How do I choose an SEO agency?

by Alasdair Peoples, originally posted on June 3, 2016

The world is saturated with companies keen to offer you SEO services. Some are good, some are bad, and some are downright ugly. If you only read this far, remember this nugget of wisdom: fast and cheap rarely equals good.

“Guaranteeing first page results on Google is a bad a sign.”

So, how do you choose the best SEO agency for your business?

To answer this question, I went where any self-respecting marketer goes to get ideas: Reddit. A place where people think out loud on topics from cats to content marketing. I wasn’t disappointed — soon enough, I was reading an r/SEO thread where everyone was speaking the language of search.

This thread —entitled what makes a good or bad SEO provider? — quickly demonstrated these gals and guys knew their onions.

“SEO companies shouldn’t discuss vague abstractions.”

A Redditor kicked things off by asking how to find the best SEO agency for clients with revenues between $500K — $5M. It’s a good question, and plenty of good answers followed.

Here are 10 things you should be looking for:

1. Transparency

Your agency should be transparent in their work and deliverables. SEO companies shouldn’t discuss vague abstractions. They should be able to outline clearly what they intend doing t your website. And they should do this without you having to ask.

Photo by Olu Eletu on Unsplash

2. Realistic guarantees

Guaranteeing first page results on Google is a bad a sign. Such assertions ignore the incremental and consistent work that SEO requires — and overlook the ever-changing and ever-evolving landscape of search.

Serious SEO agencies want to build lasting relationships.”

3. Previous successes

Seek out a company with concrete examples of results, case studies and references. SEO strategy is more important than simple link earning and content creation.

4. Good marketing material

Review the agency’s website and marketing materials — do they have good content, fast site speed and a user-friendly interface? A good online footprint is important.

Photo by Jonathan Simcoe on Unsplash

5. No hard sell

Be wary of high pressure sales tactics and scare stories. Serious SEO agencies want to build lasting relationships based on foundations of trust and hard work. They should give you a common-sense approach — not a scare story.

“Can your potential new agency make a business case for the people upstairs?”

6. Tailored prices

SEO is not one-size-fits-all. If an agency tells you “we can do everything for £X”, you should be wary. Prices and deliverables should be tailored to meet your business goals.

7. Success in your price range

Look for a track record of success in your price range. Big clients need an agency that knows how to deal with big organisations. For example, can your potential new agency make a business case for the people upstairs? One that shows the impacts and outcomes of your essential site changes?

“Spamming the world is unnecessary.”

8. Industry credentials

Does the SEO agency have people who speak at industry events? Or at least attend them? SEO is constantly changing — staying up to speed with the latest developments is vital. Gently inquire if they go to or speak at events like Brighton SEO, The Inbounder or SMX.

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash

9. Word of mouth

Referrals and testimonials are invaluable. Do you know someone who has enjoyed SEO success? Contact them and get a recommendation.

10. No spam

Ignore spammy SEO companies that send you weird emails from undisclosed locations in the developing world. Good agencies get enough work from referrals — spamming the world is unnecessary.

Yes, some excellent points were made on Reddit. Can you think of any other important traits — or red flags — to watch out for? Share your wisdom with a comment.

Learn more about Smart Organic Marketing.




The Smart Organic Marketing agency. Insight-led SEO, Content Marketing & Digital Communications.

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