Selecting the Right SEO Partner: A Guide

Written by Eric Ritter, President, and Founder of Digital Neighbor

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a critical aspect of any digital marketing strategy that is often perplexing to business owners. Most people relate SEO to Google, but what they don’t realize is that SEO predates Google. In the late 1990s, marketing agencies started using the phrase “search engine optimization” to optimize their content to rank well in search engine results. While Google has since taken over with a dominating 93% of search engine use, the idea of SEO has evolved.

Google has frequently introduced new algorithms to its system, offering various features that improve the overall quality of results on Google’s search platform. While the algorithm updates create ripples in the marketing world, the goal is for Google to use this opportunity to learn what content is relevant.  

Fast-forward to 2022, there is no set route to becoming an SEO specialist. Many people working in SEO today began in traditional marketing roles and came from industries such as marketing and communications, business, and IT. Today, some SEO jobs don’t even require a bachelor’s degree, and while only 30% do require a degree, there are set skills that are standard to be successful in the search world.

We narrowed it down to the top 3 skills an SEO professional should have:

  1. Critical thinking and problem-solving. It’s important for SEO professionals to have an analytical mind that’s capable of differentiating between the cause, the why, and the solution for various challenges.
  2. Writing skills. It’s crucial for SEO professionals to do keyword research and optimize content that is tied back to the goals and KPIs of their clients.
  3. Technical skills. Many SEO strategies require technical skills since recommendations are provided on page speed, rendering, server-side redirects, microdata tagging, HTML tags, and CSS.

While much of the SEO role revolves around having current knowledge about best practices, it also requires knowledge and understanding of common tools. For example, Moz, ahrefs, SEMRush, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console are tools that make the role of an SEO professional easier to track and optimize performance. Knowing how to use the right digital tools allows for a strong foundation and continuing to learn how to use sophisticated techniques will help give professionals a competitive edge.

So, what does an SEO agency do, anyway?

A lot of the job is a mystery to some people, but there is a significant number of services that are included in a successful search strategy. At the foundation, the services should include an audit of your website, keyword research, mobile-friendliness, and loading speed. They should also check that the most important signals point back to the website and all quality backlinks are linking correctly to the website. Once the initial audits are completed and an in-depth SEO Strategy is provided, the next phase is to add quality content based on business goals, a keyword gap analysis, and growth opportunities. Finally, a great SEO team will help you with your Link Building or Digital PR to increase the relevance and authority of your website and the content on it 

We’ve heard horror stories, too. You met an SEO agency with all the bells and whistles, but when it came time to perform, they couldn’t meet your expectations. We prepared a list of red flags to help determine whether the investment is worth the time and cost.

Top three red flags from an SEO agency:

  1. No website presence. How can you trust a company that hasn’t even set its website up with SEO best practices? Make sure to Google the company and check its status for credibility.
  2. They don’t offer content services. This is a red flag because good content is an imminent part of SEO and web marketing. Your SEO needs not only to understand but produce good content to hit the mark.
  3. They can’t keep up with changes. The internet evolves very quickly, and SEO practices change all the time. Last year alone, there were 600 changes to Google’s algorithm. If the SEO company is still doing the same stuff it did five years ago, this is a red flag. Do some research to look for a company that embraces evolution and change.

Evolving Tampa Bay SEO Partners

To highlight a few local Tampa Bay SEO agencies, we researched on our own and selected three agencies offering all the services and having a great reputation in the community.

Socius Marketing

  • Their website highlights their process, which is to first audit and evaluate the needs, identify goals and KPIs, and present strategic goals.
  • They offer content, website support, and other digital strategies.
  • Their own website has current content and a clean website copy.

SpotOn Digital Media

  • Their services are batched in bundles depending on need, from the foundational strategy and optimization to the advanced amplified growth with advertising and automation
  • Their owned content is relevant and current with clear backlinks

Digital Neighbor (It’s us!)

  • SEO is our backbone, but we also include website audits, content strategy, and Google Business Profile services to make sure your business is ranking for local and in strategic keywords
  • We write a new blog every month, often a “how to” that can help other businesses with their SEO strategy

About Eric Ritter

Eric Ritter is the owner and CEO of Digital Neighbor with 20+ years of experience in advertising and marketing. His neighborly agency stands out as results-driven and proves kindness goes a long way in both B2B and B2C. Eric’s passion and expertise is search engine optimization, where he acts directly as a ‘sommelier’ or advisor for clients seeking the best SEO solutions.

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