In 2023, hundreds, if not thousands, of SEO agencies will be out there looking for your business.
If you are looking for help with your SEO and digital marketing, you may be wondering where to go and what to look out for.
The industry is so massive that finding the appropriate SEO agency to complement your business or brand is a huge task; it’s more challenging than it looks. And according to Search Engine Optimization Services Global Market Report 2022, the worldwide sector will reach over $130 billion by 2026. So you can see why the SEO industry is alluring to many start-up entrepreneurs.
As a business owner eager to generate new sales leads from Google, where does that leave you? Where do you go, and who do you call to get SEO help? Like all decisions you have to make in business, you’re probably asking yourself:
- How do I choose the best SEO Sydney agency?
- How can I find an SEO company that doesn’t need to spend money on Google ads to rank its website organically?
- What do I look for in an SEO agency?
You’ll find the answers in this blog article if you keep reading. Plus, I’ll do a quick video on the above second point, which most people overlook and need clarification and a thorough understanding.
But, before I begin, I’ll outline what you need to think before you start the search. First, you must be clear about your aims and goals and what you’re trying to achieve on your SEO journey.
Clearly Understand Your Business Goals and Objectives
Imagine you’re going on a holiday with the family and hurridly book a hotel in Sydney. When you arrive, you notice that the hotel you quickly booked at the last minute isn’t exactly all it was cracked up to be. The pool is small, the bathrooms are old, and the beds are single, not queens. A huge disappointment and perhaps a ruined holiday as you can’t get your money refunded. A massive waste of time, and the kids are not happy.
Hiring SEO agencies is not dissimilar to booking a hotel; each hotel advertising online presents its best image possible.
Your first job before booking that holiday hotel is choosing the best hotel in the best area that aligns with your family’s holiday objectives. You can see the comparison with finding an SEO agency; it’s all about getting it right from the get-go.
To choose and engage an SEO agency that’s the perfect fit for you, you must:
- Understand where you want to take your business (your goals), and
- What you want to achieve when you get there (your outcomes).
In choosing an SEO agency for your goals, you have to look for one that can offer the following services:
- SEO-optimised content marketing (write creatively and in a Google-compliant format) Link building (be able to build quality high DA links) Also read Google’s December 2022 Link Spam Algorithm Update, a quick analysis.
- Local SEO
- E-commerce SEO
Remember that the above list will change and evolve as Google rolls out its new algorithms. Hence, the SEO services you will require in the future will be different to what’s currently in Google’s vogue in 2023.
As for outcomes?
You may need to:
- Rank your website or specific core (money-generating) keywords higher
- Get more qualified traffic and leads, or
- Drive sales directly from organic search, which is the holy grail regarding what Google can do for your business.
Your business goals and outcomes will determine what SEO strategies you’ll need and help you find the right agency to facilitate these.
The critical point is that no SEO agencies I know of can do everything well. For example, some are experts in link building, while others focus on content. If you can understand this and avoid falling for the sales pitches and glossy jargon, you’ll be better positioned to know who you can partner with.
Let’s look closely at some types of SEO agencies and your desired outcomes.
Example #1: SEO-Optimised Content Marketing
Suppose you’re a business that wants to show up on Google for specific keywords when people are searching for particular content or information. In that case, you need an agency specialising in content marketing, also known as content optimisation. This is the goal. And the outcome is to get them to engage with the copy so much that they inquire. Obviously, they’ll need to like the look of the site, but that’s a whole other area called conversion rate optimisation and is a critical component in the user’s sales journey. You’ll want to be very upfront in the interview process and ask any potential SEO provider to show you some results they have in helping other companies rank through content optimisation.
Example #2: Increase your websites Domain Authority
Many websites have pages full of excellent copy and amazing graphics, but they can’t crack page 1. They try and try but never make it. In contrast, their competitors are blitzing the rankings with far less informative content and very average-looking sites. The problem here is simple; they have a higher domain authority, meaning they have more inbound links from authoritative websites pointing to them. MOZ has a good article titled How Do I Increase My Domain Authority (DA)? Here, you can see how to improve your website’s authority. But I want to reiterate that you need an SEO agency whose strength lies in link building. Again, it’s all about due diligence and proof, as the barriers to entry in the SEO space are super-low, and you will get sales guys doing the hard sell strutting their stuff and telling you that they are the best link builders in Sydney. Be very careful when choosing a link-building agency, as link-building requires a strategy. I’ve written an article titled: Link Building Quality vs Quantity: Which is More Important? Never fall for the hype about excessive link building and the associated ranking guarantees as they don’t exist.
While we are on the topic and with so many believable SEO agencies sprouting their virtues, how do you tell the diamonds among the rough?
Let’s closely examine some characteristics of making a top SEO agency (from my perspective).
1) Organic rankings
When it comes to SEO in 2023, everyone has access to the internet, and anyone can create a quick WordPress website and call themselves an SEO specialist. And they can do this from anywhere in the world. It isn’t very comforting to think that you could put your trust in a freelancer with hardly any SEO experience. I’ve seen businesses outsource their SEO to someone offshore because they sounded convincing over the phone. And yes, they were offering low prices. The trick is to use companies ranking organically for many ‘SEO’ related keywords. The rationale is that if they can rank their website in this competitive space, they’ll have the strategies to rank your site. And, never believe the old come back that they don’t have the time to rank their site because they are focusing on their clients. That’s complete BS, and if they could rank their site for keywords like SEO Sydney, they’d be doing it. So never interview any SEO agency on page 1 for pay-per-click – this is the golden rule and super-important to remember.
I know everyone can work from anywhere now, and after COVID, people work from home. But life is much easier when you work with an SEO agency in your city. far too many issues can arise if you offshore your SEO. Yes, there are probably successful stories you’ve heard in the past about a friend who used this guy in India and got terrific results, but this is an exception. Local SEO agencies will know your market, know the area and be able to target your consumers. Plus, you can always visit them for meet-ups every six months. It makes you more hands-on and aware of what’s happening with your campaign rather than a report each month which can be confusing.
3) Industry longevity with a decent portfolio.
A no-brainer, but you want a company that can first show you a list of their clients whom you should be able to contact for references. You want to work with something other than start-ups still cutting their teeth in SEO. If they will make mistakes better, it’s off your website. For example, we have been in the industry for over 15 years at SEO Sydney Experts, and you can see our case studies.
4) Credible testimonials
An SEO agency doing great work for its clients will have an extensive list of testimonials they will be happy to share with you. They should be able to send you a link from their Google My Business page or a third-party reviews website like Trustpilot. Again be mindful that some agencies will buy reviews or get friends to put fake reviews up. So if an agency has hundreds of glowing reviews and no negative ones, that should sound the alarm bells.
5) Experts in their field
Any reputable SEO agency should be a leader in their field. They should constantly be posting informative blogs, chatting on YouTube (as I do, as you can see) and being able to share their insights into the evolving Google landscape. If you like what you read and see, then this is a good sign that your working with a reputable SEO agency that understands the competitive nature of SEO and what it takes to rank and maintain these rankings over the long term. Also, note they don’t need to be posting 1000’s of blogs or being super-active on TikTok. They need a steady and informative flow of information that instils trust in them.
SEO Agency Warning Signs – be very aware!
When choosing an SEO agency, there are specific stand-out signs that I can easily pick, but most people need a few pointers. Choosing the mistake of selecting the wrong SEO agency will be very costly and harm your business.
Here are some of the critical substantial warning signs that you should look out for when choosing an SEO agency:
Guaranteeing Rankings in 90 days
OMG, there are still agencies that promise this and will guarantee that they can rank your website within 90 days, and they’ll even throw in a money-back guarantee. If you hear this, run a mile and do it fast. Read what Google says in their developers guide that backs this up: No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google.
Quantity Over Quality Backlink-Building
So many people who call me up will tell me that SEO agency XYZ said they’d build 500 links per month and ask me to match that. So here’s some news, guys; it’s not about the number of links; it’s the quality. Read this: Link Building Quality vs Quantity: Which is More Important?
Bargain basement pricing
When it comes to SEO, you must put in the man-hours. SEO is not a set-and-forget; if you are not content marketing, link building and implementing a social media strategy, you have little chance of getting to page 1. If you intend to go with an agency that offers lower than market prices, expect to get less than average work, especially if you are in a competitive nice. You should read this previous blog post: How to Avoid Getting Completely Ripped Off by SEO companies, which will highlight the many pitfalls of going with cheap agencies. SEO pricing in 2023 is all about the quality of the work and the links created. Be very aware of these factors.
No Customer Testimonials
Every good review by a client is a great marketing opportunity that I can use to show my potential clients. There is no way in the world I would be reluctant to show positive reviews. So if your prospective SEO company doesn’t have any reviews, it means 1 of 2 things; they are just starting in business (which is dangerous in the SEO space), and they haven’t done any good work, which should send the alarm bells ringing. Therefore, it’s super-important to research any potential SEO agencies before signing a contract, especially if they have no customer testimonials. And, if they can’t show or prove to you any case studies of previous work, I would be highly sceptical.