If you want a quick guide to buy search engine optimization services for your small business, this blog will break down in very simple terms 3 DOs and 3 DON’Ts you need to keep in mind if you’re going to trust your digital marketing to an SEO agency.
You should, by the way.
SEO services provided by an expert digital marketing company is the most cost-effective and most results driven action you can take to propel your business to the next level.
The myth is it costs an arm and a leg. It doesn’t.
The myth is that you are only successful if you get to page one of Google. That’s not entirely true.
The myth is SEO is easy and you can do it yourself with little to no experience. You can’t.
10 times out of 10 we recommend hiring an SEO agency rather than an internal marketing employee to work on your website optimization.
Why? A few simple reasons.
- SEO agencies are teams of people that actually cost less than a single marketing employee.
- SEO agencies are required to get results. If they don’t, fire them.
- SEO agencies have one job: to make your website perform in the search engines.
- SEO agencies have expertise in looking good to the search engines where your marketing employee may know some but is likely not an expert.
So, if you’re a small business, a medium sized business, a large business or a franchise business and you’re not trusting your website optimization to a team of experts, you need SEO services.
When looking, you need to be equipped with some basic knowledge on how to make the right choice.
Ladies and gentlemen, the 3 DOs when searching for small business search engine optimization.
#1. DO Shop Around
Chances are you know somebody who has some experience in marketing. Your sister’s brother has a marketing company or your good friend knows a guy.
It’s all right to look at these companies as viable options. But if you look at them as your ONLY option, now you’ve made a mistake.
Shopping for a digital marketing agency should be like shopping for a home. You should really be sold on the place. Maybe this SEO agency seems like the dream home you’ve always wanted for your business, but if you don’t look elsewhere, how do you know it’s truly the one?
In short, look around. By doing so, you make each agency really work on why they’ll stand out.
It also helps you get further knowledge on what to look for. Say you get a pitch from one agency. You’re mostly going to sit and listen.
Then you talk to another agency. You might have a question or two because you’ve been pitched before.
Talk to a third agency and now you’ve got a whole bunch of specific questions because you generally know how this works.
Don’t just assume the agency knows more than you about what’s best for your business. Make them SHOW you that they’re a good fit for your business.
If you only put one agency through the sales process, you’re taking a HUGE risk.
#2. DO Get As Much Free Stuff As Possible
Remember, digital marketing services are complex but many times they aren’t outrageously expensive to produce.
Once more, digital marketing companies should be doing everything they can to get your business.
As a small business owner who’s thinking of hiring a company for their digital marketing services, you should be vying to get as much free stuff as possible.
- Have them give you a website assessment for FREE.
- Have them walk you through their client dashboard for FREE.
- See if you can talk to the project manager you’ll be working with for FREE.
- Have them do competitor analysis for FREE.
- Have them conduct preliminary keyword research for your company for FREE.
Now not all of these are necessarily going to be offered for free by the agency. Chances are you might get a couple for free but not all.
And honestly, pay attention to the tone in the voice of the salesperson when asking for this stuff. If they are offering all this for free, make sure it’s not because they’re desperate. And if they want to charge you for this stuff, make sure they aren’t planning on nickel and diming you in the future.
It’s really based on the vibe you get from the people you’re talking to but remember, it’s their job to sell you on their services, not the other way around. It’s OK to be a little tough on them.
#3. DO Check References & Reviews
If you get bad vibes from an agency, trust your intuition and talk to someone else.
If you get good vibes though, that doesn’t mean that the relationship is going to be perfect or even good.
You need more buying power and you get it from checking references and looking at reviews.
Then, check GlassDoor. If you haven’t heard of it, GlassDoor is reviews of companies by their employees. If you see employees bashing the agency, you can usually discern it’s not a great place to work.
And if they aren’t going to treat their own employees that well, how could you expect them to care about you or your business?
Here's Clutch, a review site for marketing agencies.
Once you’ve got the lay of the land reviews-wise, and you’ve talked to at least a couple people at the company, get some references from them.
Now, will these references likely say nice things? Yes. That’s why they are references. But go in there and ask some hard questions. You don’t have the company looking over your shoulder so you can get some good answers.
Here’s a good list of questions for a reference:
- Have you been passed around from person to person?
- Do you feel like you know what they’re doing and how do they show you?
- Are the results as good for you as they’ve been syaing they can get for my business?
- What’s the most annoying thing about working with them?
- Do you feel it’s worth the money? Why?
- Who are you working with at the company?
That’s just a basic list but you’re encouraged to seriously take advantage of these references’ unabashed opinions on the SEO company.
Now, let’s look at the 3 DON’Ts when buying small business search engine optimization.
#1. DON’T Buy On Price First
Take our word for it, there is some cheap SEO services out there. Like CHEAP SEO services.
If you buy on price first, you’re doomed for failure. If you want cut-rate search engine optimization, you should keep your money and not bother.
There are a couple reasons for this.
The first reason? Google has some pretty strict guidelines about how to get your website ranked. It takes strategy, time, resources and expertise to do it properly.
To be perfectly honest, SEO services costing you less than $1000/month are generally pretty poor options. If you do the math, with a 40 hour work week, that’s like paying one person $6.25/hr to improve your website.
How many GOOD employees do you know who work for less than half of minimum wage?
The second reason? Agencies who will undervalue their services just to get the deal with you are desperate and don’t care about your company.
You might be asking: if they lower their prices aren’t they trying to help me?
Not really. Giving discounts is fine but offering their services at half price or at extremely discounted prices just so you sign the dotted line is a huge red flag.
Marketing agencies need to stick their guns with varying degrees of discounting. If they are willing to slash prices here and there just to get you to say yes, it’s because they’ve failed to show you the true value of their services to begin with.
We all know the saying, “You get what you pay for.”
We'll say it again
Don’t buy on price first. If you want good work that’s truly going to move your business to the next level, you have to be able to see it as an investment in the future, not a monthly payment.
#2. DON’T Expect The Agency To Do All The Work
Marketing companies that specialize in SEO are experts in one thing, getting your website found.
You know what they aren’t experts on? Your company.
Marketers work with all different industries: manufacturing, legal, retail, technology, medical, etc.
It’s a big plus if they’ve worked in your sector before, but even if they have, it doesn’t mean that they’ll be an expert on your business just because you signed a contract.
Good agencies will write quality content and create good backlinks to help your website thrive.
Great agencies will get your input every step of the way.
What transitions an agency from good to great for you is COMMUNICATION.
They should actively be trying to learn your business inside and out and get your input regularly on the content they produce.
By having your company’s unique stamp on all the work, the results are seriously enhanced to Google and humans alike.
The worst thing you can do is sign the contract and then go dark on the agency. They’ll be flying blind all while being responsible for putting your company name out there.
Helping them along isn’t only advisable it’s the expectation if you truly want these SEO services to succeed.
#3 DON’T Buy It And Then Not Use It
Agencies need to guarantee results. If they don’t, you need to fire them.
But do you really have the right to fire them if you’re not participating in its success?
Hold your agency accountable, every step of the way. The quality of the content needs to be there, the data needs to show upwards trends and the agency needs to be there when you need them.
It’s a rarity that agencies will have monthly calls be mandatory with their clients but the GREAT agencies do.
If you sign a contract for SEO services with a digital marketing agency and they don’t include monthly calls in the contract, they aren’t going to be very forthright with how successful (or not) they are for you.
Monthly calls are the cornerstone of showing you ROI.
But this relies on you being engaged.
If they have a dashboard for your campaign, view it regularly.
Here's an example of the Agency Jet dashboard.
They should be reporting on Google Analytics (stats from the site) directly to your inbox, read these reports.
They should be identifying how your keywords are performing, monitor this.
If you send off a check each month without checking the results, what are you paying for?
In summary, buying SEO isn’t buying a product. It’s like attending a monthly seminar. You ought to learn something every single month and see the return.
Small business search engine optimization can be full of potholes but it doesn’t have to be. Just by paying attention to the 3 DOs and the 3 DON’Ts provided in this blog, you’ve saved yourself a world of pain and will likely land a top agency who can truly help your business.
About Agency Jet
We like to think we’re that top agency because we’ve got the proof. Here are some important things to know about us:
- We have a 96% retention of clients after six months and 84% retention of clients after one year. These are unheard of numbers in our industry.
- Monthly calls are mandatory with us. We believe in full transparency, a free education and world-class results.
- You aren’t passed off from one person to the next. We keep you working with the same project managers and client strategists for the life of your campaign.
- We are one of the most highly reviewed agencies in the country. Don’t believe us? Check here.
- We guarantee results. We tell every single client that if they don’t see better keyword rankings and more Google traffic to their site by month 4 to fire us. Nobody has.
- We put our clients first. That’s no blanket statement. Our mantra is “client first, employee second, investor third”. In other words, we always put your needs before our own.
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