As a startup owner, trying to navigate the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can feel overwhelming.
With every step – you risk doing something really dumb that may just get Google to de-rank or penalize your site.
The obvious solution is to outsource … but how do you even begin to hire an expert SEO agency?
I checked out dozens of SEO agencies and looked closely at their link quality, communication style, and overall reliability. Here are the best ones for startups.
Top SEO Agencies for Startups – Overview:
Smash Digital isn’t your typical digital marketing agency.
Founded by Travis Jamison and a team of SEO experts with entrepreneur blood, they’re in it for more than just the hustle. They’ve been growing businesses with tested and proven strategies since 2011. They’ve built a significant presence in both the US and UK.
Since 2010, Smash Digital has been helping brands climb up the Google rankings. They’ve got experience by the bucket-load, shown by the many SEO audits they’ve done, the countless backlinks they’ve built, and the massive amount of search traffic they’ve attracted for their clients. Plus, they know the ropes when it comes to handling their own companies’ SEO.
SEO services are Smash Digital’s bread and butter. They’re all about scalable growth strategies and sustainable link building methods. Plus, they’ve got specific services like SEO audits and tailormade SEO services, priceless stuff for a fledgling startup. Here’s an example of a content audit they did for a client.
And they don’t just offer digital marketing services – they also invest in companies they think are a good match for their skills and capital.
Smash Digital won’t break the bank, but they’re not cheap either. Services starting from $3000, they customize pricing based on each client’s unique needs and goals.
Smash Digital’s got some impressive success stories to share. One standout example is a content audit and an SaaS SEO study they did for a client, which shot up their revenue by a whopping 332%.
If you’re looking for the unicorn SEO company to grow your startup, check them out.
Siege Media is a content marketing agency, founded in 2012 by Ross Hudgens, with a laser-focus on SEO services. They offer a wide range of services, from copywriting and web design to infographics and interactive content. Their aim? To help you stand out with a unique content strategy that drives traffic and boosts conversions.
They sift through search data to spot juicy ranking opportunities and then craft content that outdoes the competition.
Siege Media boasts $148,646,000 per year in client traffic value – not too shabby.
Siege Media is all about SEO-focused content marketing. They dig deep into search data, find where the gold is, and then whip up top-tier content that leaves the competition in the dust.
Their approach leads to better rankings, more traffic, and improved link building. Plus, their methods are all about the customer and aim to skyrocket clients’ growth.
While exact pricing isn’t spelled out, it seems most of their projects sit between $50,000 and $199,999. They also charge an hourly rate of $100 – $149.
They’ve got impressive numbers to back them up, like taking Shutterfly from 0 to $1,700,000 a month and Gift.com to over 300,000 visits. They claim to generate $86,856,000 in client traffic value every year. Just think about what they could do for your startup.
They bumped up Instacart’s organic traffic by 350% and their traffic value by 356%. They helped Zendesk grow their organic traffic by 94% and boost their traffic value by $731,924.
People have good things to say about Siege Media. The VP of Marketing for Smith.ai even said, “They’re the absolute best in this business.” Siege worked with Smith.ai to up their organic search ranking. They created content around targeted search terms, which led to better search term positions and a whole lot of backlinks.
In short, Siege Media is a team of creatives and SEO wizards who can handle your marketing needs.
Thrive Internet Marketing Agency has been in the game since 2005, morphing from a one-man operation to an award-winning digital marketing powerhouse serving businesses globally.
With active clients hailing from Germany, Hong Kong, and the United States, this agency knows no bounds.
Over the past 17 years, Thrive has accumulated extensive experience in digital marketing, expanding its team from 62 professionals in 2018 to a whopping 220 worldwide staff by 2023. Their long track record has seen them navigate the evolving digital landscape, gaining valuable insights and crafting impactful strategies that drive results.
Thrive offers a comprehensive range of digital marketing services, with a core focus on SEO and online brand growth. They’re all about targeted results, employing data-driven approaches that align with your brand’s objectives and audience behavior. Need support with SEO or other digital services? Thrive has you covered with their white label services for agencies.
When it comes to pricing, Thrive keeps things custom. They understand that every business is unique, and so, they tailor their pricing to suit the specific needs and scale of your project. For a clear picture of how much their services might cost you, you’re best off contacting Thrive directly.
But does Thrive deliver on their promises? If their case studies are anything to go by, the answer is a resounding yes. Examples include Farah’s and Nationwide Constructions, where they made a significant impact in boosting overall traffic and online leads.
Client testimonials paint a positive picture too. Marci Wiersma, a broker at About Roatan Real Estate, speaks highly of Thrive’s honesty and straightforwardness. Similarly, Whitney Wells Lewis, Practice Manager at PARC Urology, applauds their work for helping her business grow substantially.
So, if you’re a startup in need of local SEO services, Thrive might be the agency you’re looking for. With a successful track record, a wide array of services, and a flexible pricing structure, they’re equipped to take your brand to the next level.
The journey of Boostability began in 2009 when Jared Turner and his co-founders had an idea – to make SEO affordable and accessible for all, not just big businesses with big budgets.
Based in Lehi, Utah, they’ve been walking the talk, providing digital marketing services to small and mid-sized businesses, helping them punch above their weight online.
At its core, Boostability offers a diverse range of services that can play a vital role in your startup’s growth:
- Keyword Research: Unearthing the keywords that your potential customers use is the cornerstone of a successful SEO strategy. Boostability’s approach to keyword research is both exhaustive and targeted.
- Link Building: Boostability understands the value of quality links. They work to ensure your site is linked from reputable, relevant sources, helping you rank higher on search engines.
- Local Search: If your startup is all about serving your local community, you need to show up in local searches. Boostability can optimize your business profile to stand out in these crucial searches.
- Website Creation: Need a new website? Or a website makeover? Boostability’s website creation service can make your site look great and perform well on search engine rankings.
- Social and Associated Marketing Services: The social media landscape is always shifting, but Boostability stays on top of trends to help your business thrive on various social platforms.
Boostability offers a range of packaged SEO services to suit businesses of every size. This means that even as a startup, you can access the kind of SEO services that are typically reserved for bigger companies.
Boostability makes an impressive claim: achieving top 10 results on Google for 86% of their clients within six months. This sort of development would mean a lot for a startup trying to make its mark. And let’s not forget their accolades – they’ve won the Inc 5000 Award for Fastest Growing Company five times.
Boostability is all about making SEO work for everyone – and that includes you.
Why You Should Outsource SEO
Let’s kick things off with some real talk. Search engine optimization is endlessly complex.
It’s an ever-evolving ecosystem that requires a deep understanding of search engines, algorithms, keywords, and web design. More importantly, it demands constant monitoring and adaptation to the shifting landscapes of search engine algorithms.
For a startup, where resources are often stretched, this might seem like a daunting task.
And it’s not just about getting your hands dirty with technical SEO.
It’s about being able to balance SEO with all the other vital aspects of running your business: development, marketing, sales, customer service. I mean, have you even had time to read an inspirational quote today?
Let The Nerds Handle It
Outsourcing allows you to tap into a reservoir of expertise that would be otherwise hard to build in-house, especially for a startup. With a digital marketing agency specialized in search engine optimization, you gain access to a team of experts who live and breathe SEO strategies. They’re in the trenches every day, keeping up with the latest trends and algorithm changes.
Besides, SEO isn’t a one-time thing that you can set and forget.
It’s a long game that requires consistent efforts over time.
Working with SEO companies gives your startup the luxury of time – time you can invest back into growing your business.
But remember, not all SEO agencies are created equal. So what separates the bargain bin link farm chop-shop from a top notch SEO agency?
Understanding What Makes a Great SEO Agency
Besides in-depth knowledge in search engine optimization and SEO services, a high caliber SEO agency should possess a few critical qualities:
- Domain expertise
- Experience tailored to your industry
Transparency is non-negotiable.
The best SEO companies keep you informed about their strategies, actions, and results. They should be able to explain what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and how it will benefit your business.
Scalability is crucial, especially for startups.
As your business grows, your requirements will change and likely become more complex. The agency you choose should be able to scale their SEO services in line with your growth.
SEO Is Not One-size-fits-all
Look for an agency with experience within not just your industry, but your goals and circumstances as a startup business.
The SEO services that work for an established SaaS business or an Ecommerce may not work for an early stage bootstrapped startup. Only an agency that understands your industry will be able to create a tailored strategy that aligns with your unique goals and challenges.
In addition, you’ll want to ensure your chosen agency offers the essential SEO services. These include a full SEO audit, keyword research, technical SEO, link building, content creation, and more.
Identifying a great company is somewhat straightforward, but what about the opposite?
How do you avoid wasting time and money with amateurs or bad actors?
Red Flags to Watch Out for When Hiring an SEO Agency
Let’s dive into some things you should watch out for when hiring an SEO agency. I’ve seen quite a few pitfalls in my time in the industry, even from reputable SEO companies:
Promises of Quick Results
SEO is a long game. Any agency that promises fast rankings or overnight success is usually one to avoid. It takes time to develop a comprehensive SEO strategy, implement it, and then see results. Usually, it’s a period of several months, not days or weeks.
Guaranteeing #1 Ranking
No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google, not even Google itself. There are simply too many factors involved, many of which are constantly changing. SEO agencies that guarantee this are not being honest with you.
Lack of Transparency
If the agency doesn’t clearly explain what SEO services they will be doing, be wary. You should know what you’re paying for. The agency should be able to break down their strategies and tactics so you understand their approach and actions.
SEO isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Every business is unique and requires a tailored approach. Be cautious of agencies that offer pre-packaged solutions without considering the specifics of your business.
Lack of Reporting
Reputable SEO companies will provide regular reports showing what they’ve been working on and the results they’ve achieved. If an agency doesn’t offer detailed, clear, and regular reporting, it’s a red flag.
Use of Black Hat SEO Techniques
Some SEO companies might resort to shady practices to deliver fast results. These include things like keyword stuffing, hidden text, link farming, and doorway pages. These techniques can result in severe penalties from search engines, including being completely de-indexed.
Good SEO isn’t cheap. It requires a lot of work, expertise, and time. If an agency is offering significantly lower prices than others, they’re likely cutting corners or outsourcing work to less qualified individuals.
No Focus on Conversion
While traffic is good in online marketing vanity metrics, it’s conversions that matter. If an agency talks a lot about getting you more traffic but doesn’t focus on converting that traffic into customers, that’s a red flag.
No Reference to Mobile Optimization
In today’s mobile-first world, SEO strategies should involve optimizing for mobile. If the agency doesn’t mention this, it could be a sign that they’re not up-to-date with current SEO best practices.
Remember, it’s essential to choose an SEO agency that aligns with your business objectives, maintains transparency, uses white-hat techniques, and, most importantly, has your best interests in mind.
How to Choose an SEO Agency that Suits Your Startup
Identifying the right SEO agency for your startup is like picking the right tool for a job.
It’s not just about how shiny it looks or how many features it has; it’s about whether it meets your specific needs and fits within your budget. Here’s how you can go about it.
1. Figure out your budget.
Search engine optimization is a long-term investment and you need to be ready to commit to it. Price ranges can vary dramatically between SEO agencies, so you need to decide what you’re comfortable spending. Remember, cheaper isn’t always better and expensive doesn’t always guarantee results. Find a balance where you’re investing in quality service without stretching your budget too thin.
2. Dig into their track record.
Case studies, client testimonials, and online reviews can provide a wealth of insight into an agency’s capabilities. Look for examples of their work with other startups, especially those in your industry. Have they delivered tangible results? Have they managed to help similar companies improve their search rankings and increase organic traffic?
3. Consider the cultural fit and communication style.
You want an SEO company that shares your values and communicates in a way that resonates with you. They should be willing to work closely with you, involve you in strategic decisions, and provide regular updates on your SEO progress.
Taking the time to conduct a thorough evaluation will pay off in the end, helping you find an SEO agency that’s not just good at what they do, but a great fit for your business in specific.
Now you know the top SEO agencies for startup businesses.
The world of search engine optimization might seem intimidating, especially for startups where resources are often limited and the learning curve can be steep. But it’s a world that’s crucial to explore and conquer.
With the right SEO agency batting in your corner, you can communicate effectively with Google, increase your website’s visibility, and stand out amidst the digital crowd.
Remember, investing in search engine optimization is a strategic move that can unlock significant long-term benefits. But the trick is to find the right partner, a digital marketing agency that possesses the SEO expertise, transparency, scalability, and industry-specific experience needed to drive your digital growth. A partner who fits within your budget and resonates with your startup’s culture.
Your move. Get your foot out of the puddle of mud.