How to find the right SEO agency | An SEO buyer's guide

How to find the right SEO agency

SEO agencies come in all shapes, sizes and prices. So, if you want to find the right SEO agency to help you with your site’s search engine marketing read on…

Here’s a breakdown of what you are likely to find in the marketplace, and how to choose the right SEO agency for your brand, company or website.

The big “do it all” marketing agency

When you are looking to find the right SEO agency, this kind of shop either has a small team in house or typically has an account manager that fronts the SEO work but manages an outsourced SEO team, sometimes offshore (India, Philippines, etc) sometimes domestically (smaller agency that’s a subcontractor).

Pros: One-stop shopping. Integrated approach.
Cons: The big agency is marking up the small agency’s work

Questions to ask: Is your SEO team in-house or a subcontract? If subcontractor, are they offshore or domestic?

The mid-sized boutique marketing agency

These guys are usually the right place to put your business if you are looking for moderate pricing, nimble response time, and great results. The marketing agency is usually headed by one or two partners, will have under 10 full-time employees and will reply on trusted contractors to handle scale. However, a smaller shop usually has one person in house who is the SEO strategist.

Pros: Usually the in-house expert s the go-to, so ask for them.
Cons: If the company is maxed out you may get ok service but you will need to engage to get attention you want.

Questions to ask:
1) Can you give me a better deal if  I sign a longer term deal? Usually if you commit to 1 year you can realize a decent discount.
2) Can I talk to the strategist directly? You want to get to the SEO brains and not deal with an underling. Usually you’ll deal with the agency principal or a senior lead and this is the person you will get best results with.

Independent SEO freelancer

You will get your best rates from this kind of SEO worker. The challenge here is scale. If you have a big site or project, it will take this smaller or solo shop to get the work done. They can also disappear if they get hired by someone with a big gig or they get offered an employee position.

Questions to ask: How long have you been doing SEO? How long will it take to see results?

Pros: Decent rates.
Cons: Lack of stability or guarantee that they will stick around. Inability to scale. They will be a jack of all trades so you won’t get high end talent, although there are exceptions.

Offshore SEO agency

There are always mixed results on this one. They have very low SEO rates. And know that whatever you pay per hour, they are paying their workers a fraction of that so there is a lot of room to negotiate.

Pros: Great rates. 
  Here’s a few…

  • English is a second language so communication or comprehension can be an issue.
  • They are offshore so they can suddenly disappear and there is nothing you can do to find them.
  • They will typically work on a time zone opposite yours so there with typically be a 24 hour delay on any request or correspondence.

Questions to ask: Can you guarantee me the No. 1 spot on Google? This is a trick question. If they say yes, you are dealing with someone who has no idea what they are doing. No one can guarantee the No. 1 top spot.

About the Author:

Andy Walker is a digital marketing strategist with a strength in SEO. He has worked with every one of the agency archetypes that he outlines in this article. He owns Cyberwalker Digital.

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Andy Walker
Andy Walker is an author, digital marketing guru and entrepreneur. He can make websites do backflips and can drive tons of traffic anywhere he points his SEO wand.
Andy Walker


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