The One and Only Thing You Need in an SEO Agency

Expert seated, speaking to a group.

You’re an in-house SEO professional who, after years of demonstrating your expertise, was promoted up the ranks to run the SEO department.

Now, in addition to overseeing strategy, you’re being pulled in a million different directions. On top of that, you’re tasked with building a great SEO team. One that is on par with your standards of SEO.

But corporate doesn’t allow for an entire team of SEO directors. So you hire people with a handful of years under their belt and a lot of potential. The problem is, things continue to get busier. It’s hard to develop staff and stay on top of projects.

And when things get tricky — for example, if you’re trying to solve a really complex SEO problem, or you’re facing uncharted territory (such as COVID-19) — you may find that your staff can take you only so far. And you’ve been out of the weeds for enough years that you realize your company needs some outside expertise.

What’s Your “State of SEO”

According to the State of SEO 2019 report by Zazzle, 19 percent of companies reduced their SEO budget due to a skills shortage. The number who felt they were “naive” about SEO grew by 8% since 2018. Those who considered themselves “expert” fell by nearly 30% compared to 2018.

A situation like that is the reason you turn to an SEO vendor. But the issue again becomes experience.

SEO agencies have a similar problem to in-house SEO teams: they’re often founded by one or more experts. In order to grow, they have to build teams and take themselves out of the hands-on work.

But they also have to make the business profitable, and labor costs are the largest cost. As a result, many agencies have scaled using entry-level professionals. But this strategy is not sustainable when the clients know more about SEO than the “SEO managers” on their account.

Experience Makes the Difference

A few years back, we decided that we weren’t going to have junior-level SEO and PPC professionals on our teams anymore. That is not a normal decision for an agency to make.

It wasn’t an easy process, but we changed the way we source talent. We also expanded our job openings to experts all across the U.S., not just locally.

This allows us to hire the best of the best. As a result, our production team has an average of 10+ years of experience in their craft.

And this is the thing you need to look for when hiring an agency: Experience. Experience is what sets agencies apart.

It allows us to solve the toughest SEO problems out there for our clients when no other solutions exist in-house. And that’s what’s needed now more than ever.

There are many guides out there on how to hire an SEO vendor. Google gives its basic guidelines here with questions to ask. We’ve written in the past about some questions to explore here, including SEO interview questions we ask our own candidates for hire.

But the bottom line is that you do not want to know more than the agency you’re hiring. This is especially true in today’s climate, when so much is changing in the world around us. Businesses need the best SEO strategies to survive online.

If you are in this situation, where the one and only thing you need in an agency is expert-level experience, contact us today for a free consultation.

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 website.

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

Comments (4)
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4 Replies to “The One and Only Thing You Need in an SEO Agency”

Solid strategy. Hire the best, so you can offer the best service, and scale at the same time.
Few agencies are positioned as well as Bruce is, though. What works for the “father of SEO” may not be financially attainable for starters.
Being in the SEO industry since 2009, I can really tell how experience is a vast advantage. Only those who don’t have it will minimize it’s value. Similar to university degrees. Those who don’t have them, think they aren’t missing much. But the problem is, you don’t know what you don’t know. Starters will know little about a subject and think they have it all figured out. But that’s like looking at the big picture through a 10-foot straw. You see something, but it’s a minute detail of what’s all out there.
There are tons of noise-making businesses out there, luring clients with sleek sales copy and scarcity tactics. But a good sales page doesn’t warrant a solid SEO service.
Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to take on projects after local “expert” agencies tried their luck, and it’s fairly easy to tell when a novice was poking and prodding at a website, learning as they go. One client in the real estate field was stagnating for years thanks to such a local agency. For years, they were only getting about 500 visits per month. Once it was outsourced to us, in about 18 months, we turned things around and when we finished our work, they were getting 12.000 visits per month. All content-driven organic traffic.

SEO is a skill that requires understanding in plenty of fields like information retrieval and organization, library sciences, web development, and as of lately, psychology. It requires wisdom and insight rather than blind following of estimated traffic and difficulty figures reported by SEO tools.
Just had that situation about a week ago. Branded-product search volume reported as 70k/mo, while product-research search volume was only 6k/mo. This was a sporting commodity item. If we blindly followed these estimates of a 3rd party provider who doesn’t really “know” or have any way of “tracking” search volumes, we’d miss out on an opportunity. Looking past the figures and understanding what really goes on in a market. It’s something that only experience can provide.
With a team of 10+ years of experience, there’s no doubt that The Father of SEO will be able to provide solid SEO services.
It will probably be out of reach for a lot of companies, but then… so is life.

Wow. I just started the end of last month and things seem to be going nowhere. I know I’m just too early to see results because my blog is new but I hope to get to where you are now! It’s really a motivation to keep me going Thanks for sharing!

Every client will have different goals and requirements. I feel that experience is only one ingredient. What is even more important is to ensure that the SEO team is equipped with practical knowledge and is capable of handling all the client’s needs. And given the volatile nature of the SEO industry, one would expect a team to be adaptable to the changing SEO atmosphere.

If I open any SEO agency then how can I use this technique or method?


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