Hiring a marketing agency can seem like a simple process but you want to make sure it is the right fit for your business and worth the monthly payment you will be giving them. The best way to approach a marketing agency is to clearly define your SEO goals. It is important to come to the table with defined goals so you will know if the marketing agency is reaching your goals and will help you understand the value they are bringing to your business. Often people make the mistake of outsourcing marketing to an agency and then sitting back and hoping the agency tells them whether or not its working. The clearly defined goal allows the agency to understand what goal they are trying to reach to make your business successful.
You also want to choose a marketing firm that is solidly backed by data. The easiest way to do this is to find a data-driven search engine optimization agency. Most data driven agencies will do some preliminary work for you, either setting up a dashboard that integrates all of your data to provide upfront a clear picture of where your marketing efforts are currently at. They will also share reports on your competitors using data that shows who and where your competitors are ranking and provide action items on what needs to happen with your website in order to beat the competition based on the data they have collected. As we have mentioned in previous chapters you are not competition with google when it comes to SEO you are competing against your competitors and what efforts they have implemented n the past. As long as the agency you hired can do better SEO than your competitors, you will win regardless of what google does.
The third tip on hiring a marketing agency is to find an agency that is good at what they do and have historical results. I always recommend finding a firm that specializes in your space. For example, there are SEO firms that specialize in working with dentists. There are SEO firms that specialize in working with lawyers, or multi location organizations. The people that work with attorneys or lawyers or dentists have a special skillset of knowing where to put content, what pages to optimize and has a better understand of the overall strategy. Because ultimately SEO is a traffic source that has to be converted into customers the conversion path can vary depending on the industry you are in. For example our organization works in a couple different vertices which include healthcare SEO, nonprofit SEO, multi location SEO, small and midsize business SEO and local SEO.
The fourth tip is to make sure the agency you are hiring has a proven track record of knowing what they are doing. A great way to figure this out is to get case studies of clients that directly relate to the type of business that you have.
The fifth tip is to go into the buying process by you directing it. What this means is that instead of them taking you through their buying process I want you to be the buying process. Don’t just let the marketing agency dictate the flow, but go into it with a list of questions that you have for them. Make sure to ask beyond the simple questions of “how much does it cost” and “how fast will you get it done” but really the questions that lets you know they understand your business, your competition and your nice. At the beginning of the sales process you will be doing an initial phone call, if they try to sell you on the first call that is usually a sign of someone that does not have the most robust understanding of your business.
An example of this is the sales cycle I use with my clients. We begin with an initial consultation, answer some of your questions and understand what your marketing goals are. Next we are going to do some research on your website, your competitors, your space and setup a phone call to review your marketing landscape with you. Lastly we integrate all of your data into one of our dashboards and were going to get all the data integrated to make sure you have all the proper marketing tools in place like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, properly structured website and run a full site and competitive audit. We take all of that information and deliver it to you, show you all your marketing opportunity, and show you what steps we will take to improve upon your current business and discuss talk and time frame to reach your goal.
Depending on the industry or customer it can happen a little faster. There have been people who we’ve talked to just once or twice that have come from a referral from someone in the industry who automatically understand that we know what we are doing and just ask us upfront if we can solve their problem and we make it happen. But in the majority of cases we like to do our research and go through the data so that we don’t find ourselves in a situation where you don’t have a defined end result that you’re looking for. Although you’re willing to spend the money, you might have unrealistic expectations, or we could set unrealistic expectations by not doing our proper research.
The sixth tip to hiring an agency is to clearly define your budget and your timeframe. I leave this as the last tip because if you try and do this first you might have that unrealistic expectation of how much work truly goes into having proper marketing for your business. If you go out there and say “I want to rank number one for a keyword that has 100,000 visits a month in 90 days, and I’ve got $1,000 a month budget, “well take that $3,000, 90 days and burn it because that’s probably what’s going to happen.” So once you’ve talked to the agency, you set out your goal. Let them tell you what it should cost and how much effort and time it will take and rely on the agencies experience. We recommend talking to a couple of different agencies to tell you what it’s going to cost.
When it comes to marketing it doesn’t happen overnight. You should plan on spending six months to get traction and to start seeing some traffic and maybe some conversion, so that you make a decision then on whether or not you feel like the price point is acceptable.
By following these tips you won’t go into a conversation that is unrealistic which happens more times than many think. I have talked to people that have a national eCommerce business who want to rank for a hyper competitive keyword and they only want to spend $1,000 a month when it would cost $5,000 a month and take 12 months in order to reach their goal of domination of that keyword. Unfortunately we have to tell those people best of luck and walk away because the unrealistic expectations are too high and if we took on the client neither of us would be happy with the results.
These six steps to choosing a good agency will help you find a company that will do everything in their power to help you drive traffic and conversion for your business. Next I want to discuss a few things you should look out for. I know plenty of agencies that outsource their sales to third parties because their only goal is to close. These sales reps have done zero research, rarely have a marketing background and their main goal is to get your money. These same agencies normally use a “one size fits all” cookie cutter checklist to try and deliver results and if it doesn’t work they don’t care because they already got their check. Using the same strategy that works for everyone and only focusing on aggressive sales tactics is the exact opposite of the agency you want to work for.
You want to be very weary of the cookie cutters. These agencies say things like “Every SEO client is the same. I have a strategy that ranks someone every time.” Because of the complex landscape of SEO marketing this is impossible. The niches and the industries are so specific and getting quality links in every space takes work and knowledge.
You also want to be careful of cheap SEO agencies. Not only will they not deliver but they often can bring harm to your business. There’ve been more times than I can count that we have taken on a client who hired a cheap developer or firm off of Fiverr or Upwork and the first thing we notice when we get into their website is that they have a 40% toxic link ration. The time it takes to clean that up and get out of the websites system and add in quality links, they are six months behind where they should be because they tried to go cheap. Cheap SEO just really doesn’t exist in the United States, in Europe, or in Australia especially in the competitive spaces. If you are not in a competitive space, which is rare, some cheap work can work but if you’re always at the risk of getting penalized by Google which is extremely easy to have happen.
You also want to weary of only using a local firm because they are local. I’ve talked to someone in California and were based in Ohio and they’re like “Hey, you know what? I want to go with this firm because they’re right down the street and I want to have them close.” I understand the safety net that occurs when you think you are choosing a local business but if they do not follow the six tips that we talked about above it doesn’t matter if they are closer, it will not be the quality work your business needs to increase success. For example one of my good friends runs an agency out of Salt Lake City that is one of the best SEO firms in the legal space. If a local law firm would have chosen a local agency they probably would have not even 20% of the results the Salt Lake City agency could have provided. Anytime
Lastly, research is incredibly important. if you don’t do your research, and you don’t talk to multiple agencies, and you don’t ask your questions, and you don’t set your goals, and you don’t come to the table ready, the only person to blame when your campaign doesn’t work is you. You have to make the proper informed buying decision.
You also want to make sure to walk away from agencies that say they can provide overnight rankings. If they give you instant leads only from SEO, run away from them unless those leads are coming from a Facebook ad campaign. It could come from Adwords campaigns. There are a a lot of things that you can do to get instant leads. SEO is typically not one of them. It takes time to gain that traction. If they say they are going to do your search engine submissions, ask them what the hell that means because it doesn’t actually mean anything. You should also run if they are going to generate “X” amount of backlinks. Backlinks are not about numbers, they are about quality over quantity. If they give you ROI projections, question them on how they came to that metric. For example, we are confident that we can do that properly, but only after doing our research and being integrated in all of your data and knowing what your current conversions and revenue streams are. If we don’t integrate into your data and know that you’re getting 134 conversions a week, and that you’re generating $26,000 a week from that, how are we going to be able to give you an ROI projection? So someone that gives you an ROI projection without having gone through all of your data and being able to articulate that.
Avoid people that talk about scraping, spinning, bulk link building, bad press releases, just things that you want to avoid. If you follow these rules, you’ll typically find a good agency. Now, I want to make it simple for you. I didn’t write this book just to write it. We believe that we are a great agency. If you’re in the healthcare space, the nonprofit space, a multi location or franchise space, or you run a local services business, we can help. Now, there will be some verticals in the local services business like dentists or lawyers that we might refer you out to someone else. But if you run a plumbing company, an HVAC company, a contractor, tons of different things in the local space, technology companies, like a Microsoft Partner, there’s tons that we can do, tons of case studies that we can give you to show you what we’ve done in the past.