10 Expert Skills of an SEO Agency

People gathering around a table with their laptops to work.

Every Monday, SEO is a brand-new industry. It’s complex and can be difficult to keep up with the constant changes.

In the right hands, SEO is a powerful tool that makes your brand first among equals.

In the wrong hands, doing SEO incorrectly hurts your brand and can ultimately cause your business to fail. The difference between the two is expertise.

So in order to implement a successful SEO program, it would be wise to work with an experienced agency or consultant.

An expert SEO agency knows how to implement good strategies to improve your online visibility, establish your company as a trusted authority in your niche, attract more organic traffic to your website, and increase your revenue.

Not all SEO agencies are created equal — some are good, some are bad. If you know more about SEO than your agency does, don’t expect to see meaningful results. And if you’re not getting the best results from your SEO campaign, it’s time to look elsewhere.

There are many factors you should consider before deciding on hiring outside help. Here, we will look at the top 10 expert skills you should expect from an SEO agency:

      1. Keyword research
      2. Competitor analysis
      3. On-page optimization
      4. Off-page optimization
      5. Technical SEO
      6. Content marketing
      7. Local SEO
      8. Analytics and reporting
      9. SEO tools
      10. SEO training

    FAQ: What are the top contributions that an SEO agency can make to your SEO program?

1. Keyword Research

Keyword research is a critical component of every successful SEO campaign. It’s what helps you understand your target audience and their search behaviors.

A good SEO agency will utilize keyword research to provide you with an edge in understanding and outranking your competitors. They will also conduct content gap analyses to identify gaps and enhance an overall competitive content strategy.

The top three search results for a query get the majority of clicks. An agency will help you align your content creation and optimization with the keywords and queries your audience is looking for to give you a better chance of showing up in those positions.

For more, read:


2. Competitor Analysis

The goal of SEO is to beat the competition, not the algorithm.

SEO agencies know how to conduct a thorough competitor analysis to analyze the SEO strategies of a website’s competition. These insights inform the recommendations they make on how to outperform them.

For more on competitor analysis, read:


3. On-Page Optimization

On-page optimization improves a website’s relevance and user experience, leading to higher visibility in search engines.

Some tactics include:

  • Optimizing the website’s content with keywords.
  • Deploying the right formatting.
  • Schema markup.
  • Making sure a webpage is mobile-friendly, user-friendly, and fast.
  • Focusing on the organization of the content throughout the site, including the internal linking strategy.

With expert knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, a great SEO agency can optimize a website’s structure, content, and design to ensure it meets the technical requirements of search engines and user needs.

Our Always Up-to-Date SEO Checklist is a great resource to help you with on-page optimization. I suggest bookmarking the page for frequent reference.

4. Off-Page Optimization

Off-page optimization includes things like social media marketing, influencer promotions, press releases, and earning quality links to the website.

Backlinks are a ranking factor, although it isn’t specifically the number of links that matters. Fewer high-quality backlinks can better improve the credibility and authority of a website than a large volume of lower-quality ones.

In other words: The days of “link building” are over …. ultimately, earning relevant links comes down to creating great content that people want to link to and share.

For more on backlinks, see:


5. Technical SEO

Technical SEO involves optimizing a website’s performance to ensure it meets the technical requirements of search engines and offers a great user experience.

For example, page speed is a confirmed Google ranking signal, and Google wants pages to load in under 2.5 seconds.

Technical failures are a common reason for a drop in rankings and traffic. And the complexity of today’s websites requires an expert to identify and fix any issues that may cause these drops in traffic.

With expertise in website architecture, server configuration, and user experience, the right SEO agency can ensure that your site is technically sound and make it easier for search engines to access it.

For more on technical SEO, see:


6. Content Marketing

Content marketing is about creating and sharing content in a way that helps you achieve your business and marketing objectives.

Content marketing involves:

  • Communicating effectively.
  • Making connections.
  • Sharing the right content.
  • Engaging your audience.
  • Being in the right place at the right time.
  • Seizing opportunity.
  • Inspiring action.
  • Nurturing the needs of your customers.
  • Showcasing your personality/company culture in a way that fits the brand.

An expert SEO agency understands how experience, expertise, authority, and trust factor into quality content that builds trust with your market. They are skilled at developing content strategies, optimizing content for target keywords, and implementing content promotion techniques that demonstrate authority to search engines and to your target audience.

7. Local SEO

Local SEO is critical for businesses that rely on local customers. In fact, research from BrightLocal shows that 98% of people use the internet to find information about a local business.

Some of the SEO tactics used in local SEO differ from traditional techniques for organic search results (“10 blue links”).

And the complexity of local SEO grows when you have national and multi-site businesses, including franchises.

An experienced agency knows how to utilize local keyword research, on-page optimization, and local link building to ensure that a business’s website appears in local search results for the most valuable queries.

For more on local SEO, read:


8. Analytics and Reporting

Analytics and reporting are essential to measure the success of an SEO campaign and identify areas for improvement.

SEO agencies should frequently check in with you to provide detailed reports on the website’s performance, rankings, and traffic. They are experienced in data analytics tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and other SEO tools. And with the launch of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), an agency will have even more powerful tools to track and analyze user behavior on your website.

9. SEO Tools

SEO tools can provide a competitive advantage and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of any agency’s services.

These tools can provide valuable information about keyword research, backlink analysis, and website optimization.

Some SEO agencies (like ours) have their own proprietary SEO tools. Our SEO ToolSet software offers a suite of unique tools for website optimization. It’s been used by over 5,000 clients, including Fortune 500 companies and government agencies.

With access to the right tools, an agency can provide businesses with a unique and effective strategy that outperforms its competitors.

Remember that there is always a difference between data and wisdom. SEO tools can inundate you with data, but what sets agencies apart is the wisdom to understand what the data is telling you.

A skilled SEO agency will give you the right data with information specific to your website, then make actionable recommendations to help you make the right decisions for your business.

For more on SEO tools, see:


10. SEO Training

SEO training, like tools, can provide a competitive advantage and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of any agency services.

By learning how SEO works or improving upon the SEO skills you already have, you can have more strategic conversations with your SEO provider.

As the SEO industry continues to grow, the demand for training courses has steadily increased. Google Trends data shows a notable surge in search interest for SEO training services toward the last quarter of 2021.

Google Trends screenshot for “SEO training” keyword.
Google Trends screenshot for “SEO training” keyword.

These trends underscore the vital importance of investing in SEO training, showing its importance for business survival in an ever-evolving digital landscape.

Some SEO companies provide SEO training – we happen to be one of them. We’ve trained tens of thousands of students over 27 years on the foundations of SEO and evolving best practices.

In the past few years, we have reinvented our SEO training from in-person classes to an online membership site with tons of resources for its members in various content formats.

With the constant changes to search engine algorithms, staying up-to-date on SEO best practices and strategies through quality training is essential to remain competitive in today’s online marketplace.

There are a plethora of SEO training offerings out there — you must do your research and choose wisely. Before committing to anything, I suggest reading my article on Search Engine Land to help you evaluate your options.

Looking for an experienced SEO agency with a proven track record of helping websites get to Page 1 in the search results? Look no further than Bruce Clay, Inc.! Reach out to us to schedule a free consultation.

FAQ: What are the top contributions that an SEO agency can make to your SEO program?

Many businesses don’t have the time, resources, or knowledge to implement a successful SEO program. Working with an experienced SEO agency can significantly enhance your campaign. Here are the top skills you should look for when deciding to hire outside help.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is at the core of any successful SEO strategy. SEO agencies possess the knowledge and expertise required to perform thorough searches that identify relevant keywords for your industry, product, or service. They also optimize websites so they rank higher in search engine result pages (SERPs). By understanding your audience and their search behavior, agencies can optimize sites so they appear higher up in SERPs, leading to more organic traffic and conversions.

Competitor Analysis

To be the best in SEO, it means outstripping competitors. SEO agencies specialize in competitor analysis to gain valuable insight into their strategies and assist you with creating an improved SEO plan by studying what others are doing. Using this knowledge, they can identify opportunities to outrank rivals and bring more qualified traffic to your site.

Expert On-Page SEO

Optimizing the relevance and user experience of your website is paramount for its success. An SEO agency utilizes its extensive knowledge of HTML and CSS to optimize the structure, design and content of your website in accordance with search engines’ technical requirements while simultaneously meeting user demands. A specialist agency can boost rankings and targeted traffic by employing strategies such as keyword optimization, formatting schema markups and creating user-friendly navigation.

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to activities performed outside of your website that contribute to its overall search engine optimization success. A good SEO agency can develop an effective off-page strategy for optimizing your website, including social media marketing, influencer promotion, link acquisition strategies, or creating high-quality links. These experts understand the importance of a good link-building strategy and can create content that earns backlinks for increased authority, credibility and visibility for your brand.

Analytical Insights and Reporting

Reporting and analytics are crucial in evaluating the success of any SEO campaign and identifying any areas for improvement. SEO agencies typically provide regular reports detailing website traffic, rankings and key metrics gathered using data-driven insights provided by tools like Google Analytics and Search Console that will allow you to stay ahead of competitors in an ever-evolving digital landscape. These reports help keep an accurate account of SEO campaign activities while keeping a detailed log of improvements necessary in real-time.

Choosing the right partnership with an SEO agency can be the key to the success of your business. Take the time to get to know them, what they offer and what their track record is like. Leverage their experience in the industry to achieve better results — more traffic, visibility, leads, conversions, sales and customers.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the BruceClay.com website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

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3 Replies to “10 Expert Skills of an SEO Agency”

Found your post interesting to read. I can’t wait to see your next post. Good Luck with the upcoming update. This article is very interesting and effective

In the right hands, SEO is a powerful tool that makes your brand first among equals.

I think communication skills are really important for an SEO agency. Being able to explain what the plan is and why each part of it is important in a way that the client can understand.


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