Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most famous digital marketing strategies among businesses, and for good reason. Aside from being cost-effective, it’s also built on sound principles and tried-and-true strategies. SEO aims to increase your website’s rank on search engine results pages because studies show that those who rank higher consistently get more impressions and traffic. There are many ways you can do SEO, and while it’s something that other companies have effectively done in-house, the most efficient way to implement an SEO strategy is by working with an agency.
Hiring a search optimization agency is not a process as straightforward as walking into the office of the nearest SEO agency in town. First, you have to do your research to ensure you don’t end up with an illegitimate agency. Once you draft a shortlist of preferred agencies, the second step is to reach out to each of them to get an in-depth idea of the services they offer and to negotiate the terms. The third is finalizing a contract with the agency of your choice. While the first step is challenging enough on its own, the second and third are equally daunting. A good binding agreement ensures you’re protected if the agency fails to hold up its end of the bargain. The negotiation also allows you to clarify all the terms of the partnership and responsibilities of either party.
First, you have to do your research to ensure you don’t end up with an illegitimate agency. Once you draft a shortlist of preferred agencies, the second step is to reach out to each of them to get an in-depth idea of the services they offer and to negotiate the terms. The third is finalizing a contract with the agency of your choice. While the first step is challenging enough on its own, the second and third are equally daunting. A good binding agreement ensures you’re protected if the agency fails to hold up its end of the bargain. The negotiation also allows you to clarify all the terms of the partnership and the responsibilities of either party.
Why should you work with an agency?
Most companies work with a search engine optimization agency to ensure they receive an SEO strategy that’s tried-and-tested and suitable for their business. SEO is not an easy strategy to implement especially if you don’t have the background for it. For one, SEO requires intimate knowledge of search engine algorithms: how they work and how they change over time. SEO strategies are not static entities. To be effective, they need constant modification. The knowledge of search engine algorithms helps SEO experts predict and respond to changes quickly, which helps their clients get ahead.
By working with an SEO agency, you save yourself the trouble of studying search engine algorithms and monitoring your chosen SEO strategy constantly, giving you more time to run your business. SEO experts also have access to insider knowledge and resources that laypeople aren’t privy to, which endows them with valuable and unique insight.
Tips on negotiating with an SEO agency
Negotiations can be difficult especially if you don’t have prior experience. However, we’ve listed a few tips that can help you get the best out of any negotiation with an agency.
- Do your research
Research doesn’t just end once you’ve shortlisted the agencies you’re interested in working with. You’ll need to do even more research now that you’re in direct talks with agencies. This is your chance to watch out for any unscrupulous principles and shady business practices, so do your due diligence. You should also research the average prices of SEO services and the general timeframe of the work so you don’t make unrealistic and unreasonable demands. If you make a poor first impression, chances are the agency you butted heads with will warn other agencies against working with your company.
- State your goals clearly
This is where research can help you. If you know what SEO can do for your business, you can more clearly articulate what your exact goals are for your SEO campaign. It could be something as simple as increasing your organic traffic or something more complex like boosting your conversion rate or improving your brand reputation. By having the goals made clear from the get-go, agencies can offer you solutions that suit your specific needs instead of giving you a generic strategy.
- Look at their portfolio
An agency’s portfolio includes names of their current and previous clients along with the services they’ve done for them and some data on how their SEO strategy helped the business. It will be advantageous to you if you hire an agency that has experience working for businesses in the same industry or niche as you. This is because certain SEO strategies that were effective for one industry may not work for another. What helped construction companies succeed may not be effective for a restaurant. If they’ve had success with other businesses similar to yours, it increases the likelihood that they’ll offer you an effective SEO strategy as well.
Note that an agency will paint themselves in the most flattering light on their portfolios, so before finalizing the contract, reach out to their previous clients and ask if they have any complaints about the search engine optimization agency. This will help you get a better idea of their pros and cons.
- Establish a timeframe
Negotiations include discussing the timeframe of the partnership. Once you’ve explained your expected results, an agency can give you an estimated date of completion. If you’re confident in the agency you’re talking to, you can even negotiate a long-term partnership, which offers many benefits, from discounts to smoother communication.
- Discuss the price
A major part of negotiations is discussing the amount of money involved. This is where prior research also helps put you in a better bargaining position. If you have an idea how much SEO services cost, you know if you’re being overcharged. Having too low of a price may also be a cause for alarm, but it may also be because the company you’re negotiating with is new and is undervaluing their services to get more clients. However, don’t be too stingy with your budget. Remember that SEO is a complex task and it’s only right that the agency gets fair pay for their work.
- Know your obligation as the client
Developing an SEO strategy is not just a one-way street. As the client, you also have duties to the SEO agency. Often it includes providing administrative access to your website, providing documents, data from previous SEO campaigns, access to your analytics tools, communication and cooperation from your employees, etc. The SEO agency’s services may be limited and you may be expected to pick up the slack in areas they can’t provide for. Having that delineation of responsibility made clear from the beginning can help you assign manpower and resources properly.
- Ask for legal help
Once all the details are ironed out, the last step of the process is to put the agreement in writing. A contract is an essential document that details the terms and conditions of the agreement and offers protection should anything go wrong. The contract should lay down what’s permissible and under what specific circumstances. It should also list the possible legal consequences for failure to adhere to the contract, such as one party failing to fulfill their duty or unfair termination of the partnership before the end date. Ownership of intellectual property rights should also be clarified in the contract to avoid ownership disputes. The best way to ensure you’re fully protected is by hiring a lawyer to review the contract. Any loopholes in the contract could prevent you from getting restitution in court, so you need to guarantee that all your bases are covered before signing any document.
Research and preparedness help give you a better chance at the negotiating table. By not being completely ignorant of SEO, you can avoid putting yourself in a disadvantaged position. When you’re in talks with a search engine optimization agency, use this chance to ask every question you may have. Before risking your money, time, and business, you need to ensure that this agency can provide you the exact services you need.