Every day, Google receives and processes a staggering number of searches—roughly 5.6 billion in total. That essentially means you have the same exact number of opportunities to bring your products or services in front of web users through search engine optimization (SEO). In fact, reports say that companies’ SEO spending may reach $80 billion in 2020. This only underscores how important it is for companies to get their hands on the best tools, strategies, or ideas for SEO.
The challenge lies in overcoming the competition from the billions of websites who are also trying to position themselves in search. Granting that not every website is targeting to rank for your niche, your SEO strategy needs to be on point with the latest changes in search algorithms to give your website a good fighting chance.
Hiring an outsourcing firm who knows the ins and outs of SEO may ease the burden for you, provided you choose the right SEO agency. However, it can be difficult to weigh the options since SEO companies bring with them different sets of pros and cons. The key is in identifying that one agency who meets all your SEO requirements in particular, including budget, range of services, industry know-how, and business fit, to mention a few.
Fortunately, you can get around the challenges of selecting a good SEO company with this comprehensive guide. We’ll give you a collection of tips and data about SEO outsourcing.
What to Expect from Your Outsourced SEO Provider
Your company can make the following gains through SEO outsourcing:
Less capital costs. Contrary to misconceptions about the high costs involved in SEO outsourcing, your company can have more financial stability when you hire a third-party SEO provider. You won’t have as many costs associated with overhead expenses in hiring, training, and paying the salary/benefits as you would if you were to build an in-house SEO team.
According to Forbes, in the United States, the most experienced SEO professionals are paid as much as $150,000 per year. Compared with outsourcing, where the most that companies charge for monthly retainers is $10,000 per month, it’s quite clear which option can provide significant cost savings. That’s not even mentioning the cost of purchasing specialized tools and equipment if you were to choose doing your SEO in-house.
More expertise. Google’s search algorithms are constantly changing, which might make it hard for your SEO employees—what with many other things on their plate—to keep up. By contrast, an outsourced SEO provider will have a research & development process to track such updates, so your company can stay on top of current trends and apply the best practices in SEO.
Less training. Someone training for SEO has to go through a steep learning curve, but new employees might not be always prepared for this kind of onboarding. A mismatch between your new hires’ ability to learn fast and the many demands involved in SEO work might cost your company more resources than what’s necessary. With SEO outsourcing, there’s no need to worry about your projects taking a backseat as there will be SEO pros who can get to work as soon as they have the green light.
Balanced perspective. It’s true that no one knows and understands your business better than you, but this shouldn’t prevent you from considering a partnership with an external SEO firm. Outsourced SEO providers have years of experience working across a wide range of industries, which can be a great way to implement checks and balances in your company. Ultimately, this can help you come up with fresh ideas for your business as well as discover new opportunities in your niche.
Increased scalability. SEO isn’t a one-time initiative, but rather, it requires a consistent effort before you get the results you’re hoping for. By its very nature, outsourcing SEO is the more logical choice over building a team in-house when it comes to scalability. With the latter, you’ll have to consistently pay a fixed salary to your employees whether your SEO needs are big or small.
On the other hand, SEO companies offer services that scale to your needs. If you need to ramp up your SEO, they have an entire team ready to work on your requirements. Then, should your priorities change such that you need to scale down, you can choose how you want them to handle your SEO needs—whether it’s on a per-project basis, hourly package, or retainer model.
Questions to Ask Before Hiring an SEO Agency
Here are some guide questions to ask during a potential SEO partner’s pitch:
1. What types of SEO work will you do?
SEO is a multi-faceted discipline that involves technical aspects (crawling and indexing) as well as on-page and off-page optimization. A basic service contract should at least include a technical SEO audit, where the SEO company evaluates different factors on your site and detects and resolves redirect problems and other errors.
Check with the company what specific services your package or contract will cover, including the amount of deliverables they’ll turn out per month and the number of hours it will take to do it. You’ll want an agency that’s completely transparent with these things.
2. How will you improve our search rankings?
Needless to mention, the end goal of SEO is to get your company to rank—the higher, the better—on search. By hiring an SEO agency, you’ll have experts working on your keyword research, building links, and so on, to help you reach your goals. Yet, even with your SEO partner at the helm, there’s a need for you to understand how their process works.
This should keep you feeling reassured that the work they’re doing for you is guided by best practices in the industry instead of a potentially harmful, which isn’t likely to give you the site traffic you’re aiming for.
3. What kind of ranking increases can we expect?
Speaking of ranking goals, your next question might be something more specific—that is, what will your website’s ranking potentially be after launch or months into the campaign? Although there’s no way your SEO agency will be able to give a definitive answer, much less guarantee that you’ll be ranking no. 1 or zero on search engine results pages (SERPs), they should be able to set some expectations for you.
Specifically, they should be able to explain the different factors that might affect your brand’s organic search position, ranging from something external, such as potential competition, to something technical, such as Google algorithms and updates.
4. What’s your link building strategy?
Since link building is a key component of SEO, you need to address with your SEO agency how they intend to approach it. They might start the ball rolling by telling you how backlinking works, what kind of links your company should invest in, and how they’ll be getting sites to link to you, among many others.
Generally speaking, SEO companies won’t be able to tell exactly how many new links you’ll be getting per month, so consider it a red flag when someone promises to give you a large number of links.
5. How will you inform my company about the changes you make to our website?
You’ll need to give your SEO company access to your website, which means they’ll be able to make changes to it as they go. Be sure you know what changes are being made to your website over time as this will help your web dev track any issues that might arise afterwards.
You can ask your SEO agency to send you reports regularly, so you’re updated on movements in key metrics like traffic source, conversion rate, page speed, bounce rate, and the like.
6. Why should we hire you and not other agencies?
If you’re still undecided whether a particular SEO company is a good fit for your business, this is the ultimate question to ask. By posing this question, you’re giving your target company an extra opportunity to showcase their edge over their counterparts, although you should be discerning when they start making unreasonable promises like guaranteed rankings and immediate results.
Instead, a good SEO company will focus the discussion on what they know about your industry, how they envision the potential partnership between the two of you, and how they have steered happy and loyal clients to success.
5 Steps to Find the Perfect SEO Partner
Here are the steps you need to cover, starting with the research process, onward to the sales pitch, and all the way to the actual selection of your SEO agency.
1. Audit their digital footprint.
Obviously, you shouldn’t get an anonymous entity to be your SEO partner with no signs of digital activity because after all, you’re after a company that does digital services day in and day out. Nor should you make a hasty decision based on search results for the “best SEO agencies” since your research at this point still has a long way to go.
If you want more conclusive results in your hunt for the best SEO outsourcing firms, start with their website. It can tell you a lot of things about their services and expertise, especially if the website is regularly updated with relevant blog posts as this means they’re making an effort to be industry authorities.
2. Set measurable, realistic targets.
It’s important that you don’t get too carried away once you think you’ve found your dream SEO agency. Instead, you need to take time going over your targets with your partner company before signing any contract.
When setting goals, make sure they’re specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely (SMART). Take note of the difference between a SMART goal and one that isn’t in this example:
Non-Smart Goal: Get more business through link building.
SMART Goal: Build approximately 10 links per month to the company website over the course of the next quarter through an outreach strategy with reputable industry authorities.
3. Agree on an action plan.
From the get-go, you need to be aware of your SEO partner’s game plan for your campaigns. A good action plan will detail everything you need to know about a project, including the timeline, type and amount of deliverables, required resources, proposed strategies, and the like. If there’s anything unclear about the details, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for clarifications and more specific information. Don’t leave any gray areas unsettled.
4. Determine your budget.
In the beginning, you may want to set a low monthly budget and spread it across a reasonable amount of time. This kind of approach is ideal if a large part of your business depends on SEO, but getting the results you want may take a number of months. By starting low with your budget, you’ll have more flexibility later on if you need to expand it based on the return on investment (ROI) you’re getting.
What’s good about SEO outsourcing is that you get to choose which areas you want to outsource for SEO experts to handle. Meanwhile, if you have an internal team of people who do not have advanced skills in SEO but who may be able to thrive with basic training and hands-on learning, you can also use learnings from your partnership to train your in-house unit.
5. Make sure it’s a good fit.
You’ll be working closely with your SEO agency for a good amount of time, which is why you need an agency that has a similar value system or work culture with your own company. If you and your SEO partner don’t meet eye to eye, you can’t expect to have a healthy and fruitful relationship down the line.
Furthermore, an ideal agency is one who’s familiar with your brand as well as your business vertical, so there can be a proper alignment of goals and techniques across the board.
Which SEO Company Is Right for You?
In this highly connected world, SEO may be the best way to reach your target audience. You need to take advantage of every search on Google and other search engines as an opportunity to let people know about your business. If you can get this right, you’ll be able to strengthen your online visibility and make your brand top-of-mind among consumers.
On the other hand, if you’re not quite sure how SEO works or which SEO practices can bring the best results, you should probably leave your most pressing SEO work to experts.
Use the guidelines we’ve laid out for you here to help you identify your dream SEO agency. We at SEO Company will be more than happy to help find a great SEO partner for your business. Our vast network of reputable partner agencies will make sure that your website performs well based on Google’s standards and your own business goals.
Contact us today for assistance finding the right SEO partner for your business!