Transparency is an important aspect to consider when selecting an SEO agency. It used to be that people would simply advertise their service for a certain amount but point blank refuse to explain to the client in any way the work they were carrying out. This smoke and mirrors approach should be avoided like the plague. If the agency is not willing to share what they are doing on your website or around it then it’s probably something you wouldn’t want them to be doing. There isn’t any magical top secret formula to SEO which some agencies sell and certain bad methods are likely to catch you up later down the line when Google penalises you and the money spent on SEO is wasted.
None itemised pricing and set up fees
If your agency can’t break down what they are doing on your SEO campaign into hourly segments there is a chance they aren’t doing much if anything at all. To get certain results there must be a certain number of hours put into the campaign. To simply state that you are providing SEO for a said amount allows agencies to carry out as much work as they wish on a month by month basis. Pricing should be broken down into hours of work carried out and if you request information on any part of the work then your questions should definitely not go un- answered.
This is something that I come across on a regular basis and although the days of “we guarantee you position 1 rankings within 6 months” are gradually falling behind us there are still a lot of agencies who are promoting themselves by offering their potential clients unachievable targets. These targets are often very ambiguous and are rarely achieved by the agency. KPIs should be set at the start of any campaign and revisited on a regular basis. Transparent reporting will also allow you to personally keep track of your campaign and ensure your agency is performing as well as they should be. If this isn’t part of the agencies strategy then I wouldn’t waste your time looking further into them.
There are some agencies that outsource all of the work they offer. They have a team of sales people who then introduce the client to the company and outsource everything. The problem with this is that the work is generally low quality and there is no control from the company who you signed up with. Lead times are also likely to be extended with your work requests being passed from pillar to post. The companies that are usually outsourced to are known to cut corners and generally ignore the risks associated with SEO in an attempt to further increase their profit margins.
If I could give you any advice at all when selecting a new agency it would be to question everything. If the agency can’t provide you with the answers or you don’t feel confident in the answers you receive then I would consider moving on to the next agency. Also, a large number of people choose an SEO agency and stick with them regardless of performance. You would be surprised with this one. It’s always good to review your campaigns every twelve months. A good way to do this is to get other agencies in to pitch for the contract. You can then cross check this with how the campaign has gone.