Is Your SEO Agency Doing a Good Job? Here’s How to Tell for Sure

Is Your SEO Agency Doing a Good Job Heres How to Tell for Sure

You know that search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the best ways to boost your brand’s visibility and generate more traffic to your website.

You also know that it’s incredibly hard to practice SEO entirely on your own.

That’s why you chose to work with an SEO agency.

But there’s a bit of a problem.

You’re not a grandmaster SEO professional, and this might be the first SEO agency you’ve ever worked with.

So how can you tell for sure whether or not your SEO agency is doing a good job?

Is your SEO agency helping you win?

Or is it just holding you back?

By the end of this article, you’ll have an objective way to answer these questions and more.

What Does SEO Success Look Like?

This is going to be a somewhat lengthy article because the quality of SEO work can’t be assessed concisely.

That’s partially because SEO success is somewhat subjective.

Different brands have different definitions of SEO success and different goals they want to pursue. And of course, your SEO agency may be good at achieving some, but not all of your goals.

Accordingly, your first responsibility is determining what SEO success looks like to you.

These are some of the most common objectives:

  •       Rankings. For some brands, rankings are everything. Climbing to the top of the SERPs for your most valuable, most competitive keywords is the ultimate vision of success. And as long as you have continued upward momentum through those pages, you may be satisfied with your SEO agency’s work.
  •       Organic traffic. A similar, but slightly alternative vision uses organic traffic as the ultimate measure of success. In other words, the number of new visitors to your website from organic search results determines how successful your SEO campaign has been. This does have some advantages over pure rankings, since traffic is arguably more valuable than visibility, but there’s room for different interpretations here.
  •       Revenue generated. If you’re concerned about return on investment (ROI) or if you just want to quantify things as much as possible, you might evaluate SEO success on the basis of revenue generated. For an SEO agency to be doing a good job, they should at least generate more revenue than they cost you in expenses. Preferably, they should provide you with a return many times more than your initial investment. That said, revenue generated isn’t purely a byproduct of SEO; it also depends on factors like product quality and conversion optimization.
  •       Reputation factors. It’s also reasonable to consider how your reputation changes in the hands of your SEO agency. Rankings and organic traffic are great, but it’s arguably even better to produce content that establishes you as the definitive thought leader in your industry.

If you’re looking at bottom line results, it should be relatively easy to determine whether your SEO agency is achieving a reasonable degree of success for your brand. But in gray areas or ambiguous situations, you’ll need to dig a little bit deeper.

Instead of purely considering the ultimate results, you should also study the actual work being done by your SEO agency. Obviously, the services you receive may vary based on the agency and your relationship with them – but these are some of the most important areas to look at:

  •   Strategy and targeting. At the highest level, your SEO agency should be capable of helping you form an adequate strategy to achieve your goals. This includes choosing the right keywords, choosing the right publishers for backlinks, and making adjustments in response to new information.
  •   Content. Content is king in SEO and always has been, so the better your content is, the better your performance will generally be. If your SEO agency can’t make good content, you’re not going to succeed.
  •   Backlinks. Backlinks are essential for SEO growth, but there are right and wrong ways to build them. It’s critical that your SEO agency follows best practices and builds links that help you, rather than hurt you.

We’ll explore these in a bit more detail in the sections that follow.

SEO Agency Strategy and Targeting

SEO agency

You may be the one leading the charge on strategy and targeting, or you might fully delegate this responsibility to your SEO agency. Either way, your agency should be able to evaluate your targets in an objective, professional, logical way.

Usually, this means choosing strategic targets that are both valuable and viable. When it comes to researching keywords, this means selecting keywords that are relevant to your brand and audience, capable of generating lots of organic traffic, and yet low enough in competition that they can be reasonably contested.

There is some room for subjective interpretation here, but at the bare minimum, your SEO agency should have reasonable explanations for why their targets have been set this way. Be sure to ask lots of questions and take note of any peculiar or wishy-washy answers.

SEO Agency Content Quality

Content quality is going to be the heart of your SEO strategy, so you better be sure your SEO agency is producing good stuff.

What is this good stuff made of?


  •       Uniqueness. Unless you’ve launched an entirely new industry from nothing, you’re not going to be the only business publishing content in this field. Even so, your content should be original and unique. That means absolutely no plagiarism, no basic rewrites, and no regurgitating mindless, widely accepted opinions. There are many ways to be original, such as choosing unexplored topics, taking a contrarian position, or even writing material in a unique brand voice.
  •       Audience relevance. Your content also needs to be relevant to your audience. If it’s not, it’s not going to help you win conversions, regardless of how much organic traffic you generate.
  •       Strategic relevance and keyword optimization. Content should be relevant to your strategy and optimized for your target keywords – without keyword stuffing. In other words, each piece of content your SEO agency produces should be perfectly in line with your strategic vision and your list of target keywords.
  •       Accuracy and depth. Beyond that, the content your SEO agency produces should be highly accurate and of reasonable depth. Surface-level topic skimming isn’t enough to be competitive in the modern market; you need to provide your readers (and, let’s be honest, Google) with dense, intellectually nutritious material. Depending on the technical complexity of your field, you may need to help your SEO agency with some of the finer details; that’s not a sign of a bad SEO agency, but rather, it’s a sign of a dedicated one. Your agency should want to learn everything there is to know about your industry to write better content.
  •       Revisions and updates. Good SEO agencies also make revisions and updates to your existing content. This can take the form of optimizing older content for contemporary keyword targets, refreshing obsolete material, or even simply making tweaks to make the content seem newer and more relevant.

SEO Agency Backlink Quality

Backlinks can make or break your SEO campaign. Bad backlinks, poorly built, can wreck your authority. Good ones can help you soar.

Take a look at:

  •       Authority. The higher the authority of the publisher, the more valuable the link is. That’s not to say that low authority sources should be completely disregarded, but there should be at least some high authority sources in the mix.
  •       Relevance. Most of your sources, if not all of them, should be relevant to your industry and your audience. It’s okay to stray from industry publications on occasion, but consistently irrelevant publishers may harm your campaign.
  •       Quality. Good backlinks are relevant, informative, and natural in the body of text in which they reside. If your backlinks stand out as awkward, odd, or not useful, it’s a sign your SEO agency isn’t doing good work.
  •       Diversity. Repeated links on the same sources yield diminishing returns, so it’s important to have a diversity of different sources in the mix. Pay close attention to which publishers your SEO agency is using.
  •       Organic expansion. It’s tempting to grow your SEO campaign as quickly as possible by Building links in rapid succession, but this can trigger red flags for Google. It’s much better to expand organically and steadily, especially at the very beginning.
  •       Ongoing analysis and cleanup. Link building is only part of the equation; you also need to practice link maintenance in the form of ongoing analysis and cleanup. Your SEO agency should readily evaluate your backlink profile, make recommendations, and remove or disavow links when appropriate.

SEO Agency Best Practices

Generally, your SEO agency should also adhere to various SEO best practices.

  •       Adherence to Google guidelines. Google isn’t shy about publishing its guidelines for web-based content. Your SEO agency should know these guidelines inside and out and confidently verify that all their work follows these guidelines consistently.
  •       Natural content, keywords, and links. Natural is the name of the game in SEO; unnatural work stands out as manipulative and low value, often spurring penalties as a result. This agency’s content, keywords, links, and other work should all feel natural and relevant.
  •       Total transparency. Even more importantly, your SEO agency should be totally transparent. They should be completely upfront and honest about the strategies and tactics they use, and they should be ready to openly answer any question that comes their way. SEO agencies that seem like they’re hiding something probably are.
  •       Routine adjustments. The world of SEO is constantly changing, so it’s a bad sign if your SEO agency never learns, changes, or updates your strategies. Routine adjustments are a staple in the industry.

SEO Agency Communication and Reporting

You should also think about how this SEO agency communicates and reports to you.

  •       Regular reporting. Good SEO agencies are data-driven, and they’ll be fully transparent with you on the data they gather and analyze. Depending on the agency and the nature of your campaign, you may receive reports monthly or weekly – but you will receive them.
  •       Demonstration of results. We’ve already covered some of the most important bottom-line results you should consider from your SEO agency. Your SEO agency is responsible for demonstrating and proving those results. If they can’t justify their own existence or their partnership with you, it’s a major red flag.
  •       Insightful commentary. During your communications, you should also receive helpful, insightful commentary from your contacts at the agency. They should help you generate new ideas, come up with new recommendations, and identify mistakes they can improve upon in the future. Similarly, they should be able to explain momentum downturns and temporarily questionable results.
  •       Responsiveness. When you reach out to your SEO agency, do they respond quickly? How hard is it to get in touch with someone? This may not have a direct impact on your results, but it’s an important factor to consider in your relationship.
  •       Answers to your questions. Similarly, your SEO agency should be able to provide meaningful, educational answers to all of your questions. If they don’t know the answer immediately, they should be willing to research the question and get back to you.
  •       Receptiveness to feedback. Finally, SEO agencies should be highly receptive to your feedback. If there’s anything you think could be improved, or if you have any suggestions, they should at least be willing to hear you out and consider making changes.

A Few Quick Caveats for SEO Agencies

There are a few quick caveats we should acknowledge here.

First, SEO is generally a long-term strategy, and it often takes several months, if not years, to see results. If your SEO agency shows disappointing results after a month or two, don’t take it as a definitive sign that they don’t know what they’re doing.

Second, not everyone at the SEO agency is going to be equally knowledgeable or experienced. If your first conversation is with a relatively new hire, they may not accurately represent the expertise or competence of the agency.

Third, on some level, you get what you pay for. You can’t expect the best work in the industry from one of the cheapest SEO agencies in the industry. You also can’t expect game-changing results if you’re on a razor-thin budget. Consider tempering your expectations based on your spending.

Putting It All Together: Is Your SEO Agency Doing a Good Job?

So what’s the bottom line here?

Now that you have this information, how do you put it all together to determine whether your SEO agency is doing a good job?

It boils down to four things:

  •       Expenses. First, consider how much you’re paying for these SEO services. All your evaluations should be made on a comparative basis to how much you’re spending.
  •       Results. Second, consider the objective results you’re getting from your SEO agency, if you’ve been working with them for months. Look at rankings, organic traffic, revenue generated, and how your reputation has changed.
  •       Quality. Third, judge the quality of the work this SEO agency is doing. Good content, good backlinks, and good edits backed by a good strategy will eventually pay off.
  •       Communication and overall experience. Fourth, consider the quality and consistency of communication you have with the agency – as well as your experience overall. Does this SEO agency treat you like a true partner? Are they committed to your satisfaction?

There are hundreds of reputable SEO agencies that do great work.

But there are even more SEO agencies that engage in shady practices or aren’t able to get the results you need.

And even if you find a great SEO agency, there’s no guarantee they’ll be a great fit for your brand.

If you’re looking for a new SEO agency, or if you want to try a new team after a few rounds of disappointing results, is here for you.

Contact us for a free consultation today!

Timothy Carter