Have you outsourced the SEO process to an external agency but you aren’t sure if the performed work meets your expectations and brings any benefits to your website and business? Would you like to learn how to evaluate the effectiveness of conducted SEO activities and check if the agency is fulfilling the contract? Keep reading to see what to pay attention to and discover the three phases of every SEO process that will help you keep your finger on the pulse.
Conducting anSEO agency’s performance audit will allow you to make sure that the cooperation brings you the expected results and helps you achieve your business goals.
However, to do it successfully, you need to understand that SEO is a long-term process that has various stages. Learning about each of them will allow you to evaluate the effectiveness of the SEO agency you cooperate with.
When to Start?
How to evaluate an SEO agency? Before you start monitoring an SEO agency’s work, you need to know what the process looks like and what results you may expect.
Improving website visibility for specific keywords and boosting organic traffic takes time, especially when talking about competitive industries. For this reason, you won’t observe results overnight.
If you signed the contract two weeks ago, it’s too early to verify the work done by the agency.
The first visibility increases are usually noticeable after 3-4 months from the start of cooperation. Then, you should slowly begin to observe improvement in traffic and conversions.
SEO is a process. Google robots need time to crawl and index your website. The more pages you have, the longer it’ll take.
It’s also worth noting that SEO is complex and multi-faceted.
It comprises both on-page and off-page activities such as link building. To achieve satisfactory results, an SEO agency has to focus on both these aspects.
The fact that little happens on your site in the first weeks of cooperation doesn’t necessarily mean that the company doesn’t fulfill the contract. Perhaps it’s working on acquiring quality backlinks, or preparing a detailed website audit?
Don’t panic, remember that you can always contact the SEO specialist responsible for your project and resolve your doubts. Be patient and treat SEO as an investment that will pay off in the future.
Don’t Make These Mistakes
There are a few mistakes you should watch out for whenevaluating the effectiveness of an SEO agency you cooperate with.
Because relying on certain metrics can simply be harmful and may give you a false picture of the situation.
There are clients who check website visibility (the number of impressions in Google Search Console, visibility in tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush, and phrases in TOP 10 or TOP 50) in order toevaluate the effectiveness of an SEO agency at the very beginning of the cooperation.
This is a good practice because it makes it possible to notice first increases in website visibility and see that the performed activities really start to pay off.
Unfortunately, there are also clients who insist on relying on CTR and their average positions in Google Search Console.
Why you shouldn’t do it?
If the visibility of the site increases (let’s say it ranked for 50 keywords and now thanks to SEO it ranks for 500 phrases), it’s natural that the average position and CTR will decrease temporarily.
For this reason, it’s extremely important to be able to choose adequate tools, metrics, and parameters tomonitor the effectiveness of an SEO agency at every stage of the cooperation, as these will vary.
How to Evaluate an SEO Agency Performance?
After a few months of cooperation, it’s possible toevaluate the effectiveness of the SEO agency you work with. For this purpose, you can use a couple of tools that are available partially or fully for free.
To make the task easier for you, we’ve distinguished three typical phases of cooperation. Thanks to them, you’ll know what you can (and should) verify at each stage of working with an SEO agency.
Phase I is usually the first three months of cooperation with an agency. During this time, it's useful to evaluate and measure the agency's performance by monitoring metrics such as:
an increase in impressions,
an increase in the number of keywords in the search results,
an increase in the visibility of the site on Google.
Each and every client can and should monitor these parameters. Moreover, performed SEO activities should bring the first effects in the form of increased visibility, impressions, and keywords already in Phase I of the cooperation.
Tools to Verify SEO Agency Performance in Phase I
What tools can you use for this purpose?
This is when SEMrush and Ahrefs come in handy. They’re both paid, however, if you want to keep your finger on the pulse, it’s definitely worth investing in at least one of them.
How to check your website visibility and keywords in Ahrefs and SEMrush?
Enter the tools, provide your website address in the search box and you’ll see your page’s overview.
In this section, you can notice lots of valuable information such as organic search traffic, traffic distribution by country, the number of backlinks, the number of organic keywords, and so on.
[caption id="attachment_58154" align="aligncenter" width="1290"] Source: Ahrefs[/caption]
Thanks to the fact that the data is presented in a form of a transparent graph, you’ll be able to easily check if the performed SEO activities caused any increase in your page visibility.
Phase II is usually the period between 3 and 9 months of cooperation with an SEO agency. During this time, you can still see increases in your site's visibility in Google (which you can monitor using the aforementioned tools such as SEMrush and Ahrefs).
In addition, you can also expect traffic improvements. This parameter can be easily checked in Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
Not sure if link building activities are being done properly? This is also the perfect moment to verify this element of cooperation.
If acquired backlinks have a positive impact on the SEO process, your site's parameters such as Domain Rating (Ahrefs), URL Rating (Ahrefs), or Domain and Page Authority (Moz) should slowly increase.
[caption id="attachment_58161" align="aligncenter" width="1289"] Source: MOZ[/caption]
Remember that link building is also a long-term process. The number of links leading to your site should increase gradually. Otherwise, Google may consider such actions as manipulation, which will do more harm than good.
Tools to Verify SEO Agency Performance in Phase II
So,how to evaluate an SEO agency using Google Search Console and Google Analytics?Google Search Console
It constitutes a powerful source of information about your website and is provided by Google completely for free. However, to obtain the data, you need to confirm that you have access to the site. Shortly after logging in to, you’ll receive information about your website.
Take a look at the Performance tab with a graph and information about your total number of clicks in the search results in a particular period, number of impressions, average CTR, and average positions.
[caption id="attachment_58164" align="aligncenter" width="1288"] Source: Google Search Console[/caption]
Select a time frame between the third and ninth month of cooperation with an SEO agency.
What kind of data can you get?
The total number of clicks simply denotes website visits that took place as a result of clicking on the search result.
Next is the number of impressions which means how many times your website appeared in the search results – apart from the number of clicks, you’ll also receive information about situations when your page was shown in the search results but users didn’t decide to click on it.
The average CTR (click-through rate) is obtained by dividing the total number of clicks by the total number of impressions and multiplying it by 100.
As for the average position, you get the average result for all phrases included in the report.
Keep in mind that users visit pages on different days depending on the content and industry. Therefore, a page discussing taxes attracts the highest traffic during the week and its activity certainty decreases on weekends. On the other hand, a website from the tourism industry usually enjoys the greatest popularity on Sundays.
Why do we tell you that?
Because you shouldn’t panic if you notice certain visibility, seasonality, and traffic trends. It’s normal. To obtain more reliable and accurate data, you should always compare longer periods like months or even years.
Under the graph and data, you’ll find keywords that led Google users to your website. The report can also include information about impressions, CTR, and average positions.
If the number of impressions of a specific phrase is very high, but the number of clicks is low, it’s a sign that the SEO agency should focus on performing activities that aim at improving your CTR and positions for these specific keywords.
Nevertheless, remember that usually, it’s possible to notice an increase in the number of clicks only after a few months unless you operate in less competitive industries.
It’s another free solution. However, to use it you need to add a tracking code to your website. Thanks to it, you can obtain a lot of valuable data concerning your website traffic.
Right after logging in, you’ll see a chart with the number of users visiting your page in a given period. You’ll also see the information concerning:
the bounce rate, meaning the percentage of users who leave your site after seeing only one page. Of course, the lower the value, the better. However, keep in mind that this factor is largely determined by the industry you operate in.
the web session time which indicates how many minutes on average users spend on your website. You can find there data concerning visits from all sources, not only from Google.
the Source/Medium section which allows you to see the sources of your website visits.
the Acquisition section that will help you analyze your bounce rate depending on the source of visits. Referral means that a user came to your site from another site. To check visits from the search engine, you need to analyze Organic Search. Direct means that users entered your website address directly into the search bar and social media denote visits from social media channels.
Phase III is a period after 9-12 months of cooperation with an SEO agency.
At this stage, you should observe an increase in all important metrics and parameters such as:
Increased visibility (that can be checked in Ahrefs or SEMrush),
Increased organic traffic (that can be checked in Google Analytics and Google Search Console) - remember to take your website or industry seasonality into account (in this case, compare data year to year to get more accurate information),
Increased conversions from the organic channel (also from the direct and referral ones),
Lower bounce rate,
Improved average positions in Google Search Console,
All these metrics and parameters will give you an insight into the effectiveness of the SEO agency you work with.
Tools to Verify SEO Agency Performance in Phase III
As you probably know from the paragraph above, this is the Phase where actually all the discussed tools come in handy.
So, you can use Ahrefs and SEMrush to monitor:
the number of keywords in the TOP 10 and TOP 50,
website parameters like DR, URL Rating, DA.
On the other hand, Google Search Console and Google Analytics are crucial for:
monitoring your bounce rate,
checking the average positions of your website,
checking the number of impressions and clicks (and comparing the data and results over time),
monitoring organic traffic,
checking the web session times and sources.
That’s everything for today!
Keeping an eye on the above-mentioned parameters and using tools like GA, GSC, SEMrush or Ahrefs will allow you toevaluate your cooperation with the SEO agency.
Evaluation of the SEO Agency's Performance - The Takeaway
How to evaluate an SEO agency you cooperate with? The most important thing is to do it once it’s possible to see the results. This usually means the period after the first three months of cooperation.
Bear in mind that every SEO process is different and the effectiveness of performed activities depends on numerous factors such as your industry, website condition, seasonality, competitiveness, backlink profile, and more.
As an SEO agency, we strive to tailor the websites of our clients to the requirements of Google algorithms that are constantly modified. New updates cause havoc in the SERPs on a regular basis, so it’s better not to jump to conclusions too early.
If you notice any decreases in your website visibility or traffic, don’t be afraid to reach out to us. We’ll do everything in our power to restore your website’s visibility.
When monitoring the progress and effects of your SEO process, remember the three phases of cooperation described in today’s entry. Taking them into account will allow you to evaluate the performance of the SEO agency you work with more accurately.
Would you like to know more about evaluating SEO agency performance? Contact us!
This is an update of an article published in 2021.
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