In 2019, your business needs to prioritize search engine optimization. SEO really isn’t an option anymore; it’s a necessity. But many companies simply don’t have the internal knowledge or the time necessary to master this skill. That’s why many business owners will turn to an SEO agency for help.

The Benefits of Working With an SEO Agency

If you run your own business, you’re probably accustomed to wearing many hats. You might even believe the DIY approach will allow you to have more control over your desired outcome. But the reality is that learning just the SEO basics will take a lot of time and energy. And considering that Google changes its search engine algorithm 500 to 600 times per year, that’s probably a lot of work you don’t have the capacity to take on.

In the end, working with an SEO agency can allow you to achieve your goals without taking away from your business operations. You’ll be able to improve your SEO far more efficiently when you hire an expert, saving you time in both the short and long term. Plus, you’ll probably end up saving money. Because you can focus on actually running your business and won’t have to waste funds on outdated ideas that don’t work, it’s a more cost-efficient option in general.

Questions to Ask Before Hiring an SEO Company

Now that you’ve decided to invest in outside SEO services, you’ll need to know what to look for. There are all kinds of SEO firms out there, which makes it difficult to ascertain whether a given company can really provide what you need. If their website is attractive and their sales team is convincing, you might be inclined to hire the first firm you find. But while you should like the look of their site and feel like their team is experienced, those factors don’t always provide the complete picture.

So what should you be focusing on? The answers to the following questions can help narrow your search and assess whether a given SEO agency has the experience, vision, and ability to support you in your objectives.

  • Does this company’s work align with your SEO goals?
    In order to properly evaluate an SEO firm, you’ll need examples of what they’ve achieved for previous or current clients. This can get a bit tricky in some cases, but the firm should be able to provide you with case studies or data from their prior work. You’ll also need to assess whether the results they provide are typical or whether they might be showcasing outliers to tip the scales. There’s nothing inherently wrong with showing off incredible results, but it’s important to keep your expectations in check.
    You’ll then need to assess whether the company’s values and methods are a good fit for your own. If the company already has other clients in your competitive niche, you might be inclined to hire them due to their experience in this area. However, doing so can also mean that they’ll be pitting competitors against one another, which isn’t a winning strategy for anyone. You’ll need to zero in on your specific SEO goals: do you want to improve your backlink profile? Increase your local traffic? Beef up your content? Be sure to express these goals to any SEO firm with which you consult to get a better idea of their specific expertise and whether those skills align with your aims.
  • What is this company’s reputation?
    If you want to properly evaluate any company, you need to take a close look at what others are saying about it. Reviews aren’t the only thing to consider here, but they can tell you quite a bit about the business and whether others would gladly recommend working with them. Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, and even platforms like Glassdoor and the Better Business Bureau can provide you with unique perspectives from clients and employees.
    You shouldn’t necessarily trust these reviews 100%, however. Some nightmarish clients will leave negative reviews of a business just because they didn’t get their way or because the business couldn’t deliver on the client’s unrealistic expectations. Some negative reviews are to be expected, regardless of the industry; that’s just the way things go, especially in the digital age. What really matters is the number of negative reviews and how the company responds to them.It’s also not always a great sign if no one has anything negative to say about a firm. That could indicate that the firm is deleting negative reviews or that they’re using unethical tactics to garner positive ones. Basically, take everything you find with a grain of salt and be sure to seek out recommendations from other business owners, colleagues, and friends to consider.
  • What’s involved in their process?
    A reputable SEO agency will be fairly open about the strategies they use. They might be wary about overwhelming you with technical jargon, but they should gladly explain what goes into their methodologies and how it can help with SEO improvement. Because SEO is not an exact science, one firm might employ different techniques from another. But one universal quality should be their willingness to explain the value of their process and how it can help you achieve your overall goals.
    Along those same lines, your SEO company of choice should be eager to communicate with you on a regular basis and keep you up-to-date on developments throughout your relationship. You should be able to access reliable reporting on these metrics and have no trouble getting your firm on the phone. Your SEO company should prioritize customer service just as much as they do optimization. Your concerns should be promptly and properly addressed and you should never feel as if they’re evading your requests or that you’re becoming a nuisance. Make sure you have a clear idea of their communication style and their overall process before signing on. Otherwise, you might have no idea about what tactics they’re using (meaning they could be employing black hat SEO practices) or have any guarantee that they’ll make good on their agreement.

Some Red Flags to Watch Out For

Asking these questions of your SEO agency can help you to zero in on the main contenders. But you could be swayed by factors that really have nothing to do with the prowess of a good SEO company. In fact, failure to see the warning signs could cause you to hire an SEO agency with a poor service record, very little experience, or a bad reputation. You shouldn’t automatically trust an SEO agency that…

…Appears at the top of search results: This one might sound strange to you. After all, an SEO company should demonstrate knowledge and skills by maintaining a favorable search ranking… right? In some cases, an SEO company that appears at the top of the search results may not actually be the best firm for the job. When agencies are at full client capacity, they often don’t have a lot of time to devote to doing their own SEO. Those that do may not actually have the experience or client roster to be considered among the best. This isn’t to say that search results can’t be trusted; it just means you need to rely on other factors, as well. Don’t put blind faith in the first company that shows up when you type in “best SEO +[your city]” into Google.

…Makes outrageous promises: If what an SEO agency is telling you sounds too good to be true, it probably is. They might tell you that you can expect an immense amount of traffic growth almost overnight or that you’ll be on page one by next month. But there’s no way that any reputable SEO company can actually deliver on those pledges. Though analysts know the main components of a successful SEO strategy, there are a lot of moving pieces that can play a part. And like anything worth doing, it takes time. Even the best SEO companies on earth won’t be able to give you the results you’re after right away, so don’t be seduced by an SEO agency that makes you promises it can’t keep.

…Offers services at way below market value: Your budget is understandably a concern, but it shouldn’t be your only criterion for picking an SEO company. Remember, you get what you pay for. If you think you’re getting a steal on SEO services, you’re likely not going to benefit very much from what that firm has to offer. They may not have enough experience in the field or maybe desperate for clients. There are definitely affordable options geared towards small business owners with limited marketing budgets. Just realize that you will get out what you put in. And if an agency is advertising rates that are suspiciously low, you may want to find out how they’re compensating for that.

Choosing the right SEO firm isn’t an easy task, but this post can help you to focus on the most important factors to consider during this decision-making process. To find out more about our SEO services and how we can support you in achieving your goals, please contact us today.

Brennen Bliss

Brennen Bliss

Brennen Bliss is the founder & CEO of PixelCutLabs. Since founding PixelCutLabs in 2014, Brennen has been recognized as a leader in the search engine marketing & SEO spaces, with recent nominations for both the US Search Awards (2018) & the Forbes 30 under 30 List (2018). Brennen has also been featured on,, In addition to leading the team at PixelCutLabs, Brennen travels to conferences across the US as a recognized keynote speaker. You can find Brennen on Twitter @brennenlb.

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