How to Find Right Service Provider for Your Small Business SEO?
SEO is constantly evolving. And you need to match its pace to achieve your goal of ranking high on the first page of search results. This is only possible when you review, renew, and implement the strategies, and not settle for the same old ones. And that’s where an in-house SEO team or SEO services come in handy.
But the next question is, can you actually afford to hire an experienced team to handle your SEO? This is important to consider, especially if you are a small business owner.
To overcome this problem, and stay afloat and visible on search engines, you can go ahead with an agency that offers SEO services for small businesses.
But again, you might ask – Isn’t it important to choose the best service available? How to actually choose one? And that’s exactly why, I have decided to pen down this article. Here, I will try to help you answer some major questions like:
- What does an SEO agency do?
- What services will they offer?
- How to check if the agency is any good?
- Which red flags should you steer clear off?
So, let’s dive in…
What Does an SEO Agency Do?
Well, in short, an SEO agency helps businesses to improve their online visibility and rank better on search engine platforms. The agencies can achieve this by combining various strategies like site performance, keyword practices, website structure, content creation, campaigns, and many more marketing techniques.
But why should you hire an SEO agency for your business? As I said earlier, SEO is constantly in an evolving phase that needs you to put in regular work to maintain standards. Nevertheless, if you still need a reason to hire a company that excels in SEO for small businesses, then here are a few for you.
1. SEO is a Complex Process
Although it looks easier on the surface, it takes a lot of work, strategies, planning, implementation, and time to get it sorted. And you might even not succeed after going through this daunting process in case you don’t have experience.
2. SEO Needs Ongoing Work
You cannot simply keep following one strategy that worked for you in the past. Ranking higher in the digital world requires fresh content, regular webpages updates, adding new links, and constant promotion on different channels.
3. SEO Requires up-to-date Knowledge
Google keeps on changing its algorithm, and you need to keep track of all minor and major updates to stay on top of the industry. Without expertise, it is difficult to know all its various ranking factors that determine the quality, accuracy, and relevancy of the page.
4. Experience and Expertise in Handling SEO Tools
With experience comes the knowledge of using SEO tools to their proper extent. Although a set of free SEO tools have made the job easier, you still need to have the experience to know which tools to use when.
What Services Will an SEO Agency Offer?
Generally, SEO is categorised into three sections: on-page, technical, and off-page SEO. Each section focuses on a different aspect of your strategy. An agency will help you out in all three sections.
This section basically checks all the ranking factors that are present or appear on the webpages. It means it includes everything that falls under the category of page optimisation. A classic example that I can give is keyword optimisation.
Also known as off-site SEO, it is ideally the process of building your brand reputation beyond the website. SEO isn’t only about optimising websites and focusing on keywords, it includes a lot of different factors.
With external forces playing a role in brand reputation (like social media and review sites), it is important to maintain and manage the brand reputation on third-party websites.
Another important factor is the link-building.
The agencies will reach out to influencers, industry experts, and thought-leaders to build a network and garner some powerful backlinks. Earning links from reputed websites will increase your value in domain authority.
Lastly, an off-page SEO strategy will also include creating scope for guest blogging and social media marketing campaigns to increase brand reach.
As the name suggests, an agency while offering these small business SEO services focuses mainly on technical aspects of the websites. In this, the agency will generally look out for opportunities wherein your competitors lag behind, in order to rank higher on the SERPs.
A classic example of this is the loading speed of your webpages. Google places high importance on this while ranking on the search result page. So, checking your website for speed, ease of navigation, structure, crawling factors, etc. come under technical SEO.
That being said, not all SEO agencies will offer all the services. You need to make a choice – like, you might have to pick between a package that offers all the services with different expertise levels and different packages with high expertise level in every single sector.
Also Read: List of Best Free SEO Tools for Your Website
How to Check If the Agency is Any Good?
Now that you have decided to get an SEO agency on board, how do you choose one? Do you choose by SEO benefits or budget?
These are the normal questions that might pop up in your mind. Although you should take both the factors into consideration, there are certain things to stay clear off. Some of those are:
- Do not blindly use Google as your filter. Although you would think number one would be the best, it isn’t always the case.
- Stay away from articles that mention ‘top SEO list’. There’s a high possibility that the website is being paid for listing certain agencies.
Do your research and don’t go for sponsored stuff or just Google ranking. How would you do that? Here are some points to help you out.
1. Know Your Goals
Before you start, sit with your team and define your goals. Figure out the priority SEO goals that you need to focus on and how you can achieve them. Look for an SEO agency that can help you in reaching the goals and measuring them at the same point.
2. Look at Their Past Performances (Case Studies)
Now that you have shortlisted the SEO companies according to your goals, have a look at their past performances. A case study is perfect for you to assess their way of handling a project, for instance. The details will help you understand if you need something similar or want to take a look at a different company.
3. Reviews and Testimonials
If the company has experience and a strong clientele, they are sure to have reviews and testimonials too. A company with a lot of success stories but zero reviews, references, or back-up data might be simply making up these stories. So, make sure that you check their reviews that are on-site and off-site (third party websites and social media platforms).
4. The Company’s Specialisation
There are very few SEO companies that are good at everything. Everyone else offers the same services with different levels of expertise. So, don’t shy away while asking about an agency’s area of specialisation. There is a possibility that some are good at off-site SEO strategy but lack technical SEO skills. Dig a bit further and check if you are okay with it and if their expertise is in-line with your goals.
5. Take a Look at Your Own Budget
Finally, yes, the budget does matter. SEO is something that needs time and continuity to be effective. So, it might take months or even years to bag the first rank on Google’s search results page. So, ask yourself if you have such a budget handy to go for top companies or you should go with an agency that charges a bit less and has less experience.
Which Red Flags Should You Steer Clear Off?
Now, that you have started looking for SEO services, to trim your top preferences, make sure that you steer away from the usual red flags. After all, you won’t want to choose the wrong company and get your SEO strategy in a fix. So, keep an eye for these:
1. Secret Recipe
If someone says that they have a secret recipe for success, just stay away. No matter which field we are talking about, success only comes with hard work. In fact, even gambling needs experience along with luck, let alone other businesses. There’s a documented way of succeeding in SEO. And the only difference between an amateur and an expert is experience. There is no “secret”!
2. Shiny Presentations and Overwhelming Promises
We have all heard of ‘never judge a book by its cover’. So, remember that quote when you are looking for an SEO agency. Do not fall for flashy sales messages or high-tech pitches. Do your research before you choose. Also, if the company is overpromising, it might be just a trap.
3. Cheap Agency
Another quote that describes this situation is ‘You get what you pay for’. So, check what the agency includes in their package, how they will be carrying out the strategy, and why are they selling out so cheap. There’s a chance that you may have gotten ‘lucky’ with the package quote. But personally, I believe everyone is here to do business. So, why would someone offer you SEO services at such cheap prices?
4. Can’t (Or Won’t) Explain Their SEO Methods
A knowledgeable SEO agency will explain in details how their method works. If someone is being too secretive about their methods and strategies, then that’s definitely a red flag. After all, it’s your company’s and not your competitor’s SEO we are talking about. What’s there to be secretive about?
5. Signs of Black Hat SEO
You definitely want results, but not at the cost of ‘black hat SEO’ strategies. These are unethical practices that help you climb to a high rank quickly, but the fall is fast too. And the worst part is that, Google might even blacklist or ban you from the search results. Now, that’s terrifying. So stay clear of such practices.
SEO is crucial for your business and so is choosing the right SEO company
Have you heard of this saying – “The best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google search results”? This tells you how rarely people visit anything other than what is there on the first page of the search engine. And to earn a top spot on the first page, you need an SEO agency that knows what it is doing. So, choose the right SEO services for small businesses and embark on an ecxciting brand-building journey using Search Engine Optimisation.