- How to determine whether a local SEO company is right for your business
- Does location matter when it comes to sourcing an SEO agency?
- Understanding search engine results pages
- Questions to ask an SEO company
Recent data shows that local searches are growing at a staggering rate, especially on mobile, presenting an excellent opportunity for local businesses.
However, sourcing a competent, reliable, and trustworthy SEO company is not easy. It becomes even harder when you narrow your options to a specific location, as finding a company that can help you generate desirable results is all the more challenging.
When hiring a local SEO company, ensure that they emphasise the metrics that impact your revenue and develop creative strategies to boost your local search campaigns.
We’ll outline how to effectively source a local SEO agency in Birmingham and signs to look out for when determining whether an SEO company can help you achieve the results you need.
#1 Agency Focus
So, you’ve searched for an SEO Agency in Birmingham and have been presented with an array of results, perhaps one of which brought you here to Soar Online. However, you still have several questions:
- How do I know if this is the right SEO company for me?
- Do they have relevant industry experience?
- Is the agency trustworthy?
- Are they reasonably priced?
- Can they guarantee specific results?
- Do they outsource their SEO?
- Have they got examples of client success stories?
- Does the company follow Google’s webmaster guidelines for SEO?
Choosing the right SEO company is vital to ensure business success, and a wrong choice could see your competitors take advantage of your loss.
One of the first questions you should ask yourself when sourcing an SEO company is: Do they need to be local? We’ve written a comprehensive guide on Local SEO, which you can check out here.
For argument’s sake, let’s say that you’re a Birmingham-based business, and you need to employ the help of SEO professionals to boost your digital marketing efforts. While choosing a local company poses some benefits, the most crucial factor to consider is experience.
#2 Source an Experienced SEO Company
If you needed work done on your house, it would make sense to find a local company as travel is involved in completing the work.
Indeed, it makes sense to source an SEO company in the same country due to time zone differences, which could make aligning schedules and arranging meetings difficult. Search results can also differ across countries and languages, so hiring an SEO agency outside your own country isn’t ideal.
Still, the most important factor to consider when choosing an SEO company is experience. If you’ve found an SEO agency in Birmingham with expertise in your industry, then great! However, if you’re struggling, there’s no harm in casting your net a little further afield.
SEO is a complicated discipline, so you must ensure the company you employ has relevant experience. We recommend asking the firm how long they’ve been operating as a business and whether they have any awards or client success stories to support.
Soar Online is an award-winning SEO agency recognised by a leading business magazine, Corporate Vision, for the work we have put in to help small and medium-sized businesses recover from the digital impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
SEO tends to be harder for start-ups and small businesses, so finding an experienced agency that can support you at a fair price could be the difference between success and failure. It’s much easier to help an established company improve its SEO than a new business with little or no authority trying to rank in a competitive industry.
While there are benefits to working with a local SEO company, COVID-19 has shown people that it’s just as easy to conduct meetings over Zoom and other video conferencing platforms.
We’re by no means trying to sell ourselves short. Still, it is equally important to source an SEO agency with relevant experience and provable results as it is a local company.
#3 Understanding Search Results
It’s also vital to identify opportunities for your business in search results, which requires an understanding of how search engines rank web pages.
How did you find our website? Was it via ads, organic results, local listings or related search terms, to name a few? Understanding search engine result pages (SERPs) and knowing what Google values will help you make an informed decision when choosing an SEO agency.
We’ve examined two of the most common result types below to help you decide on what local SEO company to employ.
Paid Search Ads
Paid search ads are one of the most popular forms of pay-per-click advertising.
Search ads help brands reach more customers by taking advantage of the highly lucrative benefit of having your ad displayed at the top of SERPs, where it’s guaranteed to be seen.
Advertising is a powerful way to attract relevant attention, and if used effectively, your website could dominate SERPs.
Paid search ads are often the only results that can be seen without scrolling down the results page, especially on mobile. Websites with sub-listings stand an even higher chance of attracting prospective leads, which means higher conversion.
Unlike organic listings, which rank for specific keywords, your business could own a company based in China and still appear in results for “SEO Birmingham” if you’re targeting that keyphrase.
However, remember that employing an agency based abroad could create challenges when scheduling meetings and ensuring no malpractice.
An often underutilised area of SEO is local search listings, which, when done effectively, can help maximise your website’s exposure within a targeted geographic area.
For example, a search for “SEO Birmingham” displays four ads, a map snippet of three local listings, and ten organic listings which Google perceives as relevant. Related search terms and results are also shown at the bottom of the page.
Google primarily displays local results based on prominence, relevance and distance. If a user doesn’t specify a location in their search, Google will determine a location based on real-time signals such as:
- IP address
- Device location
- Previous search activity
- W3C Geolocation API
Regardless of whether the location is specified, Google will display local results if it perceives the implied intent behind the query as localised. For example, when searching for “bakery”, Google shows a map snippet of local businesses and localised results in SERPs.
On the other hand, a search for “SEO” could display a broader range of results as the intent behind the query is not necessarily localised. Google also displays a Wikipedia page and informational listings about search engine optimisation, such as guides.
These two factors heavily influence local search:
- Whether the location is specified in the query
- Location of the person conducting the search
For example, results are location-specific when searching for “SEO Company Birmingham“. Soar Online appears in the top 5 listings because Google perceives us as a reliable, relevant source, given that we are located in Birmingham and are an SEO agency.
Google displays organic search results directly beneath local listings.
Unlike paid ads, organic listings are not affected by advertising payments and appear in SERPs based on algorithm calculations. These traditional search engine listings tend to be displayed as blue links, accompanied by a snippet of information known as metadata.
However, some results may also be interspersed with other features such as images, prices, questions, reviews and videos. These results contain rich snippets, which is extra data pulled from a website to enhance the search experience and make it more engaging and valuable.
At the time of writing, a search for “SEO Birmingham” on Google shows:
- A “Find Results On” featured snippet in carousel format
- Local map pack
- Two organic listings with FAQ rich results
- Two organic listings with review snippets
- Six standard organic listings
- A “People Also Ask” questions box
- Three paid ads
- Followed by a Related Search SERPs feature
Again, all of the results are localised due to the location specification in the search query.
People Also Ask Box
Most modern search result pages now include a “People Also Ask (PAA)” question box – a mini-FAQ section that provides insights into related user queries.
At the time of writing, a search for “SEO Agency” includes a PAA box with questions about the type of work SEO companies do, profitability, and whether an SEO agency is worth it.
Clicking on one of the questions will reveal an answer and add several other related questions that may interest the user to the bottom of the list.
5 Questions to Ask an SEO Company in Birmingham
While you might find a reputable SEO company five hours away from your geographic area, working with a local SEO agency can significantly increase your chances of success.
Local SEO agencies are more aware of the community your business operates within, presenting several advantages for improving your Google My Business account. Still, it would be best to ask questions to help you gain insight into their capabilities and whether they’ll benefit your business.
Here are some questions you could ask to help you make an informed decision.
How do you approach SEO to deliver results?
There are three major components to SEO – technical SEO, off-page SEO and user experience (UX) – so this is a crucial question to ask when determining whether an agency can deliver the results you are seeking.
Pay attention to how they plan to implement an SEO strategy, including whether they will use black hat tactics to improve your rankings, which could see your website get penalised by Google.
A successful approach considers all three facets of SEO, and the SEO professional should demonstrate a strategic understanding of the search environment, your marketplace, content and technical skills.
SEO requires a holistic approach; avoid companies that only focus on one aspect of SEO as this will not help you achieve the results you desire.
How will you adapt your SEO strategy to our business?
SEO is by no means a one-size-fits-all solution, and your situation will be unique, so you need to identify whether the company can confidently outline a strategy around your requirements.
Pay attention to how the agency articulates its approach catering to your business model, goals, and needs.
What metrics will you use to measure success?
Firstly, if an SEO company guarantees you the first-place in SERPs, this is a red flag.
Agencies that make those types of promises tend to practice black hat tactics, which you should avoid at all costs as they’ll ultimately land you a penalty with search engines.
Legitimate SEO professionals will plan success around your goals and measure success in line with your business objectives. For example, while keywords and rankings are essential metrics, if your goal is to increase local traffic to your website, they should also recommend strategies that focus on improving your local business profiles and building reviews.
When can we expect to see results?
Remember that effective SEO takes time and tends to depend on two primary factors:
- The current state that your website is in
- Your business objectives and goals
If an SEO professional is overly optimistic, be sceptical. That said, a good agency will give you a time frame for which it expects to see results and back this up with mentions of analysis and audits to help you understand where your business currently stands and what you can look forward to over a specified period.
How do you report on progress?
Ask to see a sample report created for a previous client and see whether they can customise the information to suit your goals and KPIs.
Consider how frequently you want to receive reports and what metrics you want to be included in the report. Be wary of SEO companies that cannot provide detail on reporting and measuring progress.
Other questions to consider asking an SEO company include:
- How do you stay up to date on algorithm changes and industry trends?
- How do you approach mobile?
- What keyword and link-building techniques do you use?
- How experienced are the SEO professionals that will be working on my website?
- What is your payment structure?
If you are looking for an SEO Company in Birmingham or if your business operates anywhere else in the UK then Soar offers the perfect blend of SEO expertise, business consultancy and the attention and strategy only a boutique agency can offer.
However, if you’re interested in learning more about your own digital footprint, but are not ready to invest in SEO just yet, you can record your Google ranking positions for free with our new handy Keyword Ranking Report.