With a startup, you should look to outsource as much as possible. The reason is that you have far too much to do as the CEO and need to focus on the core services that your business will provide. To try to create a whole suite of reliable SEO services in-house is tough to do even for a new agency, let alone a company whose primary role is not that of an SEO agency.
Accordingly, here are some SEO outsourcing tips to use when going this route as a startup.
Don’t Fight That Putting Together an In-house SEO Team Takes Time
Starting an SEO team from scratch, you’ll need to seek out and interview potential SEO employees, build out a team, install a team leader or department head, and hope it will all gel together. The whole gelling together / working as a team process takes time and won’t happen overnight either. Also, if you’re trying to put a complete team together, you’ll need a collection of people where everyone is a specialist instead of a generalist which takes longer to arrange.
As a startup, you already have far too much to do. Just putting together the right people to provide core services or create products to sell is hard enough. Trying to create internal processes for too many departments can quickly lead you astray.
Understand, It’s Less Risky to Use an Agency
Working with an existing SEO agency is a far better prospect in the early years. They’ve been in business for years already. They know what they’re doing and have established processes to follow. They’re not making it up as they go along!
There are also talented people on their team who can be relied upon. Usually, each person is a specialist with some degree of overlap to cover responsibilities that get busy and need a second person to help out. Structuring it this way means the agency can handle extra business on demand.
Seek Out Proven Past Results and Validate Them
What separates acceptable SEO agencies from ones that are worth their price is demonstrated in their past SEO results.
Results like search page bump upwards and/or more search keywords ranking for what their clients wanted are results that take 6-12 months to achieve in most cases.
Look at before and after information. See if you can access tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs to check on the previous traffic and ranking and where their clients rank today. Use a proxy tool or a VPN that supports Google to perform US-located lookups on current positions to check claims about ranking positions made by agencies. They’re easy to validate and you can also see if the position has improved or declined recently too.
Select Between Providers Based on SEO Techniques and Policies Used
It’s important to decide ahead of time what types of SEO techniques are acceptable and which are not. This can fall into a few categories:
White Hat Only
Largely speaking, the white hat can mean either no manual links being sought after or created or only links that are done in the most natural-looking way possible.
For instance, with white hat linking, backlinks are only sought at a time when it makes sense. This might exclude a brand-new site from getting links pointing to its review pages as this is unlikely to happen unassisted. However, links pointing to informational content that’s genuinely useful appearing in the first few months make perfect sense! Links to more commercial content can be sought at a later date when there’s a nice backlink profile created for a new site and it has a bit of age at that point.
Grey hat is where the most website is today. There are varying degrees of this type of linking. On the upper level, you may see links from sites with traffic coming to them, making the links more likely. On the lower end, you may see backlinks originating from websites with no organic search traffic and basic, short articles used just for linking purposes.
It is up to your company to decide what its priorities are within the grey hat realm of link building. Some links are less powerful but pose less risk of getting a penalty from Google. Others, such as private blog network links from zero-traffic sites pose a greater risk.
Choosing an agency with the in-house capabilities to produce the type of link-building campaign that is decided upon is crucial. Not all agencies can handle different types of SEO adroitly.
See How the SEO Agency Handles Google Algorithm Updates
Discuss with any SEO agency you’re considering how the past Google algorithm updates have affected their clients’ sites.
It’s extremely unlikely that they’ve not been affected at all. Most sites are seeing regular movements in search ranking and traffic volume attributed to these frequent changes.
Ask questions about what actions the agency took on behalf of clients who owned sites that were impacted by an update. This provides some indication as to how they’ll handle your site in such a situation.
The timeframe for ranking improvements or other changes as a result of the agency’s work is something to enquire about too.
Whilst you may be under pressure to deliver ranking improvements within the quarter or six-month period, that’s not always realistic. Discuss with the agency to see what their impressions are about the website and the possibility of better ranking. Check how they plan to do that and what their plan of action will be should better rankings fail to materialize.
If anything, an SEO agency should be given more time at the outset to deliver results; not less time. Google is intentionally slowing down responses to changes to thwart any attempt to manually make improvements to ranking. As such, more patience is required to get sustainable results compared with the past.
SEO agencies making bold claims about rapid ranking improvements, especially over unrealistically short timeframes and/or providing guarantees of such should be looked upon with suspicion. Good results take time and hard work to achieve them.