If you've found yourself in need of online marketing help, you've likely looked into search engine optimization (SEO). By finding the right keywords to reach your target audience, you give yourself and your business a fighting chance in the jungle that is the internet.
For larger campaigns or overall online reputation management, however, focusing on a few effective keywords for a blog post or advertisement won't be enough. The management of a more intricate operation calls for the services of a "white hat" SEO agency.
White hat SEO refers generally to optimizing web content based on the relevancy and organic rankings of specific keywords and subjects. A handful of agencies on the market offer services of this variety, but without a knowledge of the field, it's difficult to tell which ones will actually deliver on their promise of excellent brand management.
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Not all SEO agencies are created alike. Some, called "black hat" agencies, are largely responsible for the deluge of clickbait articles across the internet. It goes without saying that you only want to associate your name with honest and high-quality partners.
Your decision in finding an SEO agency is paramount to your brand's success. This agency will, in many ways, hold your company's image in its hands. As such, you should not make your hiring decision lightly.
Below, you'll find a handful of tips to help you make an informed decision when it comes time to hire a white hat SEO agency.
1. Look at its reputation.
If you're going to trust an agency to manage your online reputation, it's imperative that it can maintain its own reputation. Look at its reviews online, and see what comes up first when you search for it. Remember, its job is to make sure that people see the best about you first, so it should be able to do the same for its own business.
2. Make sure it's not playing the system.
Some agencies, masquerading as white hat SEO agencies, will treat your content like a formula, simply plugging in keywords to drive up SEO ranks. This is problematic on several fronts. It creates a cheap image of your brand, contains little substantive content and leaves your discoverability vulnerable to a change in Google's algorithms, which may completely ruin your brand's value.
3. Find an agency that will provide genuine value.
As an alternative to the above point, you should be looking for agencies that focus on the human element of your brand. It'll work in the right keywords, but the overall focus is on providing genuine value in the content it composes.
According to Webmetrix Group, an SEO and online reputation agency founded by Immy Tariq and Huey Lee, with respect to SEO, understanding the end goals from the start is huge for making the aforementioned value happen. Without this kind of vision, long-term results are little more than an aimless wish. Value is a product of planning – always keep this in mind.
4. Look for a variety of content forms.
You want thoroughness in your SEO agency. Pulling a page from the world of content marketing, this means looking for companies with the capacity to create a variety of content types. In the end, you need an agency that takes a holistic approach to online presence management, maximizing SEO value across channels and making sure your brand always puts its best foot forward.
5. Find high-quality writing.
Beyond the writing strategy is the actual writing skill. Truthfully, it's a skill that few have. Look, or have a writer you know look, through the material published by the SEO agency you're considering. As the quality of the writing is raised, the overall brand image improves. Regardless of your industry, you want to only be associated with the best. This starts with the content you publish.
6. Make sure your agency has its ear to the ground.
In addition to finding good keywords and writing high-quality content, your white hat SEO agency should be paying close attention to what your competition is doing and not doing. It should be up to date on trending topics, and it should also be aware of your competitors' strategies. This will allow it to beat your rivals to the punch when it comes to attacking a new demand in the marketplace, and help you know everything that your competitors know.
Hiring a white hat SEO agency requires a great deal of trust, and you should expect any potential partners to earn that trust. After all, you're putting control of your name, image and brand in their hands. Take into account all of the above tips and make an educated decision in regards to the agency you decide to trust. In the end, a productive partnership with a high-quality agency can lead to incredible success.