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A lot of clients new to an SEO agency have joined after dragging their feet and trying to run their search engine marketing themselves for the last 12-24 months. Some may even be trusting their friend from the pub who offered them ‘mates rates’ for some dodgy links. 

If you take your business seriously, this simply won’t cut it.

Your search for the right agency should be treated like you’re buying a car. After all, they’re both potentially big investments, you’ll have them for many years if things go well, you pay for quality and it’s up to you where it takes you. 

So, what should you be looking for when deciding which digital marketing company to work with? We’ve collected a few things to consider below, and so you know we’re being as impartial as possible – we’ve even included a reason why Add People might not be the right fit for you.

What is an SEO agency?

Before we look at what you should look for in one, we should clarify what an SEO agency actually is. What is their purpose? What do they deliver? How do they work? Let’s take a look.  

Every day, there are billions of searches being made on websites like Google and Bing (Oberlo, 2022). The goal of an SEO agency is to help you appear higher in those results for the searches your target audiences make. By increasing your visibility, they should in turn increase your traffic and revenue. They’ll most likely use popular agency tools like Ahrefs, Clearscope, Buzzsumo and more to keep them on top of both their delivery and tracking.

Above all, working with an agency should feel like a partnership between you and them, not just like a normal transaction that you might make at your local supermarket. Yes, you’re paying them to deliver a service, but every digital marketing company in the world has been able to deliver better work when the client cooperates.

The SEO agencies that can really give you bang for your buck will be flexible. If they can only deliver one thing, then you may outgrow them (and your contract) very quickly. So, make sure that the SEO agency you’re looking at can confidently deliver most of the following:

1.  Organic traffic to your website.

2.  Conversions from that traffic once they’re there.

3.  Content on your website to improve your relevancy and usability.

4.  Backlinks for your website to improve its authority (you can view our online PR page for more information on this).

5.  Improvements to your local presence on search engines.

6.  A partnership with you, so you understand SEO and what’s being delivered.

7.  Improvements to your technical SEO and website performance.

8.  A website that users can trust and that search engines enjoy crawling.

9.  New approaches and angles for your target market.

What to look for in your SEO agency

There are a lot of things to consider when looking at your options and we’ve collected some of the top ones here. You can also find a checklist we’ve put together at the bottom of this page to help you in your first communications!

Success stories from businesses like yours

Take a look at their reviews and case studies if they have them (and if they don’t, that says all you need to know). Ideally, find testimonials from businesses like yours so you can see if they have already delivered results in your field. While this isn’t essential, it will give you a little peace of mind that you’re on the right track with a team you can trust. 


Flexibility for other digital marketing services

If you find that your SEO is going well, you may want to expand into other areas, like advertising on Amazon or eCommerce PPC management. That’s why you’ll want to look for a digital marketing agency that offers all of this under one roof. It’s much easier to have one business in charge of all your outputs instead of dividing your attention and efforts between multiple different teams. Remember, you may only want something like local SEO delivered now, but there’s no harm in future-proofing your business. 


Free trials/products to dip your toes in with

You’ll find that the more confident agencies will offer free products, like our site reviews or audits that you can get here. These are here to be used, so don’t hesitate to dip your toes in the water before cannonballing later.

This is a great way to get a taste of the deliverables before putting any credit card details down, while also being a great lesson in some of the more technical areas of the service. Expect to come out of something like this with a better understanding of link building, domains, keywords and everything else that might sound foreign to you now. 


Partnerships with larger businesses

You won’t know many SEO or digital marketing agencies by name. However, you will have heard of Google and Facebook before; look for partnerships with these as a big ‘thumbs up’ that the company you’re looking at is on the cutting edge and can be trusted. Typically on the home page, look out for badges like these:

Facebook Marketing Partner
Amazon Advertising logo
Helium 10 partner

Not only does this act as a great sign of trust, but there are plenty of other benefits. For example, as we’re an official business partner with Facebook, there are certain additional benefits we can provide that wouldn’t be possible without that status.


An office you can visit yourself

A benefit of picking a business that’s local to you is you can easily pop in and meet them. As an SEO agency in Manchester, we frequently get clients coming in from local areas like Altrincham, Cheshire, Old Trafford and further.

You can learn a lot over a handshake and a cup of tea, and you can make sure the entire business isn’t actually being run out of someone’s bedroom when on their website it’s a five-story office! 


A team of specialists

If you pick an agency that only has copywriters, you might struggle to get links. With a team of only PR execs, you may struggle to get keyword-focused content. Instead, find a team with a wide range of specialists so you’re covered no matter what is needed. 

We firmly believe in our focus on specialisms within Add People. By getting someone that is, for example, a one-man local SEO agency, we can have a thought leader within our own team that everyone can turn to when needed. By starting as a generalist, then finding and honing a speciality, we believe that we have all bases covered when it comes to our SEO delivery. This is the confidence you want from the agency you work with.


A service that can match your business size

If you’re a small to medium-sized business, you’ll want to work with an agency that is specifically designed for delivering big results on smaller budgets. Their passion and delivery should be in line with what you need, instead of delivering you half a product for half the fee.

For example, at Add People, it’s our passion to grow smaller businesses and we’ve developed a system and team that does that efficiently. If you’re running a company the size of Nike, keep on looking! There are plenty of agencies that can help you, but we’re keeping ourselves busy by growing our current crop of SMEs – find one that matches you. 

What the typical process is like once you join

Improving your website’s visibility, traffic and conversions is the number one goal of an SEO campaign. However, that’s the end point. You should have a good idea of each of the steps it takes to get there. While we can only speak from our own perspective, this is the process we take (and more information can be found on our SEO page):




Remarketing cycle icon

1. We learn about you. No one knows your business better than yours, so we learn everything about your goals, audience, USPs and more. 

2. We audit your website and competitors. Here, we can spot underlying issues your site may have, or find opportunities from the competitors that are doing well.

3. We fine-tune your technical SEO. Elements like page cannibalization and internal linking may sound complicated, but they’re hugely important to get right. That’s what we do at this stage. 

4. We build up your content and online presence. Your website needs to appear relevant and authoritative to search engines, which we establish here with blogs and commercial content. 

5. We deliver web design that people and search engines love. Whether they’re small tweaks or a huge overhaul, great web design can make all the difference.

6. We establish your authority. A strong backlink profile can help your rankings skyrocket, so we focus on getting you coverage in places like BBC, The Telegraph, The Guardian, etc. 

7. We enter a self-fulfilling cycle, supported by what we know works. With all of those seeds planted, we then water them with consistent content, technical work and outreach to deliver long-term results. 

Your cheat sheet for your first SEO agency meeting

Picture the scene. You’ve read this article and know a little more about what to look for, but then you get on the phone. The person on the other end of the call is charming and helpful, but before long you’ve forgotten everything you wanted to check with them.

With that in mind, we’ve put together this cheat sheet below with six questions you need to ask your agency:

The SEO Agency Question Guide!


If the answer to all of those is positive (and you’re happy with the price), then you’ve probably found a digital marketing agency that’s right for you. We hope that’s with ourselves, but ultimately we want all small to medium-sized businesses to succeed, whether that’s alongside us or a competitor of ours.

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Looking for something else? We have plenty more to offer small to medium-sized businesses like yourself.

👉 Are people not buying what your eCom business is selling? Let our eCommerce team help!

👉 Need to tap into audiences of millions and develop your brand? Look no further than our social media team!

👉 Does your website need a facelift to look, run and convert better? Lean on our decades of site development and design experience!

👉 Want to target customers with an ad right when they’re ready to convert? Our PPC team can help you pounce!

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