A Business Owners Guide: How to choose an SEO Agency

Don’t pick a dodgy SEO agency! Read this small-business owners guide on how to choose an SEO agency.

What is this SEO buyers guide for?

As an SEO consultant I work with many Australian businesses day in day out. Probably at least 1/3 of the customers I speak to have websites that have been let down by shady SEO practices. Most customers I speak to have done SEO before but have been left with a bad feeling from not getting the results they were promised by over-zealous salesmen. I have seen this industry take a beating due to the bad behaviour of a few dodgy providers.

This article is my small contribution to bring credibility back to the SEO industry.. to help business owners avoid getting ripped off when choosing an SEO vendor.

What small businesses need to avoid when buying SEO services

1/ SEO Guarantees:

SEO Guarantees are something which have single handedly ruined the name and integrity of the SEO Industry. Google themselves warn people away from using SEO vendors that offer guarantees check it out here.

Or you can check out the expose by Australian newspaper Sydney Morning Herald did on SEO Services companies being the subject of hundreds of complaints.

Why are SEO Guarantees bad?

SEO Guarantees are misleading, because SEO companies will offer a certain number of keywords (10, for example) and guarantee that a certain number will be on page 1 by the end of “X” months and lock you into a long-term contract.

What’s the catch with SEO guarantees?

With the majority of these “guarantees” the keywords that will fall under the guarantee are obscure, long winded terms that either generate no search volume, or keywords you could rank for yourself!. There is a big difference between ranking for “seo agency” (18,100 searches a month) and “Vero Beach local SEO agency” (0 searches a month)

If both are a page 1 ranking.. which one would generate more business enquiries?

Conclusion: SEO Guarantees are usually a sales ploy and ranking for obscure keywords won’t help grow your business. Don’t buy into the hype.

2/ SEO Companies who wont SHOW you the types of links they are building to your website

80% of the work most SEO companies do when you sign up to an SEO program or service is to do with boosting up the popularity and authority of your site.

One of the biggest ranking factors Google looks at is how popular your site is and they determine this by looking at if your site is getting mentioned around the web, so naturally SEO companies will try to get you lots of mentions!

In the past it was easy to fake this popularity by building links on dodgey sites in a manipulative way.

So when Google scanned your site and links they would see them as good but in reality they are actually just tricking Google.

I’ve even seen some SEO’s using a translation agency to translate other languages into content they can use to build links with!

This type of Search Engine Trickery no longer works as it used to after the Penguin update, cool article here by Jayson DeMers.

The majority of SEO companies are still engaging in this type of deceptive link building!

Link building questions to ask a potential SEO vendor:

  1. What is your link building/authority building strategy?
  2. Can you show me examples of links you have earned in my industry? 
  3. Can you show me how this translated into increases in traffic, enquiries and sales  (NOT just rankings)

Shonky SEO companies will not be able to show you this, or will try to hide it as the quality is low.

What to look for when selecting an SEO provider?

1/ Can they demonstrate success through long term traffic increases?

Any old SEO company can claim page one 1 rankings they got for obscure terms or sudden large, unrealistic increases in traffic in astronomically short amount of times. What is important to look for is a vendor who can demonstrate safe, long term growth to theirclientsbusinesses. Google releases updates to their algorithm (such as the Florida update) more often than ever that change the game, so look for providers with case studies (i.e proof) of long-term growth for their SEO clients.

2/ Can they demonstrate an ability to rank for competitive keywords?

Ranking for a keyword like “Best cheap plumber Orlando Florida” is nowhere near impactful for a plumbing business as ranking for “Plumber Orlando” (610 searches a month).

The shorter, more higher search volume terms are extremely competitive. These are the types of search terms that some SEO Companies will avoid (and won’t guarantee). A good SEO vendor with a sound strategy will be able to show you:

  1. The ability to get quality sites ranking for these competitive terms
  2. Show you that these sites have consistently dominated their market for competitive terms
  3. Be able to show you how they did it!

Do’s and Don’ts of Choosing an SEO

Don’ts: What you don’t want to do if you want your business to grow:

  1. Pick an SEO vendor who offers guarantees or pay as you get results schemes. No one can guarantee an outcome
  2. Pick an SEO Vendor who can’t show you the work they are doing or the links they have built
  3. Pick an SEO company who can’t demonstrate how they have delivered traffic, sales and enquiry growth for their clients
  4. Pick an SEO Company who claims you should pick them because they rank for the keyword “SEO”.. We actually rank for the keyword SEO, but its not why you should choose us..!

Do’s: What you do want to do if you want your business to grow:

  1. Invest in an SEO consultant who can demonstrate long term growth for their clients
  2. Invest in an SEO vendor who can show you how they have ranked sites for competitive key terms
  3. Invest in an SEO vendor who is willing to talk in depth about the strategies they will implement on your site and show you the links they build.
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The Author

Blake Smith

Blake Smith

This post was written by Blake Smith. Blake has 10+ experience as a digital marketer and SEO consultant.

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