When looking for an SEO partner, what are your top priorities?

Let’s be honest. Although it is technically possible to implement a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy on your own, it is incredibly complicated and difficult. As a result, most individuals, small businesses, and even large corporations will need to hire an SEO partner to assist them with strategic planning and execution.

But, with so many SEO partner options available, how can you make this crucial decision? What should your top priorities be?

Alternatives for Selecting an SEO Partner

To begin, you should be aware of the options available to you. You can choose from four different types of SEO partners, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

  • An SEO firm. To begin, you can hire a dedicated SEO firm. In many ways, this is the most convenient option, because your agency will be able to handle almost all aspects of your campaign. Although agencies are more expensive than other options, they provide more services, support, and accountability.
  • Hires are made in-house. You could also put together your own team. You can form a team to learn search optimization and implement it for your company using resources already in your department or new hires. This can be costly, depending on your approach, and it’s not as convenient or scalable as working with an SEO firm.
  • Freelancers/contractors. You can also hire freelancers or contractors to help you with your project. This is usually the cheapest option, but it’s also the most difficult to start. To build a strong enough team to see effective results, you’ll almost certainly need to select people with various specialties. Freelancers and contractors are also less trustworthy than agencies.
  • This is a hybrid model. You can try to create your own hybrid model if you like aspects of all of these options. You could use an SEO agency for the majority of your needs, with freelancers filling in the gaps, or you could execute your strategy primarily with in-house hires, with an agency providing only certain services.

In each of the preceding categories, there are also thousands of options.

When selecting an SEO partner, it’s critical to consider your priorities carefully.


Cost is going to be one of your most important considerations. What is the maximum amount you are willing to spend on this campaign? In this business, you often get what you pay for; while it’s possible to find extremely low-cost contractors, they aren’t always the best fit for your brand.

Cheap professionals are more likely to be inexperienced or cut corners, leaving you in a worse situation than when you started. At the same time, you don’t want to pay too much for a service that is either unnecessary or overpriced.

Try to compare your options on an apples-to-apples basis during your research. Don’t just compare prices; think about what you’ll get for your money with each option. Of course, if you’re working with a tight budget, you may not have much leeway here, which is why it should be one of your top priorities.

Accountability and dependability

You’ll also want to think about the partner’s trustworthiness and accountability. Because SEO is a long-term strategy, you can’t afford to hire someone who will abandon you after a few weeks, nor can you afford to hire someone who will waste months implementing ineffective or outright bad tactics.

Because they have access to more resources and a larger reputation to uphold, agencies are more dependable and accountable than other options. However, you should conduct additional research to ensure that this is a company that is willing to compensate you for any negative experiences you may have.

Competencies Fundamentals

If you want consistent, long-term results, SEO is a huge undertaking. This entails employing a variety of strategies at the same time. So, before deciding on a partner, think about their core competencies.

Consider the following scenario:

  • Expertise in a specific industry or niche. Is there a specific knowledge of your industry or niche that this partner possesses? Do they know what your brand stands for and what sets you apart from the competition? Can they suggest or develop strategies that will give you a distinct advantage?
  • Research and strategy. Is this partner capable of conducting keyword research and assisting you in the development of a high-level strategy? Or are they only capable of acting once they’ve been given instructions?
  • The creation of content. Is this partner a self-starter when it comes to content creation? If that’s the case, what kind of content do they create and how good is it? If you want to have a chance of climbing the SERPs, you’ll need a lot of great content.
  • Optimization in terms of technology. Without solid onsite technical optimization, SEO strategies will fall apart. Is this partner able to assist you with clean coding and increasing the efficiency of your website?
  • Creating a network of connections. Will this partner be able to assist you with link building and the creation of offsite content? It’s nearly impossible to gain enough authority to rank for your target keywords without links.
  • Supportive/peripheral strategies. Is this partner able to provide supplementary or ancillary services such as email marketing, social media marketing, pay-per-click ads (PPC), and other forms of paid advertising?

Practices and Ethics

A single ethical or regulatory lapse in SEO could result in a penalty that follows your brand for months. It’s simply not worth the risk, so do your homework on your potential partner’s ethics and practices. Are they only employing white hat tactics? Are they following Google’s terms of service to the letter?

Do they, as a result, take your privacy seriously? Can you rely on them to keep your search engine marketing secrets to themselves?

Scalability and Resource Access

Your business may be small now, but you most likely have big plans for the future. As a result, pay close attention to this partner’s resource access and overall scalability. Will you be able to stick with this partner and switch to a different plan if your needs change in the future? Will they be able to continue to support your company as you require more services or assistance?

Customer Service and Communication

Even the best SEO firms and individuals aren’t without flaws. They’re bound to make errors. They’ll forget to keep you up to date on things. They’ll also do a poor job of providing preliminary explanations. Are you able to contact them if something like this happens? Do you have a dedicated customer service representative who can assist you? Will you be able to get a lot of customer service, and will they work hard to solve your problems?

Even if everything else looks good on paper, don’t bother working with this partner if you can’t get in touch with them or if they seem uninterested in you.

Reporting and Tools

What tools and technologies does this business partner employ? Consider your partner’s reaction a red flag if he or she dodges the question or refuses to reveal their strategy to you. Your partner should be open to discussing their technological strategy.

They should also be prepared and willing to provide you with detailed reporting. They may claim to be doing a lot of work for you, but can they back it up with evidence? Is it possible for them to show that it is working in your favor?

Customer Reputation and Testimonials

Finally, take a look at this partner’s customer reviews and assess their overall reputation. Is there a general sense of satisfaction with these services? Can you find any online evidence that this partner is or is not trustworthy?

It’s not easy to pick an SEO partner. This is especially true if you work in a complex or competitive industry or if you must select candidates based on a number of strict criteria. However, with so many options, it’ll only be a matter of time before you find what you’re looking for.

Learn more from SEO and read How Do You Choose the Best SEO Agency for Your Company?

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