Cillian Bracken Conway
23rd Oct, 2020

A solid SEO strategy can make a world of difference to your business, so it’s a smart move to seek the help of specialists. Some agencies are brilliant, some are average, and some give the entire business a bad name. How do you tell good from the bad, to find the right fit for your goals? You can ask these questions.

These questions cut through the pumped up sales pitches and help you uncover what you need to know: whether they’ll respect you, communicate with you, and help you grow.


First, Ask Yourself These Questions

Before you contact an SEO agency, you need to know what you want. Different agencies offer different services; how will you know which contenders to cull, if you don’t have specific goals for your business?
If you want to appear in search engine results, that’s a valid goal… but it’s too vague. You’ll attract every agency under the sun, complete with promises of first page rankings on Google. Some examples of what you hope to accomplish with SEO could include:

  • Boosting product sales through keyword rankings
  • Reducing your website’s bounce rate
  • Increasing your conversion rate
  • Increasing ad revenue
  • Growing your audience, increasing brand awareness and building a social media following
  • Attracting qualified leads who spend more time on your site
  • Creating sponsored content
  • Gaining industry recognition or a stronger reputation


1. When Will We See Results?

The answer you get will tell you a lot about an agency. With a quality agency, results will develop after 3-6 months. You might see upticks in shorter periods, but SEO is a long game. The results show with time and depend on:

  • Your KPIs and goals
  • The specific service you are using
  • Your internal team’s efficiency

Consistently high rankings take time, effort, and maintenance. There’s always someone trying to take you from that top spot, and continual strategies designed to secure and grow your exposure will have long-term benefits for your business. In fact, SEO results build on each other more and more as time passes.


2. Can We See Proof of Past Success?

For all businesses, performance matters. If a prospective client came to you asking for information to help make a decision, you’d provide it. You should do the same when deciding on an SEO agency to work with. Any established agency will be able to provide you with:

  • Case studies related to the services you require
  • Testimonials or contacts for current and past clients, to get a sense of how their campaigns were managed
  • Awards they’ve won for their work

Look for reviews on third party sites like Facebook and Google. Go beyond the story that they’re telling on their website and social channels, and find out what customers are really saying.


3. What’s Your Agency’s Point of Difference?

This is your prospective agency’s opportunity to truly share what makes their agency a cut above the rest. For example, upon having a chat with the Vine Digital team, you’d discover that one of our core purposes is to repair the murky reputation of the SEO industry and to “make the internet a better place”. In addition to that:

  • Your SEO strategy is devised in line with the needs of your business. By getting to know you and your goals, we craft a bespoke strategy from the ground up.
  • We won’t lock you into a contract. All of our clients are with us because they want to be. This puts the onus on us to keep delivering consistently high quality work and results, month after month; a standard we are more than happy to meet.


4. How Much Do You Cost?

In the world of SEO, you get what you pay for. SEO isn’t free (unless you do it yourself – a lot of work for one person!). Overly cheap pricing models may seem appealing now, but you risk losing money down the line as these agencies often employ unethical and ineffective practices. Here’s what to look for:

  • Watch out for SEO guarantees. It’s one thing to showcase your wins, but it’s another to guarantee first page results. While SEO agencies can perfect their practices after years of experience, Google’s algorithms can be unpredictable. Any agency promising certain outcomes is either lying or cheating. Either way, not good footing to start your partnership on.
  • Be realistic about your budget – $300 a month for SEO services isn’t reasonable. Consider your SEO agent as an additional staff member.
  • Low-budget SEO companies often use strategies that are ineffective in the long-term. While you may approach the top rank quickly, you’ll fall from grace fast. Google may even ban your website from ever appearing in results again. This means users won’t be able to find your site via the world’s biggest search engine. These companies generally have poor customer service, with a one size fits all strategy that fails to recognise the individuality of its clients.

Focus on established white-hat SEO agencies. SEO is content based, but a lot of agencies outsource their content. Look for SEO agencies with an in-house content writer, to ensure your content is written by someone who knows both the written word and digital.

SEO isn’t some mysterious form of black magic. To get a return on your investment, you have a right to know what strategies the agency is using, as well as being kept in the loop about your progress towards your goals. Don’t be afraid to ask how they will inform you of these results – will they send you a document once a year with numbers for you to decode, or will they find delight in reporting custom results and insights every month?

At Vine Digital, it’s the latter. We love sharing our results, and find out from you each month where you’d like to improve. We are passionate about providing ethical SEO strategies. Give us a call if you want to talk about the possibility of a custom strategy designed to help your business, in all its uniqueness, succeed.