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October 22, 2013 (Updated: February 9, 2023)
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Once your business starts to earn a few clients, you have a great website, and all of your social media accounts are in order, the only natural next step is to get started with SEO. This industry has been around long enough that people know being seen on a search engine is crucial, and SEO is the force that makes that happen.
Naturally, SEO agencies and firms have been popping up left and right each day, and if you know nothing about SEO and know that you definitely don’t want to manage it on your own, the logical next step is to hire someone and get started, right?
Believe it or not, there are a few things a company should do before making the move to work with an SEO agency. Taking some time to prepare yourself first will help make the experience run smoother and more efficiently.
Many people would surprise themselves with how much they actually know about SEO. Sure there is a lot of data to work with and strategies that seem complicated, but many of the basics of SEO can be broken down into things that you do understand: goals, great content, social media importance, etc. The below examples are a few of the things you should do before working with an SEO agency:
This is the number one thing not to forget. You want to know where you fit into the market space and understand what it is you want from any SEO efforts. Are you trying to connect with anyone? Do you need to build links? Based on your audience, should social media be your focus? Ask yourself all of these questions to help define your goals.
Familiarize yourself with SEO by reading some of the blogs out that there offer advice and training guides. As with anything in business, it can be tough to get started and you might not understand everything you read at first, but there are some great beginner guides out there (try Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO or DistilledU) that can really help you understand how it works and who is an authority in the industry.
SEO agencies will generally have writers on staff who can help you, but it might not hurt to hire your own writer at first. Work with this person for a few months beforehand and then have them help you communicate with your agency and/or work on other projects.
Lots of different websites allow you to download some sort of SEO plugin. This is easy and quick to do, and it helps you to see what you can do to a webpage to help optimize it for Google. Just understanding some of the steps as you’re going through and publishing content will help you know what to ask and what to look for in an agency (not to mention understand what the agency is telling you once you do hire them).
I recommend starting with Facebook and looking at the data it offers about your posts. Get a feel for your audience on social media to determine what works and what doesn’t.
All departments are going to work with your SEO agency one way or another (in many cases it will be through you or whomever is overseeing the agency). Your print media team, IT team, PR team, sales, and others will likely have to make small changes because of something your agency says, so it’s important to get them involved in the process and talk to your agency about how those communications are going to go.
It’s important to realize that it will probably take you some time to become familiar with everything listed above and create that solid foundation, but it will be well worth it in the end.
If you’ve made the decision that an agency is the right move for you, putting this foundation in place first (before you even start looking at options) will actually help you make your decision. You will have a better handle on how things work so you will be able to find the agency that’s really right for you.
You might even realize that some aspects of SEO you can do yourself—agencies don’t have to do everything for you. For example, you might find that you can come up with great content yourself, you just need someone to help you build the right links and make the right relationships. SEO agencies can usually be very flexible with what aspects of SEO you need, so doing these things beforehand will help you stay efficient and save money.
Have you worked with an SEO agency in the past? What do you wish that you did before you hired the agency to help? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.
Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for HigherVisibility.com, one of the leading SEO companies in the United States.