Today’s market is flooded with SEO agencies of all shapes and sizes. From one-man band “consultants” to large media agency owned companies, you have a vast array of potential suppliers to choose from. Whilst the goal posts have changed (as always), one thing has remained consistent; it’s still as much of a challenge choosing the right SEO agency today, as it was 5 years ago.

Here is a breakdown of some of the key areas to consider when you are looking for a new supplier to handle your SEO marketing.

1. What do they measure success on?

Five years ago, SEO was very much about rankings and backlinks. Today, SEO is much more, and with over 200 variables to consider when trying to achieve a ranking, you have to know if the prospective agency really knows what will make the difference for your business. Ultimately, you want to work with someone that understands what SEO has to do for your business.

If you are a local locksmith, then your SEO campaign would need to get you enquiries over the phone for emergency call outs to let people back into their homes. If you are a marketing manager at a large retailer, then your SEO campaign must deliver sales for your business. Ultimately, you need to ask the agency how they will measure the success of the campaign and this should correspond to your business needs. If it doesn’t, their approach may not quite be right for your needs.

2. What do they consider as being the most critical rankings factors for 2016/17?

Right now, search engines are making a huge shift towards a device independent, seamless user experience. Search Giant Google released a mobile specific algorithm and tools to help advertisers better understand mobile users and their needs. Right now, mobile is a hot topic, and with over 45% of traffic coming from mobile devices for many websites, the need to focus on mobile is well justified.

On this basis, ask the agency what they feel are critical ranking factors to focus on over the next 12-18 months, and gauge their thoughts. Whilst Digital PR is still prevalent as being a key requirement of any SEO campaign, site usability, technical infrastructure and basic factors such as page load times are all still critical so bear this in mind.

3. What KPIs would they suggest for your campaign for the first 6 months?

Asking an agency to commit to some KPIs is a great way to help you control and quantify exactly what you will get for your investment. Whether its rankings, traffic, or leads, you will have some specific metrics which you and the agency can use to steer the campaign's progression towards success. To manage expectations, a good agency will provide a high and low bracket for these KPIs and aim to achieve something in the middle. These KPIs can be used to report to internal management teams as to the progress of the campaigns.

By Amo Sokhi, account director at POLARIS


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