Neil Patel

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How to Choose an SEO Agency

A graphic that says "How To Choose an SEO Agency."

Ever feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of SEO agencies out there, each claiming to be the best? You’re not alone. Finding the right SEO agency is crucial—because you’re finding a strategic partner that can transform your online presence.

If your website isn’t ranking as well as you’d hoped, it might be time to reevaluate your SEO strategy. Is it really aligned with your business goals? The right SEO agency can make all the difference, helping to refine your strategy and boost your rankings effectively. 

In this article, we’ll discuss how you can pick the perfect SEO agency that aligns with your objectives and enhances your digital footprint. Ready to clear the fog and find your ideal SEO partner? Let’s get started.

Key Takeaways

  • Before partnering with an SEO agency, clearly define what you want to achieve, whether it’s boosting site traffic, improving keyword rankings, or increasing conversions.
  • Select an SEO agency with a solid track record of success in your industry, evidenced by detailed case studies and positive client testimonials.
  • Ensure the agency is transparent about its strategies, reporting, and pricing. Regular updates and clear communication are crucial for a successful partnership.
  • Steer clear of agencies promising guaranteed rankings or using questionable backlink practices. Opt for those with credible, ethical strategies.
  • A successful SEO engagement requires close collaboration on strategy and contract terms. Understand the scope of work, timelines, and what each party is responsible for.

Establish Your Goals and Desired Outcomes

Imagine setting out on a journey without a clear destination. You wouldn’t do that, right? Similarly, before partnering with an SEO agency, it’s crucial to define exactly what you want your business to achieve and where you want it to go.

First, define your business goals:

  • Are you aiming to enhance brand visibility?
  • Increase web traffic?
  • Drive sales?

Each goal demands specific SEO strategies.

Next, identify your desired outcomes:

  • Do you need to rank higher for particular keywords?
  • Boost your local search presence?
  • Convert more visitors into customers?

The specifics of your goals will dictate whether you need comprehensive content strategies, local SEO expertise, or advanced link-building tactics. Sometimes, you might need to use several of these tactics at different stages of your campaign.

For example, consider the distinct strategies for different business types:

Local Shop:

  • Goal: Attract nearby customers.
  • Strategy: Focus on local SEO tactics such as optimizing Google My Business listings, local keywords, and community engagement.

E-commerce Site:

  • Goal: Achieve national reach.
  • Strategy: Utilize broad SEO approaches including large-scale link-building, national keywords optimization, and competitive analysis.

Choosing the right SEO agency means finding one that aligns with your goals and possesses the expertise needed to lead your business to success. It’s about connecting your business objectives with the right SEO tactics and understanding how they tie into measurable SEO metrics. This way, every step forward is strategic. Make sure the SEO agency you choose understands your industry and shares your vision for success, ensuring they can navigate the right path to get you there.

What to Look for in an SEO Company

Choosing the right SEO company isn’t just about finding someone who can use the right buzzwords or appears first in search results. It’s about finding a partner to meet your business needs and goals. Here are the key qualities to look for in an SEO company:

A Proven Track Record

When you’re deciding on an SEO agency, its past results speak volumes. Look for an agency that proudly showcases its case studies and client successes. These are more than trophies on a shelf—they’re real-world examples of expertise and ability to deliver measurable results. 

Reviewing an agency’s portfolio lets you gauge if they have a successful track record in your industry or niche. This helps ensure they can handle your business’s specific challenges and opportunities. If you’re an e-commerce website, look for case studies and examples of e-commerce websites they’ve worked with.

For example, we openly share our client successes at NP Digital on our “Work” page. This transparency allows potential clients to see the tangible outcomes we’ve achieved and understand the kind of results they can expect for themselves.

NP Digital's SEO client base.

Source: NP Digital

A Diverse Team of Specialists

SEO is not a one-person show. It requires a mix of skills from strategic planning to technical implementation. The best SEO companies have a diverse team of specialists, including SEO tacticians, content writers, analysts, and web developers. This variety ensures that experts in their field handle all aspects of your SEO strategy.

NP Digital's people page.

Source: NP Digital

Ensure the agency you’re considering is transparent about who is on its team and their roles. A robust team is a good indicator of the agency’s capability to handle comprehensive SEO campaigns. Avoid agencies that are vague about staffing or seem to outsource most of their work. You want to know who is crafting and executing your strategy.

Reputation and Client Testimonials

An SEO company’s reputation in the industry is a critical consideration. Look for testimonials and reviews from past clients, as these are indicators of reliability and quality of service. Happy clients are the best endorsers of an agency’s capabilities, so an agency that can demonstrate a high client retention rate and positive feedback is likely doing something right.

Additionally, check if the SEO company has received any awards or recognition in the industry. Awards from prestigious organizations like OMMA or Search Engine Land underscore agency expertise and commitment to excellence in SEO.

At NP Digital, we take pride in our client testimonials and our array of industry awards. These recognitions reflect our commitment to delivering exceptional SEO results and maintaining high standards in every project.

A press release celebrating NP Digital winning some industry awards.

Source: NP Digital


When choosing an SEO agency, transparency is a must. You want a partner who keeps the lines of communication wide open. Ask potential agencies about reporting methods, the tools they use, and how they plan to keep you informed about the progress of your campaigns. A good agency will provide regular updates and insights, ensuring you’re never in the dark about how your investment is performing.

Red Flags to Avoid

Selecting an SEO agency is a significant decision, and it’s vital to steer clear of those who may not have your best interests at heart. Here are some red flags to watch for:

Guaranteed Rankings

Beware of any SEO agency that guarantees specific rankings within a set time frame. SEO is complex and influenced by numerous factors outside anyone’s control, including Google’s algorithm updates. Promises of guaranteed rankings are unrealistic and are often a sign of either inexperience or dishonesty.

Quantity Over Quality Backlink Techniques

The quality of backlinks is far more important than quantity. An agency that focuses on building excessive low-quality links may get you quick results, but these are often short-lived and can be severely penalized by Google. Instead, look for agencies that prioritize ethical, high-quality backlink strategies.

Ultra-Low Pricing

If the pricing seems too good to be true, it probably is. While competitive pricing can be appealing, extremely low rates might indicate that the agency cuts corners or outsources key tasks to low-quality providers. This can lead to poor results that could damage your site’s long-term SEO health.

No Portfolio or Client Testimonials

A reputable SEO agency should be proud to show off its previous work. If an agency doesn’t have a portfolio or client testimonials, it’s a warning sign. They may lack experience or have a history of poor performance. Always ask for case studies or references before making a decision.

By looking for these red flags, you can better identify an SEO agency that can deliver results and add value to your business, rather than one that might lead to frustration and financial loss. Ensure you choose a partner with integrity, transparency, and a proven track record.

Choosing the Best SEO Company for Your Business

Finding the right SEO company means ensuring they truly understand and can meet your business needs. It’s about more than hiring expertise—it’s about engaging a partner who aligns with your vision and goals. Here are some tips on how to choose an SEO agency that feels right for you:

Take Advantage of a Discovery Session

Before signing on the dotted line, take advantage of a discovery session with potential SEO agencies. This initial meeting is your opportunity to evaluate its responsiveness and willingness to understand your business’s unique aspects. Share details about your business objectives, your market, and what you’ve tried in the past. See how they react and what preliminary strategies they propose. This session will tell you a lot about whether the approach is bespoke or one-size-fits-all—only the former will work in your favor.

Collaborate on Your Contract

When it comes to the contract, transparency is key. Understand clearly the agency’s proposed strategy, pricing structure— hourly, project-based, or retainer—and what each entails. It’s essential to thoroughly review the terms and conditions of the contract, clarifying the scope of work, deliverables, and timelines. Also, discuss the cancellation or termination policies upfront. These details will help avoid any surprises down the road and ensure both parties are on the same page about expectations and responsibilities.

Here is an example of an SEO contract that outlines the sections needed and the details to be included within the contract. 

An SEO contract example.

Source: Revv

Set Everyone Up for Success

Successful SEO partnerships don’t just happen—they are crafted through careful planning and collaboration from the get-go. This means onboarding the agency properly, sharing access to necessary tools and data, and establishing clear timelines. Ensure both your team and the SEO agency’s team know who is responsible for what and by when. A structured onboarding process sets the stage for a transparent and productive relationship, making it easier to track progress and success.


What factors should I consider when choosing an SEO company?

Focus on its expertise, track record, transparency, and the alignment of its strategies with your business goals. It’s also important to evaluate the agency’s understanding of your industry and the customization of approach based on your specific needs.

How can I make sure an SEO company is ethical?

Check for adherence to SEO best practices, which should exclude techniques like keyword stuffing and purchasing backlinks. An ethical SEO company always emphasizes sustainable strategies that comply with search engine guidelines.

Is it possible for an SEO company to guarantee results?

Be cautious of SEO companies that guarantee specific rankings or immediate results. SEO is influenced by many factors that are often beyond direct control, and genuine success takes time.

What should I look for in an SEO company's reviews?

Look for reviews that speak to the company’s ability to deliver results, communicate effectively, and maintain professional integrity. Positive feedback from clients with similar businesses is a good indicator of what you can expect.

Why is transparency important when choosing an SEO company?

Transparency in strategy, pricing, and communication ensures that you are fully aware of what the agency is doing and why. This helps build trust and facilitates a more productive partnership.


Choosing the right SEO agency is crucial for the digital success of your business. By understanding what to look for and what to avoid, you can select an agency that boosts your rankings and aligns perfectly with your business goals. 

Remember, a great partnership leads to great results. And keep in mind, SEO and higher rankings take time. So be thorough, ask the right questions, and choose a partner that feels right for your business for the long haul.


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