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Imagine skyrocketing your online presence, attracting more leads, and driving sales like never before. Sounds enticing, right?

The key to unlocking this potential lies in partnering with a trusted SEO agency that can propel your business into the digital world. But how do you find the best SEO agency for your unique needs?

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of hiring the perfect SEO partner and maximizing the benefits of your collaboration.

SEO services

Did you know that Bluehost offers professional PPC and SEO services?

Understanding the role of an SEO agency

In today’s digital landscape, search engine optimization (SEO) plays a crucial role in enhancing your online visibility and driving website traffic. SEO companies, also known as SEO agencies, specialize in optimizing your website for search engines, implementing effective strategies that improve your rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs).

By offering a range of SEO services, these experts ensure your website stays competitive in the ever-evolving digital market.

Explore the various aspects of SEO and discover how a premier agency can assist in attaining your digital marketing objectives.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO focuses on optimizing your website for search engine crawling and indexing, ensuring that it’s structured correctly, loads quickly, and is mobile-friendly. With a solid technical SEO foundation, search engines can efficiently explore your site, ultimately giving your rankings a boost.

An experienced SEO agency will conduct an SEO audit to:

  • Identify potential issues
  • Make necessary adjustments, from code-level modifications to complete structural transformations
  • Ensure that your website performs its best in the digital world.

On-Page SEO

On-Page SEO revolves around optimizing individual web pages for targeted keywords, ensuring that your content, meta tags, and internal linking are all working together to improve your search engine rankings.

SEO copy, a crucial part of on-page SEO, tailors your website content to cater to your target audience and incorporates relevant keywords, making it easier for users to find you in search engines.

Keyword research is an essential aspect of on-page SEO, helping you identify the search terms your potential customers are using. By placing the right keywords in your content, structuring it correctly, and engaging your audience, you can significantly boost your search engine visibility and increase organic traffic.

The best SEO company will excel in content creation, keyword optimization, and optimizing meta descriptions, ensuring your website reaches its full potential.

Off-Page SEO

Off-Page SEO is all about building your website’s authority through external factors such as link building, social media, and relevant partnerships. Obtaining high-quality backlinks from reputable websites signals to search engines that your site is a reliable source of information in your industry, thereby improving your search rankings.

Quality over quantity. When it comes to off-page SEO and backlinks, it can be far more impactful to obtain a single backlink from a trusted and authoritative website compared to getting 500 backlinks from low-quality websites.

There are many websites and SEO agencies that use outdated practices when gaining backlinks. It’s important that you learn how each backlink will be obtained, and you confirm that no PBN (Private Blog Networks), or other outdated practices will be used.

By partnering with an SEO agency that excels in off-page SEO, you can further enhance your online presence and achieve better results in search engine rankings.

Identifying your business’s SEO Needs

Prior to starting your search for the ideal SEO agency, pinpointing your business’s unique SEO requirements is of paramount importance. Knowing what you want to achieve, such as targeting a new audience or boosting leads, will help guide your SEO strategy and ensure a more successful partnership with your chosen agency.

To determine your SEO needs, you’ll need to understand your target audience, market, and competitive landscape, which we’ll explore in the following sections.

SEO might not be the answer

It’s important to understand that SEO is not for every website or every business. While SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can be beneficial for many businesses, there are scenarios where a small business might reconsider investing heavily in it. Here are several reasons

  1. Low Search Volume / Demand: If there’s minimal or no demand for specific keywords related to the business, there’s limited potential for driving traffic through organic search. Investing heavily in SEO might not yield substantial returns.
  2. Short-term Focus: If the business needs immediate returns or is running short-term campaigns, SEO might not be the best choice. SEO generally requires a long-term commitment to see significant results.
  3. Budget Constraints: Proper SEO can be expensive. It’s not just about optimizing a website; it involves content creation, backlink building, technical fixes, ongoing analysis, and more. A small business with a tight budget might get better ROI from other marketing channels.
  4. Platform Restrictions: Businesses using certain website platforms or templates might find it challenging or impossible to implement all the necessary SEO best practices without a major overhaul.
  5. Focused Target Audience: If a business caters to a very niche audience that doesn’t typically use search engines to find such services or products, then SEO might not be as beneficial

While these are potential reasons a business might reconsider investing heavily in SEO, it’s still vital to evaluate each business’s unique situation and goals before making a decision.

Target Audience and Market

Understanding your target audience and market is key to reaching your ideal customers through SEO. By knowing who you’re trying to attract and what they’re searching for, you can tailor your SEO efforts to resonate with them and improve your chances of being found in search results.

Focus on identifying your dream customer and the markets you’re aiming for, as this will help shape your overall SEO strategy and guide your decision-making process when selecting an SEO agency.

Competitive Analysis

Performing a competitive analysis in SEO allows you to:

  • Research and analyze your direct search competitors
  • Gain insights into their keyword rankings, backlink profiles, content strategies, and conversion tactics
  • Identify opportunities for improvement
  • Outperform your competition

This information can help you gain a competitive edge in your SEO efforts.

By understanding your competitive landscape and incorporating the insights gained into your SEO strategy, you’ll be better equipped to choose an agency that can help you rise above the competition.

Should you hire a local SEO agency?

In the evolving landscape of digital marketing, businesses often grapple with the decision of choosing between a local SEO agency and a national or global SEO company. Both have distinct advantages and limitations, and understanding them can significantly influence your business’s online presence and growth.

In the evolving landscape of digital marketing, businesses often grapple with the decision of choosing between a local SEO agency and a national or global SEO company. Both have distinct advantages and limitations, and understanding them can significantly influence your business’s online presence and growth.

Pros and Cons of a Local SEO Agency


  1. Personal Touch and Accessibility: Local agencies often provide a more personalized service. Face-to-face meetings are possible, leading to better communication and understanding. This proximity can result in a more tailored strategy.
  2. Local Market Insights: Being in the same locality, these agencies possess a deep understanding of local market nuances, competition, and customer behaviors, which can be invaluable for businesses targeting local audiences.
  3. Cost-Effective: Typically, local agencies might have lower overhead costs compared to larger national or global firms, and these savings can sometimes translate to more affordable services.


  1. Limited Resources: Smaller local agencies might lack the breadth of resources, tools, or expertise that larger companies possess. This could affect the diversity and scalability of their strategies.
  2. Less Diverse Portfolio: A local focus can sometimes mean less exposure to diverse markets or industries. Their strategies might be highly effective locally but may not be tested on a broader scale.

Pros and Cons of a National or Global SEO Agency


  1. Diverse Expertise: National or global firms often have teams with diverse skill sets, having worked with a broad range of industries and markets. This diversity can lead to more innovative and tested strategies.
  2. Advanced Tools and Technologies: Larger firms tend to invest more in the latest tools, software, and technologies that can give businesses an edge in their SEO efforts.
  3. Scalability: If your business plans to expand nationally or internationally, these companies are better equipped to scale your SEO strategy to align with your growth.


  1. Higher Costs: With a larger overhead, sophisticated tools, and potentially higher salaries for top-tier experts, their services might be on the pricier side.
  2. Less Personalized Attention: Larger firms juggle multiple large clients, which might mean your business doesn’t always receive immediate or personalized attention. Responses might be slower, and strategies may sometimes feel less tailored.
  3. Potential Overhead Complexity: Bigger agencies can sometimes have more bureaucratic processes which might result in slower decision-making or implementation.

Red flags when choosing an SEO agency

Guaranteed keyword rankings 

No reputable SEO agency can guarantee specific rankings on search engines. SEO is a complex and dynamic field, and rankings can be influenced by numerous factors, many of which are beyond the agency’s control.

No clear content or technical strategy 

A reliable SEO agency should be able to articulate a clear strategy tailored to your business goals. If they are vague about their approach or can’t explain how they will achieve results, it’s a warning sign.

Overemphasis on keywords 

While keywords are essential for SEO, an agency that focuses solely on keyword density without considering the overall user experience or content quality may not be using a holistic and effective approach.

No analytics or reporting 

A reliable SEO agency should provide regular updates and reports on the performance of your website. If they are not willing to share data or explain the metrics they use, it could indicate a lack of transparency or accountability.

Cheap SEO packages 

Quality SEO services require expertise and effort, and exceptionally low prices may indicate a lack of skill or the use of automated, low-quality methods that could harm your site in the long run.

How to choose an SEO agency

Choosing between a local SEO agency and a national/global company boils down to your business’s specific needs, growth objectives, and budget. If a more personalized touch, local market insight, and cost-effectiveness are priorities, a local agency might be the better choice.

However, if your sights are set on expansive growth, leveraging top-notch tools and expertise, and you have a budget to match, a national or global firm could be the way to go.

Evaluating SEO agencies: Key factors to consider

When evaluating potential SEO agencies, pay close attention to their experience and expertise, transparency and communication, and the customized strategies they offer. By considering these key factors, you can ensure that the agency you choose aligns with your business goals and is well-equipped to deliver the results you desire.

Consider each of these factors in detail to assist you in making a well-informed decision.

Experience and Expertise

A successful SEO agency should have:

  • Extensive experience and expertise in optimizing websites for search engines
  • Knowledge and understanding of your specific industry
  • An SEO expert who can answer your questions and provide guidance
  • Case studies or testimonials that demonstrate their past work

Make sure to talk to the agency and ask for these qualifications before making a decision.

Verifying reference information also shows that they’re transparent about their services, which is crucial for building trust and credibility.

Transparency and Communication

Establishing trust and confidence with clients hinges on clear communication and transparency. Ensure the agency provides regular updates on your SEO progress, addresses any issues that arise, and shares important SEO metrics. By fostering open communication, you can build a strong relationship with the agency, resulting in better outcomes and long-term success.

Additionally, assess their reporting methods and tools used to track progress, as this will give you a clear picture of the work being done and the results achieved.

Customized Strategies

A one-size-fits-all approach to SEO is unlikely to yield the best results for your unique business needs. Look for an agency that tailors its SEO strategies to your specific goals and objectives, ensuring a more effective and successful partnership.

Check out their analysis of your website’s usability, design, and content, as well as case studies outlining the business’s journey from the beginning to the end of the campaign. This will provide valuable insights into how the agency can help you achieve your desired outcomes.

Questions to ask potential SEO agencies

The right questions will deepen your understanding of an SEO agency’s capabilities and its fit with your business. Inquire about the following:

  • Their SEO process and methodology
  • Reporting methods
  • Pricing
  • Contract terms

This will ensure you make an informed decision. We’ll explore some specific questions to ask potential SEO agencies in the sections below.

SEO Process and Methodology

Gaining insights into the agency’s SEO approach and their commitment to staying abreast with industry trends is key to a successful partnership. Ask about their SEO process, which generally involves the following steps:

  1. Audit
  2. Keyword research
  3. Content strategy
  4. On-page optimization
  5. Off-page optimization
  6. Reporting and analysis

An agency that constantly reviews and updates its strategies to stay current and effective will be better equipped to deliver the results you’re looking for.

Sample questions:

  1. What is your approach to SEO, and how do you stay updated with the latest algorithm changes?
  2. What’s your experience with technical SEO, including site speed optimization, mobile optimization, and schema markup?
  3. What SEO tools do you use, and why?

Reporting and Analytics

For tracking the progress of your SEO campaign, reporting that is clear, concise, and informative is indispensable. Ask potential SEO agencies about their reporting methods and the tools they use to track progress, such as:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console
  • Ahrefs
  • SEMRush
  • Moz

Request a sample report to get a sense of the type and quality of information they provide, as this will give you an idea of how well they can communicate the results of your campaign.

Sample questions:

  1. How do you measure SEO success, and what key performance indicators (KPIs) do you focus on?
  2. How do you handle penalties or drops in rankings?

Pricing and Contract Terms

Discuss pricing, contract terms, and any additional fees upfront to avoid unexpected surprises down the line. Ensure the agency provides clear pricing and contract terms tailored specifically to your needs, and consider any discounts or incentives they may offer for long-term contracts.

Having a clear understanding of the costs involved in working with an SEO agency will help you make a more informed decision and set realistic expectations for the partnership.

Sample questions:

  1. How is your pricing structured, and what does it include?
  2. Are there any additional fees or expenses we should be aware of outside of the quoted price?
  3. Can you explain the terms of your contract, including the duration, any lock-in periods, termination clauses, and guarantees (if any)?
    • Pro Tip: No reputable SEO agency should make any guarantees about performance.

Making the final decision: Comparing SEO agencies

After collating all the required information, proceed to weigh your options and make your final decision. Consider each agency’s alignment with your goals and expectations, as well as their potential for long-term partnership.

By carefully weighing the pros and cons of each option, you can select the best SEO agency for your unique needs and set the stage for a successful collaboration.

Aligning Goals and Expectations

Ensure that the agency understands your business objectives and can deliver the desired results by discussing your goals, metrics, and how progress will be tracked. Transparency and open communication are essential for aligning goals and expectations, helping to create a smooth partnership and maximize the benefits of your collaboration.

Long-term Partnership Potential

Consider the agency’s ability to adapt and grow with your business over time. An SEO agency with a proven track record of long-term partnerships and the capacity to stay current with industry trends is more likely to deliver consistent results and support your business’s growth in the long run.

By choosing an agency that has the potential for a long-term partnership, you can ensure a more effective and successful collaboration.

Maximizing the benefits of your SEO agency partnership

For maximizing your SEO agency partnership, follow these tips:

  1. Keep communication lines open and ensure access to requisite resources.
  2. Stay engaged with your agency, asking questions, and sharing relevant information.
  3. Help them better understand your business and optimize your SEO strategy.

Following these tips will ensure a smooth partnership and maximize the benefits of working with an SEO agency.

In the following sections, we’ll explore some tips for maximizing the benefits of your collaboration with your chosen SEO agency.

Regular Communication

Maintain engagement with your SEO agency through regular meetings, email updates, and phone calls. Establish a clear communication plan outlining how often and what type of communication will be used.

Regular communication promotes:

  • Transparency
  • Sharing of important SEO metrics
  • Fostering a strong relationship between you and your agency
  • Better outcomes
  • Long-term success

Providing Access to Necessary Resources

Sharing relevant information and resources with your agency helps them better understand your business and optimize your SEO strategy. By providing access to necessary resources like optimized page speed, relevant content, and accessibility compliance, you can improve your website’s visibility, search engine rankings, and user experience.

This level of engagement and collaboration will ensure you get the most out of your SEO agency partnership.

Mistakes businesses make when choosing an SEO Agency

Mistake #1: Choosing a cheap SEO agency

Opting for the cheapest SEO agency may seem like a cost-effective decision initially, but it often leads to subpar results. SEO requires expertise, time, and resources. A low-cost agency might use shortcuts, and automated tools, or even engage in black hat practices, jeopardizing your website’s long-term health and reputation.

Poor-quality SEO can lead to penalties from search engines, a decline in rankings, and damage to your brand’s credibility. In the end, the money saved upfront could result in much higher costs for fixing issues and recovering from potential setbacks.

Mistake #2: Browsing only local SEO companies

While local SEO expertise is valuable for businesses targeting a specific geographical area, limiting the search to local agencies might exclude highly qualified specialists. SEO is a global field, and the best agency for your needs might be located outside your immediate vicinity.

Ignoring global expertise may mean missing out on innovative strategies, diverse perspectives, and specialized knowledge that could significantly enhance your SEO efforts. A broader search allows you to find the agency with the most relevant experience and skills for your specific industry and goals.

Mistake #3: Selecting a black-hat SEO agency

Black-hat SEO techniques involve violating search engine guidelines to achieve quick results. While these tactics may provide a temporary boost in rankings, they are high-risk and can lead to severe penalties, including removal from search engine results altogether.

Choosing a black-hat SEO agency can result in long-lasting damage to your online presence. Penalties from search engines can be challenging to recover from, and the reputation of your business may suffer. It’s a high-stakes gamble that can harm your brand and erode customer trust.


In conclusion, finding and hiring the best SEO agency for your business is a crucial step in boosting your online presence and achieving your digital marketing goals. By understanding the different aspects of SEO, identifying your business’s unique needs, evaluating potential agencies, and maximizing the benefits of your partnership, you can unlock the full potential of your online presence and drive your business to new heights.

  • Kyle Bombardier

    Having worked in an SEO role for the majority of my professional career, I have learned to not only accept, but embrace, the challenges and opportunities it creates every day. I love working with people to create and execute long-term, sustainable, SEO strategies.

    University of Vermont
    Previous Experience
    Senior SEO Manager, Reputation Manager, Local SEO
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