14 Tips for Choosing an SEO Agency for Startups

Imagine running a company that has no trouble keeping its team motivated and providing amazing products that stand out in your industry. However, you can’t seem to get your brand in front of the right people online.

This can create substantial setbacks, especially for smaller companies. Issues like these are why approximately 20% of small businesses fail within the first year.

The good news is that you can hire an SEO agency for startups to help you avoid pitfalls you may have otherwise encountered. Let’s explore the key information you should know when searching for a company to work with.

1. Their Claims Should Be Realistic

One of the most important attributes to consider about an SEO firm is whether its claims are realistic. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to discern how plausible their proposals are.

For example, imagine a company that guarantees they can get your site to the first ranking position on Google. This is highly improbable and easily recognized as hyperbolic. However, imagine if they claimed they could do so within three months.

It would be a bit more difficult to figure out if this can happen. To help you narrow down your decision, explore their past projects.

The company should provide comprehensive breakdowns of how they achieved their results. If they don’t provide insight into this information, it’s best to continue your search elsewhere.

2. Their Plan Should Generate Revenue

No matter what type of services they provide, it won’t mean much if they don’t help you generate revenue. Disreputable firms tend to emphasize search ranking instead of actual results, such as your conversion rate.

Some firms also utilize black hat strategies to briefly improve your site’s ranking. It’s imperative to avoid companies that utilize these, as they’ll only hurt your performance in the long run.

To clarify, black hat strategies are those that use tactics against Google’s terms of service. These could include keyword stuffing, blog comment spamming, publishing duplicate content, and overused anchor texts. If Google discovers you’re using these methods, they could penalize your search ranking.

In some cases, they could even deindex your website. This is essentially an SEO death sentence, as nobody would be able to find your site on the search engine. Using the right methods will ensure you maximize your strategy’s longevity.

3. How’s Their Reputation?

What do other people have to say about the company’s reputation? Do they have a large amount of stellar feedback?

The answers to questions like these go a long way toward helping you make the right decision. Keep an eye out for fake reviews, however.

These are typically posted in batches and contain many of the same keywords. You should also pay attention to how they respond to criticism.

They should go out of their way to make things right with the customer. If they attempt to blame the other party for the issue, this is a sign you should consider your search elsewhere.

Find someone who’s been around for at least a decade. While newer companies aren’t guaranteed to fall short of your goals, they’ll be less likely to meet them.

Browse through client testimonials if they’re available. These are far more in-depth than conventional reviews and could illuminate details that impact your decision.

4. Reach out to Previous Clients

Sometimes, reading through previous feedback won’t provide enough information to warrant a decision. Reaching out to previous clients can provide additional info that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to. In general, past clients will be honest about what it was like working with the SEO agency.

This goes for both positive and negative attributes. For instance, they might praise the company’s communicativeness but have issues with their pricing structure.

Be sure to introduce yourself and explain the reason why you’re reaching out when you get in touch with them. Otherwise, they may be made uncomfortable and refuse to cooperate.

5. Check Their Pricing

You often get what you pay for when choosing an SEO agency. It’s best to avoid the cheapest options you encounter. These are likely to under-deliver and do more harm than good.

However, you don’t need to spend as much money as possible when making your choice. There’s a point of diminishing returns regarding what you pay. To clarify, spending more money doesn’t always mean you’ll get a better outcome.

Instead, you should look for an agency in the middle of the industry’s price range. Companies like these can help you reach your goals without stretching your budget. Before choosing a professional, look into where your money goes when hiring them.

Avoid companies that charge miscellaneous fees or aren’t transparent about their pricing. The last thing you want is to encounter financial surprises.

6. Are They Communicative and Reliable?

They should be easy to get in touch with when issues arise. Overcoming problems on your own can be notably difficult, and it can sometimes be impossible. Ask your potential SEO firm when you can expect to hear from them and the methods they’ll use to get in touch with you.

For example, you might be able to have a video call once per week to get updates on your progress. Ideally, they’ll have a set schedule in place for how often they get in touch with their clients.

Find someone flexible enough to rework their schedule to accommodate yours. As long as their practices align with your goals, you shouldn’t encounter issues.

7. Is Their Team Experienced?

No matter what benefits they promise, it won’t mean much if they don’t have the experience to follow through. It’s in your best interest to find a company that has at least a decade of experience in the industry.

This is a solid benchmark that will help you narrow down your potential options. Exploring their past projects can give you a good idea of their capabilities. You should consider quality over quantity when looking through their portfolio.

Imagine a situation where a company has dozens of projects but none of them particularly stand out. Compare this to an agency that only has a handful of projects but they’re all outstanding. In most scenarios, the second company will be far more suitable.

8. What Services Do They Offer?

Not all SEO services provide the same benefits. There’s a chance they won’t be able to handle your projects.

If they don’t convey what they’re capable of, you should move on to other options. Some of the most important services to consider include:

  • Off-page SEO
  • On-page SEO
  • Mobile SEO
  • Competitor analysis
  • Website auditing
  • Content optimization
  • Image SEO
  • Local SEO

Let’s take a closer look at these below.

Off-Page SEO

This tactic involves using SEO techniques outside of your website to improve your search ranking. Using social media, creating a link-building strategy, and organizing influencer marketing are great methods.

You can think of off-page SEO as an indirect form of SEO, and it’ll take time to see results. If your agency plans on using influencer marketing, it’s crucial for them to properly vet the influencers they work with.

Collaborating with someone controversial can damage your company’s reputation and lead to substantial setbacks. This is true even if the controversies they’ve been involved in were years ago.

On-Page SEO

Many people overlook that search engines rank both websites and individual web pages. So, your agency must optimize each page on your site. Key components include internal links, external links, and URL optimization.

Handling meta descriptions, content creation, and page experience are also important. A key component of page experience is loading speed. If pages take more than a few seconds to load, people are likely to look for an alternative instead.

This increases a metric known as a bounce rate, which tells Google that your content is low-quality or irrelevant. It’s essential to keep this as low as possible so you don’t affect your online presence.

Mobile SEO

Consider the last time you searched for something online. There’s a good chance that you used a mobile device instead of a laptop or desktop computer.

As you might expect, your site should be as mobile-friendly as possible. This involves keeping load times short and making it easy to navigate.

Your users also shouldn’t be disturbed by popups, banners, or other forms of aggressive advertising. As time goes on, we can expect to see a larger number of people primarily use mobile devices for online searching.

Competitor Analysis

One of the best ways to improve the SEO strategies you use is by researching your competitors. Hiring a firm will help you learn more about the most effective tactics your competition is using.

It’s important to be realistic about the strategies you can use, though. You might not have the budget or industry presence to use certain SEO tactics. A great example is if a competitor targets highly competitive keywords.

If your site doesn’t have a high enough domain authority, you’ll have a hard time ranking for certain keywords. Attempting to use them won’t help your SEO score, causing you to waste time on content creation.

Website Auditing

Problems will inevitably arise as time goes on. Your links could break, your site could have trouble formatting, and shady websites might direct traffic to yours. Regular website auditing goes a long way toward recognizing issues before they get out of control.

Your chosen agency will audit your site regularly and take action as soon as possible. In many cases, they’ll resolve issues before you’re aware they exist. Having the ability to avoid problems you would’ve had to deal with on your own will help you stay focused and strive toward your goals.

Content Optimization

Even the highest quality content won’t get you very far if it’s not properly optimized. This involves a large number of nuances, including how your content is formatted. Before creating content, you should prioritize keyword research.

Find keywords you can rank for while researching keywords related to those. You should link to reputable websites with high-quality SEO content. The content you create should also be useful to your audience.

How-to articles and guides are great topic categories to consider. Once you find a strategy that works, you can implement similar methods in the future to maintain consistency. If your metrics dip, your firm can help you determine where things went wrong and make the appropriate changes.

Image SEO

You can substantially boost your site’s SEO value by optimizing your site’s images. The good news is that there are plenty of steps you can take and they don’t require much effort.

Optimizing file names and sizes is some of the simplest. Your file names should contain relevant keywords you wish to rank for.

Your images should also be responsive, meaning they display appropriately across multiple devices. If they don’t, it could deter people from using your website.

Image alt text is also a solid opportunity to improve your image SEO. This is the text that appears on the screen if an image fails to load properly. It’s also what screen reading tools will read for visually impaired users.

Local SEO

If your company has local customers, local SEO is one of the most powerful tools you can leverage. You should include your company’s name, address, and contact info on your site.

This information should also be easy for users to find on your site. Creating a Google Business account is also necessary to get the best results.

Registering with trusted directories can make users more likely to choose your site. Some of the most popular are Yelp, Yahoo Small Business, and Foursquare.

Local directories are also great opportunities. For instance, registering your site with local newspapers can help you get your brand in front of the right local audience.

9. Choose a Firm with Transparency

Transparency is a crucial attribute to keep in mind. The more information they provide about their strategies, the more trustworthy they’ll be. This helps you decide if the money you pay is worth it, as well.

For instance, you might discover that the methods they use are ones you can implement on your own instead. From here, you could save money and handle SEO on your own or hire a better firm. Reputable agencies will have parts of their websites dedicated to their strategies, so it shouldn’t be hard to find the info you need.

10. How Often Do They Send Reports?

The more often they send reports, the easier it will be to keep track of your progress. However, you should look for a firm that will break down your results for you.

Analytics can be difficult to understand, and many business owners don’t have the time to review this information on their own. Ideally, you’ll find someone who regularly sends comprehensive reports that contain all the information you need.

You can then use this data to improve your company’s practices and achieve higher ROI. In some cases, you can scale sooner than anticipated.

11. What’s Their Service Level Agreement?

As the name implies, these agreements guarantee a certain level of service. A common way this comes into play is getting results in a certain range within a given period.

To elaborate, the agency you hire might guarantee they complete a certain amount of work or reach certain metrics within three months. If they breach the agreement, certain terms will apply. These generally provide some sort of benefit to the client, such as early release from their contract.

They might also get discounted rates on future services if they choose to stay with the SEO firm. If a firm doesn’t have a service level agreement, this is a red flag you shouldn’t ignore.

You’ll be on your own if problems occur in the future without an agreement in place to protect you. Stay wary of firms that direct conversations away from this topic. This indicates you won’t have the right safeguards.

12. Ask for a Proposal

When you narrow down your list of options to a few contenders, it’s time to ask for a proposal. This is essentially a sales presentation that outlines all of the benefits you’ll receive from hiring them.

You can easily gauge how serious a company is about handling your project from the quality of their proposal. Elements to consider include:

  • Clear deliverables
  • Services provided
  • The team you’ll work with
  • Key performance indicators
  • Reasonable timelines
  • Pricing

If they don’t seem to care to put one together, they likely won’t care about working with your company. In contrast, a firm might create a comprehensive proposal that clearly outlines what you can expect if you hire them.

13. Don’t Tell Them Too Much

It can be tempting to express your lack of SEO knowledge when speaking with a potential firm. This opens the door for shady companies to take advantage of you. For instance, they could try and upsell on services you don’t need.

They could also charge more than they were initially going to. You should also avoid giving them full control over your website. If you give them too much freedom, some agencies could do the bare minimum while charging a premium for their services.

14. Do They Use Modern Technology?

It’s imperative to work with an SEO firm that properly leverages modern technology. In particular, they should fully understand the potential uses of artificial intelligence (AI) for SEO.

There’s no shortage of possibilities you can leverage this technology for, such as data analysis, research, and overall efficiency. Without technology like this on their side, they won’t be able to provide the greatest level of service.

It’s worth noting that your competitors are likely using these tools themselves or working with firms that do. You’ll be at a significant disadvantage if you don’t follow suit.

Benefits of Early SEO Adoption

While there’s no shortage of benefits SEO provides, some people overlook the importance of starting it early. Doing so can dictate whether you meet your future goals. Let’s look at this topic in more detail.

Avoid Hitting Reset

Without the right marketing strategy in place during your company’s early stages, you might have to rework certain components of your startup business. Depending on the resources you have at the time, this might be impractical.

It can also be inconvenient to deal with and distract you from your other obligations. Using solid SEO methods will prevent this scenario and ensure your company stays on track.

Scale Faster

The sooner you implement SEO, the easier it will be for your company to scale. There’s a chance you’ll quickly build your online presence, leading to greater consumer demand.

You can then begin increasing your total inventory and shipping more products or providing additional services. Before you scale, you should ensure your company can sustain its increased size. If you fail to do so, numerous complications could result.

One of the most notable is a damaged reputation. If you can’t keep up with consumer demand, they’ll find what they’re looking for elsewhere.

Better Customer Satisfaction

When you provide your users with relevant, useful content about your products/services, you’ll increase the chance of them making a purchase. This will also lead to better satisfaction since they’ll fully understand what they’re paying for. The sooner you implement SEO strategies, the better you can capitalize on opportunities for increased sales.

Improved Brand Awareness

For your company to achieve its initial growth, you’ll need to substantially improve your brand awareness. SEO will get your company in front of tens of thousands of people online.

If your strategy is configured correctly, the bulk of the people who see your brand will be interested in it. Leverage SEO during your company’s infancy so you can continue to build upon its exposure.

Choose the Right SEO Agency for Startups

Without the right SEO agency for startups on your side, you risk falling short of your goals and wasting resources. The startup marketing ideas in this guide will help ensure you make the best decision for your situation and take your performance to new heights.

Triaza prides itself on helping small businesses vastly improve their visibility and connect with their audience. We understand the nuances that come with entrepreneurship, and we’re ready to help you overcome the obstacles you’ll face. You’ll learn more about the many benefits we provide when you schedule a call with us today.

About the Author

Joshua Wendt
Joshua Wendt
With over 13 years leading a successful marketing agency working with thousands of businesses, Joshua Wendt is a seasoned expert in digital marketing. His strategies, rooted in a deep understanding of digital trends, have driven significant online success for various businesses. A mentor, operator and speaker, Josh continues to influence the digital marketing field with his innovative insights.

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