Agencies of any type are basically curated collections of consultants with specialized services for hire. Their core value resides in the aggregated expertise they amass working with sites of different sizes across multiple industries, which enables them to identify the most successful search engine optimization (SEO) practices under different site conditions.
SEO agencies lead higher-performing SEO programs with proven methodologies driven by consultants with years of expertise in the field.
In addition, SEO agencies encourage their consultants to share their expertise among each other, increasing the value that each consultant can deliver.
All of that translates to a higher likelihood of success in your SEO endeavors when hiring an agency to manage your SEO.
The services that SEO agencies provide can be boiled down to four buckets: guide, research, recommend, and consult.
One of the biggest challenges that marketers face in their SEO programs is a lack of strategic direction. Hopefully, you know your goal,but how do you get from where you are to where you need to be?
The answer needs to be more than, “Doing SEO.”
Ask yourself these questions:
- What, exactly, are you doing to which pages to target which keyword themes?
- If you make those changes, can you be sure the search engine crawlers will be able to index them?
- Will your site have enough link authority for the changes to make a difference to your performance?
SEO agencies develop the strategy to reach your goals, as well as the roadmap of tasks that need to be completed to implement that strategy.
“Gut feel” is a terrible way to manage SEO.
Successful SEO strategies require research into the site’s current performance, the organic search competitive set, and search engines’ current guidelines (which change often, and without warning).
Research requires methodologies and tools, both of which SEO agencies have easy access to. Agencies know how to get the data needed to make sound SEO decisions. More importantly, in odd situations where the existing methodologies or tools don’t fit, they know how to figure out the best way to get what they need in order to reach a logical conclusion.
Based on the research collected, consultants in SEO agencies create detailed recommendations on what to do and how to do it.
Reading SEO blogs will tell you that optimizing the title tags on your site will impact SEO performance. But where do you start when your site has 100 or 10,000 pages? Which title tags need optimizing and which are performing well as they are? And which keyword themes should each page be optimized for?
An SEO consultant will tell you exactly what to change on each specific page.
Better yet, if you ask them why, they will be happy to explain the reasoning behind the recommendations. The more you know about SEO, the more effective you’ll be at making decisions that benefit (or at least don’t harm) SEO in everyday situations.
Even if you understand a detailed recommendation, questions can come up when you’re trying to implement it on your website. Your SEO consultant is just a phone call away to answer questions about the recommendation, talk to your developer, brainstorm solutions for unforeseen issues, and more.
That “there for you” mindset goes beyond consultation on written recommendations. For example, you can turn to your SEO consultant when:
- Your boss wants something that doesn’t make sense for your SEO program, but you’re not sure how to dissuade him.
- You see something weird in analytics and you’re not sure whether to treat it as an anomaly or take evasive action.
- You read something in Search Engine Land and think it might be cool to try on your site.
- You’ve said the same thing 10 times already to upper management, and you need “an expert” to back you up.
Sometimes the question “What do SEO agencies do…” is followed by an implicit “…that I can’t do for myself?”
If you already have an SEO expert, or are one yourself, SEO agencies are still very important. Your agency consultant will provide a sounding board for ideas, a resource for questions and industry news, and another set of eyes and hands to extend the amount of SEO analysis and work that can be done at once.
If you’re a lone SEO expert at a company, you have to plan, and then do. But you can’t plan more while you do – you’re focused on doing. If you have an SEO agency, your consultant plans, you discuss and agree, and then while you implement, your consultant plans some more. This duality enables you to be more efficient, focusing on working with your internal team to get the best results on your SEO projects.
If you’re just starting to learn, SEO does have a low barrier to entry. There’s educational information aplenty online for those who want to sort the good from the bad and learn it. But the critical question is:
“Do you want the site that needs to be driving new customers to your business to be your SEO practice ground, or a high-performing machine?”