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NZ Business logo.

    Unhappy With Your SEO Results? Here’s When You Should Switch Agencies (& How)

    Are you convinced your current SEO agency is falling short? Discover warning signs and don’t settle for anything less than the best. Learn when and how to switch to an agency that propels your business to new heights.

    Published on August 30, 2023

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    By Megan Smith
    Content Marketing Specialist

    Published on August 30, 2023
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    Are you facing a dilemma with your current digital marketing agency? Convinced your SEO isn’t working? Do you want to amplify your business opportunities, but don’t know how to find the best SEO agency?  

    Trust us, you’re not alone. Many enthusiastic business owners want to explore every avenue to boost search rankings and revenue.  

    If your current agency isn’t delivering on this, it might be time to go elsewhere. 

    But how? 

    We know how hard it can be to cut ties with an agency, even when you suspect they’re falling short, so we’ve created a guide with everything you need to know. From the first sign that something’s not quite right to finalising the switch, we’ll cover all the ins and outs and get your SEO back on track. 

    Book your free consultation today – Speak to a strategist 

    Warning Signs  

    Here are some surefire ways to decide if it’s time to move on from your current SEO agency and find a new company with which you can build a relationship that yields the results that matter.  

    Backlinking Blues  

    Backlinking is a planned and carefully structured approach to boost your site’s reputation. But be wary of agencies that promise several thousand backlinks in one go. This involves black hat marketing and will land you in hot water with Google. 

    We know it’s tempting, but you won’t get quality backlinks this way. It can also seriously hurt your SEO. 

    No shows

    If you have been working with your SEO agency for a while but still have not seen any tangible results, it’s time to schedule a meeting with another company. If you find your sales are dropping, you aren’t seeing a return on your investment (ROI), you aren’t presented with top-notch customer service, and there are no audits or regular reports, then it is time to end it – really 

    Tip:   

    Agencies should supply the following within the first few months regardless:   

    • Website audit  
    • Weekly or monthly reports  
    • Optimised content  
    • Guest posts, blogs, or articles that show backlinks (links to your website) that have or will be published  

    Remember, SEO is time-consuming and takes a while to yield results, so give your agency time to generate the results you want to see. 

    SEO is a team effort. Regardless of the efficiency of the agency, they should be working closely with you all the way. 

    You should continue cautiously if you are a few months into a new contract and they still need to ask you for the following: 

    • Past SEO work, reports, and audits  
    • Content management system (CMS) access  
    • Google Analytics access  
    • Webmaster Access  
    • Social media access  
    • Notice of penalties (if any) 

    The list above is necessary for a strategic SEO plan to be tailored to your needs and your agency should have this information from day one. 

    Questionable Fees  

    Regarding the cost of your campaign, there should be a degree of fairness and a clearly defined proposal that reflects all pricing.  

    No “hidden fees” or “extra costs” should appear on your monthly bill when they should have been listed on the quotation. A reputable agency will always be transparent with its pricing structures and what it is being used for.  

    Poor Communication  

    A clear line of communication is critical for any successful business partnership to flourish. Without this, it is hard to establish trust in your provider and may leave you questioning what you are paying for.  

    Here are a few questions to ask your current SEO agency:   

    • Tell us what our targeted transactional keywords are. 
    • Where do we rank on these, and how can we improve our position?  
    • Can we expect a return if we rank within the top three keywords?  
    • Can you explain what our informational keywords are? 
    • Can we see a return if we rank in the top three for these? 
    • What are you doing to secure backlinks for my company?  

    Are all their answers vague? Then your appointed SEO agency does not understand the concept of success and what it means to you.  

    When scouting for a new firm, consider the following:    

    • Are they customer-focused?   
    • Do they supply regular reporting, updates, and feedback via telephone or email?  
    • Are your goals incorporated into their SEO plan? 
    • Are they results-driven? 

    Bad Behaviour  

    Building a brand and trusting a marketing firm to look after how consumers interact with your business can stress out any business owner. If behaviour, attitudes, and communication are poor, then you can expect their services to be the same 

    Unsolicited Changes  

    If any adjustments need to be made to your website, an agency will seek approval first. If you notice dramatic changes on your website, you should immediately highlight this with your agency. Unsolicited changes can harm your brand, so be sure to voice your concerns as they arise. 

    Strategy Slump 

    It’s worth looking into when you no longer receive improvement recommendations or remarks. If you also have noticed that the metrics on your site have not changed, but you are still paying the agency’s invoices, then it is worth scheduling an appointment to meet with another SEO agency.  

    Tip:   

    Did you know that Found can run an SEO audit for you? We won’t request exclusive access or tip off your current agency. We’ll give you a comprehensive review of your website’s SEO performance and whether your agency is working for or against you. 

    Book your free consultation today – Speak to a strategist 

    Doubtful Content Generation

    Content created for your business must be valuable and relevant to appeal to the searcher’s intent. Is your agency creating original content, or are they relying on AI? Can the content be repurposed across your social media platforms? If you question the quality and originality of the content, it’s time to pick up the phone and have some tough conversations. 

    Regular content reporting is essential and should include the following:  

    • Conversions  
    • Keyword rankings  
    • Traffic trends by Google Analytics  
    • All content marketing  
    • Details of link building  
    • Information about all optimisations and website tweaks  
    • Scope for the month ahead and planned initiatives  
    • Recommendations and suggestions  

    Penalties  

    Decreased search engine rankings and traffic could be the result of an algorithmic penalty. It shows that your SEO agency is not doing its part, especially if you have been partnered with them for more than a few months. If there has been a decline, you should question what changes, if any, were made to your site in the days preceding the free fall of site traffic.  

    Lastly, your SEO agency must clarify all their offsite actions with you. Manual penalties are frustrating and time-consuming to resolve. If penalised, these will be communicated via email or will appear in Google Search Console. 

    Partnered With Competitors

    A conflict of interest will arise if your current SEO agency signs on with any of your competitors. It is not impractical that neither of you can see results; it merely implies that the agency does not value your long-term gains versus chasing profits. 

    Potential Risks Of Changing Your SEO Agency  

    It may come as no surprise that changing your SEO agency can be a little complex. And once you switch, it’s not uncommon to struggle with low metrics before the new SEO agency can sort through the earlier issues and apply its strategy. However, these trying technical times can lead to phenomenal success. 

    Carefully weigh the pros and cons of switching before changing marketing firms.  

    Before you make your mind up about moving to a new SEO agency, here are a few risks to consider: 

    Decline In Ranking  

    The most probable scenario is that you will see a decline in ranking. These impacts take time to correct and stabilise.  

    Decline In Traffic  

    When your ranking begins to fall, so will your website traffic. Traffic and search rankings work hand in hand. If your ranking dives, you can expect traffic migrating to your website to do the same.  

    This can also happen when the new agency applies customised strategy. Changing to a new SEO agency will never mean immediate results, but this will gradually change in the coming months and lead to long-term, sustainable ranking success.   

    The Loss Of Backlinks  

    The idea of losing backlinks can make anyone reluctant to change SEO agencies. However, your new agency may have to rebuild your backlink profile, ensuring only high-quality backlinks are gained. There may be a temporary disruption in link building efforts, but the transition will be beneficial in the long term. 

    Tip: 

    Remember to ask your new agency what their backlinking policy is before signing an agreement with them!  

    Data Ownership  

    Your data should belong to you and nobody else. Companies can have their Google Analytics set up within their previous agency profile, which means they own your data. When this happens, it can be a challenging procedure to correct. Always advocate for owning your analytics data.  

    Reputable agencies will not use cloak-and-dagger techniques and would never intend to harm your business if you do decide to jump ship.  

    Securing your data is essential. To do this, you can:  

    • Sign into your Google Webmaster Tools and remove your earlier SEO agency’s access. 
    • Block your former agency’s FTP and CMS access.  
    • Request a copy of all your ranking reports and targeted keyword list. 
    • Seek your links portfolio that shows where and how your previous agency got links.

    How To Avoid The Potential Risks  

    The abovementioned risks are a few reasons why moving may seem like an uphill battle and not worth the stress. But any professional agency should and will see that the handover process is as smooth as possible.  

    Here are a few ways to diminish the potential threats to rankings and traffic include:   

    Keywords  

    Your new company of choice will do a detailed analysis of keyword positions. Earlier reporting will show how much of an impact the previous agency had on organic traffic. By knowing this information, your new marketing firm should be able to create a tailored plan to help you improve your SEO results 

    Traffic   

    If you have gained good organic traffic from your keyword positions with the past agency, your new SEO company will ensure this position is maintained. They will also make suggestions to improve keyword combinations, brand phrases and long-tail keywords.  

    User Behaviour   

    If you are concerned about the drop in organic traffic, you should express your concern in talks with your potential new agency. Professional marketing agencies boast analytical skills, so providing them with all the statistics in advance will significantly help them decide the best course of action.  

    Questions To Ask Your SEO Agency  

    When the time comes to make the switch, it’s crucial to be asking the right questions to gauge what your outcomes will be about your SEO and brand awareness activities.  

    Web Hosting And Domain  

    Do I have 100% ownership of my domain and web hosting?  

    If you don’t, your prospective agency can keep all their work done for you as their data.  

    Links Network  

    Are the links to my website managed or owned by you?  

    If links are rented to you via an agency link or network, these will be removed when you change agencies. A new agency will need to flag this if they think it will pose a risk and need to support you in ways to mitigate the risks.   

    Strategy  

    Will you be analysing my current keyword campaign?  

    Your new agency should want to analyse your previous keyword strategy to structure a newly revised plan and deliver results.   

    Content Marketing  

    Is content marketing something your agency uses as part of an SEO strategy?  

    Google has been designed to give users the best online experience, and that supplies an element of education to online browsers. A content marketing strategy is essential if you want to see results.  

    Link Building Initiatives  

    What link-building tactics do you use?  

    Link building is probably one of the most pivotal SEO tactics out there, and it is essential to know in which manner your new agency plans to secure these without deploying black hat tactics (SEO techniques that go against Google’s online policies and can lead to penalties). 

    Best practices of link building include:   

    • Citations  
    • Guest blogs  
    • Link roundups  
    • Online directories 
    • Link insertion outreach   
    • Comment based link building  

    Success   

    How do you measure your success?  

    Your new SEO agency needs to share the same business metrics as you. Giving your new agency the factors that translate to wins for you is incredibly valuable. 

    Wins can include:   

    • Enhancing organic search traffic  
    • Conversions  
    • Uptake in organic search rankings  

    Point Of Call  

    Will there be somebody to speak to, such as an account manager?  

    A professional agency should have an account manager assigned to your project who will provide you with regular communication, audits and reports.  

    Tools And Tricks  

    What SEO tools are you using?  

    SEO agencies that conduct themselves professionally will be happy to share the tools and technology they hold licenses for and are unique to the agency. Gauge what benefits these are to you and your business and how they help your SEO strategy.  

    Some tools can include:   

    • Competitor analysis  
    • Website analysing tools  
    • Ranking trackers  
    • Keyword and link analysis  
    • Project management tools  

    Managing Setbacks  

    How do you handle negative results or setbacks?  

    Google algorithms are constantly changing and can affect results. Are there ways the agency can minimise these effects or propose strategies to smooth over bumps in the road? 

    Quick Fire Questions  

    Before signing on the dotted line, ask the final questions.  

    • What type of businesses have you worked with?  
    • Can I see a few case studies?  
    • Which industries have you done SEO work for?  
    • Have you won any awards?  
    • Do you have any reviews you can share with me?  

    Handover  

    A vital conversation needs to occur with your current SEO agency, ensuring a smooth handover process. Will they promise a smooth transition over to your new marketing company? It’s essential they’re transparent with you during this time.  

    They should also provide you with an end-of-strategy report that details clear information about organic search ranking and traffic benchmarks, plus an in-depth summary of all the tasks launched on your behalf.  

    When Are You Overreacting?  

    We can all assume and make poor judgments sometimes. After all, we are all human.  

    A few reasons why not to sign with another company are:   

    90 Days In And Nothing  

    SEO takes time; we cannot stress this enough. Generally notable changes only occur six months into the campaign. Allow your SEO agency to do its work. If you switch to a new digital marketing agency because you have yet to see results within three months, you will regret it.   

    Mistakes Happen  

    We all make mistakes, and that can happen if your SEO company is working hard to achieve the goals planned for your business. Overreacting to minor errors won’t strengthen relationships, and they may be reluctant to share everything with you, which is essential.  

    My Way Or The Highway   

    Work with the professionals, not against them. Your current agency could be pushing hard to deliver the results. They may not always side with what you want and that’s ok, especially if you suggest ideas that do not align with the scope they have planned for your business.  

    Final Thoughts: Securing SEO Success 

    This guide is not intended to scare you off changing agencies, but rather to empower you to make the wisest business decisions. Switching to a new SEO agency can be one of the best decisions you make to ensure your business growth and see your SEO success skyrocket.  

    Find an SEO agency that aligns with your business and understands your needs and wants. When the right agency presents itself to you, you are guaranteed positive, long-term results that matter.  

    Megan Smith, Content Marketing Specialist.

    Megan Smith

    Content Marketing Specialist
    Megan is a seasoned digital marketer at Found, specialising in creating compelling content strategies that boost brand visibility and business growth.
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      Ready to go where your customers are?

      75% of people never scroll past Google's first page. If you're ready to get found where they're looking, get in touch and find out how we can grow your business and drive more traffic, leads, & sales with search marketing.

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