Choosing An SEO Agency
Our rankings are based on third party data, client reviews, and first-hand experience. We’re confident that this is the most comprehensive and objective list of SEO firms on the web.
That being said, choosing a partner agency is never easy. Here’s a video to help: It was made by Google, so you know it’s a truly impartial treatise on how to go about hiring qualified and effective SEO help for your business.
Our rankings are meant to serve as a jumping-off point for your search. We’ve done much of the legwork involved in vetting these agencies from a fundamentals point of view, but you need to make sure the agency you choose is also a good fit for your business on a personal level as well.
Our Top 50 Firms - Full Comparison Table
Why Do You Need SEO?
What is SEO? Search engine optimization, according to dictionary.com is “the methods used to boost the ranking or frequency of a website in the results returned by a search engine, in an effort to maximize user traffic to the site.” Google, Bing, Yahoo, and so on, all have algorithms that they use to rank a website in their search results. If you type “what is SEO” into Googles search bar, Google will rank each website based on relevant information to the search query, the amount of information on that query, how respected the domain that provides the correct answer is, and a long list of other pieces that make up Googles algorithm. In turn, the searcher gets the top ten websites on the first page of their results that Google believes will provide them with the answer to that question.
So now that we’ve established what SEO is, let’s talk about why you need it.
Your competitors are doing it
If you’re not ranking on the first page for a relevant search term to your business, someone else is. And that someone else fills the exact same answer to the keyword that relates to your business. If you’re not being clicked on, they are.
SEO provides the best ROI
If you are looking for the best marketing for your investment, SEO is exactly that. Not only can SEO provide detailed reporting that shows you exactly what you’re receiving through your investment, whether that be leads, calls, or brand awareness, SEO has the ability to be tracked entirely online. SEO agencies have the ability to provide you with monthly or quarterly reports showing you the traffic increases and how much money you have made strictly from the campaign efforts.
It gets your business in front of the most eyes
On average, Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second. Not only is that an incredible amount of people but they are also people that actually want the answer to what they are searching. With ads and commercials you are giving a potential customer information they weren’t asking for. This makes it much more likely that the reader or listener is going to tune out or skip over it completely. With a search result, the user was looking for what you are offering, they are specifically asking for you to give them that information. This makes a potential customer much more likely to fill out a contact form or give you a call.
Important Questions to Ask SEO Agencies
Committing to the SEO investment? It is important to do some research in order to find the right SEO agency for you and your business. With SEO becoming so popular, there are many companies that are spammy and that don’t follow best practices. When deciding on an agency, it is important to ask questions.
How would you define a successful campaign? How are you planning on measuring that?
Having a clear understanding of what you want to see out of your campaign will allow for better judgment when hearing the answer to this question. An SEO agency should be willing to work with you to achieve your goals and while it is important for them to have a specific goal in mind for your business, the ability to work with a company to determine this goal will ensure you are on the same path together.
Measuring the path of success to get to that goal can be shown in multiple different ways. Reports are an important part of seeing that success and knowing how a company shows that along with how often they plan on giving you these reports will be a deciding factor in picking the right agency for you.
How do you plan on improving my rankings?
You may feel an urge to ask a question like “what sort of increase in rankings can I expect?” or “when will I hit the number one spot?” while these questions seem like great questions, they do not have a direct answer. If you ask an SEO company when you hit the number one spot and they give you a date, run. No one knows exactly what Googles algorithm is and when it will change, there are not guarantees when it comes to rankings. So a better question is how are you planning to improve them. SEO requires a strategy and knowing what the agency will do to improve yours will be beneficial.
Do you have experience in my industry? Do you work with any direct competitors?
While this is a great question to ask, it is also important to remember that this doesn’t necessarily make or break a company. If they answer with no, follow up and ask how they plan on updating their strategy for a new industry and how/if they plan on learning more about the industry. Every agency should be able to adapt to a new industry and they should be willing to do what it takes to become knowledgeable about the industry.
Do you follow SEO best practices?
Although we do not know exactly what Googles algorithm is, we do have a pretty good understanding of it. There are best practices that every agency should follow in order to avoid being spammy. In the eyes of Google and other search engines, following these best practices goes a long, long way in the rankings.
How will we communicate? How often?
Addressing communication from the beginning of the partnership is a good idea. You want to know the best way to get in touch with the agency and they should know the best way to get in touch with you. This is also a great way to discuss how lenient you want to be with allowing site changes and edits with or without your discretion. Either way is absolutely fine, just ensure that if you would like everything to be run by you, you find an agency that will communicate often and has the ability to respond quickly in order to continue the progression of the project.
Case studies & Examples of Successes
An SEO company may promise you the world but doing you research and asking for examples of these successes can be beneficial in developing your own expectations for the company moving forward. You could even go as far as personally reaching out to an existing client to feel out exactly what the SEO agency has to offer you.
How Much Does SEO Cost?
The final question you will want to ask is how much a company’s services cost. There is no definite cost to SEO, that is entirely up to the agency. Specific things to consider when evaluating cost:
How much are you willing to spend?
The more money you put into SEO the better the results will be. This does not mean you have to throw your entire marketing budget into the service, but remember that if you go with the least expensive option, you’re going to receive the least return on that investment.
What are the deliverables?
An SEO agency should supply all deliverables that you are receiving with the service from the beginning. If the list consists of a bunch of words you have never heard of, ask! Make sure the company is not throwing a bunch of SEO jargon on the list because they’re betting you won’t know exactly what they’re referring to. Important factors to consider is copywriting. Will the agency write copy for you or will you have to write it? What about a backlink profile? Does this agency have the resources to build your backlink profile to compete and exceed your competitors? Copy and links are two of Googles highest ranking factors, so these are necessary deliverables for an SEO plan. Again, copywriters and earned media specialists are expensive, the more you pay the more they will be able to provide and in turn, the faster your results will rise.
SEO is like the stock market
It goes through peaks and valleys but overtime, if you are consistently on the rise, you are receiving your return on your investment. This is not a service you can apply for a few months and then cut off completely. SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. So be prepared to think long term and adjust your budget to meet those expectations.
If you must have a number, the average SEO price is around $1,250 a month. There are plans you can find that will be much lower and plans that will be much higher. What is ultimately important in the price of SEO services, is that the price matches the deliverables you are getting out of the campaign.
How Long Does SEO Take To Get Results?
Like my previous stock market analogy, SEO is ever changing and there are multiple factors that contribute to the success of a campaign. An agency will never be able to give you a definitive date on when you will begin seeing success. The average time frame is usually anywhere from 5 to 7 months. But even this can prove false. It could be longer or even shorter.
There are multiple factors that could play a role in the speed of success. One could be current competitors, if they are already doing SEO it will take a bit longer to see major improvements because they already have that head start. If you are one of the first to SEO, you have the possibility to jump ahead quicker.
Another factor could be locality. It may be easier to rank locally before you rank nationally. If you already have a good baseline of SEO best practices, it may be easier to spike those results faster. If you’ve previously experienced penalties, it may take longer to rank due to a rocky history with Google.
Another large factor is your domains age. An older site holds more weight than a brand new site. The older site has built up references and trust from other sites as well as users. As soon as the new site can build up the same foundation, it will begin to rank higher.
Bottom line, SEO is ever changing and for that fact alone, there is no way to guess or evaluate exactly how long it will take to begin seeing results in your SEO campaign. SEO is a waiting game and you need to be in it for the long haul. Once you begin to see the results peak, with the right SEO company, it should be all uphill from there.
Picking the perfect SEO Company
How do you know if you are picking the right SEO company?
It is important to know what you want out of an SEO company before starting your research. If you have a goal in mind, whether has to do with return on investment, increasing traffic to the site, or another goal you might have in mind, it will much easier to know what questions you need to ask in order to get the answers you are looking for. Making that goal measurable and realistic will also help the SEO agency provide you with a strategy that they believe will help you achieve that goal.
Make sure you discuss your expectations from the beginning of the partnership. Asking questions like “how often will we communicate?” and “how much experience do you have in this industry or what will you do to adjust your strategy to an industry that you may not have experience in?” These are questions that will give you piece of mind moving forward with the company.
Address the costs with each agency and ensure that you are getting the deliverables that are deserved for that price. Speak with the company about copywriting and link building. These are two of the most important pieces of Googles algorithm and should tell you if the company is good at what they do.
Even though every SEO agency shouldn’t be able to tell you how long it will take to see success, it is still an important topic to cover. Know going in that they will not and should not have a direct answer and that okay. If they are open and honest about the strategy they have to get you that success, know that it will take a while but success will come. All of these factors will help you pick the best SEO company for your budget.