How to Choose the Right SEO Agency

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Welcome to one of the most discouraging tasks that you will face …
Choose SEO agency.
Because it may seem trivial, but a decision that will depend a growing part of your income is to take it seriously, do not you think?

Currently, almost any company related to the Internet offers “web positioning” services.There are serious and respected agencies, but there are also really bad ones.

if you have no experience in SEO, it is easy to end up throwing your money with an agency that does not suit you. Although that is not the worst, a negligent service can get you out of the Google indexes without notice.

Only if you know how to choose will you be safe. You can avoid those traps in which newcomers fall, while finding an agency that speaks your language, which suits your needs and gives you juicy results.

Everything you need to know below …

• 1. What are you really looking for?
• 2. Know what you are going to buy
• What is SEO?
• Advantages and disadvantages of SEO

3. Adopt the proper approach
• Do it yourself
• Hire it

4. Not all agencies are the same
• Types of SEO agencies
• Big or small agency?
• Minimum services

5. Discard harmful companies
• Alarm signs
6. Be smart when contacting
• How to request a quote
7. What to look for in a proposal
• Payment models
• Pay in advance?

And to make the right decision …

1. What are you really looking for?
If you still do not have it clear, finding out should be your highest priority. Generally, people who seek SEO agency do so for a reason: they want to be the No. 1 in Google , orfind links , or increase the PageRank … And all that is fine, but if getting it does not involve receiving relevant visits it is useless .
This is what happens when you hire a search engine positioning company to take you to the front page for terms that nobody looks for. Or when you pay for thousands of links that do not bring relevant traffic to your site (or any traffic). Useless.
Before looking for an agency, start by asking yourself, Why do I want to be visible in Google? Think about it, maybe what you really want is:
• Expose your brand to a specific group of people
• Attract potential customers
• Increase subscriptions to the newsletter
• Get more users to start the purchase process

Only when you know the underlying reason that leads to SEO, you are in a position to find an agency capable of satisfying you. You can contact them and say, “Look, I do not care about rankings, what I want is for people interested in what I offer to visit, because what I’m looking for is …”.
This way you have more chances of being understood, and of receiving the service you need.

2. Know what you are going to buy
Although every day SEO is better known, it is true that there is still some confusion. If this is your case, do not worry, then I will explain everything you need to know:

What is SEO?
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a search engine marketing strategy that aims to attract desirable and free visitors to a website through search engines such as Google and Bing.
This is how SEO helps promote your site:
• It puts you in front of people interested in what you offer
• It takes you to potential customers, buyers, or whoever you are looking for

To achieve this, SEO includes 2 fundamental aspects:
• SEO “On page” – It consists of modifying elements on the              website and adding new ones to make it more attractive to            search engines and users.
• SEO “Off page” – Focuses on external factors such as links and    social signals.
Advantages and disadvantages of SEO

SEO has in its favor that:
• It is highly targeted – The visitors you receive are interested in the information, products, or services you offer, that’s why they look for it.

• Visits are affordable – You do not have to pay to appear in the search engine, nor for the visits received. The only cost comes from paying a company to do it for you, investing your own resources, or a combination of both.

• It’s dynamic – Search engines visit your site regularly, which means you can adapt your strategy dynamically, depending on the results you get.
And up to here everything that any salesman could have told you. But SEO has disadvantages that you can not ignore:
The Optimization of Social Networks – Due to the changing nature of the search algorithms it is impossible to predict the results or the visits that will arrive at the site.
• It takes time – Results can take months to be seen.
• It is difficult to implement – You do not always have the resources / knowledge to carry out the actions that SEO requires.
• The investment is continuous – You need to invest constantly to avoid losing ground to your competitors, eager to take your place.
• It is directed by the search – If nobody looks for what you offer, it does not help.
To know more about the pros and cons of SEO I recommend you read this article:
• The Advantages of SEO (and Disadvantages Few Count)

3. Adopt the proper approach
There are two ways to do SEO: you can do it yourself, or you can let someone do it for you.
I understand that if you are here it is because you want someone else to be in charge, but it is not a bad idea that you value both options before making the final decision.Maybe it will help you discover new possibilities, or reaffirm your decision.
Do it yourself

One of the biggest advantages of doing SEO yourself is control . At all times you decide what to do and how, without depending on anyone.

Among other things, you can:
• Start in less time
• Make changes faster
• Choose in which areas to focus and how
• Do more on delicate tasks
• Be sure to comply with the search engine guidelines
Another important advantage is that you do not have to worry about what is said or done in your name, something that happens when you delegate in others your participation in blogs, forums and social networks.
Hire it
Although doing SEO by yourself seems like an ideal solution, there are plenty of reasons to have specialists do it for you:
• Access a level of experience that you do not have
• Delegate certain activities to focus on your work
• Acquire skills and knowledge that will be useful in future
• Avoid falling into common mistakes
• Get new views
In any case, you do not have to outsource all the work. Many companies prefer to take the best of both options. For example, you can handle SEO at home , and when you need it, hire an external consultant to review what you are doing, guide you in the process and / or train you in the latest techniques.

4. Not all agencies are the same
When it comes to SEO, there is a lot to choose from. Almost any company related to the Internet offers some type of search engine optimization service .
But that does not mean that anyone is worth solving your problems. Knowing what kind of agency to look for from the beginning will make your task considerably easier.

Types of SEO agencies

At first it may seem that “it does not matter who does it while doing it”, but this is not entirely true here. Each type of agency has its strengths and weaknesses.
Below I summarize the (presumable) advantages and disadvantages of working with one type or another:
• Agency SEM – In principle they are those that have the greatest capacity and experience in SEO. However, not all offer customized solutions.
• Web design agency – They should be able to build a friendly site to search. The problem is that SEO is not your specialty.
• Digital Agency – They are prepared to integrate SEO along with other digital strategies. Against it is the risk that comes with depending on a single agency for all your online initiatives.
• Advertising Agency – Despite having a large advertising capacity, it is likely that they lack SEO experience.
• SEO Consultant – You can produce a great return on investment when your recommendations are followed. The hard part is finding the right consultant.
As you can see, not all alternatives are the same, nor can you say that there is one better than another. When choosing, you will have to see what type of agency brings you the most.

Big or small agency?
A very common question when looking for SEO services is not whether to work with a class or another agency, but whether it is better big or small. There is no doubt that large agencies have great experts among their ranks, but it is also true that access to them is difficult.

If you are a small client, they will most likely end up assigning you to junior consultantsand generic strategies. Hence, if you want to work with an important SEO agency, it is a good idea to make sure before whom you will work with you and what degree of experience you have.

Another option is to work with a small agency. Now, I do not mean small agencies that handle hundreds of accounts, but one that charges more in exchange for working with fewer clients.

In many cases it is the only way to capture a great experience and get them to dedicate the time that your case requires. Personally, it is the approach I prefer to apply.

Minimum services
Gone are the days when taking your site to the top was simply to fill your pages with keywords and create a few links. Due to increasing competition and the continuous evolution of search engines, you now need to cover a wider range of needs.
If you plan to outsource all SEO, you will need a comprehensive service. In this case, the agency you choose must be able to offer, at least, the following services:
• Consulting – It is essential that the agency is prepared to understand your case, analyze it and solve it with a customized solution. You will probably need atechnical audit of your site , a keyword strategy and a short, medium and long term SEO plan.
• Web development – If your site is not prepared for the search engines, it will have to be adapted so that they can track it, understand it and index it. In many cases adaptation involves touching code.

• Writing – Competing for rankings involves more than just keyword-oriented pages. You need the agency to produce well-written texts, capable of interesting users and provoking action, without forgetting search engines.

• Public relations online – Publishing content is just the beginning. There must be a person in charge of disseminating them, of dialoguing with the audience and of establishing relationships that will help to obtain links, traffic and better rankings.

• Web analytic s – To close the cycle, it is necessary to measure the results of the actions carried out. You need all the traffic data and conversions to be registered, and later that someone is able to analyze and explain them, as well as propose improvements.

Keep in mind that if you are looking for a very specific SEO service , such as an analysis of your link profile , or a keyword study, you will not need a full service. If so, it is advisable to look for an agency or specialized professional.

5. Discard harmful companies
The SEO business has respectable companies and well-prepared professionals who offer solid services. But unfortunately, there are also bad entities that you should avoid at all costs .

Sometimes they are poorly trained companies that have seen SEO as a business opportunity. Others, unscrupulous individuals who charge for services that they do not then lend.
SEO work can be really expensive , so keeping your eyes open will save you a lot of trouble.

Alarm signs
First, you should avoid dealing with companies that:
• Results are guaranteed – In terms of SEO, the results depend on external factors such as changes in the search algorithms and the movements of your competitors.For that reason they can not be guaranteed. If someone does it, it’s because there’s a cat locked up .
• They presume to use “supersecret” techniques – It is true that search engines keep their positioning factors secret , but that does not mean that SEO techniques are unknown. All are public domain and are available on the Internet.
• They claim to have an agreement with Google – It’s a lie.
• They’re going to get you thousands of links – where, how and why. These types of promises are a clear symptom of web spam, something that Google penalizes severely .
• They are a bargain – Let’s say they charge € 50 a month. Now think about it, how much time can a company that has to pay a specialist, tools, expenses, etc. dedicate to you? to take advantage of such a figure? 30 minutes? If that were what it takes to conquer Google, nobody would hire SEO services.
If you find these signs in a company or professional, no matter what they tell you, discard them immediately.

6. Be smart when contacting
Once you have your candidate list, it’s time to contact. But before asking for a budget, it’s a good idea to start some kind of conversation with the agency, mostly to get an idea of how they are:

• Send them an email – or better yet, talk to them over the phone (or in person).Expose your case and make sure not to talk to someone sales but with the person who will be responsible for interacting with you if you get to hire them. Would you feel comfortable working with them?
• Ask them some questions – Many experts will not do SEO work before signing anything, but they can tell you how to approach a problem or the most appropriate type of solution. Do you have any idea what they are talking about?

 Ask for references – It will help you to know them from the other side . Of course, when contacting former customers verify that they are real, not a “colleague” posing as a customer. What opinion do you give of the service? Did the agency do what it promised to do?
After a first contact, you will see that it is clearer to which agencies to ask for a budget and which ones do not. Every time you are closer to finding the right agency …

How to request a quote
It may seem obvious, but a well-made request will greatly improve your chances of receiving a response in conditions. Think that what you say will influence the agency understand your needs, and therefore, in that you propose a successful solution.
The type requests are very common …
I want a budget to position my website. Thank you.
But notice that this does not differ much from writing to a tailor who does not know you or has taken any action and tell you …
I want a budget to make me a suit. Thank you.
Do you know what I mean? With such a request, someone at the agency will be forced to contact you to gather more information, which will lengthen the process and rob you both. Sometimes they will not bother to answer.
When it comes to asking for SEO budget, I recommend you include:
• Your data – Do not be shy, give your name, first name, email and contact number. It is a sign of formality, and the first step to be taken seriously.
• What you want – It is crucial that you explain what you want as clearly as possible.You’re not supposed to be an SEO expert, but that does not stop you from saying, at the very least, “I want to attract customers from the search engines,” or simply, “I need help to solve that problem.” (Take a look at the first section of this post.)
• Information of interest – It is good that you include any relevant information, such as what kind of visitors you expect on your site, what action you want them to do when they arrive, if you have done SEO on your site before, if you have suffered falls in the rankings, etc. The more information, the better.
• Budget and times – Not mandatory, but giving a rough idea of what you are willing to invest will help the agency prepare an adapted solution. If you want the work to be finished by a specific date, say so too.
You do not have to write a whole page, but a few lines with enough information so that someone who does not know anything about you or your site understands the problem and what you have in mind.
7. What to look for in a proposal
A proposal is more than a price, and note that I have used the word “proposal” and not “budget”. Unless it is a very specific service, if an agency sends you a budget sheet to dry, remove it from your list of candidates.

When it comes to SEO, you need to assess:
• Presentation – It is positive that they have bothered to give the proposal a professional appearance, but do not let yourself be seduced. Look for the name of the person who prepared it and if it includes information about the agency or the professional that will work with you.
• Personalization – It should not consist of a template in which your domain has been pasted. If you are too lazy to prepare a proposal, what will happen when you have to do the hard work?
• Objectives and goals – Check that they have understood your case correctly and that they know what you are looking for. Never take it for granted.
• Solution – It is important that the proposal includes the recommendation of the agency to achieve your goals. It does not have to be very detailed, but enough to know what it is.
• Deliverables – It is important to know what they are going to give you and when.For example, a monthly report of results or a punctual study of keywords.
• Cost – It should be minimally disaggregated. Do not accept a closed price unless it is a very specific service. And do not forget to look at the payment model (I’ll explain it in the next section).
• Terms and conditions – Review them well, point by point, and find out what the service entails for both parties. Do not trust if it’s a long list with small print.
Payment models
It suits you to know the payment model that you can find in SEO:
• For hours / days – This is the typical service pricing model. If they propose to you, make sure you agree on a maximum cost, as well as receive a breakdown with the hours / days invested in each activity.
• Fixed rate – The preferred model for many customers as it eliminates the possibility of receiving an unexpectedly expensive bill at the end of the month.When working like this, remember to set in advance what activities are going to be done and for how long.
• Based on results – The rate may depend on, for example, the position achieved, the amount of traffic received, the cost per conversion, etc. It is an approach that can work well with search engine advertising (AdWords), although it is not highly recommended for SEO. The reason is that it lends itself to tricks and risky techniques to charge more.
• There are no results, you do not pay – At first glance it is the most favorable option for the client, however, I do not recommend it for any reason. It is very easy for an agency to end up using illicit techniques to improve your positions (only temporarily) and thus secure the collection. Avoid this model at all costs.

Pay in advance?
Most of the time, receiving SEO services implies paying in advance, either for a punctual or monthly service. It is a common practice, and although it may seem abusive to the client, it has its reason for being.

Providing this type of services implies a considerable investment of time, acquisition of specialized tools, and sometimes even contracting services from third parties. If a client decides not to pay, there is no possibility of recovering the time invested, in addition to the cost of the tools and services. In addition, the work can not be undone or reused.

That is why it is normal to demand the payment before starting the activity . Only when you are a recurring customer, or when the service involves a high cost, you have the possibility to negotiate it.

In any case, if you have followed the advice I have given you, you are probably dealing with a serious business or professional, not with a scoundrel who will take your money and run.

And to make the right decision …
Ask for a quote from several agencies, even if you have clear who you want to hire.Having at least 2 or 3 proposals will give you a broad vision regarding prices and solutions, which in turn will allow you to decide with more criteria.

A very common mistake is to let go only by the price; avoid it. SEO is a profitable investment that returns much more than what is spent … but only when the service is good. A cheap service, has all the ballots to be bad, and bad service can make you lose more than money .

On the other hand, although evaluating the agency in a rational way is fundamental, it is also important to notice the feeling that it produces: Does it make sense what they say?Do they develop as true professionals?

Look also at the signs , for example, if the only thing that worries them is signing the contract, or if on the contrary they show a genuine interest in helping you.

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