As a business owner, the success of your business depends on the people you hire. You need to find good people who do a good job. Regardless of the industry or niche you’re in, your SEO strategy is no different.
You probably know what questions to ask a prospective employee, but what about a potential local SEO Agency?
SEO can be so technical and complex, where do you begin? Do I want an agency, or do I need a consultant? Do I need one person or a team? Do I want a Marketing Agency, an Advertising Agency, a Digital Agency? What’s the difference? How do I know I’m getting the right help? How do I know I’m not being ripped off?
Finding good help isn’t easy. Here are Collide Digital’s top seven tips, plus three things to avoid, to make sure you’re not just getting SEO help, you’re getting the right SEO help for you:
1. Set Goals
Before you can find an agency that can give you what you want, you need to know what you want and have a picture of what success looks like to you.
What are your overall marketing goals? Increase search engine ranking? More leads generated by your sales funnel? How many? Do you just want more sales or more web traffic in general? Is your Social Media failing, or just not doing as well as you think it can?
The clearer you can be about your current business and marketing goals, the easier it will be to find the right SEO agency, and the better they’ll be able to get you the results you need.
2. Set Your Budget
Start the price range conversation early. You don’t want to fall in love with a service or get too far down the road with a company or freelancer, only to discover you can’t afford it.
While most agencies won’t be able to give you an exact price upfront, you’re not out of line to ask for a range estimate based on your business size and goals.
3. Find a Specialist
If what you’re looking for is general marketing help, there are tons of great agencies and passionate freelancers who can do what you need.
But if what you want is SEO, you’re going to have to go to a specialist. Particularly with Local SEO, you’re going to be better served by a professional with experience. Someone who knows the demographics and behaviours of the locals in your city.
You also need someone who’s keeping up on the latest trends, features, and algorithm changes. You need someone who can demonstrate that they’re engaged in Local SEO, not a “jack of all trades” marketer who is new to SEO.
Specific skillsets to look for include citation and backlink building, structured data mark-up, review management, and Facebook Ads experience (arguably one of the most effective ways to use local marketing).
4. Check the Agency’s Web Presence
One of the best ways to see who is a dedicated specialist, and who’s just dabbling, is to check out the Agency’s blog.
No blog? That’s a sure sign of a new or fly-by-night agency because anyone knowledgeable in SEO knows that a blog is a content-generating powerhouse for search rankings, backlinks, and keyword targeting.
Is the blog any good? Understand that it’s still part of a marketing plan, but expect it to provide you with some value. It should try to teach you something, not just hit you over the head with how much you need to “Call Now.”
The same goes for all of their social media accounts. Look for relatively consistent posts, useful content, and associations with other marketers, agencies, or websites.
5. Find One That Tracks Data
If content is king, then data is queen.
You need results and strategies based on hard facts and statistics, not “gut feelings” and “what we usually do…”
Make sure your prospective agency tracks and reports, stats related to your Local SEO efforts. This includes Click-Through Rates (CTR’s), Cost Per Lead (CPL), conversions, site visits, phone calls, contact form fills, and any other metrics that matter to you.
Clearly define reporting dates and expectations to make sure you’re kept in the loop.
6. Check References
You’re trusting this person or company with your company’s greatest asset: its reputation. Don’t take it lightly.
Check online reviews for the Agency, but remember that sometimes a reviewer is genuinely having a bad day. One bad review shouldn’t be enough to put you off.
Look for review consistency; what are clients usually happy with? Are they thrilled, or merely satisfied? Do the clients sound like they know what they’re talking about, or are they just happy the Agency’s receptionist remembered their name?
Seek in-person references, too. Talk to local businesspeople in your niche and find out who they use. Agencies who have found success with businesses similar to yours are more likely to repeat the feat with you.
7. Schedule a Consultation
Always ask for a consultation. Always.
A good agency will be happy to explain the strategies that it’s used for businesses like yours in the past. Don’t expect them to give you a marketing plan for free, but do get a sense for how they will approach your project.
Most importantly, make sure that you trust the people at the Agency. Are they approachable? Do they seem passionate, genuine? If you have a “stupid question,” are you comfortable asking them? You’ll be asking them a lot of questions during your time together, so make sure you can communicate freely.
What to Avoid
1. A Mysterious “Secret Sauce”
There are no secrets in SEO, just things that people know and don’t know. Anyone who is trying to sell you on a “secret system” is just trying to dazzle you with nonsense. You want expertise, not high-calorie sales pitches.
2. Local for the Sake of Local
There are bad agencies in every town. While in a perfect world you can find someone in your area who’s also a Local SEO wiz, you’d be better off going with a great agency a town over than a lazy, half-hearted agency in your own backyard.
3. Being Cheap
As they say, you get what you pay for. Price doesn’t always equal quality, but if someone’s offering bargain-basement prices for SEO, expect their skill level to be bargain-basement too.
Choosing a Local SEO agency isn’t easy. It’s mostly unregulated, with no “one size fits all” solution. Prepare yourself by doing your research, understanding what you need, and thoroughly vetting your options to find the right Agency for you.
If you’re in California and looking for SEO help, why not have a chat with the experienced local team at Collide?
Not nearby? We might know someone great in your neck of the woods! And if not, we’ll learn about your locale to help you craft a successful Local SEO strategy all your own.