How to Choose a Philadelphia SEO Agency
It’s an unfortunate yet very real trend: many clients have a negative experience with an SEO agency before finding the right fit. Why? SEO is a relatively new marketing practice, and many traditional advertising agencies claim to be experts. However, achieving success as an SEO agency takes a highly specific set of skills, advanced technical knowledge, and a tremendous dose of determination. If your organization wants to harness the power of the internet and you don’t have the expertise in-house, how do you go about finding a Philadelphia SEO agency that can help take your business to the next level? In this post, we hope to save money and frustration by providing a few of the factors to look for when choosing the best Philadelphia SEO agency.
But first, let’s explore a few indicators that your company could benefit from an SEO firm.
Do you need a Philadelphia SEO agency?
Many business owners know their advertising and other outbound marketing activities are not working like they used to – but they just don’t know how to fix it. These are often the cases when a Philadelphia SEO agency like ours can help move the needle. Using proven techniques and tools, SEO gradually builds website traffic by influencing ranking markers that elevate your company to the top of the search engines. Once visitors land on your website, a successful SEO firm will trigger mechanisms to nurture those relationships automatically until they become customers.
If you know you need to evolve your marketing strategies from the outdated and difficult-to-track traditional methods to a more measurable digital approach, then you’re already ahead of the game! But with many so-called SEO experts on the playing field, we suggest taking your time to find the best fit for your company.
What to look for in a Philadelphia SEO agency
In our experience, clients experience the most benefit from an SEO firm that:
- Deploys sound keyword strategies
- Blends human intelligence with smart automation tools
- Invests in an in-depth competitive analysis
- Optimizes your website
- Believes in full transparency
- Recognizes the powerful role of content
- Is local and available for you
- Understands the value of listening
- Uses a goal-driven approach
- Has advanced technical expertise
- Brings a business growth mindset
- Pairs you with teams with diverse skillsets
- Is a good cultural fit for your company
- Has favorable reviews and references
Continue reading to learn more about these suggestions for finding the right Philadelphia SEO agency for you.
Deploys sound keyword strategies
Keywords are the words and phrases search engine users type or voice into Google to find information, products, and services. These keywords are usually just a few words, a short phrase, or a brief question, such as “what is the best Philadelphia SEO agency?” The goal of SEO is to rank your website for as many strategically selected keywords as possible – especially those that indicate a high intent to purchase or perform the desired action. As such, you can drive more targeted traffic to your website and ultimately convert more of the visitors to leads.
A qualified Philadelphia SEO agency will deploy sound strategies that demonstrate the importance of the keyword selection phase. To aid this process, our team of SEO experts uses three primary resources:
Start out by targeted keywords with low competition
As we determine the best keywords to target, we consider the age and authority of the website. The best strategy for new websites is to target keywords with low competition so that you get placement in Google’s search engine results quickly. Also known as “long-tail keywords," these low competition keywords will often have better conversion rates than shorter, more generalized searches.
For larger websites with established online authority, a critical first step is to map out "keyword clusters" to the existing pages on your website. This cluster mapping strategy helps identify holes where your current website content cannot support the keywords that you want to pursue. A Philadelphia SEO agency will help “fill” those holes with new content to help secure rankings for those desired phrases.
Keyword mapping also identifies the strongest pages on your site, so you can focus SEO energy on optimizing those pages to achieve higher rankings.
Invests in an in-depth competitive analysis
Understanding your competition is one of the most critical steps in any SEO process. It helps pave the way for site improvements and strategies that can give you a competitive edge. However, many SEO companies skip right past this step because they lack the tools or sophistication to do a deep competitive exploration.
Our SEO competitive analysis begins before we finalize your keyword selection, and we follow a process that includes:
- Analyzing Google's results looking for other sites that compete for the keywords you’re targeting
- Determining which keywords have the most competition
- Generating a keyword gap analysis to show you which keywords your competition is not pursuing – these signify easy ranking opportunities
Many SEO campaigns fail because their SEO agency does not take this step seriously. When you’re looking for a Philadelphia SEO agency, ensure they have the tools and capabilities to conduct a thorough and valuable competitive analysis.
Blend human intelligence with smart automation tools
Most Philadelphia SEO agencies use a selection of external tools to enhance their process and efficiency, but they should not overdo the automation component. When firms use tools that automatically build links, produce content, or automate social media efforts, the results wind up looking like spam. They don’t deliver any true SEO value – or user value. While an SEO company may be able to secure a quick 5,000 “likes” on Facebook, for instance, they usually aren’t relative to your business or location, which means that they won’t turn into conversions (i.e., customers).
A valid Philadelphia SEO agency will often use helpful and valuable automation tools to measure competition, find valuable linking opportunities, and track results and efforts. But the difference is that they’ll have brilliant human minds at the helm. Their teams will be highly skilled in the principles and practices of SEO and understand how to leverage automation in ways that deliver the best results.
Optimizes your website
You may have heard the phrase "search engine-friendly website." This term refers to making your site easy for Google to index and rank for the keywords you’re targeting. Before launching an SEO strategy, your SEO agency should know the foundational elements of your website that will produce the most favorable search engine results, including:
- Site speed
- META information
- Keyword placement
- 404 errors
- Broken links
- Duplicate content
- Bad/disavow links
- Site architecture
If the agency you’re considering isn’t talking about these critical factors for ranking, they probably aren’t the best partner to deliver the kind of results you need to meet your goals.
Believes in full transparency
SEO isn't magic, it's a discipline. A business coach once said, "where there is a mystery, there is a [profit] margin." In the world of SEO, such an ominous statement couldn’t ring more true. Many SEO agencies hide what they do and call it their “secret sauce” only to dupe you into believing their practices are effective and legitimate. If you encounter any hint of attempts to hide methodologies or critical information, then we strongly recommend that you find another Philadelphia SEO agency that’s more transparent, especially when it comes to:
Strategies and practices
If you interview an SEO expert and they tell you that they do a lot of behind the scenes work, or if they have a secret proprietary methodology that will rank your site in Google, it’s a clear sign of trouble. A transparent SEO company will tell you exactly how they perform SEO services. They’ll be willing to explain what they are doing and why they are doing it. As such, they’ll become almost like a teacher who guides your company in the right direction.
Let’s take link building as an example, which is critical in an SEO strategy. Ask the firms that you’re considering to explain their philosophy. Look for a “quality over quantity” link building mentality with a clearly outlined strategy for credibly securing links through guest blogs, forums, social media networks, and directories. Avoid companies that won’t tell you their strategy – it could indicate that they buy links or use tools to automate them. This approach can be risky because bad or low-quality links can have a significant adverse effect on your site's overall SEO ranking.
When you’re looking for the best Philadelphia SEO agency, another transparency factor to look for is in their pricing. While it’s customary for SEO firms not to post pricing on their website, they should be open about discuss pricing options when you meet with them. As you vet a potential agency, look for hidden costs or places where fees seem unclear. Establishing an open, honest, and transparent dialog is the most important part of a successful SEO agency relationship. Make sure they’re upfront about the costs before you sign on the dotted line.
A credible agency will also be transparent about their staff. They’ll be eager to introduce you to key people who will play a role on your account so that you feel comfortable in their hands. If a firm is standoffish when you ask about the people on staff and their responsibilities, you may want to look for a different Philadelphia SEO agency.
A successful SEO program has many moving parts. Ask any Philadelphia SEO agency to show you examples of the work they have done to prove they have what it takes to keep all the pieces in a line. Portfolios illustrate their competency in every area, including SEO tactics, website design, website development, content development, landing pages, email marketing, video production, and social media marketing. If a firm can’t show you a reputable portfolio to demonstrate their capabilities, then steer clear.
A company dedicated to transparency will also have regular, in-depth communication with you. As you’re considering a Philadelphia SEO agency, look for a partner who will always be available.
Transparency is extremely valuable because it will give you a sense of what a firm will be like to work with. Are they hiding anything, or are they open about their process and structure? It pays to do your homework to find out. Ultimately, SEO is not a mystery. Rather, it is a well-understood and documented process that any credible firm should be proud to show you.
Recognizes the powerful role of content
As you consider the best Philadelphia SEO agency for your company, look for an inquisitive team that is eager to learn about your business because they’ll be helping to tell your story through content. When it comes to SEO, the content they develop will play an influential role in your success. A firm’s content should demonstrate a clear understanding of user intent and deliver the answers users are looking for in the form of super high-quality content. That way, your website will perform well in search engines.
Also, choose a company that knows how to craft content that not only resonates with readers but also improves search engine discoverability. Good content is lost if it never gets read! So, look for a Philadelphia SEO agency that is just as skilled at distributing your content as they are at writing it.
You can evaluate the content capabilities of any firm you’re considering by assessing whether the SEO content they create is:
- Easily scannable
- Naturally attracts social shares and links
- Provides clear direction to users on how to take the next step
Content that is self-serving and stuffed with keywords and sales jargon will not help SEO – or your credibility with audiences. Instead, an SEO firm that believes in developing great content will help naturally attract links and social shares, which will build the authority of your website and contribute to organic SEO growth.
Is local, and always available for you
One of the most important factors to consider when selecting a Philadelphia SEO agency is communication, and nothing makes it easier than face-to-face, in-person meetings. In a world of video meetings and instant communication, our experience has shown us that personal meetings can:
- Establish credibility
- Allow for in-depth discussions
- Nurture long-term partnerships
Whether in-person or via video, phone, email, or text, the company you hire should always be there for you – they need to be willing to answer any questions as they come up. Look for a company that will openly share their progress and updates, and the reasoning behind them. They may specialize in SEO and other digital marketing tactics, but you are the expert in your field. Partner with a firm that is open to your requests, concerns, and suggestions.
Our SEO agency is located just outside of Philadelphia, in a suburb called Doylestown. When we look to add new SEO clients, we exclusively limit our effort to opportunities within a reasonable driving distance. We want to be close enough to develop our personal connection to their business. From the initial onboarding phase to the ongoing digital marketing execution, we’ll schedule regular check-in meetings to review of your inbound efforts, any changes in your business, and upcoming tactics. Having offered SEO services to the Philadelphia region for over 20 years, there is nothing more critical than regular communication at this level.
Understands the value of listening
Many SEO agencies will drone on and on about all the bells and whistles they can provide. But are they listening and learning about your business, its strengths, and its goals, too? If a company talks excessively about themselves or what they think you should do – without having heard your concerns – take your Philadelphia SEO agency search elsewhere. Seek a marketing partner that wants to hear about your needs before offering advice and solutions, which will demonstrate that they understand and care about your business as much as you do.
Uses a goal-driven approach
A strong agency will help you develop an SEO strategy that’s firmly rooted in your business goals – it’s where the rubber meets the road. To achieve your desired success, look for a Philadelphia SEO agency that obsesses over the results of the program, diligently works to improve your site's metrics, and proves ROI. There is nothing worse than signing on the dotted line and not having a clear understanding of how the firm will do what they promise. A good marketing partner will tell you upfront about their process, set out a clear set of deliverables, and help you advance your objectives. You will work very closely with the firm you select, so you must be comfortable with the pace and promised outcomes of your SEO marketing program.
Has advanced technical expertise
Much of SEO is driven through link building, content creation, and social media efforts, which requires a company with strong technical knowledge to implement these tactics effectively. A Philadelphia SEO agency should successfully improve your SEO results while also tackling all the technicalities that will undoubtedly surface. From managing link errors and coding issues to creating high-quality user interfaces and responsive web design, choosing a partner skilled in these nuances is critical to success because search engines like Google consider these factors when ranking a website. Look for an SEO company capable of embracing technical challenges, so you don’t pick one that can’t take the heat.
Brings a business growth mindset
In your search for a Philadelphia SEO agency, the contenders will likely be versed in the many facets of digital marketing – but do they also understand what it takes to advance business objectives? A firm with a highly integrated team of marketing and business professionals can improve your search engine rankings while also delivering sound business advice that can help your company grow.
Is your company looking to grow?
Schedule a 15- or 30-minute exploratory call with our experienced online business growth strategist.
Pairs you with teams with diverse skillsets
When you work with an SEO company with a qualified on-staff support team, you have the added benefit of varying expertise and viewpoints. While one primary point-of-contact can make the day-to-day operations more manageable, an SEO program is substantially stronger when a team of competent specialists brings varied expertise to the table.
You will also want to work with a company that has a deep bench. For instance, an SEO agency with an excellent website design and development team adds to the value of your SEO marketing program. Similarly, a top-notch SEO agency can also bring a creative and design team for developing visual presentations that support your site's content by engaging visitors and helping to convert them into customers. At your first meeting with a Philadelphia SEO agency, ask whether they have a broad-based team that will support you and your business.
Is a good cultural fit for your company
When selecting a Philadelphia SEO agency, be sure they will fit in with your organization and staff. One indicator that they’ll align is that they demonstrate an understanding of your business goals, aspirations, and interests. Are personalities a match? Do you have rapport? For even more validation, you can often get a feel for an agency by looking at their pro bono work. These no-charge engagements with community organizations allow a firm to share their talents and capabilities with those who may need a little help to advance its mission. As a rule of thumb, generous SEO agencies that are good neighbors will also most likely be good marketing partners.
Has favorable reviews and references
In today's digital space, there is a lot of corporate information available online that you can review before committing to a Philadelphia SEO agency. Still, favorable reviews and references – even from past clients – may be most crucial.
When it comes to client reviews, check out platforms like Google, Facebook, Yelp, and other third-party sites you like to use to check out companies before you buy. These unbiased accounts from different clients can be beneficial in your search because you’ll get an insider perspective on others’ experiences. In addition to client reviews, check out employee reviews using services such as Glassdoor and Indeed to see if their employees are happy, or if the company has a lot of turnovers.
One of the most influential business lessons is learning to ask for the contact information from past clients before committing to a marketing firm – or any other type of service-based company. Yes, you read that right! Before choosing a Philadelphia SEO agency, request a list of the people who are no longer clients. This former client group will be much more honest with you as to why they are not clients anymore. You will hear the good, bad, and the ugly so that you can move forward with confidence.
Brings a full spectrum of digital marketing expertise
It should go without saying that you should review every SEO agency's website before doing anything else. It is important to assess their wheelhouse of services and capabilities before landing on a decision. Not all SEO companies are the same, and you need to know if they can handle your requirements. A few of the auxiliary digital marketing services to look for include:
- Website design
- Paid search
- Video marketing
- Social media and email lead nurturing
You may also consider whether any agency you’re considering can handle other marketing projects for you, should the need arise in the future. If they can, it can help simplify the communication overhead when you have the same agency to do all or most of your marketing efforts. It will be like a one-stop-shop.
Successful SEO practices can help build your customer base, help you reach new target markets, and grow your business quicker. However, understanding the best way to use SEO can be confusing for some business owners, which is why choosing the right Philadelphia SEO agency can deliver the expertise you need to get you the results you want.
SEO is about far more than just plugging certain keywords into your website copy, social media posts, or advertisements. Most Philadelphia SEO agencies believe that keyword selection is essential in the process, but – as we’ve illustrated here – there is so much more to consider!
Located in Doylestown PA just outside of Philadelphia, we are a premier Philadelphia SEO agency and Google Partner with over 20 years of search engine marketing experience. Our specialty is helping businesses in the greater Philadelphia region grow their online web presence to gain top placement in Google's search engine. If you are ready to start your SEO agency selection process, please give us a call or drop us a line. We would be happy to host a free SEO Marketing Planning Session with you. And when we say free, we mean free. During this session, we’ll include a no-strings-attached, professional assessment of your website, and your current marketing efforts. Get started today!