone and end up on page six – or worse!
It is much better to consider search engine optimisation as a long-term investment in your website. Done using ethical, sound techniques, search engine optimisation improves your website because it develops it into a content-rich resource. This helps to engage visitors and keep them visiting for longer and also encourages others to link to you – another way of driving new traffic – as you have something that is of interest to their visitors.
They provide a reliable, regular service
Search engine optimisation isn’t something you do once and forget about. It is an ongoing process of analysing, optimising and measuring results – and then repeating the process again. Particularly in competitive areas, continuous monitoring and refinements needs to be applied to keep rankings high.
A good agency will send through regular position reports to keep you abreast of changes. If you are targeting high-competition keywords, then you should also expect to receive a monthly update on the work that has been done to improve and maintain your rankings.
In many cases, ranking reports will be analysed along with your visitor stats to ensure both rankings and visits are increasing.
They have a proven track record
A good search engine optimisation agency will be able to show you examples of work they have done for other clients. This is the best measure of their ability to do the job – having a strong portfolio of results.
One way you can get to know more about search engine optimisation is to ask a prospective agency about other projects they have worked on. Going through case studies – particularly in similar market sectors to your own – will show you strong examples of how the SEO has been carried out.
This will make the process of SEO much clearer – as you can see what keywords were targeted, the changes to the website that were made, the copy that was written and how this was integrated into the site, and how a link campaign was carried out. It will also show you the kind of timescales that are required in a similar search engine optimisation campaign.
They offer a guarantee
Many companies say that it is not possible to offer a guaranteed search engine optimisation service. Whilst it is true to say that it is not possible to guarantee to get a single keyword to a specific position, it is possible to set a general benchmark of what the campaign will achieve.
If a company does not offer any guarantee of results, then the reality is that at the end of the campaign, you could be no better off than when you started. This not only wastes money, but also time.
They keep in touch
Meetings or regular phone catch-ups are key to successful search engine optimisation campaigns. Making time to review progress every few months and set new goals keeps campaigns fresh and ensures the work continues to progress.