Signs You May Need an SEO Agency
Generally, you should consider hiring an SEO agency if your business has a website but you don’t have SEO experts on your team. You may have SEO experience but need advanced expertise to move the needle. Here are several signs that indicate you may need to bring in external help:
- Your team lacks SEO expertise
- You are unable to build a growth-focused B2B SEO strategy
- Your website doesn’t generate revenue or leads organically
- You can’t measure your visibility
- You need battle-tested strategies
- You need fast and efficient turnaround times
- You need an external opinion
- You need to properly forecast organic growth and sales
You may apply the above points to other marketing channels or marketing in general. Read our recently published article that explains 18 signs that show it’s time to outsource your marketing efforts.
How to Hire a B2B SEO Agency
To hire an agency to do B2B SEO for your company, the standard steps are
- Determine your SEO needs and connect them with your business goals
- Research potential agencies
- Evaluate the shortlisted agencies
- Schedule consultations
- Review proposals and make a decision
In the next section, we will explain each of these steps and provide expert tips you need to be successful at this.
1. Determine your SEO Needs and Connect Them With Your Business Goals
Your business goals may include more leads and conversions, better customer retention, or even improved visibility for your brand. SEO is broad, and you want to work with a B2B SEO agency that has concrete expertise in the aspects that will make a difference in your business. This is why you must approach this from the point of your business goals.
Firstly, you have to define the key objectives and KPIs for your business. What do you want to achieve with your website? When answering this question, you have to be specific and ensure that the metrics are measurable.
The next thing to do is identify the SEO wins that align with these business objectives. For instance, the business goal of increasing revenue can be aligned with driving more qualified traffic to your website that converts into sales. We explained in detail how to align SEO and business goals in the linked article. This is a must-read if your website struggles to deliver the same business benefits as you see in competitors’ websites.
2. Research Potential Agencies
With your SEO needs clearly identified, it’s time to research potential SEO agencies. As noted in the introduction, you cannot fully rely on these articles online that go “Best SEO agencies for Startups” or similar because these are mostly sponsored posts. Even if they are not sponsored, the listed agencies may be great but have no experience working with a business in your industry or situation.
Instead, opt for business listings that have real reviews, such as Clutch.co. Moreso, you have to look out for legitimate case studies that agencies publish on their websites. So, one way to go is to search for such case studies on Google.
Read Our verified client reviews on Clutch.co
To do this, you can search for “case study” or “success story” along with the keywords related to your industry on Google. For example, “B2B SaaS SEO case study” to find relevant case studies on B2B SaaS SEO.
You can go further into your niche with a search such as “Education tech B2B SEO case study.”
Furthermore, you may also want to leverage your network to find an SEO agency and ask for recommendations from colleagues, friends, or industry professionals. If you’re immersed in your industry, you may also get referrals when you attend conferences, workshops, or similar professional events.
A referral can save you time and effort. So, we recommend that you enquire from your professional network or friends. You might just find someone who got great results with an agency and recommends it.
3. Evaluate the Shortlisted Agencies
Before settling for an SEO agency, you need to evaluate its reputation, experience, and expertise. Review the agency’s case studies and portfolio and ensure they have worked with B2B companies before.
Checking their certifications and industry awards can also help you determine their expertise. You may also take the step further and review the agency’s team members and their SEO expertise.
Besides the B2B agency’s experience, reputation, and expertise, you should also weigh up their communication and responsiveness. You want to hire a B2B agency that can explain complex SEO concepts in plain language and convey regular campaign updates clearly.
Finally, transparency should be non-negotiable when hiring a B2B agency for SEO. From the get-go, the agency should be open about its processes, methods, and importantly, pricing. There should be a reasonable explanation for everything they will do and precisely how much it will cost your company.
4. Schedule Consultations
The next step is to schedule consultations with several shortlisted agencies. In-person consultations are preferable, but if impossible, a video call is the next best thing. Phone calls are also acceptable, but an email or text consultation is a red flag.
You should prepare what to ask SEO consultants or agencies in your meeting. Ideally, you may ask for an SEO expert to join the initial call and ask them a few specific questions about your SEO goals.
5. Review Proposals and Make a Decision
After scheduling consultations, you need to review the proposals from the shortlisted SEO agencies. Review the proposed SEO strategy, timeline, pricing and contracts, and the proposed metrics and campaign goals. Make your decision based on the combination of these factors and your experience with initial consultations.
Tips for Hiring an SEO Agency for Your Business
To bring in world-class SEO expertise for your business and avoid costly mistakes, take note of the following tips:
Understand the Pricing and Contracts
If you are starting out with outsourcing, you may find the terms in contracts and overall pricing a little challenging at first. So, in order to avoid making a costly mistake, we recommend that you gain a good understanding of common working terms, contract types, and pricing structures.
Equipped with this knowledge when talking to an agency, you can comfortably review their pricing structure, cancelation policy, guarantees, and any contract you sign. Study their terms and ensure that there are no hidden charges that come up along the way.
Consider Communication and Transparency
Effective communication is high on the list of the top factors that determine the success of your partnership. We suggest vital questions to ask potential agencies in the section that follows, and questions there include asking them about the frequency and forms of communications. Furthermore, for effective communication, you may want to only choose an agency that speaks your language for example.
Check Their Portfolio and Case Studies for SEO Work in Your Industry
Each industry has its unique challenges and best practices for SEO. For instance, the same SEO tactics that work for a cleantech PR company may not work for healthcare startup SEO. As we have advised, when you ask for case studies and their portfolio, confirm that they have really worked in your industry and assess the results they delivered to the client. Some companies would take it a step further and even contact the said client to verify the agency’s claims.
Ask about Their SEO Techniques
Ask what they think about black-hat SEO techniques. Ideally, you want an agency that would not use any on your website. You may see effects but you are betting against Google, and Google works constantly to devalue websites using techniques that go against their terms. Don’t work with any agency that says anything other than that.
In the next section, we have also recommended this as a crucial question to ask an SEO agency.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire an SEO Agency?
The cost varies depending on the size and scope of your website, the competition in your industry, the scope of the services, the agency’s expertise, and reputation.
Generally, B2B agencies charge a monthly retainer fee for SEO, running from a few hundred dollars to several thousand based on the factors above. Some may offer project-based pricing for specific SEO services like keyword research or site audits.
Typical B2B SEO package price ranges:
- One-off services (i.e. technical audit): $900 – $1800
- Entry-level packages (low-key content audit & link building): $800 – $1400/mo
- Strategy packages (keywords research, niche analysis, growth plan): $3600 and up
- Robust monthly retainers covering content marketing, link building, and local SEO: $3800 and up
Set Realistic Expectations
At first, you noticed that you needed SEO work done on your B2B website, and now, you’ve found an agency that may be a good fit for what you require. It’s understandable that you expect positive results from them that you wouldn’t get otherwise.
However, it’s necessary that your expectations are realistic based on your present situation (domain and website metrics, budget, existing content, etc.). SEO is a long-term investment because it takes some time for your efforts to show results, but the results are long-lasting.
Your expectations should be based on SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
The marketing agency can work on setting up your website for organic growth and visibility, but manage your expectations and acknowledge that SEO efforts are mostly ongoing.
What Questions Do You Ask an SEO Agency?
Ask the right questions during the consultation, and use their responses as a way to rate the agency’s capabilities, and to know if it would be easy to work with them. Below are some questions you can ask B2B SEO agencies before hiring them.
What is Your SEO Process?
For this question, you should listen to the agency’s answer as well as how confidently they answer. The typical SEO process should entail
- Website and content auditing
- Keyword research
- On-page optimization
- Technical SEO
- Content creation
- Link building
- Analytics and reporting.
It’s also important to ask what the deliverables entail and request deliverables examples.
How Do You Stay Up-To-Date with SEO Trends and Algorithm Updates?
This answer shows the agency’s ability to adapt to changes and keep up with SEO best practices. The question is important because what worked last month may not work this month in SEO due to search engine algorithm updates.
You can look up the most recent Google algorithm updates from the official Google source before the meeting. Then you can ask them to highlight the updates in the past year or so and check how correct they are. You only want to work with SEO experts that are up-to-date with this as it’s perhaps the most important news in the SEO industry. Ask them what they think about the future of search in 2023 and beyond.
Tell Me about Your Experience Doing SEO with Businesses in My Industry
As stated in this guide, you should prioritize an SEO agency with experience working on similar projects in your industry. Such an agency is battle-tested and has probably helped a number of businesses in a similar situation to yours. They know about your industry, its unique challenges, and most importantly, trends that other websites in the space are employing that can be applied in your scenario. Hence, the ideation will be quick and straightforward.
How Do You Measure the Success of Your SEO Campaigns?
You want to move forward with an agency that clearly understands how to measure SEO success. Their answer should include the metrics that show the impact of their SEO efforts – website traffic increase, organic lead generation, etc. Note that these depend on your goals.
How Do You Communicate with Clients and Provide Progress Updates and How Often?
We have mentioned communication and transparency in the tips for bringing in an external SEO team. You have to make communication methods from the get-go. Take the responses here seriously because you don’t want to be left in the dark about what’s happening or what was done to achieve results. Look out for reporting and meetings cadence and request a sample monthly report or a dashboard example.
Can You Guarantee That Our Website Will Rank Number 1 in Search?
This is a trick question because no agency can guarantee this. Also, the question does not make sense technically because websites do not rank but web pages do.
If their answer is “Yes,” do not hire that agency because it’s either they do not have the expertise as claimed, or they know the correct answer and are desperate.
Many gurus would claim to have an insider in Google, and that is also a red flag. If they say “No,” your next question should be “Why?”
What Are Your Pricing and Payment Terms?
Ensure that there are no hidden charges. You should know exactly what you are charged. Although this question does not help in determining the capability of the expert or agency, it’s crucial for making a decision that suits your marketing budget.
How Much Time and Involvement Will Be Required Of Us?
You may optionally include this question to know the amount of input or feedback needed on your part so that you can plan and allocate resources appropriately.
Can You Provide a List of Current And/Or Past Clients?
The clientele can show you the pedigree of the agency. Also, you can have an idea of the effectiveness of the agency and confirm that they worked on these projects. The agency may not provide all the specific details, but the most important thing to check is the trends in traffic, amount of organic keywords, and other website visibility results.
What Results Should I Expect from Your SEO Services?
If it sounds too good to be true, it’s usually not true, especially when it comes to marketing. SEO is usually a long game, so, if they mention an unreasonable timeframe (days), you should look for another agency. Also, you want to clearly understand what results to expect.
The expectations from the SEO agency should be realistic and based on your business goals and the current state of your site’s SEO. From their answer, determine if the agency’s goals align with your business needs.