How to Vet An SEO Agency
(and Prevent Failure)
Major Algorithm Updates, Explained
Finding the right SEO provider is important. It also can be a lot of hard work. This is why vetting SEO agencies is so important. You want to make sure your SEO agency is:
- Easy to work with.
- Going to deliver real value to your business.
- Knowledgeable about the industry.
- Within your budget.
The stakes are high. In most cases, SEO can make or break your business. Choose the right SEO agency and your business could start generating more traffic and revenue than it’s ever seen. Choose the wrong SEO agency and it could lead you to failure. We’re talking wasted money, penalties, and countless lost opportunities (e.g., rankings, traffic, and revenues). Although there are many honest and reputable agencies to choose from, there are still a few scam artists and dishonest agencies looking to exploit unknowing businesses.
The SEO Agency Horror Show
As the head of an SEO agency, I’ve seen the success stories. It’s always great to see clients grow and succeed because it helps us take pride in our work and showcase what SEO can do for businesses. But I’ve also heard some horror stories. One frustrating aspect of being an agency is hearing stories from businesses that come to us wary and frustrated from bad experiences they’ve had with unreliable SEO agencies. In speaking with such clients, there seems to be a common crescendo that leads them to their unfortunate breaking point, and it goes like this:
A business decides SEO is the next step in their growth plan, so they seek out and speak with an agency about services. The agency sells them potential results of successful SEO and makes guarantees about what they can achieve for the business. The business thinks it sounds great and takes the agency at their word. Ultimately, the business signs a contract with the SEO agency and gets locked in for an extended period of time. Fast forward a year or two later, and some businesses find themselves drained of money with little to show for it, or in some cases, with penalties that have made their online performance worse.
Tips for Vetting SEO Agencies
The advice and questions that follow are what businesses absolutely must consider and ask while vetting SEO agencies from an actual SEO agency’s behind-the-scenes perspective.
Develop a List of Criteria
Having some criteria beforehand will make you think critically about your expectations, protect you from going in blindly, and keep you in charge of what you want.
Think about things like:
- Desired contract duration.
- Whether you want a local service provider or if you’re OK with a remote agency.
- Reporting frequency.
- Any other potential deal breakers.
Talk to 3 Different SEO Agencies
It’s smart to talk to at least three SEO providers before you make a decision. Aside from this being a generally good idea for the sake of knowing all your options, it also helps give you some leverage for possible negotiations regarding prices, services, and contract stipulations.
Make a List of Interview Questions
Asking the right questions before signing a contract can prevent the majority of SEO horror stories. Have the questions ready to ask each agency you speak with, so later you can compare answers and have plenty of information to help guide your decision.