You have a brilliant product and you’re convinced you could get thousands of orders daily.
The problem is: How do you get eyes on your business?
Good question. You start by understanding the psychology of consumers looking for solutions to their problems on the internet. Millions use search engines every single day and want to find what they are looking for in the quickest possible time.
This usually means three clicks. Three clicks. That’s all it takes to either make a sale or lose it. The value of those three clicks for your business is equal to buying real estate in one of the world’s most elite suburbs. Priceless.
The science behind how to achieve this is called search engine optimization.
The ultimate goal of all search engine optimization efforts is to bring the consumer to your doorstep, take them by the hand, and lead them into a magical place where they can’t refuse what they see.
Sounds simple enough.
But in reality, SEO strategies are not that simple to execute on your own or everyone would be doing it and making millions in the process. The good news is there are a few crazy kids in the world who have decided to make SEO their daily passion, and they’re good at it.
So stick around and by the end of the article, you’ll know if you need the help of an SEO agency for your online business and you’ll be able to spot a good one a mile away by taking my solid, tested advice.
The Value of an SEO Agency for Increasing Your Sales
There are 26.5 million ecommerce sites across the web, with more being created every day. This is the kind of competition that traditional brick-and-mortar shops never had to face, but it’s a reality in 2023 and beyond.
Ranking on the first page of a search engine is an important objective for ecommerce stores because 90% of all sales come from sites that rank on the first page. Working with an SEO agency that knows how to achieve this is sales gold. The right SEO agency will execute a well-oiled strategy that yields results time after time.
You want visibility, conversions, and organic traffic to translate to more money in your pocket, and a good SEO agency will help you make that happen.
A true-life David and Goliath story
Let’s just prove what we’re talking about before we go any further.
- The challenge: Get a new website to outrank 3 ‘Goliath’ SAAS ecommerce players.
- The RedBat Agency solution: No problem! In little under a year, RedBat took the client from 1,250 organic visitors a month to 21,900.
- The strategy: Find the competitor’s weak spots and exploit them. We discovered that the competitors were ranking because of their domain rating alone. We employed four key strategies, which you can read about in detail HERE.
- The results: From a spend of $40,000, the client made $153,000 in sales – this is a conservative figure based on each consumer spending only $1. Of course, they spend much more than this and keep coming back. By the end of December 2024, we predict that our client will have earned $431,000 in sales from our SEO work and this is a conservative figure.
- Greatest SEO success tactic: Link-building.
What Distinguishes a ‘Good’ From a ‘Bad’ SEO Agency?
I want to remain positive here because there are some really good, hardworking SEO agencies out there. Having said that, it’s equally important that I’m honest about what a ‘good’ agency does and what practices you should avoid when it comes to SEO.
Here are the most important points to watch out for when choosing an e-commerce agency.
✅ A simple, understandable process
SEO companies must be able to explain exactly how they will go about doing the work that you hire them for. SEO isn’t that easy otherwise, everyone would be doing it, but it also shouldn’t be so mysterious that SEO agencies can’t explain it. After all, they have to replicate their process to get results time after time, so if they can’t explain to you what they’re doing, then it’s a red flag.
✅ A proven track record in the ecommerce space
Ok, I’m just going to say it like it is. Companies cannot afford to give their well-crafted ecommerce website into the hands of inexperienced agencies that will:
- Employ black hat SEO practices
- Have no clear SEO strategy for how to achieve results
- Employ writers who practice keyword stuffing
All this will come back to bite you.
Even if they are a new player in the industry, they must have fundamental processes in place and at least one or two clients they have helped.
✅ The ability to share the results they have achieved
Search engine optimization results are measured by certain SEO metrics. It is critical that an agency can share its results using these metrics, even if they don’t initially tell you the names of other clients.
9 Critical SEO Metrics:
- Organic search traffic – these are the clicks coming to your website without paid ads and are a good indicator of how well you are ranking for the keywords you are targeting
- Keyword ranking – your website position on the search engine result pages (SERPS)
- SERP visibility – how often and how predominantly your site is appearing on SERPS
- Click-through-rate – the % of readers who click through to your website from the SERP
- Bounce rate – number of readers who go to your website but then leave without interacting with further information, e.g., they don’t take another step towards purchasing products or services, or they don’t take up a free trial offer or leave their email address.
- Website authority over time – predicts how well your website will perform over time.
- Number of backlinks – this is when other sites have links that point to your site. It is the most important ranking factor at present.
- Engagement time – tells you how much time a reader spends on a page. If they spend a long time there, your site matches user intent. If they leave immediately, the opposite is true.
- Conversion rate – the % of users that have completed an action that you have prompted them to take, such as signing up for a newsletter, downloading a free resource, signing up for a trial etc.
How long will it take to see results?
Ask the agency you want to work with how long it should take to see results based on past performance of similar industries.
Will it be 100 days, 250, 365?
SEO is difficult, but it’s a science, so any good agency spends time working out when their clients can expect results because it’s a key business driver.
If you’re promised quick results, proceed with caution. SEO doesn’t happen overnight.
There is that one client that successful SEO agencies have hit the jackpot with and their efforts become an overnight success, but the majority don’t. SEO is a sustained effort business. The little wins add to a consistent growth trajectory that is predictable.
SEO can sometimes be a bit like buying stocks. One decision by Google can cause a massive shift in the work already done – both positive and negative.
This brings me to my next point – the promises they make to you and how quickly they make them.
✅ They don’t promise anything until they’ve done their research
Ecommerce companies may be in the same arena, but they are all very different and an SEO agency that knows its stuff accepts this and makes it work for them.
It may be frustrating when you encounter an agency that first wants to look at your site and analyze what they can do for you when you want to know as soon as possible how much it will cost. See this as a good sign. Winners know what battles they can fight and win. So give these agencies a chance and they’ll deliver the results you want.
Having said that, you should know how to view SEO costs because the cheapest is not always the best option, and good SEO agencies that have evaluated your website and agree they can get results will charge at least a market-related rate for their services.
✅ They’re not the cheapest
This is one area of work where a bargain is not a bargain at all. Hear us out.
E-commerce SEO agencies worth their salt have spent time building their processes and perfecting them to achieve predictable results. They have hired top-quality professionals that don’t come cheap because they want to help their customers achieve their objectives.
They have case studies and numbers, well-laid out strategies, and offer excellent customer service, so why would they give their services away for free or cheaply? The answer is: they wouldn’t!
Cheap SEO agencies should be avoided or, at the very least, scrutinized to understand whether they are a new player in the industry or whether they are trying to secure any business they can find.
Ask how they charge for their services
There are several pricing models for SEO services. Here are the three most common ones:
- Monthly subscription packages – these packages bundle standard services together based on the tasks it takes to move your website forward.
- Project-based fees – Charged on a project-for-project basis, the agency gives a quote based on a set number of deliverables. Once the project is completed, the relationship with the agency is concluded.
- ‘Per-service’ Fee – Each service attracts a different fee and you can choose the services you want and leave others.
Some other options are:
- Keyword based charges
- Hourly payments
- Pay for performance models
Here is a bit of a guide to help you figure out what you need. This will help you if you’re starting from scratch with SEO and have no idea what it costs.
|You will need:
|A well-established website with many SEO issues and you need intensive SEO work with long-term adjustments
|A monthly subscription package
|A brand new website and need to get established
|Initially, you’ll need a higher monthly subscription package and most likely project-based fees. After the bulk of the work has been done, a lower monthly subscription will suffice
|A few adjustments needed to your website such as keywords and backlinks
|A monthly subscription package that offers only basic services or a ‘per-service’ model.
According to a recent survey by LinkedIn , SEO services can cost you between $1,500-$5,000 a month, depending on the scope of the work. The cost of a one-time project is between $3,000 and $40,000, and per hour you’re looking at $50-$350.
The reason SEO is expensive and becoming more so is that it takes time, resources, and expertise to optimize a website for organic search. Constant monitoring of algorithms and making adjustments further increase the work and the cost of SEO.
After all this talk about cost, maybe it’s time to look at another case study to show the returns that you can expect from SEO.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
- The challenge: Increase revenue for our ecommerce client before the holidays
- The RedBat Agency response: Sure thing! We grew their organic traffic from a little under 6,000 visits per month to over 34,000 per month.
- The strategy: We went with two separate link-building campaigns to get the fastest results. We zoned in on three category pages where our client wanted to rank for keywords. You can take a look at the full details HERE.
- The results: The average cost per click in this niche is $1. The campaign turned ROI-positive during the 2nd month when the traffic increased by nearly 5,000 visitors. The client achieved first-page rankings for the most important pages before the Holiday season.
- Greatest SEO success tactic: Link-building.
✅ They document deliverables and onboard clients
Honestly, this should be a best practice in the SEO industry. Sadly, it doesn’t happen enough, and a lot of the time it causes difficult problems for both the agency and the client when expectations are not met.
Agree on deliverables with your SEO agency as part of your contract and then have regular meetings with them to get updates on their progress.
A structured onboarding process where they explain their process and get access to your digital assets is critical. Without this, the agency cannot deliver on the deliverables you’ve agreed to. Also, you need to know who you are working with, so an introduction to the different team members and their roles in your project is a good way of keeping communication flowing and building trust.
Speaking of building trust. We need to talk about the SEO agency’s approach to link building. This is a non-negotiable for an ecommerce website and you must have this conversation before you agree to sign up for services.
✅ White hat link building
Link building is the most important way of telling Google to sit up and take notice of your website. It affects search engine rankings, domain authority and Google indexing. This makes it a pretty big deal.
Like anything else with value, it falls prey to risky tactics. These are known as black hat linking building techniques and they should be avoided at all costs. The risk of Google discovering these tactics and penalizing your website is not a road you want to take because some websites never recover. What happens, you ask?
- It negatively impacts your search rankings and visibility
- It doesn’t drive long-term results
- It negatively affects the user experience
Some of the tactics you need to listen out for when consulting with an ecommerce SEO agency sound like this:
- “We’ll get as many keywords on the page as possible just to increase the ranking. We’ll worry about the content quality later’.
- ‘Our strategy is to create multiple location pages as quickly as possible by duplicating content and changing about 20% of it just to through Google off’
- ‘We can position some keywords behind images, making them invisible to readers but the search engine will pick them up’
- ‘We’ll get our content team to write up some 5-star reviews to give your ratings a boost.’
Don’t lose your website and possibly your livelihood by participating in these tactics.
Further reading: Link-building mistakes and how they affect your business
Next up we look at two points that make every SEO agency unique. Their human capital and their digital assets. These points should be considered before making your final decision. They may not seem that important, but they give you the whole story.
✅ There is a diverse team of experts handling the SEO
You wouldn’t let a general practitioner operate on your brain and you wouldn’t want a pediatrician to do a hip replacement for you. There’s a reason for that. It’s the same with SEO. You can’t have a generalist working on all aspects of your SEO strategy. Believe me.
Something is going to suffer.
An online store has unique SEO challenges that must be overcome and, therefore must have skilled team members to execute your strategy. Going back to my example above, your website is like the human body and each part works together as one unit. When something goes wrong, you need an expert to fix it.
Ask to see the organizational structure of the agency. If they’re hesitant to show you that, well that’s a sure sign that something is up. Look for a good distribution of skills. You want to see a mix of management level, content creators, link-builders, marketing experts, SEO strategists, and analysts.
✅ Their own website complies with basic SEO principles
There’s no doubt about it: if the agency website doesn’t comply with basic SEO principles, how will they improve your website?
Let’s put it this way: Can a chain-smoking doctor convince you cigarettes are bad for you? Can a mechanic whose car always breaks down convince you he knows what he is doing? Can a person who has never run a marathon suddenly win one?
I think you get the point.
All good things come to an end
Those were my top 9 points for evaluating an ecommerce SEO agency. As promised, these tips have been tried and tested and give you the best chance of finding and working with a great agency. If you’re about to make a decision, I hope these points will firm up that decision. If you haven’t reached out to an agency yet but know that you need one, then why not start here?
My team and I have been living these 9 points as a creed since I started Redbat Agency’s sister company, Batlinks. If you’re interested in working with us, you can get in contact with us by clicking the link below.
As a BONUS for those readers who have stuck around to the end, I’m including my thoughts on what you should aim to work on with your SEO agency as an ecommerce store.
What should I discuss with an SEO agency?
Agencies may have different ways of going about things but at the heart of it, there are only so many tactics and techniques you can employ to beat the search engine algorithms.
If you want to establish a good foundation for your work with the agency, start by discussing the following critical elements.
Be specific about what you want to achieve. Make a list of goals that you have before you go to the initial consultation meeting.
It’s ok if you don’t know exactly how it translates into SEO speak. Communicating what you want to see happen is an important step to help an agency understand whether they can assist you or not.
A primary objective should be boosting organic traffic to your site. Unlike paid traffic, organic traffic is the result of effective SEO and content strategies, attracting visitors naturally through search engines.
Keywords and content
A cornerstone of SEO, keywords need to be selected based on user search intent. Your content should not only rank for these keywords but also provide valuable, easily accessible information to address user queries.
Discussing user intent at the different levels of your sales funnel will help the agency to formulate better strategies that will target the right audience at the right time.
I’ve already discussed the importance of backlinks for your website above, but let’s go through the main points again.
Back-links do the following for your website:
- It gives Google a vote of confidence in your website when other sites link to it
- It influences your search engine ranking
- The authority of your website is gauged by the quality of the backlink that you have acquired
Pretty important stuff, so make sure it’s on the table for discussion.
Search engine algorithm changes
Search engines frequently update their algorithms to improve the user experience, combat spam, and refine how they evaluate and rank content. Ask the agency how they stay informed about these changes and implement them.
For example, do they do a sweep of all client websites when there’s a change and automatically make adjustments? Do they charge extra for these services?
Conversion Optimisation rate
SEO is like having a sign that says “Fresh Baked Cookies” if you’re selling cookies, but conversion rate optimization is about getting people to go beyond just looking at the sign and actually buying your cookies. It’s about turning them into customers.
When someone looks at the sign and perhaps even comes into the store, you want them to purchase the cookies. Now, what about when this doesn’t happen? You want to know what you can do to fix it, right?
Get your agency to pull in their conversion expert and brainstorm some ideas.
I’d love to hear from you sometime soon but if not, I hope your sales rocket as a result of the SEO work done on your website.
All the best,