Of all the sites that use a CMS (content management system), 26.6% use WordPress, popularly abbreviated as WP. The WP CMS can be customized to attract indexing by search engine bots and several SEO plugins are available to further improve ranking. If you are considering hiring a WP SEO agency, there are several factors that you should consider to get the very best.
Consider the Payment Model
There are several SEO payment models. These include monthly retainer, hourly consulting, contract service at a fixed price, and project-based pricing. The choice should be based on your particular SEO needs and your budget. As an example, if you have an in-house SEO team and you have a big project coming up, you could hire an SEO agency on a contract basis or on a per project basis. If you only need help with a few issues, you could go for hourly consulting. Most SEO agencies have the pricing models available broken down on their sites.
Consider the SEO Costs
Many website owners consider cost to be the most important factor when choosing between SEO agencies. You should know you expect to pay between $750 and 5,000 per month for a monthly retainer and $100 to 300 per hour for hourly consulting. With project-based pricing, you expect to pay between $1,000 and $30,000, depending on the size of the project. For contract services at fixed prices, prices are broken down based on the particular service you want. As an example, you expect to pay between $0.15 and $0.50 per word for SEO copywriting, ($500 and $7,500 for a site-wide content audit, and between $500 and $7,500 for a link profile audit. Essentially with all services, you expect to pay for quality service.
It is OK to be Suspicious
As is the case with all industries, some SEO agencies are unscrupulous and some are downright fraudulent. There are several warning signs that should make your suspicious.
- Guarantees: SEO is constantly changing and results do not come quickly or easily. Nobody knows the exact Google algorithm, nobody knows how this algorithm changes, and penalties (manual or algorithmic) can come out of nowhere. This makes it difficult for a credible company to give guarantees. A good company is one that continuously works towards organic growth of your ranking using White Hat SEO tactics.
- Instant success: Any SEO agency that promises instant results is probably using Black Hat SEO tactics that are against Webmaster guidelines and that are meant to fool search engines. Note that these tactics are dangerous since they can not only reduce the ranking of your site (which will take you months to recover), but they can also lead to a complete ban.
- Number 1 spot on Google SERP: Getting to number 1 of the Google search engine results page sounds great, but it is not as easy as some agencies promise. You should note that there is tough competition for number one ranking and even the best SEO efforts may fall short.
- Less than $750 per month: Your focus should be on the best services, not on the lowest costs. “Unbelievable deals” and rock bottom prices should make you weary.
- Shady link building: Link building remains one of the most important SEO tactics. Some SEO agencies cut corners and buy links. Google only rewards links from authority sites that are built naturally and that are in your niche.
What Tools does the Agency Use?
You cannot have a successful SEO campaign if you do not use the right tools. The SEO agency you go for should have reporting tools, link building tools, technical SEO tools like Netpeak Spider and Netpeak Checker, and research tools like BuzzStream. Some of the most popular tools and plugins in the market today include WordPress SEO by Yoast, which helps you in on-site SEO, Serpstat, which helps you gather important analytics and insights from your competitor, Google Keyword Planner, which helps you in keyword optimization, and KeywordTool, which also helps you in keyword optimization. Other tools your SEO agency must have are Open Site Explorer, LinkPatrol and Rel NoFollow Checkbox.
Don’t Place all your Trust on Top 10 Lists
Some people make the mistake of placing too much belief on top 10 lists when searching for service providers. You should note that these lists are rarely unbiased and are usually manipulated to rank their sponsors high. Better ways of finding SEO agencies are:
- Asking for references from the agencies you are considering and checking them by calling or emailing.
- Considering longevity in the business and the experience of the team
- Considering if the agency has previously been blacklisted by consumer protection agencies like the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- Google the agencies you are considering and check out their online reputation
- Check the website’s own rankings, backlink count, community engagement, and domain authority
- Get tips from discussion forums and reputable blogs
- Word of mouth (real friends or friends on social media channels)
- Credible organic rankings
What SEO Tactics are used?
Ask the agency you are considering how they intend to go about WP SEO. What off-page and on-page SEO tactics will they use? Do some research to determine what works and what doesn’t and to differentiate between Black, Grey, and White Hat SEO tactics. Go for a company that will keep you informed throughout the campaign. Avoid agencies that develops WP sites in frames, that develops the entire site in Flash, that uses hidden test or links, and that buys scads of paid links from websites you do not know. Good SEO tactics include organic link building, XML sitemap creation, loading speed optimization, responsive web design, and creation of quality, keyword-optimized content.
Hiring a pro for the job allows you to concentrate on running your business, it saves you money since you will not need an in-house team for the job, and it gives you peace of mind knowing a pro is on the job. The company you go for should optimize for Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and the other major search engines. Go for an agency that offers other related services such as remote database administration, PPC, SMM, online reputation management, and others. You should be patient because SEO takes time to bear fruits.