Here at Quko, at least 90% of our customers have been unhappy with their previous digital agencies and come to us to fix their issues. When we hear these stories over and over again, it's no surprise that so many clients have lost trust in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). A lot our these customers felt like they were tricked into purchasing these services with great promise and very little return. Luckily for us, there are actually great SEO agencies out there. You just have to know how to pick the right one.
What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?
Search Engine Optimisation is the process of optimising the content of your website so that ideally it comes up as high as it can on the search results. In the past, it was easy for websites to rank higher than others. Often times, all you had to do was write the keywords a couple of times through your web page and you'd suddenly be raking it in. Nowadays, Google has refined their auditing process. They have advanced AI determining the reliability and trustworthiness of the source, and they can very consistently serve the most useful information to their users right up the top. It's therefore now harder for digital agencies to manipulate the website to appear higher up the top.
Why is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) important?
The whole internet revolves around the existence of Search Engines. When we search for answers to specific questions, we say we "Google" something. To be successful on the internet, your website should be Search Engine Friendly. From our research, the first result for any particular search ends up receiving about 35-50% of the traffic. 70-90% of viewers will find what they want from the first page! Thousands of buyers for so many searches, and you could be the first result they see. It is important because these potential buyers are most likely going to find what they want from a simple search. If it's not you that they are buying from it's going to be a competitor. Aside from the fee that you pay SEO agencies, this traffic is free and once you're up at the top it's relatively easy to stay there if you know what you're doing.
5 things you need to find out about your SEO agency
1. Find out results from client examples
Most SEO agencies will display past work on their website. Most companies will be happy to share information about the experience with the SEO agency. Find out if the SEO company was transparent about what they were doing. Ask them if they were kept up to date.
Another method you might use is to search for these websites on major search engines. Search up specific phrases that someone might type to find that company. As an example: If the agency has created a website for a toilet cleaning company, you would search "Toilet Cleaning Melbourne". This method is unfortunately less accurate, because SEO agencies may be targeting longer phrases like "Eco Friendly Toilet Cleaning Melbourne". If the listing appears straight away on a more general search, chances are the SEO agency is reliable. You probably shouldn't hire an agency you found only through pay-per-click or sponsored listings.
2. Does the agency know their way around web development and design?
There are actually elements of SEO that are affected by web development processes. An example would be site speed and responsiveness. Site speed directly affects the user experience on a website, and Google has confirmed it is a confirmed ranking factor. The faster your site is, the more likely visitors are going to stay.
3. Does your agency invest a lot of budget into pay-per-click advertising?
Search engines list websites in two ways. There are pay-per-click listings and organic listings. Pay-per-click listings are usually up the very top and very bottom of the page and will say something like "Ad", or "Sponsered" next to the listing. These companies have paid to be there, and will usually pay anywhere from $0.10 to $10.00 per click-through to be there.
Organic listings are the websites that appear up the top just under the ads. This type of listing is free. The first link will receive around 35-50% of the clicks depending on the niche. Optimising your website to be higher on the organic listings is what you want to achieve with SEO. If your agency suggests you spend thousands on active marketing such as paid advertising, they may not be SEO specialists. Investing in pay-per-click advertising may get you immediate results, but it won't do much to optimise your website in the long run. Furthermore, the tactic many of these companies employ is to use this kind of marketing only, and therefore will keep you dependant on their company to keep your traffic coming. There is a time and a place for this kind of advertising, but if your SEO company is not getting any results organically after a couple months, it may be time to find a new one.
4. Does the SEO agency employ questionable techniques?
This is something you have to be careful with. There are techniques called "black-hat techniques". In summary, rather than trying to cooperate with search engines to give them what they want, black-hat techniques try to manipulate the AI to think that they're getting what they want. It's a term used to describe any of these shortcut techniques that go against Google guidelines. This can get your website "shadow-banned", meaning your rank will immediately lower on search engines. Being "shadow-banned" can be a hard and costly thing to recover from. How can you tell if the agency employs these kinds of techniques? Unfortunately, there isn't an easy tell. Ask the agency what kind of techniques they will be using to grow organically. If they make any promise about building hundreds or thousands of backlinks they may be doing something questionable.
It can be hard to tell the differences between agencies from an outside perspective. There are so many of these agencies and so much disparity between cost that it can be overwhelming. Ideally, businesses should do a little detective work and make sure that their agency covers all four of these important points, especially the last one.