What To Do When You Think Your SEO Is “Stuck”?Nov 15, 2023
Ok. It’s been a few years, and your SEO agency has given you another one of those monthly “SEO Reviews” - you know, the ones with the 42 charts, lists, and other “evidence” of SEO progress.
And, like before, what’s missing is any clarity as to the connection between what you’re paying them and what your business is getting back in terms of value (i.e., leads, deals, revenue!)
So, why do you keep doing it? Is this like the old Yellow Pages - where owners were afraid to stop advertising long after it was relevant? Or is this an essential part of every business’ strategy for growth?
I’ve worked with over one hundred owner-led businesses over the years, and this is a tough one to figure out. My bottom line: SEO matters - but it is hard to get tangible results unless you (or your agency) put a lot of time and thought into it.
This post is for all owners who feel like SEO is a frustrating mystery. You’ve heard of businesses who say they’ve figured it out, and they sing its praises. You’ve also heard from owners who got burned by it. More specifically, they spent thousands on agencies and specialists who kept turning up big, fat zeroes in the growth department.
If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re in the second camp.
In my work helping B2Bs restart their revenue growth, we do occasionally partner with SEO agencies. Today, I’m sharing the top factors we look for when identifying strong, results-driven partners for our clients. That is, what we look for when helping our clients select and set the “ground rules” for a new SEO firm.
Quick FYI: SEO Isn’t Always the Answer
A quick (but important) note before we get going: SEO isn’t the right strategy for every business.
Think of it like brick-and-mortar office spaces. A business that relies on foot traffic might need a space downtown, but an HVAC company is happy in a warehouse. SEO follows the same principle digitally.
Does your ideal customer look for a provider (or at least look for answers to their problems) via search engines? If the answer is yes, it’s probably worth competing for that digital real estate. If the answer is no, then you might be better off focusing your resources on other strategies like trade shows, referrals, etc.
Like any tool, SEO has a specific purpose. Don’t be pressured into it because an influencer (who doesn’t know your business) says it’s the missing link in EVERY strategy. That’s nonsense. It’s all a matter of YOUR business and YOUR best customers.
Define Your Investment, Timeline, and ROI Needs
It can be challenging to make a good decision in a highly technical area like SEO. You’ll hear different answers from different providers to questions like:
- How long does it take for traffic to grow?
- What % of my traffic should be converting to leads?
- What level of competition should I expect for my keywords?
These are good questions, but it can be hard to know if the answers are accurate. So, while it’s good to be an educated buyer, I encourage decision-makers to define their own picture of success before asking their questions.
- How much are we comfortable investing per month?
- How long are we comfortable investing before we start to see consistent ROI?
- What early predictors of success are we looking for (traffic, ranking, etc)?
- What data do we need to see to feel confident in our progress?
You may need to update your expectations as you learn more about SEO, but the overall strategy has to be right for you. SEO might be a good strategy for your industry, but it might be too long of an investment to help you become truly competitive. By defining your own terms first, you can better ask SEO agencies if they can deliver what you need - when you need it.
What to Look For When Researching Providers
You may have gotten frustrated if you’ve ever gone through this process. Many SEO providers promise the same things, and it’s hard to determine which ones are “telling the truth” about what they can deliver. If that’s the case for you, here are a few of the key factors we always prioritize when researching:
- Results + References: We prefer to work with established agencies with a strong portfolio of happy clients. Always look for case studies, reviews, and good reputations.
- Industry-Specific: SEO can vary from market to market, so working with a partner who understands your industry and ideal customer is helpful.
- Clear Offer Models: This might seem obvious, but many SEO companies could be more specific about what exactly they deliver. They should have clear explanations for what they provide and why it matters.
- White Hat Ethics: Google is better than ever at cracking down on businesses trying to “hack” their way to rankings. Only work with agencies that exclusively employ white hat practices.
- Transparent Reporting: You might need help understanding all the jargon, but they must provide clear reporting. If it’s not consistent (and preferably automated), it’s a no-go.
Need Help Creating a More Effective Marketing Strategy?
I hope you found this checklist helpful. We have worked with SEO firms for years, and we’ve learned from experience what makes for a successful partnership.
At Value Prop, we’ve spent years helping B2B’s with $2M to $25M in revenue break through their revenue plateaus to jumpstart growth to the next level. We’ve helped many businesses create a clearer, more effective strategy to drive that growth.
If you need more marketing clarity (and results), spend 15 minutes with me, and we can identify the next 1-2 steps you need to take to get your revenue growth back on track.