4 Ways to Spot a Good SEO Agency

By Marty Rogers on March 3, 2021

SEO Agency

SEO agencies are a dime a dozen these days.

Over the past few years there has been a noticeable influx of marketing agencies popping up everywhere, on what seems like every corner of every city.

That's not a bad thing, of course.

It just shows how much the internet and search engines have grown.

SEO is now considered to be the best, most profitable marketing channel.

And rightly so, because it's a well known fact that most Google users (70%-80%) actively ignore their paid ads in favour of their organic search results.

Why SEO is so good for businesses:

  • Constant flow of free, targeted search engine traffic
  • Increase footfall at your local business
  • Improved user experience
  • Brand awareness, trust and credibility
  • Educate potential customers with long-tail blog content

The Problem for SEO Agencies

With the growth of any industry comes those who want to take advantage.

So now we have a lot of people who pretend they know SEO when in reality they probably don't understand the difference between a 301 and 302 redirect.

A lot of business owners are being burnt by these bad actors.

And unfortunately that gives the SEO industry as a whole a bad name, and makes it harder for business owners to trust agencies and freelancers.

I've experienced this myself on a number of occasions. It's frustrating.

How bad SEOs affect good agencies:

  • Unrealistic budget expectations from previous low pricing
  • Expecting results faster than is possible, because of previous claims
  • Clingy behaviour because of previous burns

The easiest way for agencies to overcome these hurdles is to provide a completely transparent service right out of the gate, with regular updates.

Showing individual tasks that have been completed can really help.

The Problem for Business Owners

As mentioned above, after being burnt it is much harder for business owners to believe in, or trust, SEO agencies or freelancers. And it's completely understandable.

But you can, and will, find a good digital agency to help you.

Read through some of the points I've outlined below and use all of them to analyse the agencies you're looking at before you work with them.

It's not perfect, and there are exceptions. But it should help you.

How bad SEOs affect business owners:

  • Lack of belief in SEO and its potential results
  • Trouble trusting any marketing agencies later on
  • Potentially damage their business

How to Find the Best SEO Agencies

These are just some of the easy ways to identify great SEO agencies.

It's not perfect, but if you combine and take into consideration each of them then you should be able to judge potential agencies with it.

1 - Search Rankings

If an SEO agency claims they can get you top organic Google rankings, yet don't have any of their own to speak of then I'd always question why this is the case.

Some agencies say things like, "we like to focus on our clients."

That may be true, but it doesn't really wash with me.

I'm not saying they should have any major national rankings - it could be a local page doing well, or their domain performing well overall with blog and page content.

The easiest way to check this for yourself is to run their domain through SEMRush.

This will show what they rank for along with their organic visibility.

Something that looks like this is good:

Organic Search Traffic

If there's very little organic traffic, I would forget that SEO agency.

If there's plenty, you're probably in good technical hands.

2. Online Reviews

The online reputation of a business tells a lot about them and their services.

And it's no different with marketing agencies.

If they're offering poor quality SEO services, usually at low monthly prices, then it's only a matter of time before the cat is out of the bag. The bad reviews always come.

Here's an example of a negative review for an SEO company:

Negative Review

That was on a Yelp listing, but their Google My Business reviews were all 5 stars.

And probably fake, but that's another issue for another time.

Finding reviews for bad agencies can sometimes be difficult if they're good at reputation management. That helps them to control the first page of Google's search results, knowing full well that most people don't go to the second page.

Try these to find bad agency reviews:

  • Search for their business name in Google
  • Google "company name reviews"
  • Find their company page on Facebook
  • Find their company listing on Yelp

It's worth noting that all businesses get negative reviews at some point.

It's inevitable if you're in business long enough.

But I think it's at least important to take into consideration how many the SEO agency have compared with good ones along with how (and if) they respond to them.

3. Monthly Budgets / Pricing

This is probably one of the best indicators for how good an agency is.

At least, at the lower end it is anyway.

Some large SEO agencies charge extortionate amounts when it comes to their corporate clients, and that has no reflection at all on how good they are.

They just charge what they can, because they know it's affordable.

But cheap pricing, on the other hand, shows total lack of skill.

Here's an example of cheap SEO pricing in the UK:

SEO Pricing

I'll tell you exactly what you'd get from any of those SEO packages.

Absolutely nothing. That's what.

Am I being harsh? Potentially - but it's true.

I am an experienced technical SEO myself (15 years) and I have to be honest, I wouldn't even reply to your email for £49.99 let alone manage an entire SEO campaign.

I mean, the Rank 2 plan for £299 might JUST be acceptable for local SEO.

For freelancers. WITHOUT the reputation management.

But then the £399 plan for national SEO is a guaranteed flop. You'd incorporate your business on Mars before you ever got any results from that one. Honestly.

Bottom line - steer clear of agencies with super low monthly prices.

True knowledge and expertise will cost you.

4. Contracts

SEO Contracts

Contracts are quite commonplace within the SEO industry, unfortunately.

But I've always thought that if an SEO agency needs to tie you into a lengthy contract, they can't be very confident in the results their services provide.


I work at a marketing agency with over 150 clients and not a single contract.

And many of them have been with the company for years.


Because of the great service provided, and the consistent results delivered.

And that's literally all it takes to keep their business. So I'd actively avoid any SEO company that tries to tie you into a lengthy contract. It's unnecessary.

If they deliver results, you won't cancel.

And if they don't, you shouldn't be paying. It's not rocket science.

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