How to Choose an SEO Agency?

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Choosing the right SEO agency can feel like navigating a complex maze. This guide simplifies the process, offering practical steps to ensure you select a partner that aligns with your business goals.

By understanding the basics of SEO, setting clear objectives, and knowing what to look for in an agency, you can enhance your site’s visibility and drive more organic traffic, thereby boosting sales and strengthening your brand’s online presence.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand basic SEO: gain a foundational knowledge of SEO strategies before searching for an agency.
  • Define your goals: clearly articulate your business goals and SEO expectations to potential agencies.
  • Consider pricing models: familiarize yourself with different pricing structures like monthly retainers, project-based pricing, and hourly rates.
  • Set a budget: establish what you can afford based on your business needs and SEO objectives.
  • Do thorough research: investigate potential agencies’ reputations, case studies, and client testimonials.
  • Evaluate agencies: check their success stories, ethical SEO practices, and team expertise.
  • Consult and communicate: engage in consultations to discuss and align your business needs with the agency’s capabilities.
  • Review proposals and decide: compare proposals, focusing on strategy, services, pricing, and communication style.

Why is SEO Important for Your Business?

SEO is crucial because most online experiences begin with a search engine. If your website ranks higher in SERPs, it’s more likely to attract clicks, driving more traffic to your site. Beyond visibility, SEO is vital for building credibility and trust with your audience.

Websites that appear on the first page of search results are often perceived as more reputable. Additionally, SEO is cost-effective. Unlike paid advertising, it offers a long-term solution to increase your online presence organically, leading to sustained growth in traffic and, ultimately, conversions.

Identifying Key Performance Indicators

Before diving into SEO, pinpoint what success looks like for your business. KPIs are measurable values that reveal the effectiveness of your SEO strategy. They could range from organic traffic and conversion rates to keyword rankings and page load time. By setting clear KPIs, you can objectively measure progress and adjust your strategies as needed.

Two common goals for SEO are enhancing content marketing efforts and boosting domain authority. For content marketing, the aim is to create valuable, SEO-optimized content that ranks high in search results, engages your target audience, and drives conversions. Increasing your website’s domain authority, on the other hand, involves earning high-quality backlinks from reputable sites. Both goals are critical for establishing a strong, credible online presence that supports your business objectives.

Steps to Choosing the Right SEO Agency

Opinion StatementPercentage of Dentists Agreeing
“Investing more in SEO brings in more patients.”65%
“SEO spending should be proportional to practice size.”50%
“High SEO expenditure does not guarantee more clients.”40%
“I’d invest more if I understood SEO better.”45%
“Local SEO should be the primary focus, regardless of budget.”55%
Dentists’ opinions on ideal SEO investment

Step 1: Familiarize Yourself with SEO Strategies

Before you start looking for an SEO agency, it’s crucial to have a basic understanding of online marketing strategies. This knowledge will help you ask the right questions and set realistic expectations:

  • SEO auditing involves analyzing your current website to identify strengths, weaknesses, and potential for improvement. It’s the first step in creating an effective strategy.
  • On-site SEO focuses on optimizing elements on your website, such as content quality and structure, meta tags, and user experience, to improve rankings.
  • Off-site SEO refers to actions taken outside of your website to impact your rankings within search engine results pages. This includes building backlinks from other reputable sites.
  • Technical SEO addresses the backend of your website, ensuring it’s properly indexed and crawled by search engines. This covers site speed, mobile-friendliness, and structured data.
  • Local SEO aims to optimize your online presence to attract more business from relevant local searches. This includes optimizing your Google My Business listing and managing local citations and reviews.

Step 2: Outline Your Expectations and Goals

Clear communication with a potential SEO agency about your expectations and goals is vital. Define what you aim to achieve through SEO, be it increasing traffic, boosting sales, improving search engine rankings, or enhancing brand awareness.

Detail your target audience, market, and any specific challenges your business faces online.

Step 3: Understand Pricing and Service Models

  • Monthly retainer: this common pricing model involves paying a set fee each month for ongoing SEO services. It’s suitable for long-term projects needing continuous optimization and monitoring.
  • Project-based pricing: for specific, one-time tasks, project-based pricing allows businesses to pay for a clearly defined SEO project. This model is ideal for companies with particular needs that don’t require ongoing SEO support.
  • Hourly consulting rate: if you’re looking for advice or need help with specific issues, an hourly rate can be the most flexible option. This model is perfect for businesses that need expert guidance but aren’t ready to commit to a full-scale SEO campaign.

Step 4: Set Your Budget

Monthly SEO BudgetPercentage of Dental Practices
$500 – $100030%
$1001 – $250025%
$2501 – $500020%
Average monthly SEO expenditure by dental practices

Determining your budget is a critical step before engaging with an SEO agency. Understand what you can afford to invest in SEO services without compromising other aspects of your business. A realistic budget accounts for your goals and the competitive landscape of your industry.

Step 5: Conduct Thorough Research

Begin your search for the right SEO agency with thorough research. Look into their reputation, case studies, client testimonials, and portfolio of work. Check online reviews and ask for references. Evaluate their expertise in your industry and their success in achieving results for their clients.

Step 6: Evaluate Agencies

When evaluating potential SEO agencies, consider their portfolio and success stories, ethical SEO practices, and the expertise of their team and company culture.

  • Portfolio and success stories: look at the agency’s portfolio and case studies, which showcase their experience and success in similar projects. Success stories can provide insight into their strategies and the results they’ve achieved for clients.
  • Ethical SEO practices: ensure the agency uses ethical (white hat) techniques. These practices are crucial for long-term success and avoiding penalties from search engines.
  • Team expertise and company culture: the expertise of the team and the culture of the company are significant factors. A team with diverse skills and a culture that aligns with your business values can lead to a successful partnership.

Step 7: Contact and Consultation

Reach out to the shortlisted SEO agencies for a consultation. This step is your opportunity to discuss your business, goals, and expectations directly with them. It’s also a chance to gauge their responsiveness, expertise, and how well they understand your needs.

Use this time to ask questions about their strategies, experience, and how they plan to address your specific SEO challenges.

Step 8: Review Proposals and Make a Decision

After the consultations, review the proposals from each agency carefully. Compare their strategies, services, pricing, and the value they promise to deliver. Consider their communication style, transparency, and the rapport you’ve built.

Choose the agency that not only fits your budget but also shows a clear understanding of your business goals and has a credible plan to achieve them.

Essential Qualities of Top SEO Agencies

Top agencies are characterized by their diverse team of specialists, ensuring a comprehensive approach to SEO that covers all bases from content creation to technical optimization. They have a clear, systematic process for executing SEO strategies, which allows for transparency, adaptability, and measurable results.

Authentic customer testimonials and industry recognition serve as evidence of their success and reliability.

Red Flags When Choosing an SEO Agency

Be cautious of agencies making unrealistic guarantees about rankings and fast results. Transparency issues and secretive tactics should raise concerns about their methods and integrity.

Extremely low pricing can indicate a lack of quality or reliance on black-hat SEO techniques. Finally, an absence of a verifiable portfolio or genuine client testimonials may suggest inexperience or ineffectiveness in delivering successful SEO outcomes.

Working Effectively with Your Chosen SEO Agency

To maximize the partnership with your SEO agency, prepare your team for integration, emphasizing collaboration and open communication. A discovery session is crucial to align strategies and expectations.

Set clear expectations for research, recommendations, and reporting to ensure accountability and progress tracking. Effective onboarding and project management practices will streamline processes, foster transparency, and enhance the working relationship, leading to more successful outcomes.

Can You Do SEO Yourself?

Yes, you can tackle SEO on your own for basic website optimization. Understanding keyword research, creating quality content, and implementing on-site SEO techniques are foundational steps.

Regularly updating your site with valuable content and ensuring a good user experience is key.

When to Consider Professional SEO Services?

Consider hiring professionals when your business scales, competition intensifies, or if SEO complexities exceed your expertise. An agency can offer advanced strategies, comprehensive audits, and ongoing optimization to achieve significant, sustainable growth.

Dental SEO Agency FAQs

Should I hire an SEO agency?

Hiring an SEO agency can be beneficial if you lack the time, expertise, or resources to manage SEO effectively in-house. An agency brings specialized knowledge and experience and can implement and manage an SEO strategy tailored to your business goals. This is particularly advantageous if you’re looking to improve your online presence quickly and efficiently. However, it’s important to consider your budget and ensure the expected ROI aligns with your business objectives.

How do I find a good SEO agency?

To find a good SEO agency:

  • Look for reviews and testimonials: check for client reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, or industry-specific sites. Testimonials on the agency’s website can also provide insights.
  • Examine their portfolio/case studies: a reputable agency should have case studies or examples of their work and successes.
  • Ask for referrals: network with other business owners or professionals in your industry for recommendations.
  • Check their expertise and services: ensure the agency has experience in your industry and offers the services you need (e.g., local SEO, content creation).
  • Evaluate their communication: a good agency should communicate clearly and transparently, providing regular updates and reports.
How do I choose a local SEO company?

To choose a local SEO company:

  • Look for local experience: ensure the company has experience with local SEO specifically.
  • Check their local SEO results: ask for examples where they’ve successfully improved local search rankings.
  • Consider their understanding of your area: a local SEO company should have a good understanding of your geographic area and target market.
  • Seek tailored strategies: they should offer strategies customized to your specific business needs, not just generic solutions.
  • Assess their reputation: look for reviews or testimonials from other local businesses they’ve worked with.
How much do SEO agencies charge per month?

SEO agency fees vary widely depending on the agency’s size, reputation, the complexity of your needs, and the market. On average, small to medium-sized businesses might spend between $500 to $5,000 per month on SEO services. Some agencies might offer packages, while others charge based on the scope of the services provided.

Is it worth paying an SEO company?

Paying an SEO company can be worth it if they provide value in line with your business goals. A good SEO company can improve your website’s visibility, increase organic traffic, and enhance user experience, potentially leading to more conversions and revenue. It’s important to choose a company that aligns with your business objectives, communicates clearly, and demonstrates a transparent track record of success. As with any investment, it’s crucial to weigh the potential ROI against the cost of the services.


  1. Dental Economics – dental practice marketing metrics to know about, and why (link).
  2. American Dental Association (ADA) – dental marketing: strategies for success (link).

Author: Ihor Lavrenenko

Ihor Lavrenenko dental SEO expert

For the last 10 years, I’ve worked for two online marketing agencies (as an SEO specialist and an SEO team lead). It was a great experience optimizing local dental websites and big programmatic healthcare projects for the US local market. In this blog, I’ll happily share my experience with dentists who want to promote their websites.