Choosing an SEO Agency? Questions to Ask & Mistakes to Avoid

How to Choose an SEO Company

Finding an SEO company shouldn’t be a headache!

If you’re a CEO or business owner diving into the vast world of SEO without a background in the field, you know how daunting it can be to sift through countless agencies and so-called “magic formulas.” SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is essential for building long-term online authority, visibility and brand awareness, but these goals are not reached instantly.

This guide is crafted to demystify the process, helping you distinguish between a reliable SEO agency and its promising but unrealistic counterparts. If you’ve ever felt lost or found yourself thinking “I can’t find an SEO company that works,” you’re not alone: 65% of small businesses have worked with more than one agency, and only 30% would recommend their SEO provider to a colleague.

Here, we provide a concrete, step-by-step guide to making a well-informed decision in choosing an agency that suits your business’s unique needs and helps you reach your goals.

Key Takeaways

Key takeaways
  • Understand SEO basics: Know what SEO is, its purpose, and the realistic time frame for seeing results before hiring an agency.
  • Define business goals: Clearly articulate your objectives to find an SEO agency that aligns with your business’s specific needs.
  • Set a realistic budget: Invest adequately in SEO services, as low prices often result in poor quality services and disappointing results.
  • Global search: Consider agencies globally to find quality services at competitive rates; costs can vary significantly between countries.
  • Meet the SEO team: Understand who will be handling your project to ensure their approach aligns with your business’s culture and expectations.
  • Look for customized proposals: Choose an agency that offers tailored strategies based on a deep analysis of your business rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
  • Watch for red flags: Be cautious of agencies promising quick fixes, lacking transparency, or using unethical SEO practices.

How do I choose a good SEO agency? Steps to a great choice

This section outlines practical steps to help you identify an SEO agency that not only meets but exceeds your expectations, ensuring your investment turns into measurable results.

Understand what you’re hiring

Many companies venture into SEO with unclear expectations or a desire for instant results, which can lead to disappointment. Before engaging an SEO agency, it’s crucial to grasp the basics: What SEO is, its purpose, how it works, and when to expect results.

SEO is a long-term investment focused on improving your site’s visibility and authority, requiring patience and continuous effort to see substantial outcomes. But if you overcome this need for quick results, you’ll definitely see continuous and consistent growth that will last, easily recovering the initial investment.

Many clients who use SEO services expect quick results without fully understanding the long-term nature of these strategies. When immediate improvements aren’t visible, they often pull back just as their metrics are about to soar. It’s important to recognize that SEO takes several months to significantly affect your visibility. However, once your visibility begins to increase, it will continue to grow non-stop.

Take, for example, the growth achieved for a client in the orthodontics industry in the MENA region over the past year:

Example of growth in Google Search Console

Not fully convinced about hiring SEO services yet? Begin by exploring our guide on why you should hire an SEO agency.

Define your business goals

Clearly defining what you want to achieve with SEO is essential before selecting an agency. Are you looking to increase traffic, enhance lead generation, or improve sales conversions? Maybe your focus is on building brand awareness or expanding into new markets. By setting specific, measurable goals, you can communicate your needs more effectively to potential SEO partners and ensure that their strategies align perfectly with your business objectives.

Set your budget

Establishing a budget for SEO is a pivotal step in choosing the right agency. While it might be tempting to opt for the lowest offer, remember that in SEO, the relationship between investment and results is often direct. A sufficient budget is crucial to employ robust strategies that deliver significant, lasting impacts.

💡For a more detailed exploration of what you might expect to spend, consider reading our post on how much does SEO cost?

Consider your level of involvement

Engaging with an SEO agency is not a hands-off affair; your active participation is crucial. The more information you provide and the smoother the communication and approval processes with your SEO team, the faster and more effective the results.

It’s important to understand that SEO is a partnership that may also require the involvement of other specialists such as developers and content creators. These can be your own employees or provided by the SEO agency, depending on your resources and the scope of the project.

Look globally

When selecting an SEO agency, consider widening your search beyond local providers. Companies in the USA, for instance, may find that hiring an SEO agency domestically could cost significantly more compared to agencies based in countries with more economical service fees.

Average monthly rates in the USA range from $2,500 to $5,000, whereas in Europe, the majority of SEO agencies charge between $500 and $1,000. Expanding your search globally can provide substantial cost savings while still ensuring high-quality service. You can also find more information about this topic in our article about the cost of SEO.

Average monthy rates in the USA and Europe
Average monthy rates in the USA and Europe according to Ahrefs

Meet with the team

Before finalizing your choice of an SEO agency, request a meeting with the team that will handle your project. It’s important to know who your point of contact will be, understand the roles of team members involved in the SEO process, and learn how tasks and responsibilities flow among them. This meeting can give you insights into the agency’s operational dynamics and availability to schedule a meeting and explain the SEO strategy and progress in a synchronic meeting.

Ask for a personalized SEO proposal

Requesting a personalized SEO proposal is a critical step in selecting the right agency. It allows you to distinguish between agencies that genuinely tailor their services to meet your specific needs and objectives, and those that simply sell a standard package. A customized proposal should detail how the agency plans to address your unique challenges and goals, providing a clear roadmap of the strategies they intend to implement and the expected outcomes. This not only demonstrates their commitment to your success but also ensures that the services you pay for are precisely what your business requires.

A free SEO diagnosis? On its way!

Yes, you read that correctly! At SEO Alive, we offer a free SEO diagnosis. This no-cost service is not only a mark of our commitment to transparency and quality but also provides you with a first-hand look at the caliber of our work. A free diagnosis can serve as a decisive first step in your journey, allowing you to assess our approach and expertise without any initial investment. It’s an opportunity to see how we can tailor our strategies to boost your business’s online presence 😉.

What makes an SEO company good? The ultimate checklist


When evaluating an SEO company, start by looking at client reviews and testimonials. These insights reveal the agency’s reliability and effectiveness from those who have experienced their services firsthand. Positive feedback, particularly detailed reviews that discuss measurable improvements, are a strong indicator of a reputable SEO provider.

📈Nice words are appealing, but results are the real litmus test: discover our clients’ success stories at SEO Alive; they speak for themselves!

✔️Years of experience

Experience matters in SEO, not just in terms of years in the business but also in the diversity of their portfolio. An adept SEO agency should have experience with various types of websites—from e-commerce platforms to informational blogs—and across different industries. This versatility ensures they can tailor strategies to your specific needs.

✔️Specialized areas

SEO encompasses a range of specialties, including technical SEO, off-page, and on-page optimization, as well as analytics. It’s crucial to choose an agency with a team that has experts in each of these areas to ensure the highest quality in every strategic action. At SEO Alive, we staff professionals skilled in all these areas, providing a comprehensive service.

✔️SEO in different languages + native writers

For businesses targeting international markets, choosing an agency that offers SEO in multiple languages is crucial. It’s particularly beneficial if they have native writers or bilingual professionals to ensure the content is culturally and linguistically appropriate. SEO Alive offers this capability, enhancing the global reach of your SEO campaigns.

✔️Client ratio

Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to SEO agencies. Large firms often handle numerous clients, which can dilute the personalized attention your project might require. Opting for a medium or smaller-sized agency can ensure a more direct relationship with the team, guaranteeing that your business receives the dedicated focus it deserves.

✔️Integral and personalized service

An essential distinction in selecting an SEO agency is between those offering a generic, one-size-fits-all approach and those providing a customized service. A quality agency will analyze your website, industry, and business goals to craft a tailored proposal. SEO Alive prides itself on delivering such personalized and detailed strategies to each of our clients.

Common Mistakes when choosing (Red flag detectors)

SEO Rad Flags

Super cheap service

Beware of SEO services offered at impressively low prices. While cost-effective solutions are appealing, according to Backlinko, exceptionally low fees often indicate that the agency might cut corners or lack the resources necessary to deliver effective, long-term results. In SEO, you often get what you pay for, and there is a direct relationship between investment and satisfaction. Consider making bigger investments to ensure you get the results you are looking for.

Unrealistic promises and guarantees

If an SEO company guarantees specific rankings within an implausibly short timeframe, take caution. SEO is inherently unpredictable due to ever-changing search engine algorithms, and no agency can guarantee exact results. Promises that seem too good to be true usually are.

Short-term approach to SEO

SEO is a long-term game, and any agency focusing solely on quick fixes might not be the best choice. Effective SEO strategies require ongoing efforts and adjustments based on analytical data over time. That being said, an SEO agency offering quick and fast results is definitely a red flag.

Lack of transparency and reporting

Regular reports and clear communication on the metrics being measured are crucial for assessing the effectiveness of an SEO strategy. An agency that does not offer transparency in its processes or fails to provide detailed reports should be a major red flag. Without these, you cannot gauge what you’re truly getting from their services.

Default SEO packages

A one-size-fits-all approach rarely works in SEO due to the unique characteristics of each business and its market. For example, the SEO strategy for a local store differs from that of a company offering international online services; likewise, SEO for startups differs from that of a company with multiple lines of business.

Agencies that only offer standard SEO packages without consideration for your specific needs won’t be able to adapt to your business’s unique needs and thus fail to produce the outcome you are looking for.

Poor SEO practices

Engaging in poor SEO practices such as keyword stuffing, creating bulk low-quality content via AI, or using black hat link-building techniques are serious red flags. These tactics can lead to search engine penalties and damage your site’s long-term health.

Let’s consider, for example, the negative impact that SEO for a website can have when it’s believed that quality content can be created solely using ChatGPT:

Poor SEO content
How the generation of low-quality content affects a project

Choose us and elevate your positioning (to Google’s 1st page 😉)

At SEO Alive, we are committed to crafting customized SEO strategies that align with your specific business needs and goals. Our team of experts is ready to guide you through every step of the process, ensuring transparent, measurable, and impactful results. Don’t settle for less; let us help you achieve the visibility and success your business deserves. Contact us today for your free SEO diagnosis and start your journey to the top!


Is it worth it to hire someone for SEO?

Yes, hiring a professional for SEO is a worthwhile investment that enhances your website’s visibility and traffic. To fully understand the main advantages of hiring an SEO agency, have a look out our article “Should I Hire an Agency for SEO?

How much does a good SEO cost?

While costs vary, beware of services priced too low as they often indicate poor service. Most agencies start at around $500 per month, but investing a minimum of $1500 per month typically yields more visible and significant results.

Is it worth paying an SEO company?

Absolutely, paying for a reputable SEO company is a smart investment. A good SEO strategy improves your site’s search engine rankings and drives more organic traffic, significantly enhancing your online presence and potential for increased revenue.

How to know when it’s time to find a new SEO agency?

If you notice red flags like lack of transparency, unrealistic promises, or reliance on poor SEO practices, it may be time to consider a new SEO agency. Consistently poor communication and unmet expectations are also strong indicators that a change is necessary. Additionally, even though SEO is inherently composed of long-term strategies, you should be seeing favourable results in around 9 to 12 months. If that is not happening, it’s time you have a look at your contract with your agency.

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