There are lots of factors you must take into consideration when deciding which SEO agency to hire.
That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide! We’ll help you to navigate through the hiring process and ultimately hire the best agency for your business.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF SEO
Like every ‘big thing,’ there’s the good, the bad and the ugly.
THERE’S NO SECRET SAUCE WHEN IT COMES TO SEO
Here at Pearl Lemon, we are extremely proud of what we do, and how we do it.
In fact, one of our core values is transparency. We are open and honest about what can be done, how we’ll do it and the results you can expect.
Extremely high-quality resources relating to SEO is easily accessible online. Yet still, you’ll come across SEO agencies or Consultants who claim to have a ‘secret sauce’ or a ‘proprietary blend’ that makes their SEO services superior. They don’t. It’s simply not true. If an agency is trying to convince you that they do, consider it a major red flag.
Here’s a video hosted by Maile Ohye who works at Google. In this video, she gives some great advice on how to choose a reliable and trustworthy SEO company. She also provides an actionable checklist of things to consider when you buy SEO services online.
We would recommend reading the SEO starter guide if you are new to SEO, before hiring an agency. Good SEOs will want to teach you about search engine optimisation. That’s what we love to do here at Pearl Lemon! We even give our clients access to our SEO video course.
THINGS TO AVOID WHEN HIRING AN SEO COMPANY
Ok, so you’ve avoided a major red flag. However, here are a few mistakes many businesses make when hiring an SEO company.
1: RELYING SOLELY ON GOOGLE SEARCH
It’s understandable why many people believe the best SEO agencies rank the highest in search engines.
However, it’s important not to solely rely on Google rankings to make a decision on what agency to hire.
Where an SEO agency ranks isn’t always an indication of their ability to rank their client’s site.
Believe it or not, there are excellent agencies out there who are delivering significant results for their clients and are so busy providing a five-star service and winning business through word of mouth that they don’t put the time into fully optimising their own site.
We have to admit, we are a bit guilty of this here at Pearl Lemon. We are rapidly expanding.
Deepak Shukla, our founder and CEO, rapidly grew the company from 0 to £275k in less than 24 months of launching the business.
The majority of our clients didn’t actually come to us through organic search.
We’d win a ton of clients through referrals, and because one of our core values is to build long-term relationships our client retention rates were good.
This coupled with the fact that we used and still use a wide variety of lead generation techniques to get new clients meant that the process of optimising our site began later as we roped in more SEO nerds.
(See, we told you we are transparent!)
Sometimes agencies devote a lot of resource into improving their SEO because they aren’t getting the volume of clients they’d hoped for through other methods of client acquisition. You should also bear this in mind when it comes to agencies who pay for ads.
With that being said, it’s important that we emphasise we are by no means saying not to hire an agency that ranks highly in the SERPs, we are simply saying there are so many other factors to consider.
Therefore, searching for the best search engine optimisation agency for your company may involve sifting through more that one page of search engine results.
2: HIRING AN AGENCY BASED ON THEIR POSITION ON “BEST SEO AGENCY” LISTS
When it comes to such lists, there are two types that you should be aware of.
The first is the pay-to-play type. These platforms charge SEOs to feature and be listed. Some even charge agencies to be listed at a particular position each year.
Secondly, you have lists that don’t charge agencies to be ranked and allow agencies to rant based on their own merit.
We believe that paying a company to feature us on a list is deceiving, and to be honest – we’d much rather spend our money elsewhere haha!
We don’t pay to rank or increase our visibility on these “best SEO agencies” lists.
However, you will find us ranking on sites that allow us to showcase our client reviews, portfolio and specialisms for free and rank us using algorithms according to our strengths relative to other agencies in the field.
For example in 2018, we ranked as:
-An SEO industry leader on Clutch for our Local SEO services
-#1 for our E-commerce SEO services on Design rush
-A top 20 Marketing Agency on Agency Spotter
So with that said, don’t make the mistake of hiring an SEO just because they are ranking on a “top SEO agency list”. If you do want to take such lists into consideration, check to see if the platform charges agencies to feature.
3: HIRING AN SEO AGENCY BASED ON HOW MUCH THEY CHARGE
As you do your research, you’ll quickly realise that the fees SEO agencies charge for their services varies greatly.
In the world of SEO pricing isn’t always an indication of quality. You’ll find SEO agencies that charge relatively low fees but deliver great results and agencies who charge relatively high fees and under deliver.
Whilst ‘cheap SEO packages’ might sound attractive they are not always the best option to go with when hiring the best SEO agency for your business.
This is because the delivery of high-quality SEO services is both labour and capital intensive. If a company is offering cheap packages it may be an indication that they lack the resources required to get excellent results for your company.
Also, be cautious of the word ‘packages’. As we mentioned earlier in the post, high-quality SEO information is widely accessible online.
If you make the decision to hire an SEO agency, you don’t want someone who will just run through a generic checklist and then call it a day.
You want to hire an agency that will also provide SEO strategy as well as SEO analytics and reporting.
Every business is unique, therefore, if an SEO company is offering a package, be sure to check if and how they tailor their packages to their client’s individual businesses.
Another reason why it is important that you do not hire an SEO agency on the basis of them being cheap is that they could value your custom less.
Think of it this way. An SEO company that has adopted the simplistic business model to charge much lower than competitors will attract a higher volume of clients. This business model is not conducive of the formation of long-term business relationships.
Therefore, if you aren’t happy with the SEO service that they deliver, losing you as a client won’t bother them as much because they’ll have a string of new clients lined up.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN SEO AGENCY
So now you know what mistakes to avoid. Here are some things that will help you to choose a reputable SEO company that is right for your business.
1: WHITE-HAT PRACTICES
The best SEO agency for your business will be one that only uses white-hat SEO techniques. They’ll abide by best practices which are more reliable, and sustainable in the long-run.
Black-hat SEO involves going against the best practices that are set out by search engines. Put simply, it’s not ethical and can lead to you getting penalties or even de-indexed from search engines.
Practices you’ll want to avoid include keyword stuffing, cloaking and doorway pages. This guide written by Google will outline other practices to make sure your potential search engine optimisation agency isn’t using
In this video, Neil Patel shares his experience of getting banned by Google for using black-hat SEO techniques. He explains that black hat techniques are not long-term. Read this guide by HubSpot to learn more about black hat SEO.
2: CASE STUDIES
Here at Pearl Lemon, we don’t just say what we can do we’ll show you. Check out our video case studies.
Your hiring process should definitely involve looking at the potential SEO company’s case studies. Doing so will give you an indication of their ability to generate results.
If the SEO company you are considering doesn’t have any video case studies that actually show evidence of the results research the clients they’ve helped to see how their rankings are.
Our Founder Deepak Shukla, is an SEO expert and influencer. He is dedicated to sharing his expertise with the SEO and wider digital marketing community, therefore, he has featured in various public speaking engagements, podcasts, webinars, videos and blog posts including TEDx, SEMrush, Woorank, Markedu, Chelsea FC, Bright Talks and more!
Please feel free to reach out to Deepak directly! You can schedule a call directly in his calendar here
3: EXPERIENCE IN THE INDUSTRY
Experience is very important when it comes to hiring a reliable SEO consultant for your business. You want to hire an expert in their field, who not only knows SEO but who also understands business growth.
Don’t be fooled into thinking someone is an SEO professional just because they have taken an online course. Experience is key.
When we say experience we don’t just mean how many years they have been in the field of SEO. We mean their experience of working with a range of clients in various industries.
Collectively, our team of SEO experts have 20+ years of experience between us and we’ve worked with companies all over the world in fields including law, finance, property, e-commerce, cryptocurrency, healthcare, education, fashion, IT, technology, marketing, and more. Meet our awesome team!
4: CLIENT REVIEWS
Several 5-star reviews on credible review sites such as Trustpilot is a good indicator of a company that provides reputable SEO services.
Reading or watching client reviews can help you to choose the right SEO agency for your business.
If an agency that you are considering doesn’t display client reviews on their site, be sure to ask if you can see them or find out more about their previous client’s experiences.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SEO COMPANY
The SEO marketplace is vast! There are lots of SEO service providers. You’ll need to make an informed decision based upon the needs of your business. Here are some top tips to consider when you buy SEO services online.
1: DEFINE YOUR COMPANY’S GOALS?
First of all, you’ll need to ask yourself: what do you want to achieve with search engine optimisation? How will I measure my success?
It’s a good idea to set out some SMART goals – ones that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and can be achieved within a time frame.
Some examples of goals you might set include: driving more qualified traffic to your website, to increase the number of sign-ups or to boost revenue via sales.
As mentioned above, good organic search service providers will implement a strategy and offer comprehensive analytics and reporting as part of your campaign. These providers will be very keen to understand your goals.
2: UNDERSTAND YOUR BUDGET?
Higher organic search rankings are earnt over time, you can’t directly buy your way to the top of organic SERPs. SEO is an investment.
If you are a small business, you might be attracted to generic ‘cheap SEO packages’. But remember, no two businesses are the same.
Regardless of whether your business is small or large, you’ll want an SEO consultant who’ll tailor their offering to your business, teach you more about search engine optimisation, devise a strategy and analyse the results of the campaign.
When it comes to SEO the difference is in the delivery. So instead of generic packages, seek out bespoke services and negotiate a monthly retainer that is in line with your budget.
Here’s a case study of Deepak, our founder (based in London, Uk) communicating with one of our Canadian clients via a video call. For this campaign, we liaised mainly with Alison, the client’s Digital Marketing Manager.
3: GET YOUR ENTIRE ORGANISATION ON BOARD
Before hiring an agency, figure out who you’d like to liaise with the agency account manager.
Also, have a think about how much involvement you’d want to have with the agency. What type of reporting do you expect? How will you communicate with the agency? video call? telephone conversations? email? WhatsApp?
For example here at Pearl Lemon, we give our clients quick updates every 48 hours and a more comprehensive update each week.
Some of our clients have a low involvement, whereas some clients have a high involvement, where we collaborate with multiple members of their team.
QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE HIRING AN SEO COMPANY
We’ve gone through what to look for in an SEO company and some of the things you should do internally before hiring. The next step is to reach out to reputable search agencies to assess whether they’ll make a good cultural fit with your business.
WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT OUR INDUSTRY?
This is a great question to ask when interviewing an agency because it will give you an indication of how much experience they have. If they have worked with clients in your industry before, ask them for a case study so that you can get an idea of the results they were able to achieve.
HOW OFTEN WILL WE COMMUNICATE?
Some agencies will have weekly meetings others have a catch up less frequently. Knowing and agreeing on how you’ll communicate is very important as it allows you to prepare internally. Ask the agency what the catchup will involve. Will they discuss results? Will they give you an overview of what actions have been done?
HOW WILL YOU ANALYSE THE SUCCESS OF OUR CAMPAIGN AND REPORT IT BACK TO US?
As we mentioned earlier, professional search engine optimisation companies will provide you with SEO analytics services and will regularly update you on the results. Based on the results they will also make further recommendations on how to take the campaign to the next level.
Ask the potential agency what software they use for reporting and how often they will be reporting back to you.
WHY SHOULD I HIRE YOU OVER ANOTHER AGENCY?
The main difference between SEO agencies is going to come down to delivery. Not necessarily what they do but more so how they do it.
Ask the agency what do they do differently, and how that will benefit your business.
MAKING THE FINAL DECISION
We hope this guide will help you to choose the right SEO company for your business.
Factors to strongly consider:
-Ability to drive results
-Client reviews & case studies (trustworthiness)
-Cultural fit (Easy to work with)
We’d also LOVE for you to consider hiring our agency, Pearl Lemon!
Our ideal clients are those who love to work in a rapid growth environment. Here at Pearl Lemon, we are incredibly results-driven and pride ourselves on reporting our progress to our clients regularly. In line with our core value to build long-term relationships, we enjoy taking the time to get to know our clients both personally and professionally in terms of getting to know them and their business so that we can craft truly bespoke SEO campaigns that deliver.