If you’re looking to hire an SEO agency for your financial advisory firm, you’ve no doubt come to the conclusion that SEO is an essential part of any digital marketing strategy. You’ve probably also realized that to be done correctly, it requires someone with extensive knowledge of SEO best practices and experience putting those practices into action.
It can be hard to find the right SEO agency, so here are 5 steps you can take to find the ideal SEO agency – some you can get started on right away!
1) Create a List of Candidates
This is, of course, the first place to start, but also can be the most challenging. This is because some of the ways you might search for an SEO agency involve – you guessed it – SEO. And if an agency is good at what they do, they could appear in the top rankings but not necessarily be a good fit for your business.
Also, some SEO agencies appear on lists created by blogs and other resources that appear to be created for the benefit of the end-user. However, whether through the use of the above-mentioned SEO practices or possibly even through paying for a spot on that list, some agencies don’t actually belong in those rankings.
Instead of relying solely on internet searches, look around for reviews and testimonials. And don’t rule out a review simply because it’s on their own website. As long as the review has a name and company attached to it, you can ask that agency for contact information to follow up with the firm as a reference once you get further down the selection process.
Be leery of paid reviews. While not always obvious, some key giveaways are when a handful of reviews using first names only use similar wording and/or are posted all around the same time. If it sounds suspicious, take it with a grain of salt. Once you have your list, you can begin to narrow down your options.
2) Check Their Industry Experience
When hiring an SEO agency, the experience is a key indicator of how much they know about your industry. You may be more comfortable working with an agency whose focus is on the financial services industry, and in particular financial advisors and RIA’s.
Do a thorough review of the different industries a firm works with or has worked with in the past. Depending on your comfort level, you may choose to go with an agency that only works with clients inside your industry.
Keep in mind that when it comes to heavily regulated industries such as finance and investments, the more industry experience an agency has the better chance they understand the nuances of the compliance aspect of your firm.
3) Beware of Big Promises
Some SEO agencies might try to impress you with a laundry list of all of the services they can provide your firm. However, keep in mind that you may not necessarily need all of those things right away or at all.
Imagine you’re purchasing a vehicle. You may go in with an idea of your must-have features and things you don’t need to have. But then you get to the car dealership and all of a sudden, you’re test-driving the fully loaded edition and are having a hard time talking yourself back into the practical option you came to purchase.
The same can happen when “test-driving” SEO agencies. You may come into the meeting with an idea of your budget and SEO needs, but when the agency brings out the big promises, you may be tempted to go with a more extensive plan and find room in your budget for it.
If you do some of your own research prior to meeting with an agency, you will have a better understanding of your firm’s needs and won’t be upsold into services you don’t need.
4) Get to Know the Entire Team – Not Just the CEO or Sales
Depending on the size of the SEO agencies you’re considering, you may be first introduced to the agency through the sales team or perhaps even the CEO.
This sales tactic is meant to impress you and show your importance and value as a potential client. But beware of the bait and switch. Remember that once you become a client, you won’t necessarily be working directly with the sales team or the CEO.
That’s why it’s important to meet the members of the team that will be working on your account on a day-to-day basis. Ask who will be your main contact, as well as any other team members. And because so many agencies outsource work to independent contractors, you’ll want to ask any prospective agencies if they outsource and if it’s domestic-only or sometimes can be out of the country.
This may not be a deal-breaker for you in the decision making, but it will help you to know more about who will be working on your account. If an agency does outsource at times, it may mean a revolving door of people working on your account with no real stability.
5) Ask About Timelines and Reporting
This is an important question to ask before entering into any agreement with an SEO agency. This step ensures that all parties are on the same page when it comes to expectations and timelines for deliverables.
It’s essential to know when to expect the initial work to be done and when to expect the first round of reporting, etc. This should also include a checklist of all the items the agency needs from you to get started.
This will likely include access to your website and blog back-end system, necessary Google accounts – such as Ads and Analytics, social media accounts, and any other sites they might need to manage your SEO settings.
While there may not be a drastic improvement in your SEO search results immediately, initial reporting should detail what work was done and what is planned for the next round of updates. Setting your expectations from the start and holding your agency accountable to deadlines will ensure a smooth start to your SEO partnership.