Selecting an Outsourced SEO Partner

Process for Selecting Your Outsourced SEO Partner Explained by VTech SEO

The fast growing importance of marketing your business on the internet has led to companies competing with each other for visibility and popularity online. It is becoming more and more important to make your presence felt online. In the earlier days when search engines were much simpler, it was very easy to rank in the search results. But now with the search engines getting smarter and far more selective of the websites they feature in search results, getting higher ranks in the search results is becoming more and more difficult. As a result, many businesses are realizing the importance of search engine optimization and looking at outsourcing their SEO needs to specialist SEO agencies.

The big challenge for many companies who choose to outsource their SEO is selecting the right agency. How does one select the right SEO partner? How does one make sure that one is getting the value for their money? What should one be wary of while choosing an SEO agency? Given below are some of the factors that you can consider while choosing your outsourced SEO partner.

Long Term or Short Term SEO

The first thing to do even before looking for an SEO agency is to decide whether you want to do long term or short term SEO. Ideally, SEO should be an on-going activity to ensure that changes happening do not affect your website's rankings adversely. Some of the changes that can affect you are changes in search engine algorithm, optimization efforts of your competitors and changes in the search behavior of your target audience. To ensure your website continues to rank well in search results in spite of these changes, it is important to sustain some SEO efforts at all times. This can either be entirely outsourced, entirely in-house or a balance between the two. Assess your in-house bandwidth and determine how long you would want to outsource your SEO needs. Make a commitment to the partner you choose. This will get you commitment and involvement. Decide on an indicative budget and don't aim too small. The return from SEO lasts months if not years. Look at the long term returns and value when determining your budget. If you have a basic idea of this, it will make it that much easier for you to look for an agency that fits your budget and communicate your expectations to it.

Cost of the Agency

One of the things to look in an agency is the cost they charge for their services. The agency should not be too expensive and at the same time they should not be too cheap as well. If the agency is very expensive, they will not fit your budget. At the same time you need to be careful of an agency that is very cheap. A fair benchmark is the cost of quality SEO talent. If they charge you too less, then it is a reflection of the quality of their SEO talent. An agency that pays its team too less will have a high attrition rate. This could mean that the resources working on your project keep changing, resulting in stop-start efforts and lack of consistency in strategy and execution. If the agency promises you results at a very low cost, then they are either very desperate for your business or do not know what they are going to do to obtain the promised results and can resort to black hat techniques.

Look at the Optimal Fit

The biggest and best SEO agencies may not necessarily be the best for you. Nor is it always wise to outsource your SEO needs to freelancers or fly-by-night SEO firms.

The large agencies will most likely be prohibitively expensive. If you are a small business with a relatively small website, many of the larger agencies may not even be interested in a smallish SEO project. Even if they do take you on, you may not get the attention of their best and most expensive SEO experts.

At the other end of the spectrum are SEO freelancers and fly-by-night SEO agencies. Not always do these have adequate knowledge of the ever-changing SEO space and not always can you be sure of ethical SEO when you outsource to freelancers or very small agencies because of their low cost.

The trick is to try and find the optimal fit. Look for an agency that is small enough for your business to be attractive to them, and established enough to have the requisite SEO expertise, evolved SEO processes and a culture of learning. The perfect fit for each business may vary, but do not compromise your website's SEO for a few dollars. It may be the costliest saving in the long run.

Track Record

Ask for past track record and case studies of accomplishments, look at the client list, go through client testimonials if they are available and check on referrals before choosing the SEO agency. If possible talk to people you know and see if they have heard of the agency. See if they can give you any input about the agency. Try and contact the clients that they have mentioned on their website and see if they have any feedback to give. Check with them if they got what they were promised and how their experience of working with the SEO agency was.

Beware of Black Hat SEOs

There are many SEO agencies and freelancers that promise results. Ask yourself this: How can an agency know what changes search engines are going to make, how can they know what my competitors are going to do…and by extension, how can they predict and guarantee results? Be wary of assured results and guarantees. Remember, SEO works best when it is done for a longer period of time. Assured short term results could mean black hat SEO that can result in long term penalization.

Understanding of the Data

When you are selecting your outsourced SEO partner, it is important to see if they only pull and present reports or do they also explain those reports, analyze cause and effect and act on what the reports suggest. Anyone can pull reports from analytics tools and mail them. What is important is how well the agency understands the data that is there in the reports and what it makes out from it.

Know the Team That You Work With

It is important to get to know the team that you work with. Even if one person has been speaking to you about the business, chances are there is going to be a team of people working on your site. Try and get to know who these people are and if they know what they are working on. Insist on the agency giving you regular updates on the work that is done. Since SEO takes time to show results, it will help you be updated with what is happening with your site. Be involved in their work and make sure that the work they plan to do makes logical sense and seems ethical.

Insist that the agency documents everything they do. It is very important as it will ensure that you know everything that you were promised is being done in case of slow results. It will also safeguard the agency as they have documented every single bit of what they have done on your site.

Be involved

Outsourcing is a partnership. Your outsourcing partner can achieve much more with an involved client. Take a proactive interest in making sure recommendations are implemented quickly, discuss possibilities, ideas and opportunities with your agency. Involve them in your marketing initiatives. Outsourcing is about collaboration and not about abdication of responsibility. There is no shortcut to success, but your involvement in the success of your website can only help speed it up.

These are some of the important things to remember while choosing your outsourced SEO partner. If these things are kept in mind, then chances are you will get an agency that is reliable and that works along with you to get your site the visibility it needs on the internet space.

 

Lakshmi is a member of the SEO team at VTech SEO and a writer. VTech SEO provides high quality outsourced SEO services, web design services and content services to growing businesses around the world. We also offer white label SEO services to web design firms, digital marketing firms and advertising agencies.

VTech SEO is among India's leading SEO firms for growing businesses from around the world. VTech SEO offers outsourced SEO services, HTML based web design services, content services, and other outsourced services from our offices in India and USA.


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