Interview: What To Look For When Hiring an SEO Agency?


Search engine marketing is taking over traditional marketing channels. Whether you’re an online business or a brick-and-mortar store, you have to make sure you have a solid online presence. 

Over 92% of search engine traffic comes from Google. Your customers should be able to easily find you on Google Search, period.  

Search Engine Optimization(SEO) agencies are becoming more and more popular. This means there is a great demand for these professional companies, who work their magic to bump you up on Google Search Engine Results Page(SERP). But the market is saturated with SEO companies, and you have to watch out and select the one that fits your needs.

In this article, we have interviewed 12 business owners. They are providing their insight on what they are looking for when hiring an SEO agency.

Our interviewee’s are answering the following major questions:

What would you look for in your SEO agency? 

What makes you happy with your current SEO agency? 

What would you improve with your SEO agency?

Read on to discover first hand what entrepreneurs have to say based on their expertise.


Matthew Meier

Founder of MaxTour LLC

“We have used a few different SEO services in the past. We look for companies that can show us proven results and provide credible references to current clients. 

We are happy when they are transparent and document all the work they do in a weekly or monthly report. We would improve the pricing structure. Most of the work gets done in the first few months, but the following months are billed at the same rate even though the workload drastically decreases.”


Luke Smith

Founder of We Buy Property In Kentucky

We hired an SEO agency mid-year last year. We ultimately looked at reviews to ensure the company was credible and they had raving fans for clients. The thing that we particularly liked about the SEO agency that we used is that they educated and helped us. Rather than just doing all of the work for us, they informed us on the best tools and techniques so we could watch the work being done as well as watch our rankings climb. We’re still active doing SEO work, but learning in the process of improvement has been great for us.”


Nicholas Holmes

CEO of Contract Hound

“I’ve used SEO agencies for years. The best ones are communicators. Aside from a set of ground rules, SEO can be a black box – there’s never any guarantee that what they’re trying will work, or by when it will work. So, the most important thing is that they’re telling you what they’re trying and telling you what the results have been so that you can decide on whether your investment is working out together.


Owais Shah

Marketing Director of Judaica Webstore (Owais Enterprises*)

*What makes you happy with your current SEO agency?*

“Testimonials and reviews are useless for me, I always ask for processes and systems they use to do SEO. If they don’t have any process, that means they are shooting in the dark and you can’t expect good results anytime soon. I ask for examples where they screwed things up and how they managed to get it fixed or they failed to fix it.

It is impossible to do things perfectly every single time. So asking this question helps me to understand if they have the right attitude to work with.

I always reject companies trying to trap me into a 6-12 months long contract and heavy upfront fees. There is no guarantee in SEO! The only thing matter is what process you use to beat your competitors and how you solve problems if something goes wrong? I always look at their team structure. Where is their team located and how they manage to work on projects. The reason being is, I have seen so many SEO’s trying to sell me a package without any proper team and it turns out he is just a salesman outsourcing work to philippine or India.

There is nothing wrong with outsourcing but the reason your account manager hides it, is always dodgy.”


Courtney Quigley

Business Reputation Consultant of Rize Reviews

*What would you look for in your SEO agency?*

“The first step to choosing an SEO agency is to google a relevant search term. For example, if your business is in Chicago, search ‘SEO Chicago.’ The first organic result may well be a good choice because they have already proved this one simple step that they have achieved good SEO for their own company. However, you can also try other agencies not on the first ten search results as they can provide better pricing since they are not very well known. I would say try them first and do not have a big deal initially. Unless you see a satisfactory result, then you can move on to bigger projects with them. I would also want to communicate with them openly, and not only be limited to emails and non-voice chats. I would like to know who I am talking to. If they are indeed experienced in the SEO field, then I would like to see their experts’ Linkedin Profiles and some work references or recommendations.

*What makes you happy with your current SEO agency?*

Definitely, if I see changes in our page rankings or visibility = which often translates to leads and sales, we are patient with results. As long as we get to the goal or what they promised, we will be happy with it.

*What would you improve with your SEO agency?*

I think my SEO agency could be more well-rounded and not only focus on one facet of SEO – let’s say just link building. They should propose some other steps and strategies to make our business fare better than our competitors.”


Hailes Brew Croyle

Digital Executive of Del Pacifico Mexican and Seafood Restaurant 

“Working as an executive at an eatery as massive and diverse as Del Pacifico entails thinking out of the box and being creative at all times. So, when my organization decided to expand its operations online, I knew substantial restructuring was needed if not required. I started looking around and quickly realized that my ideal SEO agency would have to be realistic in its offerings.

I understood that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Hence, I ended up looking for companies that offer real results and don’t emphasize superficial guarantees. I also required someone who excelled in customer service to come down to my level and explain terminologies to me in a language that I could comprehend.

Upon searching thoroughly across the web, I came across my current agency, ‘The SEO Buzz.’ Even though search engine optimization is an ongoing process, they have helped my business establish its digital presence. What I most like about them is their authenticity, credibility, and ability to call out things as they are. They have kept a defined process to execute SEO strategies. But most importantly, they take explicit approval and provide timely execution of all tasks.

If I could improve something about The SEO Buzz, it would be their current clientele. They provide quality work at affordable prices, but somehow that isn’t depicted by the number of notable clients in their portfolio. They certainly can expand their team in terms of hiring more skilled specialists and growing their agency holistically. But I suppose what they lack in clients; they make up in phenomenal customer reviews. And at the end of the day, it is the latter metric that helps define a decision.”


Simonas Steponaitis

Marketing Manager of Hosting Wiki

*What would you look for in your SEO agency?*

 *Content Strategy:*

If you are going to trust someone to optimize your website, you must first be impressed by their website and your content. If the provider’s website is full of outdated content and it’s challenging to navigate, it’s more than clear that they don’t understand SEO at all. Also, check out the vendor’s blog. For good SEO, it is essential to update your blog constantly. If they haven’t published a blog post in a while, it’s a sure sign that they’re not interested in improving at all.

*Industry Specialist:*

Some SEO companies provide services for all types of businesses. However, you will also see some companies that specialize in only a few things. For example, a company that focuses solely on car service may not be a good fit for an e-commerce business. It is not easy to find out what type of business can guarantee a sustainable service. When you visit their sites, check their portfolios and see the kinds of clients on the list.

*What makes you happy with your current SEO agency?*


Our SEO agency provides forecasting keyword ranking reports that have mention the approximate time to rank a particular keyword every month. They are not making fake promises that they can take our website to the top of Google’s rankings in 1-2 months. Also, they send weekly updates on Friday to update the status of the weekly tasks.


Michael Hammelburger

CEO of The Bottom Line Group

“Outsourced SEO services have become a trend for small firms so they can focus on growing your business by cutting down on maintaining an in-house team of marketing professionals. In our case, we’ve tapped a small agency to handle the PR and SEO work on our behalf so we can focus on what we do best. It’s a cost-effective measure considering that PR is very critical for business development and yet, we don’t have the bandwidth to do it considering our very busy work hours.

Here are some factors that we consider:


Outsourced agencies are always at your behest, providing you with reliable solutions to help you achieve your goals. Outsourcing provides flexibility that in-house teams may find difficult to provide.


Delegating an important function to a third-party service provider helps save thousands of dollars from sustaining an internal staff to do the same job for you. Outsourced teams provide the same (or even better) level of expertise in this area.

*Unbiased judgment*

Your business receives an objective review and assessment of your performance. There is no conflict of interest on their part.”


Matt Satell

CEO of Prime Mailboxes

We don’t have an in-house SEO because it doesn’t make it financially viable for our business model. Instead, we hire a freelance outsourced team to do the job with equally amazing results and turnover time. With outsourcing, we only pay for the services we need, when we need them.

If you need any more information, I’m happy to reply as soon as possible. If you decide to use this — let me know and I’ll promote the article via my channels.”


Bernice Quek

SEO Specialist of M&P International Freights

*What would you look for in your SEO agency?*

“One of the things that I look out for is their portfolio. The agency I’m working with must have a proven record of effective SEO strategies for their past and current clients. This gives me the confidence to trust them with the marketing of my company’s services.

Another thing that I think is important is what they propose to do for my company (their SEO strategy). Having a good portfolio provides some indication that their strategies work. However, if they have not had prior experience in doing SEO for another company in the same or similar industry, their portfolio may not be an accurate indicator. During their pitch, I will keep a lookout for their SEO strategy that’s specific to my company to see if they’ve done their research on the industry and how SEO can possibly be applied effectively.

*What makes you happy with your current SEO agency?*

I love that it’s easy to communicate with my current SEO agency. Our chemistry is obvious and it’s very easy to convey what I’m looking for an easy for me to understand their plans.

They also provide monthly reports to summarise what they did for the month, what the results are for what they’ve done so far, and what are the next steps for the next few months. This gives me peace of mind that I can trust them to handle everything SEO-related.”


   Peter Horne

   Content Lead of Geoff McDonald and Associates

*Why I Appreciate The SEO Agency We Use* 

We really like the SEO agency that we use because they’ve been able to integrate with our firm’s marketing team really well and add to the efficiency of our marketing processes. Often, when you conduct your SEO techniques through an agency, they’ll do all the work themselves and try to match it to how the business operates and the type of content they want to put out. 

Since we already have a marketing team, we were looking for an agency that could work a little differently and could operate alongside our existing team to help improve our SEO techniques. While it took a little bit of time to get used to the new collaboration processes, we’ve built an excellent marketing model that I feel has been extremely successful. 

If there were one thing that I could improve with our SEO agency, it would be that we had a permanent member within our office dedicated to our business alone. While this is a lot to ask for, I feel that it would greatly improve a number of communication difficulties and speed up marketing output in terms of SEO. As I said, this is a lot to ask for and I don’t expect an SEO agency to give up one of their employees to focus on one company alone. I’m very happy with the connection we have with our agency and how well they compliment our other marketing techniques.”


  Lindsey Allard

  CEO and Co-Founder of PlaybookUX

*What would you look for in your SEO agency?*

-When working with any agency or company, I make sure I feel a positive connection between myself and the people I’m talking to. Do I feel like I can trust them with this project? Do I feel as if my goals are important to them? Does their experience show that they’ll do a good job of what I’m looking for? After talking to them, doing my research on their work, and pondering the situation, I’ll make a decision. In the end, it comes down to trust and if I can depend on the SEO agency.

*What makes you happy with your current SEO agency?*

-I trust the company I am currently working with and feel like I can be completely hands-off but still depend on them for positive results. So far, they have not let me down and things are going well.

*What would you improve with your SEO agency?*

-Nothing really comes to mind right now.

More up-to-the-minute (or day) reporting is always nice to have when working with an agency or company, but I wouldn’t expect them to deliver reports on a daily basis. I am happy with my experience right now though.”

If you’re running a Shopify store and are thinking about migrating to a different platform, you might want to check out our post on migrating from Shopify to WooCommerce without losing SEO.



Relevant Insights