All SEO agencies will promise to increase your rankings and ultimately grow your business. However, sadly this often isn’t the case in practice.
It’s true that SEO is certainly a longer term strategy than other areas of digital marketing such as PPC. However, your agency should still be able to base their performance on KPIs that will increase your ROI.
No-one goes to a digital marketing agency to make less money, which is why it’s worth examining exactly what your SEO agency is doing to grow your business. And if your SEO agency has given you any of these nine warning signs, it could be time to move on.
1. Doesn’t ask for access to analytics
One of the first things that your agency should do is ask if you use any analytics platforms, such as Google Analytics, Google Business Profile, and Google Search Console. A good search agency will ask you for access to these platforms even before you become a client on their books, as they should be using them to put together their initial proposal to you. Without asking for access to analytics, how would an SEO agency be able to understand your business or past performance, and in turn be able to understand how to help you grow moving forward? Any marketing proposal from your search agency should take into account learnings from analytics.
Any progress reports from your SEO company should be based on data and metrics pulled from recognised analytics platforms such as those mentioned about.
2. Doesn’t ask about your business, products, or services
This is another thing that your SEO agency should ask about even before you become a client, as again it should form the basis of your initial proposal. How can an SEO company put together a proposal for your business without fully understanding what you do?!
Sometimes, rather than focusing on products, services and landing pages that deliver your business the best returns, SEO companies may just search for any opportunity to grow your organic presence. However, by taking time to understand your business, your best sellers, and your margins, your SEO agency can learn what makes you different from your competitors, and the best way to make you money! This information helps in keyword selection and in content strategy.
If your agency doesn’t ask (or continues not to listen) about what your business does, then it might be time to move on.
3. Doesn’t ask about your customers
Similar to point 2, even before you start officially working together, your SEO company should be asking about who your customers are, or the type of customer you want to attract. Your SEO company needs to understand your target persona or else how can they understand which keywords will lead to the best conversions?
4. Doesn’t complete audits or provide reporting
One of the first things that an SEO company should do when you approach them to work together, is complete a site audit for you. A site audit (or site report) is a report that covers technical SEO and content. The search agency should assess the current condition of your site from an SEO point of view, and make recommendations on what can be done to improve it. Covering areas such as title tags and meta descriptions, the site audit should flag up any ‘SEO housekeeping’ tasks that are required. A good SEO agency will usually offer a site report free of charge when you get in touch with them about working together.
Once you are on board as a client, your SEO company should provide monthly reports that track progress towards meeting these goals. These reports should include progress on organic stats, with information taken from recognised analytics platforms such as Google Analytics.
If your search agency isn’t providing regular progress reports it could be a sign that they’re not tracking what they’re doing, which means you could well be throwing your marketing budget into a black hole.
5. Doesn’t provide content
One of the most essential ranking factors is the content on your website, and if your SEO agency is not creating content for you, this should be a big red flag.
Content should be written with both the user and search engines in mind: it should focus on your keywords, whilst still being an enticing read for the user. Your content should answer user questions and address pain points. This type of content will help to drive organic traffic as well as giving you a boost in the rankings.
6. Only focuses on vanity metrics
If your company only focuses on higher volume keywords, your overall traffic may grow, but your business might not.
SEO companies can fall into the trap of tracking useless keywords that don’t lead to conversions or grow your ROI, simply because they’re seen as the ‘main keyword phrases’. What good is it if you rank for certain ‘hero’ keywords/phrases if they’re not actually bringing in any business?
Instead, a good SEO agency will report and focus on several different metrics that will lead to sales including:
- New vs. existing users
- Average CTR
- Dwell times
- Conversion paths
These metrics tell the story of how well your content is meeting search intent and nurturing conversions that lead to business growth.
7. Has pricing that seems to good to be true
Of course, we all want good value for money. But if an SEO agency’s pricing model seems significantly lower than other agencies, it might be time to ask yourself why. SEO is time-consuming work carried out by trained professionals, and most agencies price accordingly. So if the price you’ve been quoted seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
Some agencies may try to win business by offering lower-priced models that claim to provide basic results. However, your digital marketing agency should be your partner in long-term growth and brand strategy: this isn’t the time to cut corners or look for quick wins. Rather than focusing on cost, focus on value and long-term ROI; invest in an SEO company with a proven track record of success that can help you design a customised strategy to meet your business’s specific needs.
“You get what you pay for” may be a cliche, but in the case of SEO agencies it’s one that very often rings true.
8. Has poor communication
If your SEO agency doesn’t offer regular communication with you, then you might feel forgotten or neglected.
Your SEO agency should establish regular communication with you, and give you the time you deserve. At minimum, there should always be weekly communication via email and a monthly catch up (usually when they deliver your report).
If you’re feeling neglected by your SEO agency, it might be time to start looking for a new one.