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    Evora, Portugal Under 49 Inquire $1,000 - $10,000

SEO Agency Hiring Guide

What is an SEO company?

An SEO company is a service provider that specializes in helping businesses improve their online visibility, drive qualified organic website traffic, and rank their content higher on search engine results pages (SERPs) by developing and executing on-page, technical, and off-page optimization strategies.

How does search engine optimization work?

SEO works by finding the most useful and relevant keywords for your business, optimizing your site’s content, and earning quality backlinks. It involves various techniques like keyword research, content creation, technical, on-page, and off-page optimization, building links, local SEO, mobile SEO, and more.

SEO efforts might take months to yield results. Plus, it’s an ever-changing field so you need to stay updated with the latest trends. You can do this either by learning the SEO essentials yourself or by hiring an SEO agency with adequate knowledge of how SEO works.

What services do SEO companies provide?

SEO services cover many types of search engines, from YouTube to social media. However, SEO services generally refer to the specialized services offered by an agency to optimize your website for Google, which is known for its sophisticated and ever-evolving algorithms. 

SEO companies offer these key services: 

Keyword Research  

This is the process of identifying the search terms your target audience uses to find websites similar to yours. The next step is to strategically include the most relevant keywords for your business in your website’s content so that it shows up higher on SERPs.  

Seasoned SEO experts use many analysis methods and tools to discover and target the best keywords for your business.  

On-page Optimization  

This involves keyword optimization, an audit of the current user experience, and a content strategy and creation. When optimizing on-page elements, an SEO company ensures that your web page:  

  • Is targeting the right keywords both in text and images  
  • Has optimized title tags and meta descriptions  
  • Features images and other multimedia that are size-optimized to ensure fast page loading speed  
  • Features elements such as CTAs to increase on-page engagement and session duration  
  • Includes high-value external and internal links to increase click-through rates  
  • And more  

Technical SEO 

This is the process of optimizing your website for Google's crawlers, allowing them to interpret and index the web properties.  

An SEO agency will perform a technical SEO audit to check if the technical side of your website is on par with best practices. In other words, it will take a set of backend measures that:  

  • Determine which pages are visible to the search engine and which are hidden  
  • Ensure that the web architecture is optimized for crawlers  
  • Identify technical issues that communicate poor web performance to search engines  
  • And more  

Off-page Optimization  

This involves strategies outside the website that are still aimed at increasing its rankings in search. The key to off-page SEO is link building.  

Link building helps boost a website's domain authority and credibility in the search engine's "eyes", which is one of the key factors in rankings.  

KPI Tracking 

Unlike traditional marketing, you can easily track and measure SEO results. An SEO company pays deep attention to analytics and provides its clients with monthly analytical reports on campaign, content, and website performance.  

Some of the key metrics it tracks are:  

  • Traffic sources  
  • Traffic volume 
  • Click-through-rates  
  • Search engine positions  
  • Qualified leads  
  • Sales 
  • Sign-ups 
  • And more 

Competitor Analysis 

This involves surveying your industry's competitive online landscape, assessing your SEO competition, and using the information gathered to strengthen your website's SEO. It gives insight into the competitors' content strategy, keyword targeting, link profile, and overall SEO techniques.

How much do SEO companies charge for their services?

According to OuterBox, SEO companies usually charge hourly rates, from $10 to $250 per hour, depending on the agency's location and the services provided. Those based in the US typically charge anywhere from $100 to $250 per hour, while SEO companies outside the US may charge from $10 to $50 per hour. 

Because of the nature of SEO, service providers also provide retainer fees for regular consulting, which can range from $500 to $25,000+ per month. [Ahrefs

As for SEO audits, agencies may charge a fixed fee from $5,000 to $10,000, depending on the size and complexity of the website. [OuterBox] 

When it comes to link building, agencies employ various techniques, such as: 

  • Guest posting  
  • Digital PR  
  • Link inserts on relevant sites using linkable assets  

They typically charge a fee per link placement — from $100 to $1,500+ depending on quality and volume for link inserts in big media websites or a fee per campaign. The average cost for most links is around $400, discounted for large orders. [Link Builder]

The top 50 SEO agencies on DesignRush charge an average of $106/hour. Roughly 16.4% of the SEO companies on the platform require a minimum budget of $1,000, while 0.9% require at least $50,000 per project.

Why should I hire an SEO company?

The main reason to hire an SEO company is to consistently and systematically drive organic traffic to your website.  

Considering that 90.63% of web pages receive zero traffic from Google and only 5.7% of all the pages rank in the top 10 of the SERPs within one year [Ahrefs], more brands are turning to SEO specialists to reach the coveted top positions in SERPs. 

Professional agencies have teams of seasoned experts with industry knowledge and experience in various tools to help you grow your website traffic, at a faster rate than an in-house team. They can spot and solve SEO issues of varying degrees of complexity, while an in-house team might waste valuable time with multiple trial-and-error attempts to implement the proper solutions.  

The overall benefits of hiring an SEO agency are to:  

  • Cut costs on hiring, training, and maintaining an internal SEO team  
  • Keep your SEO strategies up to date, especially with Google’s numerous ranking factors and constant algorithm changes 
  • Achieve higher search ranking through organic methods that account for 53% of businesses' web traffic [Bright Edge
  • Gain access to accurate reports from the most efficient optimization tools  
  • Get valuable data from analytics to improve your website authority and performance based on Domain Rating (DR) 
  • Receive insights on industry trends from experts who have experience in similar brands  
  • Maximize revenues and, ideally, achieve an ROI to SEO ratio of 5:1, implying that every dollar invested in SEO generates an ROI of five times or 500% [Demand Jump

Intero Digital demonstrates the benefits of hiring a professional SEO company in its collaboration with Blackbaud, a software solutions company serving nonprofits. Through a variety of strategies, the agency increased the client's first page rankings by 1,398% and its revenue by $22 million.

Are SEO companies still effective for business growth?

Yes, SEO companies are still effective for consistent business growth because it is attributed to a higher ROI than other digital marketing techniques. A well-executed SEO strategy attracts targeted traffic that is more likely to convert into paying customers, ensuring a reliable stream of revenue. 

After collaborating with Straight North on its SEO, B2B/B2C food service manufacturer House of Webster saw an improvement of 140% in organic leads, 129% in new sessions, and a whopping 269% in organic revenue from its eCommerce site. 

The global SEO services market size is expected to reach $234.8 billion by 2030, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 17.6%, according to GlobeNewsWire, proving the continuous relevance of SEO.

How to choose the best SEO agency?

Select the best SEO agency following these steps: 

  1. Identify your goals, requirements, expectations, and KPIs. 
  2. Set budget parameters to work around while considering your objectives and target ROI. 
  3. Search for SEO agencies on credible online directories and curated lists by reputable blogs. From here, build a list of potential agency partners. 
  4. Check their website ranking. Are their business sites successfully optimized? Do they rank high in searches for their keywords? If they couldn’t establish a strong online presence for their own brand, it's unlikely that they can assist you in doing so. 
  5. Look at their certifications and recognitions. Are they a Google Premier Partner? What other affiliations do they have? Have they been acknowledged for excellence in terms of services, strategies, or results? 
  6. Evaluate their experience, expertise, and specializations, especially since it takes time to build and achieve mastery of SEO.  
  7. Some of the best SEO companies have been in the business for many years or even decades. Evaluate their case studies and client reviews. Their documented SEO work showcases their capabilities to create and launch successful campaigns. Are the goals and metrics clear? Do they state a timeframe for the projects? What do clients have to say about their experience? You can also check the rankings of the brands they promote. 
  8. Consider their team members. Do they have a diverse workforce with multiple specializations? 
  9. Learn their team size and client ratio. Do they assign a team to a single client or multiple clients at once? This will help you assess their workload and how they manage their tasks.  
  10. Take note of their value for transparency. Do they publish their prices upfront? Do they implement ethical or white hat SEO techniques?  
  11. Based on your initial assessments, streamline your candidates to five SEO firms. 
  12. Send the shortlisted candidates an SEO request for proposal (RFP)
  13. Receive and peruse proposals. 
  14. Schedule interviews to assess if they are a good fit in terms of requirements, services, culture and values. This is also a great opportunity to discuss the proposals. 
  15. Ask which tools and techniques they use and why and how these will impact their work on your website. Proper SEO isn’t about shortcuts and tricks — instead, it’s rooted in best practices such as identifying valuable keywords, assessing competitors, gathering analytics, and quantifying progress. 
  16. Choose your SEO agency partner based on the evaluations. 

Maximize your SEO results with top agencies on DesignRush. Share your project details on our Marketplace and we'll go through our listing and shortlist the most compatible SEO firms based on your requirements — for free.

What questions should I ask a potential SEO agency partner?

The key questions to ask a potential SEO agency partner are:  

Its Relevant Background

  1. Do you have experience working in our industry? 
  2. Do you have any relevant case studies from similar clients? 

Company Services and Processes 

  1. Do you provide related services like content production, PPC, or similar? 
  2. How do you conduct keyword research? 
  3. What is your approach to link building? 
  4. Which tools, platforms, and other resources do you use? Can we have access to them? 
  5. How do you stay informed with search engine updates and industry changes? 

The Project 

  1. How will you develop SEO strategies based on our business needs? 
  2. What do you think will be the most effective SEO tactics for our brand and why? 
  3. How long can we expect to see results? 
  4. Who will be assigned to our account, and what are their levels of expertise? 
  5. How often will we receive updates on the tasks, and on which communication channels? 
  6. How often do you generate reports? What information will be included in the reporting? 
  7. What can we do on our end to make our SEO successful?

What are the best SEO agencies in the U.S.?

Some of the best SEO agencies in the U.S. are: 

AgencyDesignRush ratingGoogle ratingTop clients


(19 reviews)


(131 reviews)

  • eBay
  • Warner Bros.
  • BBQGuys
  • Fitness 19
Intero Digital


(25 reviews)


(239 reviews)

  • Jaguar
  • Gaiam
  • Land Rover
  • University of Colorado
Straight North 


(10 reviews)


(74 reviews)

  • Pro Stock Hockey
  • BluePay
  • Grove Dental Associates 
Big Leap


(8 reviews)


(54 reviews)

  • Avis
  • Empire Today
  • BambooHR
  • Pluralsight 
Ignite Visibility


(10 reviews)


(48 reviews)

  • Tony Robbins
  • COX
  • Wedding Wire
  • DoorDash 

Browse the listings above to know more about these top service providers handpicked for their exceptional reviews, team expertise, and case studies. 

You can also use the search filters to find other recommended agencies based on their hourly rates, size, location, and expertise.

About The Author and Expert Reviewer
Bisera Stankovska developed marketing-related content for LeanRank, Content Distribution, and Ridarec. She has numerous high-ranking articles under her belt, alluding to her expertise in the field. She now writes for DesignRush, still focusing on marketing with a touch of SEO.
Florentina Schinteie is a highly skilled and qualified SEO specialist with 15+ years of industry experience. Combining ingenious optimization strategies with ceaseless dedication, she ushered companies like SEM Lion, Sunrise Interactive Agency, and Digital Silk—businesses within the SEO, digital marketing, and other similar industries as DesignRush—through significant search engine algorithm changes. In her first 18 months at DesignRush, she has increased website traffic by 22x and traffic value by 400x, all while increasing the top-ranking pages from 50 to 5,000.