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Engaging an SEO agency is not a trivial task. Finding the right agency that will deliver the results you are aiming to achieve is difficult, and having found a great SEO agency you need to be thinking about how you will get the most from your investment in them. Here are some considerations and guidelines that will help you establish a great working relationship that will deliver more than you hoped for.
Benefits of a Great Relationship
Like any relationship the more you put in the more you get back. Establishing a great working relationship with your SEO agency doesn’t happen automatically overnight, it takes time and effort. The benefits of a great relationship with your SEO agency will be apparent in the results achieved, the targets that have been met and the business development that has been supported.
It’s useful to consider exactly what ‘getting the most from your SEO agency’ actually means for your business. You will most likely have some business goals for which improved SEO performance is required and these may include competitive goals that will see your brand gaining prominence over your competitors. Also, you may have some specific technical challenges, such as a new website architecture, for which expert SEO knowledge is needed. Take a little time to consider exactly what you expect from your SEO agency and write these expectations down. Ensuring that your SEO agency is fully aware of all of your expectations will help to get the most from them.
The early days of your new SEO agency relationship are a very busy phase during which the agency will investigate and discover as much as possible about your business, your market, your web presence and everything that relates to your SEO status. Being prepared will both help you select the right agency and ensure your selected agency gets up-to-speed as quickly as possible.
As recommended, clearly defining exactly what your business expects from your SEO agency is an important starting point. Defining your expectations also serves to clarify exactly how SEO fits into your overall business marketing strategy.
Targets and KPIs
Your SEO agency needs to know exactly what it is you are aiming to achieve and how progress toward these aims is to be monitored and measured. Monitoring and evaluating the performance of campaigns, along with specific aspects of optimisation, needs to be carried out month-on-month. The chosen key performance indicators (KPIs) should be appropriate, relevant and representative. For example, for ongoing SEO campaigns your KPIs might include keyword rankings, organic search traffic and conversions but might also include user engagement metrics such as ‘time on the website’ or ‘number of pages viewed’.
Your SEO targets and KPIs should be based on your overall business objectives and the contribution that you expect SEO to make towards attaining these. It’s important for your SEO agency to know how they are required to routinely report on progress and developments and the contribution their work is making.
Markets and Customer Personas
While your SEO agency will be experts in search engine optimisation they may be less familiar with your market sector and they will not necessarily know too much about your target audience or your client base.
Being prepared with details of your marketplace, your current customer base and some representative customer personas will impart valuable insight to your SEO team that will support SEO campaign planning.
It’s important that your SEO agency is aware of your budgetary constraints as these can affect many aspects of your SEO campaigns. For example, additional budget might be needed for content creation or for revising the website architecture. Your SEO agency will work with you to make certain your allocated budget is expended effectively.
Your SEO agency needs to be made aware of all technical aspects of your web presence. These should include details of your website hosting, how the website was designed and implemented and who is responsible for ongoing, technical website management. Your SEO agency needs to know about your web design agency and they will need to know who they should be talking to in order to make technical onsite changes.
In addition to the technical aspects of your website-management it’s important to share details of who is responsible for ongoing website content updates and amendments. If you have in-house copy-writing capability this can be beneficially guided by your SEO campaign planning.
Similarly, you may already have in-house personnel dealing with social media, or you may employ a social media agency. Again, it’s important to share these details with your SEO agency as these resources may be beneficially engaged in ongoing campaigns.
The history of your business, your marketing activity and online presence should be collated and shared with your SEO agency. This insight will help your agency understand how your business has evolved and how your web presence has developed. Imparting details of your business history can also reveal valuable aspects which are currently under-utilised, such as awards and accolades or noteworthy historic client relationships.
Communications is at the heart of every great relationship. Being honest, open, straightforward and clear are all fundamental to great client-agency partnerships. It’s important that your SEO agency doesn’t bamboozle you with technical jargon and is capable of imparting often complex information using language that you can fully understand and appreciate. Your SEO agency needs to be using the right language for whoever they are dealing with, from your in-house marketing team to your technical web designers.
Establishing clear communications channels and routines should be an important part of the initial phase of the relationship. It’s important that everybody knows exactly what’s expected, when its expected and in what format. For example, establishing a scheduled, monthly SEO reporting routine using an agreed report format, possibly accompanied with an online meeting to discuss the report.
It’s important to be open and honest with your SEO agency when defining budgets and targets. Ensuring your SEO agency is informed of your business objectives and marketing plans will help them formulate workable SEO strategies that will not cost more than expected and will meet agreed objectives. It’s also important to share feedback with your SEO agency in a timely manner to help them understand what’s important to your business and enable them to respond productively.
Another significant aspect of a great client-agency relationship is always remaining open to suggestions, recommendations and observations from the agency. Their detailed knowledge of all aspects of digital marketing will often reveal valuable, untapped opportunities which can be readily exploited. Your SEO agency can provide valuable feedback on all aspects of your ongoing marketing, website development, social media strategies and much more. Developing trust in your SEO agency enables you to confidently call upon their expertise beyond the remit of their SEO campaign brief.
Finding the right SEO agency for your business and then building a great working relationship with them will provide business-value that far exceeds your investment. But building that great relationship takes thought, preparation and commitment. Establishing effective, open and honest communication is an important aspect of this relationship development which will contribute to ongoing SEO progress and business success.