The ultimate guide to working with an SEO Agency
- What does the term SEO mean?
- How can an SEO agency help to build your business?
- Can I do SEO on my own?
- Benefits of hiring an SEO agency Vs doing it myself
- What do SEO services include?
- How do I hire the right SEO agency?
- What questions should I ask an SEO agency?
- Do SEO companies really work?
- How long does it take for SEO to start working?
- Does SEO really work for small businesses?
- How much does it cost for SEO services?
- Is SEO worth it in 2022?
- Is SEO difficult to learn?
- Why you need an SEO agency now
What does the term SEO mean?
Let’s begin at the beginning…
The term SEO means ‘search engine optimisation’. It doesn’t stand for ‘secret elephant orifices’, or whatever else that may come to mind at 4am when you just can’t sleep. Search engine optimisation is the attempt to improve a website’s digital presence on the organic search listings i.e. the listings that don’t contain the word ‘Ad’, which means they’ve been paid for. In turn, if done properly, it can drive traffic that is high quality and matches your target audience perfectly.
In the simplest terms, the better a site’s SEO, the higher up Google’s results pages you’ll sit. And the higher you sit, the more clicks you’ll receive, given that 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search engines.
In 2021, over 2.14 billion people made a purchase on the internet, which translates to more than 25% of the global population. And this figure is only set to grow in future. Let’s take a look at the ultimate guide to working with an SEO Agency to see how one could support your business.
How can an SEO agency help build your business?
An SEO digital agency can help to build your business by performing a vast number of SEO-related activities all encompassed in an SEO campaign geared towards earning higher places on Google’s search results.
Let’s break this down into three bite-sized chunks:
1. National/international visibility
As we mentioned above, gaining higher positions on Google’s search listings puts your business in a better position to receive more click-throughs, higher traffic and ultimately more sales. 61% of B2B marketers stated that SEO and organic traffic generate more leads than any other marketing initiative.
The starting point for any SEO agency is to give your site greater online visibility. The more people that see your site, the more customers you’ll potentially earn. After all, if no one knows you exist, how can they fall in love with you?
2. A local presence
On top of your overall visibility levels, an SEO marketing agency will help you build a local presence. The majority of mobile phone Google searches are related to localities (e.g. ‘muay Thai trainer near me’).
What’s known in the industry as ‘local SEO’ is just as important as having a national or international presence. This is because those with a physical store rely on local trade, as opposed to people travelling from all over the country to pay a visit. For further information, read our post on why local SEO is important for your business.
A fulsome online presence automatically gives your business added credibility. If your firm’s name is appearing more often it can start to become what’s termed a ‘household name’, or one that comes to mind whenever its related industry is mentioned.
To give an example of credibility in action, let’s imagine that a completely-unknown site launches tomorrow, with the exact same product and price range as the online behemoth otherwise known as Amazon. Regardless of product and price, most people will still buy from the online behemoth as it has greater credibility. They know it, and they trust it, and we humans are always averse to taking risks when it comes to spending our hard-earned wampum.
Can I do SEO on my own?
Oh yes. It’s completely possible to do SEO on your own, although you may find there aren’t actually enough hours in the day.
The solo SEO-er needs to firstly self-educate themselves on each one of Google’s 200+ SEO ranking factors. Then they must apply these to their own web development process. Some of these factors may take one person months or years to complete.
You’ll also need to get to know a clump of dedicated software tools, aimed at helping you make the right SEO decisions for your business. These can cost a pretty penny but are damn-near essential when it comes to gaining an edge over your competitors.
The ROAR DIY SEO Platform will assist in supporting your SEO goals by offering DIY SEO Actions, Backlink Strategies, Journalist Outreach, Local SEO, and the SEO Academy for online learning amongst a variety of other tools you can use on your solo SEO journey.
Furthermore, you’ll need to be able to keep up with SEO news. Google is forever changing its algorithms – allegedly to offer a better and fairer service – and a failure to comply with what the Sith Lord of Search Engines dictates will likely see your site disappear quicker than Lord Lucan.
With all this in mind, you’ll probably realise that, whilst you can do SEO on your own, it’ll save you a nervous breakdown and a headful of grey hair if you have a team to help you. Unless you happen to be Catwoman, Albert Einstein and Gandalf all rolled into one.
Find out more: what are the benefits of SEO services?
Benefits of hiring an SEO agency Vs doing it yourself
Drinking coffee, brewing your own beer, burying a body under the patio…there are pros and cons to everything and the SEO agency versus DIY approach is no different. Let’s take a squiz at both tactics:
· SEO agency: pros and cons
SEO agencies have generally worked across hundreds of industries, meaning they have a lot of experience when it comes to deciding what to do with your business. They’ll have a selection of software tools to uncover a host of data about your firm’s online performance, as well as that of your rivals. They’ll also have a range of different experts, able to deal with different aspects of SEO.
An SEO agency should come with unique perspective on every aspect of your online presence. Things you may have missed day to day including things like your website copy and website performance.
SEO agencies also have their own reputation to manage – one set of bad feedback from a client could harm their chances of earning more contracts. Top SEO agencies need to achieve good results for businesses so they can survive.
On the downside, poor SEO agencies will indulge in what’s called ‘black hat’ tactics. These are SEO strategies that Google takes a dim view of. Your site may initially reap the benefits of such tactics, only to be hit by a Google penalty once your cloak-and-dagger approach has been detected.
· The DIY approach: pros and cons
You may not know SEO too well, but you’ll likely know your own business and industry better than anyone. An SEO agency could take a few weeks or months to achieve the same level of knowledge.
On the downside, getting to know SEO to an agency-level standard can take years. Organic search is such a vast undertaking these days that even agencies won’t assign ownership of a client to one person. Managing technical, creative and PR-related activities by yourself is an undertaking that few people can achieve.
However, given our own particular vision of enabling all businesses to join the SEO party – no matter how small – we’ve created options to empower the start-up business leader, no matter how tiny their budget.
The ROAR DIY SEO Platform allows anyone to take control of their own SEO. It’ll review your site and advise of the fixes needing to be made, and in what order. We’re also more than happy to provide tutorials for anyone wanting to take the DIY approach.
It’s worth noting that none of the above pros are employed by ROAR Digital Marketing.
What do SEO services include?
So as to avoid making this article longer than Tolstoy’s (quite magnificent, but lengthy) War and Peace, we’ll divide SEO management services into three key areas:
1. Technical factors
It’s a website, so that means there’s some technical hoo-hah going on, just for it to exist. Well, without delving too deeply into such technical hoo-hah, Google likes its hoo-hah a certain way. This certain way makes it easier for its ranking bots to find and judge your site’s SEO accordingly. A failure to comply with such preferred hoo-hah means Google’s bots will penalise your site.
In addition, the effects of some technical factors will be as off-putting to humans as they are to Google bots. For example, the thorny issue of site speed. This is a ranking factor for Google, and a slow load speed will harm your overall SEO rating.
Humans hate slow sites even more, and conversion rates fall by 4.42% for every extra second that it takes your website to load. SEO services that omit a technical review should be avoided like a sewer rat baguette.
2. On-page SEO
On-page SEO is the visible stuff – your content, images and videos. On-page factors are hugely important as the majority of Google searches are attempts to discover information – information that your site needs to provide, in order to earn click-throughs.
Your on-page SEO should never be chosen at random. The type of content your site should have depends wholly on the type of content your potential customers are looking to read.
A good SEO agency will be able to discover this by using dedicated software tools to decipher data and also to prioritise the kind of work that will bring the best results in the quickest time. For example, our own SEO Bomb® content approach to content strategy is tried-and-tested to please both search engines and users, so it’s primed to deliver the very best possible results.
Linking to the technical factors described above, on-page SEO needs to be structured in a way that Google bots can understand it. If the bots can’t do this, they won’t rank it highly, meaning your intended human audience is unlikely to ever see it. On-page SEO is often a massive task to take on, and so 61% of companies outsource content marketing efforts.
3. Off-page SEO
You’ve guessed it – off-page SEO refers to the unseen stuff. So what is that exactly? Well, it’s anything that contributes to your site’s SEO ranking that doesn’t include content, images or videos. The majority of this involves something called ‘backlinks.’
A backlink is earned when another website links to some content from your own website. Backlinks are a major indicator of site quality in Google’s eyes. If your content is so useful that other sites want to share it with their readers, then the chances are high that your site is an authority on its subject matter.
However, not all backlinks are created equally. The sites that link to your content need to be credible in themselves, and zero backlinks are better than a host of non-credible ones.
Off-page SEO also includes any other PR-related tactics that are geared towards raising your online existence. It can get a little complex here, as the likes of a social media presence may not be directly related to SEO. But they can still be a boost to your online credibility and thus your visibility overall.
Get to know off-page SEO better with our post on everything you need to know about off-page SEO.
How do I hire the right SEO agency?
Hiring the right SEO agency is all about finding the right fit for your company. Businesses come in different shapes and sizes, and an agency that can fit into your set-up like members of your extended family should be what you’re looking for. Well, that and the ability to deliver fabulous results as well…contact ROAR for those fabulous results😉
· Do your research
Depending on your budget, do some research on a local and national level. Look at case studies, feedback, and client lists. Be prepared to meet with several different agencies of different sizes before making any decision.
You could even check how their own website SEO is doing by heading to Google and searching ‘SEO management services’ and seeing where they rank. Give it a go, you may even find ROAR on there😉
· Expect answers in plain, understandable English
When it comes to meeting agency reps in person, expect all SEO-related answers to come in plain, understandable English. If they can’t refrain from falling into the jargon trap – thus building a wall between them and you – they don’t deserve your business. Discount them immediately, and get the hell out of there.
· Discuss transparency and reporting
All SEO tactics should be discussed prior to any work being done, you should be well aware of all parts of a strategy, why it’s needed and the expected outcome. This should be reported to measure progress on a granular level. SEO agencies that aren’t prepared to do this are probably hiding something.
· Discuss deliverables
Measure anticipated costs against deliverables, and ensure you agree on dates prior to agreeing on any contract. A good SEO agency will be happy to adapt to your own preferred ways of working, be it a hands-on or hands-off approach.
What questions should I ask an SEO agency?
The questions you should ask an SEO company are often business and/or industry-dependent. But there are a few generic teasers that every business leader should have in mind:
- Can you demonstrate previous success with case studies?
- Do you have prior experience in X industry?
- Given our budget and current level of SEO, what strategy would you suggest?
- What costs are involved to make your strategy a success?
- How do you define success?
- What return on investment (ROI) can I expect?
Remember – don’t be fooled by smoke and mirrors. Some of the bigger agencies may be able to wow you with PowerPoint presentations, video guides and a particularly rare blend of Ethiopian coffee. But it’s sometimes the smaller, no-frills agencies that will do the best job. The vibe really is everything when it comes to forming effective partnerships.
Do SEO companies really work?
Oh yes! Not all, and not all the time. But most, and most of the time. Given that 86% of people ignore paid banner ads, choosing to only click on organic search results, SEO is an essential ingredient towards business success, and it pays to let expert professionals do it for you.
If your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, what do you do? Perhaps some will be able to do a Charlene-from-Neighbours and get clever under the bonnet, but most of us will ring a professional. It’s the same when our phones misbehave, our TVs cut out, or our plumbing systems stop, ahem, whisking away bodily unmentionables. It pays to know someone who knows best.
How long does it take for SEO to start working?
Well, here’s the rub. There’s no set answer. Depending on the tactics required, you can start seeing results within a week. Or it could take as long as a year.
If we go back a few paragraphs, we looked at technical, on-page and off-page factors. There are many technical ‘quick-fix’ factors which can give your site an organic boost. These may be quick to complete, and your website’s visibility can improve overnight as a result.
However, let’s say your site has very little content. Getting up to speed with content could take weeks or months, and sadly there’s no finishing point. You’ll always need to add new content to your site in order to maintain your relevancy.
Furthermore, Google’s algorithms change with the tide. What works today may no longer work next week, and so an SEO agency will need to constantly adapt a strategy in order to stay in Google’s good books. SEO is a lifetime commitment that will always need working on.
Does SEO really work for small businesses?
Most definitely! A small business can certainly compete with the big players if the strategy is right. If your site’s technical SEO is first-rate and your content is of greater use than your enormous rivals’, Google will make sure to reward you accordingly.
The top SEO companies won’t attempt the same kind of tactics for both small and large businesses – they’ll adopt a bespoke approach. Every little SEO improvement is a step in the right direction, and a tailored SEO strategy should get the most value from any budget.
Local SEO in particular can be hugely beneficial for small businesses who are aiming to target their local community. By using your Google My Business page to show potential customers what you offer whilst verifying that you are a real business you are able to show locals how and where to get involved with your business. It offers you a chance to compete with the big dogs as users searching for products and services are 66% more likely to shop locally.
Great SEO should not be the preserve of giant corporations – with the right agency onside, everyone can compete in the online SEO game.
How much does it cost for SEO services?
For full-time management, the average SEO agency will charge around £100 per hour as a starting point. With this in mind, £2,000 per month will deliver around 20 hours of work. Bear in mind that your allocation may need to change in line with the work needed.
For example, it may be possible to achieve a lot of small technical fixes for 20 hours per month. But the same amount of hours won’t deliver much content, given the timescale that researching and writing can take.
The best SEO agencies will have a range of solutions, geared at giving businesses the most bang for their buck. Some agencies may offer training so certain aspects of a strategy can be self-managed which could positively reduce your costs. We offer this as one of our many bespoke business options, alongside our DIY SEO Platform of course.
Is SEO worth it in 2022?
70% of online marketers say that SEO is better than PPC for generating sales, so SEO is still very much worth it in 2022. It’s safe to say that the digital world we live in is here to stay. Unless we as a species stop using the internet, or some great invention comes along that makes search engines obsolete.
Is SEO difficult to learn?
Plenty of SEOs will try to compare their favourite subject with the likes of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. They’re lying. SEO isn’t particularly difficult to learn, but it is lengthy, and some of the problems that arise from it can be very complex indeed.
It may be perfectly possible to be a self-taught SEO, but the real question is whether – as a business leader or professional in some capacity – have you really got the time or the inclination to do so?
Why you need an SEO agency now
We don’t mean any old SEO agency. But just as you might hire a mechanic to fix your motorcar, a sparky to wire your house, or a pig to help you unearth prize-winning truffles, it pays to hand your SEO to a team of experts.
Your perfect SEO agency will become an extension of your business family. They’ll take the time to get to know your firm and the industry it resides in, and they’ll genuinely care. They’ll already have the best software tools and resources available to provide the data needed to launch a justifiable strategy. And they’ll be happy to share their know-how and workings in a wholly transparent way.
Moreover, an SEO agency worth having won’t come with a one-size-fits-all approach. They’ll take the time to get to know your needs as well as your budgetary limits, and have a range of different SEO services available to enable businesses of all sizes to thrive.
Interested in seeing the difference an SEO agency can make to your own organisation? Speak to one of our team to arrange a free consultation today.