Finding someone to assist your company with search engine optimization, commonly known as SEO, is both an easy and difficult process. It’s easy in the respect that if you’re doing a Google search for “SEO agency NJ” or even something more targeted like SEO agencies in Bergen County—chances are you’ll get more than enough results. The task really begins when you have to sift through your results to find the SEO agencies in New Jersey that are worth your time and money, and then narrow it down even further to one.

How do you know which agency is “right” or “best”? The answer: It’s a combination of factors. They’ll have the credentials, know-how, creativity and presence, and then be able to pass your screening tests and offer the right proposal.

Taking the time is worth it and cost effective. The right agency will help you maximize your inbound marketing plan and create targeted content that reaches your consumers. Here are eight steps to take to assist you with zoning in on the ideal SEO agency.

Start with your network

One of the benefits of the internet and social media is the fact that we can network efficiently. A good place to start your search is within your network. If you’re looking for an SEO agency, and one in a specific area, then they should have a strong online presence, and often in your network. Look at platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Starting in your network can act as a preliminary filter. Just because an SEO agency, even a locally searched one, ends up at the top of your result page does not mean that they are the best. They may be biggest—but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be a good fit for your business.

Some of the greatest agencies work to create a solid presence throughout a variety of networks and platforms, not just the top of results page. To find them you simply use your keywords in each platform’s search tools. Peruse content, see who likes them or uses them or even who gives them some testimonials or accolades. It’s helpful to look at similar businesses and who they use.

Look for SEOs on major marketing communities

Agencies that take themselves seriously will have a presence in marketing communities. They will contribute thoughtful content and helpful tips as experts in their field.

Some places you can look to find these SEO agencies are blog networks, through offered webinars and the recommendations and links of your favorite marketing websites. What you want to do is examine strong sites. Do you have a trusted inbound marketing source? If so, do they have links to their favorite SEO agencies? Many good agencies will do guest blog posts, retweet solidly created content and be linked to other marketing gurus. Search your favorite resources, and chances are you’ll find references or links to other top-notch marketers.

Build a set of traits that matter to you

Fine-tuning your needs is an essential part of marketing and finding marketers that can help you. If you know what it is you want, you should be able to list the traits the SEO agency will need to have to work with you. What would these traits look like? Here are a few examples:

  • The agency should be educated, connected and accredited.
  • They themselves should have incredible content.
  • They are active “socially.”
  • They are analytic gurus. (Hopefully certified.)
  • They don’t promise too much or guarantee results, but rather explain their strategies to optimize your content.

Once you’ve made a list of potential SEO agencies, it should be easy to find these traits by looking at what they have online. Look for their social media, blog, website, infographics—whatever they have available.

Ask the right questions

The traits you’re looking for can help you formulate some questions. Before you work with an SEO agency, you’ll want to compare their answers to your questions, and make sure they possess what you desire in an SEO agency—in other words, it should all line up. Questions will also let you get to know them better, and gain insight into how they work. The following are examples of great questions to ask:

  • Here are the things I need done (yes, actually list them out). How will you get the job done?
  • How do you keep up with all of the changing trends?
  • What tools do you use, and what is your training in using them?
  • What is your approach to SEO?

The list of questions to ask is endless. They should be open and willing to share information, including failures and lessons learned. And remember, they shouldn’t make any guarantees about the outcome of their work.

Narrow the field

Each business is different. Comparing a cosmetics company to a business that sells solar panels is like the apples and oranges analogy. That being said, you really want to narrow agencies down by their traits, but also by their expertise. Do they have knowledge within your field? Is it their specialty? You most likely won’t want SEO agencies in NJ who work primarily with restaurants if your business is selling HVAC systems. In other words, find agencies that fit your needs and have good credentials. They might not be the “top” company, but they’ll know more about your specific situation.

Make the call

If you’ve narrowed your list down and are ready to take the next step, pull out the phone. You don’t have to tell them you are shopping or talking to other potential agencies. Remember, it is their job to provide the information necessary that makes you want to choose them.

When you call, look at it as a pre-screening. Ask some of your questions and see if the traits you’re looking for start to emerge. Assess their professionalism (because yes, that is an essential aspect). Narrow the search down more. That way, you can start asking for some proposals.

Look at their proposal

The proposal is an excellent indicator of many things. It should contain information that shows that they listened to you and heard what was important to you. You want them to take your call seriously.

Some of the traits the marketing agency‘s proposal should include are an excellent bio (who they are) and some examples (what they’ve done). There should also be an assessment of what they see the needs of your company to be and offer some potential solutions. It should be personalized to your company, so you know that it isn’t some template they give everyone, meaning they took time to create it. It should also be detailed, with a breakdown of where each part of your budget will be spent.

Careful not to choose based on price or experience alone

An agency might be amazing, but still in its early stages. Stay open to an SEO agency in Northern NJ that might not have the experience yet. Stray away from choosing solely based on prices… it can end up costing you more in the end by looking for a bargain or assuming that expensive means amazing. Instead, look for SEO agencies that embody the traits you are looking for, have experience with your business field and have built a network that promotes their talents.

These eight steps can make finding your perfect SEO agency in NJ, well… easy.

 

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