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Choosing an SEO Agency: 7 Key Factors to Consider for Informed Decision-making

It is important to carefully evaluate and research when choosing a search engine optimization (SEO) agency that aligns with your goals and budget. Randomly selecting an SEO company is not an effective way to partner with one. After more than 15 years in the industry, we know that there are several factors you must consider when comparing SEO agencies

Here are seven factors to consider when comparing SEO companies, whether you are a small to medium-sized business (SMB) or a larger company that requires enterprise SEO services:

1. Agency deliverables

2. Industry expertise

3. General expertise and experience

4. Customer service

5. Location

6. Technology and software

7. Pricing

Comparison Point Questions to Ask
Agency Deliverables - What type of services do I need?
- Full-service or specialty agency?
- Time required from my team?
Industry Expertise - Industries worked in?
- Experience in my industry?
- Case studies with results?
General Expertise and Experience - Length of operation?
- Proven and consistent results?
- Specialization in my industry?
Customer Service - Client satisfaction?
- SEO recommendations and assistance?
- Communication frequency?
- Employee turnover rate?
Location - Preference for remote or in-person?
- Agency's time zone?
- Preference for a local agency?
Technology and Software - Marketing technology used?
- Type of technology and ownership?
Pricing - Monthly SEO budget?
- Realism of budget against goals?
- Willingness to pay for services?

1. Agency deliverables

When searching for the best SEO agency for your business, it's important to consider the deliverables they offer. This will help you understand what you can expect to receive on a one-time or ongoing basis, how often they will perform these tasks, and what they will require from you to complete these tasks.

Knowing what you are looking for in an SEO partner can help you identify which SEO firms are most suitable for your business. For instance, if you need a comprehensive SEO plan, you should focus on full-service agencies instead of niche ones.

At a minimum, the best SEO companies should provide you with the following as part of your plan:

  • SEO audit
  • SEO consulting call(s)
  • Account manager

If you partner with a full-service agency, they should also offer:

  • On-page optimizations
  • Off-page optimizations
  • Technical optimizations

Keep in mind that the amount of work the company delivers will depend on your business needs. For example, if you are unable to provide the agency with site access, you will be responsible for implementing the optimizations yourself.

Before comparing SEO companies, it's important to outline your needs in terms of SEO deliverables. By doing so, you can narrow down your pool of potential SEO partners and focus on those that are best suited to help you achieve your SEO goals.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • What services am I looking for?
  • Do I need a full-service or a specialty agency?
  • How much time will the company require from me and my team?

2. Industry expertise

It's important to consider an agency's industry expertise in addition to the scope of their digital marketing services. Your business and industry have unique needs, so you'll want an SEO strategy that keeps you competitive within your space. Having an SEO agency with experience in your industry can be a huge asset and provide you with peace of mind.

When choosing an SEO agency, it's important to ask about their previous clients and case studies. Do they have experience working with businesses similar to yours? From healthcare and dermatology to manufacturing, pest control, and locksmiths, an SEO agency with industry-specific experience can better understand your market's distinct needs.

To ensure that the agency can deliver the desired results, you should ask them about the industries they have worked in, whether they have worked in your industry or related ones, and if they can provide case studies with measurable results.

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3. General expertise and experience

When searching for an SEO agency, businesses tend to focus on specific factors related to industry experience and specializations, but it's essential to consider the general experience of each agency. Sometimes, businesses can overlook the big picture while looking for specifics. 

Here are some questions you can ask to ensure you choose the right SEO agency for your business: 

  • How long has the agency been in business?
  • Do they have a track record of consistent results?
  • Do they specialize in your industry?

4. Customer service

When you think of customer service, you probably imagine sales associates helping people in a store. However, when it comes to choosing the right SEO agency, customer service is all about how agencies interact with their clients and how frequently they do so. 

To gauge an agency's customer service record, you should examine what their SEO services include and see if they mention regular meetings to discuss goals, SEO results, and strategy. You can also read client testimonials and reviews to see if they worked directly with agency representatives and whether the clients were satisfied with the help received. Did the agency representatives actively listen to client concerns and questions, or did clients feel like they were being brushed off?

Moreover, it's crucial to look for mentions of high employee turnover, like if the client bounced from one account manager to the next regularly. To make an informed decision, you should ask yourself the following questions: Are previous clients satisfied with how the agency offers assistance? Does the agency provide SEO recommendations and then leave you on your own or help you implement those findings? How often do they communicate results with clients? How much employee turnover does the agency experience?

5. Location

When selecting an SEO company to collaborate with, it's important to consider the location of the agency. You should decide whether you prefer to work with a local agency or one in a neighboring time zone. The location of the agency plays a significant role in how and when you communicate with them.

Choosing a local agency has its advantages. It allows you to meet the team in person as well as having virtual meetings. The benefit of working with an agency in your area or neighboring time zones is that you can communicate with them during regular business hours and expect quicker response times. However, if you choose to work with an overseas agency, it will require some planning to set up effective means of communication.

In the end, the choice of agency depends on what works best for your team. You should ask yourself whether you want to work with an agency in-person or remotely, what time zone the agency is in, and whether you and your team prefer to work with a local agency.

6. Technology and software

SEO agencies often use software to support their services. This software can be third-party tools, white-labeled platforms, or proprietary technology developed in-house.

An SEO company's tech stack can be a game-changer for a business. It can streamline tasks like keyword research, link building, and more. Additionally, it tracks competitor movements, gains, losses, and strategic changes, reports on rankings, traffic, and even return on investment, and aligns other departments like sales and marketing campaigns, such as paid advertising.

When comparing SEO agencies, it's essential to take a look at their tech stack and ask a few important questions. For example, what type of tech do they use, how much does it cost, and what pain points can it solve? It's also crucial to consider how this technology could affect other departments and/or campaigns.

Third-party tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, and Screaming Frog are commonly used by SEO agencies. White-label platforms are also popular, but they have a disadvantage. Updates, patches, and innovations rely on a third-party who also sets pricing, which gets passed on to your business. On the other hand, agencies that develop SEO software in-house often have top-notch technology. With a platform built for SEO marketing (like WebSuitable Analytics), tracking, reporting, and management become more manageable.

A mockup image of WebSuitable's Analytics Tracking and Reporting Dashboard
WebSuitable Analytics Dashboard

An SEO company's tech can be transformative for a business. For instance, it can remove silos between marketing and sales, or track a user's journey online and offline, from start to finish. That's why it's crucial to investigate an SEO agency's tech and get other team members involved, like your IT team, to better understand how the tech could integrate with your company's tech stack.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Does this agency use marketing technology to support its work?
  • What marketing technology does the agency use?
  • Is the technology white-label (subject to higher costs) or proprietary?

7. Pricing

When it comes to choosing an SEO company to work with, pricing is a critical factor to consider. Before setting a budget, it is essential to research the cost of good SEO services. According to our research, SEO services can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 per month, depending on various factors such as the agency's experience, tech stack, location, and team.

While you may come across SEO plans that cost less, it is crucial to be cautious as there are serious risks with cheap search engine optimization. These providers can not only waste your marketing budget but also harm your business's online reputation and decrease your SEO performance through lost rankings and traffic. In our 15+ years of experience, we have seen firsthand the impact of cheap SEO. Repairing the damage caused by these services can take months or even longer, and in some cases, businesses cannot afford SEO help afterward because they have drained their budget. Therefore, it is essential to avoid such providers.

As you research the cost of good SEO, keep in mind that most SEO companies have an initial cost separate from your ongoing monthly cost. This initial cost covers the expense of onboarding your business and preparing your site for ongoing SEO by fixing SEO issues.

While most SEO agencies do not post their pricing online, some agencies like WebSuitable do. Therefore, if you want to know about an SEO agency's cost, you will need to contact them and provide information about your business and goals.

As you choose the right SEO company for your business, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my monthly SEO budget?
  • Is my budget realistic against my goal and needs?
  • How much am I willing to pay for SEO servies?

Begin your SEO journey with WebSuitable

If you have been considering whether to choose an in-house SEO team or an agency, and have decided to go with an experienced SEO agency, then WebSuitable is the right choice for you. WebSuitable is one of the best SEO companies in Canada If you want to learn more about how WebSuitable can help you accelerate your SEO strategy book a free SEO strategy call today!

Headshot of Nik Paprocki, head of growth at WebSuitable.
Nik Paprocki
Head Of Growth
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