As far as internet marketing goes, increasing qualified organic traffic to your website is an incredibly worthwhile goal, but it’s a difficult one to achieve. Gaining solid search engine ranking positions requires time, expertise, and a lot of hard work. Most companies don’t have those resources in-house, which is why they turn to search engine optimization (SEO) agencies.
The right SEO firm can help a company improve sluggish organic traffic and gain more site visitors at a lower long-term cost than through other channels.
Unfortunately, disreputable agencies have given the entire SEO industry a bad rap in recent years. That’s because some less than respectable SEO teams rely on unethical or spammy tactics to get results. Though spammy tactics might net some modest gains in the short term, they’re guaranteed to backfire in the long run.
The cost of choosing the wrong SEO company can be enormous. Companies who work with such agencies waste time and money on services that may be actively harming their brand. Once the cat’s out of the bag, they generally need to turn to a new agency to repair the damage, costing them even more money.
All of this means that choosing the right SEO agency is of the utmost importance. But how can you separate the trustworthy ones from the bad apples? Below are some of the key differentiating factors of the best SEO experts in the business.
What Is The Best SEO Agency In The World?
What makes an SEO agency truly exceptional? That’s entirely up to you and your business goals.
Of course, there are a few key factors to keep in mind. These will ensure the agency you’re working with is top notch in general. They include:
- It’s staffed with SEO professionals.
- It has an extensive portfolio.
- It stays on top of trends.
These are hallmarks of stellar SEO agencies. But the best SEO agency in the world is the one that can give you the results you’re looking for.
To find the right agency, keep these things in mind.
The Best SEO Companies Have A Clear Pricing Structure That Fits Your Budget
Pricing is a critical conversation to have with an agency before you partner with them -- but it can be tricky with a marketing tactic like SEO, which is riddled with gray areas.
Before you sign a contract, determine how much an agency’s services will cost AND what results you are guaranteed. Then, put it in writing via an SEO contract.
An agreed-upon contract is something that the best agency for you will outline effectively and to your standards.
In order for a good SEO company to be truly great, it has to be within your budget. Plain and simple. The best agency for you will understand your needs and can give you prices accordingly.
Professional SEO Firms Have Strong Ethics And Follow White Hat SEO Tactics
It would be nice if every SEO agency practiced ethical tactics, but unfortunately, that simply isn’t the case. There are many bad actors who still sell services that are based on shady practices that can hurt your business in the long run. Look for agencies who practice what is known in the industry as “white hat” tactics.
White hat tactics are ethical tactics that abide by the rules and recommendations set by search engines. Any tactic that appears to be designed to “trick” a search engine is an automatic red flag, indicating that the agency’s practices are probably not above board.
These are called black hat SEO tactics. SEO is not a quick fix or a short-term traffic generator. It takes months and years to build results, so steer clear of anyone who promises shortcuts that seem too good to be true, because they almost always are.
Search engines set the rules for what websites can and cannot do in an effort to improve their rankings. It goes without saying that all the best SEO agencies abide by these rules and only ever undertake to do ethical work on behalf of their clients.
Beyond just obeying the rules, however, look for agencies who position themselves on their ability to meet the needs and desires of the user, not just the search engines.
Search engines want websites to provide genuinely amazing experiences to users. Your SEO campaign should be aligned to this goal as well. This approach is better for website conversion rates as well.
Seer Interactive is a great example of an agency that positions themselves based on an ethical, people-centric approach to SEO. “Manipulation of Google is temporary, so we prefer to spend our time understanding your audience instead.”
A Top-Rated SEO Service Agency Is Transparent
As an industry, SEO sometimes gets an unjust reputation for being “cloak and dagger”. Again, disreputable agencies thrive by being mysterious about their tactics and vague about the effects of those tactics.
Top SEO agencies, on the other hand, are transparent and open about how they operate. They have established processes that dictate how the agency will navigate each project and manage its major phases (like on-site SEO) and components (link building, for example). They’re always more than happy to share even the most nitty-gritty project details with their clients.
Fractl is a marketing agency that clearly differentiates their value on being transparent and upfront about what’s achievable, saying: “We aren’t going to claim what will magically happen if you hire us. We’re going to tell you straight up what it’ll take, and if you’re on board, then we’ll get it done.”
An SEO Optimization Company Has Extensive, Relevant Prior Work
Worthwhile search engine optimization companies will have a long list of previous clients and past successes, and this portfolio will be indicative of the results that can provide your business. Do your own research, then ask companies about the clients they work with and in what capacity.
Don’t be afraid to ask specifics, either. Inquire exactly which strategies they used and how those tactics achieved results such as increased site speed, lower bounce rate, and -- most importantly -- improved search rankings.
In addition, ask for clients that you can contact autonomously to hear their honest feedback on their working relationship with the agency.
You want to make sure that these agencies have experience in your industry. This will give you a better idea as to whether they are a match for you.
If you want specific examples of award-winning SEO agencies, check out the table at the top of the page.
The Strategies That Search Engine Optimization Companies Use To Grow Businesses
SEO Marketing Companies Perform Content And Website Optimization
Content optimization is the process of creating content that is more discoverable through Internet searches. This content is centered around keywords -- or things that users are searching for -- both short and comprehensive.
The best SEO companies have teams and tools in place to identify worthy keywords and create content that Google associates with those terms.
And at the end of the day, all search engine optimization tactics helps websites rank higher in internet searches for certain keywords. By writing high-quality content that centers around those keywords and similar topics, you’re telling Google (or other search engines) that your brand’s content will provide the more informative, comprehensive answer. This ultimately boosts your ranking.
Top SEO agencies will be up to date with the latest best practices for onsite optimization and should spend the first few weeks or months of any campaign (depending on site complexity) getting technical edits implemented.
Look for an agency that can confidently explain the edits that need to be made to your site, and again, be wary of those that suggest outdated or suspicious tactics.
Title tags are essentially a piece of a web page’s code that tell search engines what is on the page, enabling your website to be categorized better in results. Great SEO companies not only know how to add them to every page but understand how to optimize each title tag for the keywords you are trying to rank for.
In addition to title tags, search engine optimization agencies can create and optimize alt image tags for every piece of multimedia and write meta description. This is the short description you see on search listings that describe the page’s content.
Although meta descriptions don’t directly affect SEO, they do improve click-through rates. And the more people who visit your website, the better your brand looks in Google’s eyes.
Top SEO Companies
A Reliable Company For SEO Ensures Clients Have A User-Friendly Website Design
The best search engine optimization agencies work directly with brands, designers and developers to improve a digital destination’s value for users. It turns out that a well-structured website with intuitive navigation and readable content implores visitors to stay on your site longer -- and the more visitors who stick around for a longer period of time, the higher your SEO ranking.
A user-friendly website design is imperative for better SEO rankings because search engines also look at factors like time on site and bounce rate to determine if your site is valuable.
Thirty-eight percent of users will leave a website if the design and layout are unattractive.
This signifies that a strong website design directly correlates to your brand’s ranking.
Content marketing is the most important component of any SEO campaign. Content is what search engines need to understand what your website is about, and it’s what your business needs in order to earn quality links and social mentions.
Top SEO agencies are well-acquainted with the importance of content, and the bulk of their efforts will be spent on strategizing, creating, and disseminating content. Look for an agency that values content and can present creative content ideas for your brand.
The Best SEO Services Include Interlinking And Link Building
Linking to other pages within your own website (interlinking) AND garnering links from other valuable websites (link building) improves your SEO value by telling Google that your content is so helpful that other sites will drive traffic to you.
However, interlinking and link building are not as simple as they sound -- which is where search engine optimization agencies come in.
Top SEO companies are able to identify websites with a high domain authority (DA) and foster relationships that encourage them to link to your website. The higher a site’s DA, the better its reputation online.
In addition, experts at SEO agencies can identify the right keywords to link to (too many of the same, and your site will look like spam to Google) and ensure that any links to your site are “follow.” That means that Google will recognize that link when analyzing your website.
The Best Search Engine Optimization Company Increases Site Speed
A faster site speed improves user experience, which -- as we discussed earlier -- directly improves search engine rankings.
But top search engine optimization companies know the top tactics and have access to the best tools that can increase page speed even more. This enables them to compress images, combine file storage and more.
Plus, SEO experts know not to forget mobile. Google announced in early 2018 that they were placing a higher importance on mobile site speed, in addition to desktop.
What’s more, mobile users account for more than half of all internet traffic. That means that brands need to optimize site speed for all devices simultaneously.
The Business Benefits Of An SEO Agency
There are many different ways SEO optimization can boost your business. For example, increased site speeds and a user-friendly design tell search engines like Google that your website is trustworthy.
Similarly, interlinks and quality content tell these platforms that you’re an authority.
When you hire the best SEO agency for your business goals, you will:
- Rank higher.
- Get more brand exposure.
- Improve click-through rates.
- Increase conversions.
- Ultimately see a higher revenue.
Find the best search engine optimization company for your brand in the agency listings above.