Did you know…there are 5,585 digital marketing businesses in the US as of 2021. 

Even more impressive, that’s an increase of 13.1% from 2020.

Just the increase alone proves one thing: nowadays businesses can’t survive without an effective digital marketing strategy.

The biggest problem with all of this: how do you choose the right agency for you? It’s tricky. Believe us, we know. 

So how do you get to the bottom of it? How do you figure out the right firm for you? What exactly defines a good SEO company? And how can you tell if it’s the one

These are crucial questions you need to take your time with. After all, it’s your online presence—a prime resource that 81 percent of consumers turn to—you’re betting on.

Read more tips for growing your business in 2021:

So here are 10 tips on finding a reputable, trustworthy, and skilled SEO company for your business in 2021. Use these to help your team ask the right questions and navigate the decision-making process with a keen eye. 

The Right SEO Firm Will…

1. Have a Track Record of Good Reviews

The best SEO companies have a track record of positive client reviews. You want to make sure the folks you partner with have a good reputation and have people who can vouch for them. 

  • Check to see if they have a Clutch profile or a spot on The Manifest.
  • Google digital marketing companies or SEO firms. See if they organically show up anywhere.
  • Check to see if they’ve won any awards or made any Top 10 lists – like this one where Big Leap made the Top Digital Marketing Companies in Salt Lake City.
  • Get super transparent and ask them about their retention rates. Good agencies care about building lasting relationships and delivering results.

Above all, do your due diligence. Scroll through and see what current and past clients are saying about them. Keep in mind, it’s easy to grow a pair of rose-colored glasses while reading through a bunch of glowing reviews. So be sure to verify these positive reviews are actually being emulated during your initial conversations with the firms. 

2. Value Transparency

Transparency is the glue that solidifies a successful partnership. It fosters trust and collaboration, which helps drive consistent results. 

Though SEO is a pivotal and popular strategy, there are people who unfortunately fail to inject it with the integrity your business deserves. So what are some ways you can gauge an SEO firm’s level of transparency? 

Here are some pointers: 

  • The company doesn’t leave you in the dark. Rather, their team provides regular updates and reports on the progress of your audits, campaigns, and new initiatives. And even during hard times, a reputable company will be candid but caring with you.
  • The team frequently asks for your feedback. A good SEO firm will find value in creating a healthy feedback loop that initiates trust, good will, and strong partnerships.
  • If the SEO team makes a mistake, they will own up to it and present ways on how they will resolve the issue.
  • If an SEO specialist doesn’t know the answer to a question, they will say so. They will then find someone who knows the answer and get back to you.  

3. Start with Extensive Research

Choosing the right SEO company requires observing whether a potential firm kicks off their campaigns with the right foundation? 

A good SEO strategy always begins with research and data. This requires digging into: 

  • Your competitors’ sites and rankings. How your competitors are doing is crucial in identifying critical advantages for your business. The right SEO company will take the time to understand your industry to build unique tactics.
  • Your own site. What keywords are you currently ranking for? How’s your content looking? Where are you currently ranked on search engine result pages (SERPs)? These are factors your SEO firm should consider to better gauge the kind of work required to help you get ahead.
  • Your target audience. Who are you trying to reach and do business with? What’s your buyer persona? These will help SEO specialists understand the intent behind your products/services. Not to mention, it’ll gravitate them towards the right kinds of keywords and content that will encourage conversions. 

4. Talk about SEO as a Long-Term Strategy

Anyone who says SEO is a quick fix is bonkers. Why? SEO is a long-term strategy that takes time, hard work, and dedication. 

It takes time to optimize your website and win the trust of Google and your target market; you need to research, create, and optimize consistently. SEO generally takes a few months to a year to generate results. The timeline depends on factors like: 

  • How old your site is and how much SEO has already been done to it. 
  • Where you stand against your competitors. 
  • The types of keywords you need to target and how competitive these terms are. 

5. Acknowledge SEO Constantly Changes

If your potential SEO company makes bold promises that imply permanent changes, these are red flags. These promises might sound something like: 

  • “The number one spot on Google will be yours indefinitely.” 
  • “Your site will capture a permanent spot on the answer box snippet for [this keyword].”

Nothing in the SEO world is permanent; the Google algorithm changes constantly (Google reported over 3,000 updates to its search algorithm in 2018). A credible company will take time to explain this. 

Not only will they acknowledge SEO involves a lot of trial and error, but they will also carry the resilience to roll with the punches until your business achieves lasting results. A good SEO company will find ways to adapt to the changes by staying up-to-date with industry trends and making data-driven decisions. 

6. Customize Your SEO Strategy According to YOUR Needs/Goals

A firm that takes a cookie-cutter or one-size-fits-all approach won’t be able to inject your business with the right focus and tools it needs. Yes, there are SEO best practices to abide by, but these practices need to be custom-tailored to your goals. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time staying relevant in the online landscape.

For example, if you’re a termite company that provides inspection services in specific geographic areas, you may need to implement local SEO tactics. That way, you’ll show up for relevant queries occurring in those locations. But if you’re an eCommerce company that sells antique jewelry online, you likely won’t benefit from local SEO. 

It all comes down to what your business lacks and needs in the online space; your solution won’t be the same solution for other businesses. The right SEO agency will take time to understand both your strengths and weaknesses and build strategies around them. 

7. Provide a Roadmap with Deliverables

A roadmap outlines your business’ goals and the milestones needed to achieve that objective. It explains the what, why, and how behind your business and SEO strategy. 

Trustworthy SEO companies will present a roadmap to you. This not only helps their team stay accountable for achieving your goals, but it also keeps your team updated on all the plans. 

When you receive your roadmap, take some time to review it: 

  • Do the milestones properly align with your goals? You want to confirm the campaign accurately reflects your vision for your business. 
  • Are there any ambiguous/vague terms or strategies listed that need further clarification? A good roadmap will be specific. And the SEO team should be able to provide clarification should any questions come up. 
  • Does the roadmap outline the right metrics? Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) like organic sessions, conversion rates, keyword rankings, and bounce rates can help measure the success of your SEO campaign. Be sure your KPIs are specific enough that they compliment your vision.   

Keep in mind, there’s good and bad SEO. If an SEO company is involved in the latter, you can become the victim of Google penalties (yes, search engines reprimand you for bad behavior). So know the difference between good and bad SEO to decipher whether a company is setting you up for success or if they’re just feeding you B.S.

8. Incorporate Other Digital Marketing Services with Your SEO Strategy

The right SEO agency will understand that SEO alone won’t be enough to maximize your results. You need to layer your SEO strategy with other digital marketing tactics

These tactics might include: 

SEO requires great content. A good firm will have a team of writers, editors, and designers ready to embellish your SEO strategy. How? With educational and valuable content like blog posts, case studies, landing pages, and infographics. The key is crafting content designed to convert those visitors your SEO brings to your site. 

To learn more, check out our case study on roofing and home projects company, DMG Exteriors. By combining SEO and content marketing, our team helped our client achieve a 301 percent boost in new users, a 192 percent increase in organic sessions, and over 3,766 position growth in Google ranking.

If your company suffers from a negative online image (maybe you’ve been hit with bad press or reviews), you will likely need to supplement your reputation management strategy with SEO. 

For example, one of our clients in the energy and power sector was suffering from negative online reviews. To gain a clean first SERP, we focused on repurposing their content with SEO practices to help move our client’s negative listings further down the results pages

Similar to content marketing, CRO can help maximize your SEO efforts by compelling your site visitors to move through the buying funnel. CRO focuses on improving your onsite experience to encourage more conversions. 

Combining SEO with CRO can help you win lower bounce rates, more clicks/interactions throughout your site, and higher returns. For fulfillment and distribution company Elite Ops, implementing both a local SEO strategy and CRO (via amplifying their landing pages) generated an over 40 percent increase in conversions. 

9. Share Examples of What They’ve Done for Other Clients

A seasoned and trustworthy SEO agency will be willing to share their portfolio. In fact, they will likely have this available on their website. 

Here are a few types of work portfolios to look for: 

  • Case studies 
  • Client quotes
  • Testimonials 
  • A roster of clients they’ve worked with

Don’t hesitate to dive into these and ask specific questions. For example, if you find a case study that involves strategies your online presence might benefit from, let the SEO specialists know, and ask how this would look for your business. 

A good SEO company will be happy to flesh the strategies out further and provide their honest feedback on whether the tactics will work for your business. 

10. Carry Valuable Experience in Your Industry

Here’s the thing, SEO companies often work with a variety of businesses from several different industries. You need to do your research to ensure the company carries substantial experience executing SEO tactics in your field. 

This ensures the SEO company understands the climate of your industry. And even if the firm carries years of experience providing services in your field, the SEO team will still ask what success means for your business. They will understand every business is different. 

Start Your Search with Big Leap

We understand forming a new partnership is a big decision. That’s why at Big Leap, we start our prospective clients with a free offer—a site audit, strategy session, or competitive gap analysis—to get to know you more and see if we’re the right fit.  

If you’d like to learn more about how to get started, reach out to us. We’re happy to provide more information on our services and guidance on how you can navigate your decisions with good judgment.

Janet Lee