With people on the internet now more than ever, it is essential that your business has a strong digital presence. To do this, you must have a powerful digital marketing strategy that propels your search engine visibility to the top of search results and helps your business reach its goals.

If you aren’t already a digital marketing expert, it’s in the best interest of your company to invest in hiring an SEO agency to ensure your business is maximizing the benefits of search engine optimization. Hiring an SEO agency for your brand can lead to long-term success for your company if you do it right. Read on for our curated list of what to look for when hiring an SEO company:

Look for an agency with proven results – you don’t want to be their first client.

  • This is an easy one, ask for references of previous clients or ask for results of their work. Most agencies take work on word of mouth and don’t rank for “SEO Agency in Indianapolis” for example. Why? Because they’re too busy optimizing client sites to take care of their own.

To find a stellar SEO agency, look within your professional network for referrals via word of mouth.

SEO is not magic, avoid anyone who speaks about it as such. It is a science but it can be explained.

  • Anyone who maintains they have insight into Google’s algorithms or talks about the mystique of SEO is likely pulling your leg. Instead, good SEO requires a deep understanding of how search engines work, attention to detail and constant modifications since Google’s algorithms change almost weekly.
  • Additionally, keyword stuffing and buying links can demote your website. This is referred to as Black Hat SEO because they violate search engines’ rules. Once discovered by Google’s bots, they’ll demote your site in their rankings, which will decrease your organic traffic. Avoid anyone who does this at all costs.

Be clear and specific about your goals with your SEO agency.

  • Avoid hiring an agency to simply increase organic traffic. You should outline exactly what you’re looking to accomplish with SEO. For example, are you looking to drive new sales leads in a specific geographic region? Are you looking to boost product sales by ranking for certain keywords? Are you struggling to reduce your site’s bounce rate or increase conversion rate? Are you looking for help building a social media following, creating sponsored content or other services that go hand-in-hand with SEO? Always be clear in what your goals are for SEO services.

Find an SEO agency with metrics that work for you/your business.

  • Once you’ve outlined your goals and narrowed down your options to a few companies, that you’ve likely found by word of mouth, it’s time to make sure that you and the company you choose to work with have a clear method of charting your progress. What is the end goal of ranking for specific keywords? Essentially, set up agreed upon Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). A few example KPIs for SEO include organic sessions, domain authority, keyword ranking, Google crawling mistakes, and page load time.

Choose an agency that communicates well.

  • SEO Agencies use several tools to measure KPIs – SEMRush, Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Moz – most likely, this is all behind the scenes and more than you want to look at, to be frank. Your agency needs to provide you with regular reporting in a format that works for you and also communicate with you in a way that builds trust. They should be responsive in nature.

Keep in mind that SEO is a process and you will likely be working with this agency for years to come. Even if you only plan to work with an outside agency for the interim, meeting your organic search goals takes time, patience and a strong working relationship.

Overall, SEO is crucial to your business. Choosing the right SEO firm is, as well. Today, approximately 90 percent of users only look at results on Google’s first page. This means that finding an SEO agency that works for you has the potential to transform your business.