Making the decision to look for an agency to help with your search marketing is a big step. It’s vital that you choose the right agency; mistakes can be very costly for your business and it can take years to recover from bad advice and bad SEO.

There are too many unscrupulous businesses out there all vying for your custom. Most offer tempting, cheap deals that promise amazing results but are most likely too good to be true. To help you make the right decision for your business, we have put together this set of 13 questions to ask when you’re choosing a search marketing agency.

  1. Have they asked about your business?
  2. Any agency you speak with should be asking you about your business so that they can tell you what they can do to help you achieve your business goals. Their work should begin with research on your business and your place in the market.

  3. Is the agency a good fit for your business?
  4. You could potentially be working with your new agency for a long time so it’s important that you get on and they are a good fit for your business. If you are always going to be knocking heads that’s not going to be a harmonious working relationship.

  5. Do they talk your language?
  6. Captain Kirk battling an alien. Finding an agency that speaks your language is important for your relationship going forwards.SEO is not rocket science. If an agency cannot explain to you in layman’s terms what activity they are doing and offer complete transparency, you have to ask yourself how you are going to know what they are doing with your money? Your agency should make sure that you understand what they are doing, what is and isn’t working, and what they are going to do going forwards.

  7. Will you have control over your accounts and website?
  8. Seagulls from Finding NemoTo enable an agency to do their job properly they are going to need access to your accounts and analytics. If you don’t already have these in place, the agency can set them up for you, but ensure that they are using your details so that should the relationship come to an end you can revoke their access and not lose all of your data.

  9. Are they results driven?
  10. Are the agency going to be working hard to achieve the goals that you have mutually agreed? They should be able to explain to you, with figures, the impact of their work.

  11. Would you be tied in to a lengthy contract?
  12. imgres-1A contract of some sorts is inevitable in business,however you shouldn’t be tied into a long contract that can allow the agency to become complacent because they are guaranteed to receive your money for a set period of time. Shorter, rolling contracts ensure that the agency keeps up their high levels of performance and continues to deliver.

  13. Do they promise position one on Google?
  14. Yes? Walk away! No one can promise you that your website or particular pages on your site will rank first on Google’s search results. There are too many variables for this to be possible.

  15. Are there real people to talk to?
  16. Are there real people to talk to?Will you have an account manager who will be your sole contact? Before signing on the dotted line, make sure that there will be a dedicated account manager (and their team) who will be working on your account day-to-day, rather than just the sales person. You want to make sure you’re going to be receiving a consistent level of service and that you have got a real person to talk to.

  17. Is SEO a bolt on to their core business?
  18. Not all businesses that offer SEO as an additional service to their core business are bad, however you have to ensure that you’re happy with their level of knowledge and that they have dedicated the time to keeping up with changes to algorithms and best practices. There are so many different factors to SEO that it would be very hard for one or two people to be pitching and implementing SEO. If it was a simple bolt on service there wouldn’t be agencies that specialise in SEO alone.

  19. Can they show you previous work?
  20. It’s easy to take someone’s word for it, but when you’re potentially shelling out a substantial percentage of your marketing budget to this agency make sure that you can see evidence of their previous work. Hopefully, you will be able to find testimonials and case studies on their website. If you can’t see something relevant to you, ask. You should also make sure that any testimonials are recent. A lot can change in three years.

  21. Do they also do social media and content?
  22. Twitter_icon

    Social media and content are important facets of SEO. If you can get these services from the same agency it can save you management time and create business efficiencies. The agency doesn’t have to take over your social accounts or write all of your content, but they can offer consultancy, planning and advice. If they aren’t talking about social media at all, then they aren’t up to date with SEO practices.

  23. Are they a Google Partner?
  24. Google Partner badgeIf you’re looking for pay per click management, check whether the agency are Google Partners. This Google Partner badge proves that the agency are running successful accounts and that they have qualified members of their team working on their clients’ AdWords accounts. Even if you’re only looking for SEO services, the Google Partner badge can be seen as a sign of trust. You can read more about this here.

  25. Do they “work with Google”?
  26. This is not the same as being a Google Partner. No agency works “with Google” as such. Google will not give certain agencies cheaper clicks or move a website up the rankings. This is another reason agencies can never guarantee position one on Google.

Download the full blog pdf here.

These are just a few considerations that you should keep in mind when choosing a search marketing agency. If you think there’s anything we’ve forgotten, or have any questions, please leave us a comment below.