Recently a friend asked me to help him evaluate some SEO agencies much larger than we are (so we weren’t upset…). As we went through the process a theme developed over and over again. Nearly every agency focused on Technical SEO at the outset and then a ‘pass the buck’ approach with ongoing optimization. So I figured it was important to jot down some things you should consider when evaluating SEO agencies so that you don’t get caught in their margin game.
A Solely Technical SEO Focus
Not to discount this tactic, as it is incredibly important, but it is not the sole thing you should focus on. A solid technical foundation helps your site get found and ensures that your content is able to be read by the search engines. But that content it is reading must still be well-written and supporting a keyword theme. Therefore, having perfect technical SEO on a site won’t get you far if you sacrificed content. Make sure your agency is focused on a holistic content strategy as opposed to just fixing the technical stuff! Ask them how they approach keyword research, do they have content writers on staff, do they conduct voice exercises, etc.
Here’s a Report For You
Ongoing SEO requires vigilance to searcher behavior, search engine algorithm changes, content-writing, and back-links. There’s plenty more, but the main thing you do not see listed there is “reporting”. Is reporting important? Absolutely. BUT, you can go buy one of the tools yourself. We use Moz, SEMRush, Screaming Frog, among others. Go download or use them. They are awesome. OK, now that we gave you our secret sauce, how’s your SEO? Hiring an agency is more than the tools they bring to the table. It is the experience and strategy that they bring. Ask your agency what a typical monthly engagement looks like. How often are they re-evaluating keywords, do they have a strategy for algorithm pivots, how often are they writing or suggesting articles, and how many websites do they typically go after for back links?
What Does it all Mean?
A solid >90% of agencies out there push as much work as possible upon lower cost resources in order to increase margins. Everyone does it, even at the grocery store. The issue in the agency world is that often this results in a lack of strategy to the client. Our advice, constantly challenge your agency on new ideas, industry news, keyword suggestions. Don’t just accept a monthly report of numbers, but request an action plan of recommendations and how they are keeping you on the forefront of the SEO world!