How do you evaluate an SEO agency?

Racheywegs

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Deciding on what SEO agency to work with can be mind-boggling. Are there certain questions to ask to determine the quality of the service they provide?
 

djbaxter

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Start by asking them exactly what they can do for your site. How would they start and proceed to improve your site ranking?

If any part of their response mentions getting you on page 1 of Google search results (SERPS), just say no thank you. No one can promise that. That's the mark of a scam artist or amateur.

If any part of their results talks about fast results, like a week or even a month, be skeptical. SEO is an ongoing process and it takes time.

If they can't specify exactly how they plan to improve the SEO on your site, just say thanks but no thanks.

Look for a company that is open to questions, avoids jargon, and is conservative in what they promise.

Then come back here and tell us what they said and I'll tell you whether it sounds legitimate. :)
 

Edvin

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Welcome to the forum Racheywegs.

From your introduction I suspect you are asking how to present and qualify your business to others.

...getting you on page 1 of Google search results...talks about fast results, like a week or even a month, be skeptical. SEO is an ongoing process and it takes time
It has been a long time since I put SEO hat and things have changed; but, this is exactly what I achieved for my past employer (first page ranking after 1 week of publishing updates). I left no stone un-turned and critiqued all marketing content before release of the updated site. So, I see nothing wrong with making such claim; after all, everyone wants fast result! I was probably lucky, and I have no way of guaranteeing such results.

However, DJ does bring-up a great point that we all have different experience and measuring stick. My suggestion is to A/B test your site and see which strategy yields in higher click-through. Otherwise, I'm not sure if we can quantify this subjective view.


Q: why does anyone want to engage in SEO?
Though the answer is obvious, the ultimate goal is to increase number of visitors; thereby, increasing sales volume. It has been my experience that SEO ranking is not very profitable without a strategy. Therefore, you can educate and up-sell perspective clients for long marketing engagement that truly provides long term value.

Having said that, the following standard practices is likely beneficial for SEO marketers
  • Portfolio of clients you've served
  • Client testimonies
  • What your client will receive
    • Ranking before engagement
    • Evaluation and recommendation
    • Competitor analysis
    • Ranking after engagement
    • Traffic lift due due to optimization
    • What to expect for your services and a unique offering about you :)
 
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djbaxter

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Google's algorithms have evolved a LOT in recent years. And so has their ability to sniff out and discount or punish gray hat and black hat methods. Things you could get to make a difference 10 years ago don't work any more. SEO has become more complex and complicated.
 

PatrickRiceCo

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It is good that you are asking this question. A lot of agencies are terrible...

I agree that you should stay away from people who guarantee results.

They will probably say they do on-page SEO, and keyword research, but the thing that differentiate great SEO from mediocre is generally how they create their backlinks.

These are just other websites that link to you. Ask them about what kind of backlink they will try to get for you.

They should not be saying they will get you thousands of backlinks. One or two good links will do much more then a thousand spammy links. A good link will generally cost $50+ at least if they are buying rather then outreach.

Another good sign is if they are content focused. Without great content, it will be hard to rank.

Look at other client's websites that the agency have worked on.

Look at how good the content is.

Even further than that, you can audit their website for free on WooRank. It will have some errors, but look for if it says bad backlinks and other factors.

Hopefully this helps!
 

djbaxter

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Buying links is still something that will likely get you in trouble sooner or later.
 

PatrickRiceCo

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Buying links is still something that will likely get you in trouble sooner or later.
You have a point.

The best methods are of course influencer outreach, guest blogs, and making link-able content.

I would say buying quality links still works, and will continue to work as long as it is properly and very carefully done.
 

LadyShinobi

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This is great information. The company I work for has an SEO segment and some of the interviews that I conduct/write are used for that purpose. This has been great to read more about.
 
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You have a point.

The best methods are of course influencer outreach, guest blogs, and making link-able content.

I would say buying quality links still works, and will continue to work as long as it is properly and very carefully done.[/QU
I have to agree on this one, one of the pillars for local seo and overall linkubuilding would be sponsoring and local sponsoring , something completely white hat, completely legal. The fact that you sponsor an event or business related to your domain authority definitely gives credibility. Also carefully buying influencer and business related blog links can be effective, though that gets harder to control, need to really be sure you are working with proffesionals. Finally, of course, quality affilliate marketing, really the cherry on top of the cake holy grail of viral marketing efforts.
 

Inva

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I suggest you focus on investing in becoming an authority and forget about SEO. Investing in SEO is a bad choice currently and for the forseeable future. Unsurprisingly, when we tell ambitious clients that SEO efforts will take a lot of money and we can't promise anything, they back out (which is the sensible thing to do, mind you).
 

Jessica Bruce

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Ask for examples of their achievement. Like what queries do they have ranked in what period of time. What activities have they done to achieve these results. Do they have in-house content writers because content is the heart of any SEO strategy. What are the website have are they contributing on a regular basis. Maybe they are contributors to your niche website which will be useful for you to build links.
 

Timj77

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Having been a student of SEO for 15 years, but never charging people for it as a service, I believe its an extremely hard subject to outsource safely. I've paid for SEO related services a lot times and experienced poor value.

As a business trainer in my own company, every single business I talk to I review their website and ask them about SEO - if they've paid for it etc.

95% of the time, if they have paid for it, they received poor value.

Its a mine field!

I believe a better thing to do instead of focusing on what questions to ask is to get an education on it yourself. There's loads of good info on SEO online that is educational.

Things to learn are, what is on-page SEO, what is a PBN, what is White Hat and Black Hat SEO, what is page authority, how does copywriting affect ranking?

Where I suggest all business owners start is with learning about Google Analytics and Search Console. Without Search Console installed its very hard to confirm what benefit any SEO company is providing. With it though, you can see strong evidence of their results.

The challenge with asking questions is, you need to also understand their answers!

I just had a removalist company tell me about their paid for SEO services. They had been showing them reports, verifying how many new links they had setup (just before they were give notice of contract expiry that they wouldn't be renewing. I went onto Ahrefs and saw that they had indeed been generating a lot of backlinks, but nearly every one of them was from a foreign, non-english speaking country and also a "no-follow" link.

They also had an opt in form right in visitors faces at the top of the home page. SEO people love doing that sort of thing, as a lot of them sell $47 products where a fast opt in or sale is standard. In traditional, offline service businesses where sales are $1,000 upwards, a person isn't going to opt in (at all for a lot of businesses) within seconds of landing on a home page.

The SEO people see it as their way of verifying their effectiveness, when it often reduces the net gain of their services.

Without knowing what a "no-follow" link is and how to verify whether links are or not, how could the average person know if their SEO company is good or not.

That's a couple of examples of where knowing the question isn't the challenge, but knowing what the answer means, and what is 'best practice' of an SEO provider.

There's so much debate about SEO, even with the top guys in their field. Most say don't use PBNs but others are super successful with still using them. That makes it super hard for SEO service providers as a lot of them are still learning the topic and may not have time to keep up with Google algorithm changes that effect their work.

Ignorance is the real issue here and education is the best solution for it.
 

johnmart

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You can evaluate a reputation SEO Firm by it service Reviews. There are lots of SEO Agency that provide SEO service at the affordable price. You can easily navigate their content and read about service and their packages.
 

davidlee21

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I would evaluate SEO firm by its ability to rank on page 1 for the keywords. Always look at their previous projects. What they have done and how soon they ranked.
 
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