Unless your business is fortunate enough to have an in-house SEO team, it is likely you will consider working with an SEO agency to support your website goals when it comes to organic search and online visibility. But before jumping into a contract with any SEO or digital marketing vendor, be sure to do your research!

Follow these tips for to help select an SEO agency that will provide the most value and long-term support.

How to Select the Best SEO Company

1. Avoid “Too Good to be True” Guarantees

First and foremost, avoid working with an SEO vendor who promises first page rankings, especially in a short amount of time. This is often a selling tactic used without specifying which terms will be ranked; and oftentimes the guarantee can only be fulfilled by getting the website to rank for terms that have low to no search volume or relevancy.

In order for a keyword to be truly valuable to the business (meaning a term that is both searched frequently and also very relevant), it is often rather difficult and time consuming to move the keyword position, especially if it is a very competitive term and the website does not already rank for it. Be sure to clarify the details with any agency that makes sweeping ranking position promises. 

2. Know the SEO Game Plan & What is Included 

There is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to an SEO strategy.  A quality SEO vendor will evaluate the current state of your SEO performance and learn about your website goals, budget, and resources in order to develop a custom, realistic plan that makes sense for the business. Since there are many elements involved in an SEO strategy and some can be quite time consuming, it is important to understand what is included in the SEO management contract and how long it will take to complete the initiatives defined. 

For example, know whether or not the SEO package includes content writing, link building, and/or online business listings management and to what extent.

3. Understand How Development Work is Handled

Quality SEO management often entails technical elements that require programming, front-end development, and/or server support. When selecting an SEO agency, ask about how the implementation of the SEO recommendations will be handled. In other words, is the SEO agency able to make programming changes or will they need to rely on your development resources?

In many cases, digital marketing agencies are only equipped to provide the strategy element and the scope does not include the implementation piece, which can lead to increased or hidden costs. Keep in mind, good SEO work often involves pieces that cannot be handled through a CMS alone.

4. Ask for Sample Reports & Performance Measurement

Quality SEO companies are transparent in the campaign performance and will provide detailed reports on a consistent basis, typically monthly. Oftentimes these reports include items such as: total website traffic, website traffic by channel, conversion rate, goal completions, keyword rankings, items completed, items planned, and more. 

It is key for any SEO vendor to set up clear measurable goals at the beginning of the campaign, such as form fills, phone calls, or purchases. Before choosing a vendor, be sure to ask about the frequency and type of reporting that will be completed to ensure there will be measurable results.

5. Ask for Case Studies & Trust Your Judgement

Let the results speak for itself! Strong SEO or digital marketing vendors will be able to provide examples of successful campaigns or case studies relevant to your goals or industry. Don’t be shy to ask for details on clients they’ve worked with or testimonials from past clients. Ultimately though, trust your judgement and select a vendor you feel confident in working with. Communication will be key!