A Beginner’s Guide to the Canonical Tag

Would the main version of the page please stand up?

What does Canonical mean?

The literal definition of canonical comes from religious rhetoric and originally referred to a set of sacred books that were accepted as genuine or preferred.

A good way to relate this to the modern, digital world is when a celebrity is verified on Twitter with that little blue tick next to their names.

No, this isn’t solely a way of further boosting their ego’s (although I’m sure they love it!) it’s actually to differentiate from other people / companies of the same name or users who try to impersonate them.

It’s pretty useful…

Now think of pages on your website that may serve duplicate content or highly similar content.

How does Google know which is the main one?

You need to let them know.

Google themselves say that if you don’t explicitly tell them which URL is the canonical they will decide for themselves, which can potentially be harmful for your SEO and rankings in Google.

What is a Canonical tag?

The Canonical tag is a HTML element that you add to a webpage to tell Google which page is the canonical (priority).

It typically looks something like this:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.limelightdigital.co.uk/” />

As you can see the tag itself is rel=canonical and a canonical tag is often referred to by this name or sometimes even ‘canonical link element.’

As we know, canonicalisation has been around for a long time but the rel=canonical tag itself came out in 2009 and was brought in by Google to stop legitimate duplicate content from affecting websites

Not only does this work for an individual site, but canonical tags can also work across domains.

An example of why the same content might appear legitimately across two domains is a site migration.

In this case you should paste the following line of code into the header of your old site’s page to let Google know that you know want them to prioritise newwebsite.co.uk’s content.:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.newwebsite.co.uk/” />

How are Canonical Tags implemented?

As touched on earlier, you simply need to paste the tag that describes the desired canonical page into the header of each of the pages you want this to refer to.

So for example…

…<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.limelightdigital.co.uk/seo-services/” /> would go in the header of every page that has similar content to that main page.

This could be: http://www.limelightdigital.co.uk/seo-services&sort=pricedesc which is a page that sorts the services by descending price.

Exactly the same content, but we clearly only want the main seo-services pages being crawled, indexed and receiving the SEO benefits from Google.

Canonical Tag Best Practices

There’s several ways to canonicalise multiple URLs asides from the rel=canonical tag itself.

Some are best practice and have UX / SEO benefits whereas others may cause your site more harm than good.

Each method has a reason behind it and deciding which one to go for should depend on the particular situation.

  • 301 Redirect – You’ve probably heard about 301 Redirects before and may well have implemented a few of them on your website pages. All these are is a status code that redirects users from page A to B without them ever seeing page A. This is unlike Canonical tags which don’t redirect users at all and the two seperate pages still exist. 301 redirects are useful for when you don’t want any user to see a certain page but want to maintain any SEO value it holds.
  • URL Parameters in Google Search Console – Can’t deal with the stress of implementing individual canonicals on thousands of pages? Web devs taking ages to implement your request? Then simply login to Search Console and exclude them from being crawled. Once signed in simply head over to Crawl>URL Parameters and then add the parameter you wish to exclude e.g. utm_source. This will stop any URL with utm_source from being indexed and causing any duplicate content issues.

Not recommended:

  • Block Google from crawling – You’re solving the duplicate content issue but creating a new one by potentially losing any SEO value that your now blocked page may have had!
  • Blocking indexing of non canonical versions – So you’ve listened to our advice above and decided you’d let Google crawl but not index the non canonical page. Well unfortunately this just throws up the same problem as before.
  • 30X redirects – Any 30 redirect that isn’t 301 is simply not best practice. A 301 redirect passes 90-99% of link juice to the new page whereas the other methods aren’t so useful from an SEo perspective.
  • 404 the non-canonical version – Again, with a 404 you’re losing all the ranking signals that the previous page may have gathered by deleting the page. It’s also not great for UX.

When to canonicalise URLs

  • When content is extremely similar or duplicate
  • If content is serving the same  searcher intent
  • If you’re updating content
  • Content is expiring e.g. old product

Hopefully this article has answered a few questions you may have had surrounding canonical tags and their usage. If you have any questions or if you think we’ve missed anything out please let us know in the comments below.

While you’re here, why not check out our blog for more Digital Marketing insights?

Social Media Management For Your Small Business & Startup

In our latest presentation at the Santander Small Business Talk in Leicester, we shared our top tips to help small business owners get started with using social media as a powerful tool to market their business online. Take a look at our presentation in full below:

Running a small business can be very time consuming, from the day to day tasks of admin and general running of the business, marketing can often get put on the back burner. In this presentation, we will show you how to be successful on social media and the benefits of a strong social media strategy

As an agency we work with a number of clients who are very time limited and they often see us as an extension of their workforce. Doing everything at once is impossible so we’re employed to help.

However, we want to show you some actionable tips you can take away.

Why Use Social Media?

You probably already have an idea of what social media is, are actively interested in learning more about it and perhaps even run your own companies social output. but there may be some benefits that you don’t know about….

With everyone telling you that you must get on social media, you can often forget why you’re on it.

  • Brand Awareness (nothing looks worse than a profile whose last tweet is in 2014!)
  • Engaging with your audience (replying to comments negative or positive – finding mentions – we’ll come onto that)
  • Driving website traffic
  • Sales (never promise clients this)

In an ideal world social media would directly lead to hundreds of conversions but it’s not so simple. There’s a lot of steps to consider.

Social Media & The Sales Funnel

Social Media marketing is right at the very top of the sales funnel. Although you may not directly see sales from this, it does contribute. This helps with brand awareness and making potential consumers aware of who you are and what you do.

Planning Your Social Media Strategy

Determine what you want to achieve from your social media strategy rather than trying to achieve all the aims. It’s a lot easier to focus on one KPI than trying to achieve everything at once. Different advertising methods, campaigns and platforms will work for each KPI. Three good places to start with your social media strategy are:

  • Determine Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • Find your brand’s voice
  • Choose the right social media platform

Choosing the Right Social Platform for Your Brand

So, how to choose the right social media platform for you.. It’s not always a good use of your time to try and post on every single social platform out there. Instead, look at where your target audience is. For example, if you’re selling construction equipment, your key audience is less likely to be on Instagram which is made up of a younger audience interested in visually-pleasing imagery. To help you choose, here are some interesting stats to consider:

  • 25-34 years old is the most common age demographic of Facebook users
  • Instagram mobile ad revenue is to hit over £5M in 2018
  • 42% of Twitter users access the app every day
  • 44% of LinkedIn users earn more than £65,000 in a year

Finding a Social Media Voice

You may not think this is necessarily important for your small business. However, a user still expects your brand to act and communicate on social media in a way that can be respected and they can perhaps relate to. Two contrasting examples to look at is the social media accounts of ‘Paddy Power’ and ‘ Cosmopolitan Magazine’. They both use two different styles of voices to target two very different audiences. You can also use your social media voice to make your brand stand out and take a different angle. Think about why someone might want to follow you.

What Not To Do on Social Media

We also want to show you examples of where social media has go wrong for brands so you can avoid doing the same! It’s all about finding a happy medium. Not boring. Not too edgy. Here are some things to avoid doing on your social media accounts:

  • Taking a political stance
  • Spam (automating the same posts / replies)
  • Overly self promote
  • Ignore users
  • Feed the ‘trolls’
  • Forget to proofread
  • Buy followers

Organic vs. Paid Social Media Marketing

Organic Social Media Marketing Benefits & Techniques

When it comes to Social Media Marketing or Advertising you can split it up into organic & paid. Organic refers to anything done without paying the platform you’re advertising on e.g. posting content (aka Social Media Management).

Benefits of organic social media marketing include being able to give your brand a voice, increasing your audience and following (competitions are great for this), driving traffic to your website and supporting your SEO and other marketing efforts. What’s more this is all free to do, so why not give your brand a presence on social media?

Paid Social Media Marketing Benefits & Techniques

Paid Social Media Advertising is usually based on the Pay-per-click (PPC) model of advertising famous on platforms such as Google AdWords. When working with a Digital Agency, they will typically charge a management fee and then suggest a budget that will give your ads chance to show.

Benefits of paid social media marketing include incredibly precise targeting options (especially Facebook), you can reach a much larger audience than organic means alone and you can easily ‘boost’ everything else you’re doing with a small budget.

Standard paid campaigns are super easy to set up and get started with on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can set this up with a small daily budget to start off with and we would recommend paying per click.

Then once you’ve got started with paid social media advertising, you can get started with some more advance techniques to target to your audience. You can retarget al users who have already visited your website, target a list of customer emails and target users who have visited a specific page on your website (eg. cart abandoners).

B2B vs. B2C

Different ad types and platforms can be used to target different audiences depending on whether you’re a B2B or B2C small business. For instance, Facebook carousel ads which show the user multiple products within the ad is effective for a B2C business. Whereas, LinkedIn informative, simple ads may be more beneficial for businesses of a B2B nature.

 

Note that some platforms have different costs per click e.g. Facebook has a much lower CPC than LinkedIn.

Handy Social Media Tools

So what are the best tools to use when posting on social media for your small business? Here are some of our favourite tools we like to use ourselves:

Post Scheduling

  • Buffer (free for up to 3 social accounts)
  • Hootsuite

Analysis

  • Buffer Analytics
  • tweetdeck.twitter.com

Design

  • Canva.com

View our Slideshow here – feel free to share it too!

If you would like help or advice on how to manage your business online on social media, get in touch.

The Ultimate Guide to Growing your Startup Business With Marketing (2018 Edition)

As a Startup Business owner, plowing money into Marketing can be a nervous exercise.

With the huge number of options available to you these days, it can be difficult to know where to start.

That’s why we have created this Ultimate Guide to Marketing for Startup Businesses.

Pick and choose the right marketing avenue for you and your business.

Whether it’s website traffic, footfall or app downloads you’re after…

…or whether you’re in the tech, automative or an even more niche industry, this comprehensive list of tips and advice has something for every Startup business.

Listed below are our favourite articles about marketing for startups by some of the most successful businesses in marketing:

 

1. Marketing Strategy

marketing strategy for startups

Before jumping straight into any marketing method, first things first, you need a solid strategy.

Just as in a game of football without a strong set of tactics you’ll probably end up losing!

Make sure you identify KPI’s from the outset and then try and understand how best to achieve them with each marketing technique.

Will you choose a blend of several methods or focus all your budget on one?

Marketing Strategy for Startups Resources:

How To Develop A Successful Marketing Strategy For A Startup

The Importance of Marketing Strategy for Early-Stage Startups

Startup Marketing Blueprint

 

2. SEO

 

seo for startupsYou may have heard about the importance of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for your startup business’ website.

Well, you heard correct.

Marketers see SEO as becoming more effective, with 82% reporting effectiveness is on the rise and 42% of these stating effectiveness is increasing dramatically.

Whether a huge, multi-national company or a fledgling startup, SEO is crucial for getting your website noticed online.

SEO for Startups Resources:

Why Is SEO Marketing So Important for Startup Businesses?

How to Choose an SEO Agency for your Startup or Small Business

14 Steps To Successful SEO For Startups

 

3. PPC

 

adwords for startupsPay-per-Click advertising (PPC) does exactly what it says on the tin.

You pay every time someone clicks on your advert as opposed to paying for impressions or views.

“Controlling and capitalising on search engine traffic is essential to the growth of startups, using AdWords is close to a necessity.” – Brett Middleton, brett-middleton.com

This advertising model is most popular with platforms such as Google AdWords & Bing Ads but is also used by Facebook, Twitter & other Social Media’s

The beauty of PPC is that you can pay as little, or as much, as you want allowing for very controlled tests.

Google Adwords is an appealing proposition to a lot of startups. It’s one of the simplest forms of advertising to understand and it works for B2B and B2C companies. – Mark Spera, Cofounder @ GrowthMarketingPro.com

PPC for Startups Resources:

Does Adwords Work & Will it Work for My Startup?

How your startup should be using Google AdWords

What Type of Google AdWords Campaign Is Best for You?

 

4. Social Media

 

social media for startups

As we just touched upon, Social Media can be either ‘Organic’ or ‘Paid’

Organic Social Media usually refers to Social Media Management and involves content creation, strategy and acting as another branch of a business’ customer service department.

Whereas Paid Social Media refers to a PPC advertising model where you can promote Tweets, Facebook & Instagram posts and much more.

Which you opt for depends on your desired outcomes. Do you want to push competitions and sales or are you trying to communicate with your potential customers?

Social Media for Startups Resources:

Creating a Social Media Strategy for your Startup

Which social media platform is right for my startup?

7 Essential Social Media Tips for Startups

 

5. Content Marketing

content marketing for startups

 

Content Marketing is one of the fastest growing marketing methods and what’s better is that anyone can execute this technique, with the right knowledge and skills.

Content Marketing is the act of creating share-worthy, link-worthy, interesting, educational, humorous or useful content that your audience will enjoy.

Whether it’s to drive traffic, improve SEO or to boost your Facebook following, there’s a number of benefits to this method.

There must be a catch right? Well first you need to understand what your audience want…

Content Marketing for Startups Resources:

What Is Content Marketing?

Why Every Startup Needs a Content Marketing Plan and Strategy

4 Startups With Amazing Content Marketing Strategy

 

6. Email Marketing

 

email marketing for startups

If you want to hit a huge number of your audience in one go then Email Marketing can be a powerful tool.

Compiling a list of emails of potential customers can be tricky but once you’ve done it then compelling Email Marketing campaigns work a treat.

It allows you to land offers, news, competitions, event details and more in a lead’s inbox and this can be much more powerful than other broader marketing

However, as with all marketing, there are best practices and etiquette that needs to be followed or you could end up doing more harm than good to your brand!

Email Marketing for Startups Resources:

Email marketing tips for your startup

The Lean Startup Guide to Email Marketing

The 7 Golden Rules of Email Marketing for Startups

 

7. Networking & Events

Networking for startups

 

Attending Networking Events can be a great way to market your startup whilst simultaneously learning more about your industry.

There are a number of free and paid meet-up events across the country for startups focused on different industries and topics.

These tend to attract local businesses so can be a great way for you to make some important connections.

Make sure you don’t forget your business card!

Networking & Events for Startups Resources:

Five Networking Tips for Startups

The best marketing and business conferences in the UK 2018 (Reviews and Ratings)

Here’s What You Should Do to Make Networking Events Worthwhile

 

8. PR & Press Releases

press releases for startups

 

Public Relations (PR) can be an incredibly powerful way to get your startup noticed, and it doesn’t have to be costly.

Getting featured in newspapers and online publications may seem like a tough ask, but think outside the box about what makes your business unique and a journalist may just fancy writing a story about you.

PR & Press Releases for Startups Resources:

Eye-catching PR for your small business needn’t be costly

Why Most Startups Don’t ‘Get’ Press

A Beginner’s Guide To Public Relations For Tech Startups

 

9. Branding

 

branding your startup

Choosing your companies branding is often one of the first jobs a startup owner will do.

It’s also what customers will first see when they visit your website, store or read promotional material about you so it needs to makes a lasting impression.

Like with a lot of things today, it can be done on the cheap but are you prepared to risk your brands image to save a few pounds?

Good branding encapsulates your business and it’s values whilst simultaneously making you look professional and increasing trust in your customers

Branding for Startups Resources:

The Secrets To Branding Your Small Business or Startup: What You Can Learn From The World’s Best Brands

Why Most Startups Get Branding Wrong (and How to Fix It)

8 components of branding your startup

 

10. Web Design & UX

 

web design for startups

If a website visitor has a bad experience on your website then, more times than not, they will leave and visit a competitor’s site.

Whether it’s a poorly laid out categories section, an inability to filter products or (the worst crime of them all!) a slow site, then customers will be put off.

We live in an impatient age where users demand only the best, quickest websites.

Make sure you invest in a beautiful, easily navigable site or those PPC ads your spending money on to drive traffic to your site will be a waste!

Web Design & UX for Startups Resources:

How to Increase Sales Through your Website

Does a startup need UI/UX design before it reaches product/market fit?

20 Hard-Hitting Startup Websites That Get Visitors To Take Action

 

11. Offline Marketing

 

offline marketing for startups

Now, we know we’re boiling down a lot of different marketing methods into one section here and offline marketing could probably have it’s own guide!

But modern startup companies realise that there best way of competing today is online rather than TV, Print, Radio or other media where you’re competing against big brands.

“Offline Marketing is still important to startup companies in 2018, for sure. Building an online site is easy, but building a business takes a lot more than that, and you have to be wherever your customers are when they are ready to learn about your product.” – Hesson, Arcadier.com

However, there is still a number of ways you can market offline without a budget.

The resources below explore some creative ideas as well as some mandatory marketing methods that work for every business:

Offline Marketing for Startups Resources:

Effective Offline Marketing Ideas for Startups
5 Ways That Offline Marketing Is Still Critical For Startups

Why Startups That Don’t Do Offline Marketing Fail

 

12. Telemarketing

telemarketing for startups

 

Telemarketing (or Cold Calling) has a bit of a bad reputation.

Mention it and people instantly think of pushy sales people from a foreign call centre spamming you with calls all day and night.

We’d never recommend doing that, but as with all marketing, it’s about finding a happy medium.

Some of the biggest companies in the world started out with cold calling and below they explain how, when done well, it’s extremely effective…

Telemarketing for Startups Resources:

Social selling or cold calling? Why tech startups should do both

From cold call to $17 billion startup: How Uber got started with sales calls!

Cold Calling Tips & Techniques for Startups

 

13. Guerrilla Marketing

 

guerilla marketing for startups

No, this has nothing to do with getting gorillas to do marketing for you, we’re sorry!

Guerilla Marketing actually refers to an advertisement strategy done in an unconventional way with little to no budget.

It involves creative, often disruptive, techniques that grab the imagination of the public in a more personal and memorable level.

But before you go out spray painting your company logo around your village, take a look at some of the do’s and don’ts below:

Guerilla Marketing for Startups Resources:

Guerrilla Marketing for Startups

18 Of The Most Memorable Guerrilla Marketing Campaigns

Guerrilla Marketing Tactics to Help Put Your Startup on the Map

 

14. Contests

competitions for startups

 

Need to grow that Social Media following quickly?

Want to grow your email list for future marketing?

Competitions, Giveaways and Viral Contests are the answer.

There’s a number of terms and conditions you need to adhere to make the competitions legitimate and these offer from site to site, so make sure you read up…

Contests for Startups Resources:

Why Facebook Contests Can Help You Grow Your Startup

3 Social Media Contests for App Startups

How to Grow Your Business With Giveaways and Viral Contests

 

15. Referrals

referrals for startups

 

With the variety of marketing strategies available out there, it might come as a bit of a surprise that one of the most relied upon is still the good old fashioned referral.

A referral is when a previous or current customer or some connection that you have recommends your service to someone else.

“Referrals are crucial for a startup business. Getting more referrals not only keeps you in business during the early stages of your startup, they help you build a better product that suits the needs of the market. Making sales solves a lot of problems.” – Ralph Jean-Paul, Managing Editor @ startupmindset.com

They have a much higher chance of becoming a paid customer if they’ve been told how great your service or products are by a trusted pal rather than your own adverts.

So how can you get more referrals?

Referrals for Startups Resources:

6 Ways to Get More Referrals for Your Startup Business

7 ways to generate referrals

How to Create a Great Referral Program for Your Startup

 

16. Upselling

 

upselling for startups

Ever worked in a restaurant or café growing up?

The one message that your boss would of drilled into you is that when someone orders their food, always offer them something extra to go with it.

This is known as upselling and it’s very powerful as there no one more likely to purchase from you than someone who already has.

Whether you’re upselling nuts or olives as a starter in your job as a waiter or a pair of shades to go with that new summer t-shirt a customer has just ordered on your startup fashion site, the principle remains the same.

Upselling for Startups Resources:

What is Upselling?

Startup sales: Upselling 101

How to be an upselling master and impact your revenue

 

17. Niche Influencers

 

influencer marketing startups

Identifying and utilising niche influencers in your industry can help spread the message of your brand to a targeted audience and boost your visibility.

Whilst many influencers require payment or something in exchange for access to their audience, this can often be worth it if they’re your ideal customers.

It’s essentially the same idea as big brands such as Nike hiring elite sports stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo to talk about how amazing their latest football boots are.

However, we’re simply focusing in on a much more niche influencer who requires a free pair of jeans rather than millions of pounds.

Niche Influencers for Startups Resources:

Is Influencer Marketing Right for your Startup?

Why Influencer Marketing is the Next Big Digital Growth Strategy

5 Influencer Marketing Strategies For Startups With No Budget

 

18. User Generated Content

 

ugc for startups

Why create your own content when you can get your audience to do it?

One of the big time saps for startup owners trying to market themselves is creating engaging content for their customers.

User Generated Content (UGC) is the term used to describe any form of content such as videos, blog posts, images, audio and other forms of media that was created by consumers themselves.

Why not get your audience to create the best advert possible for your new product and use the winner’s as the official ad with the them receiving a prize in return?

User Generated Content for Startups Resources:

4 Startups that Know the Power of User-Generated Content

How User Generated Content Can Grow Your Brand

User-generated content for startups

 

19. Online Communities

 

forums for startups

Where better to converse with customers than on forums and online communities?

Discover what they like or dislike about your product and get honest feedback about your services.

Forums are also great places to post links to your websites and answer any questions people may have about your industry, positioning yourself as a thought leader.

However, online communities are notoriously wary of anyone who seems overly self promotional so make sure you follow the etiquette and refrain from spamming message boards with adverts.

Online Communities for Startups Resources:

8 Do’s and Don’ts for Marketing on Online Forums and Message Boards
6 Ways Online Communities Boost Business

How to Use Online Forums

Did we miss out a crucial Marketing method?

Is there an Advertising strategy not featured that you’d swear by?

If so, please let us know and we will include it in the post!

How to Choose an SEO Agency for your Startup or Small Business

Startup’s and small business owners have a lot on their plate when they’re just starting out.

There’s a whole host of expenses to shell out for before they even begin to consider their own marketing.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can be an incredibly powerful tool for Startups when executed correctly.

However, there are a number of pitfalls to watch out for and ways that you could end up paying for a bunch of services that end up having no effect on your business or sales at all.

Whether intentional or not, some agencies will not deliver the results that their client is looking for.

This could be down to incapabilities on their side but a lot of the time it can due to the agency themselves not understanding exactly what they have signed up for.

For that reason, in this article we have highlighted 11 things to consider when hiring an SEO or Digital Marketing agency for your startup.

Tick all of the boxes below and you will have yourself a top quality agency that works in tandem with your business and helps you achieve your business goals.

How to hire an SEO

*But before all that, check out this video from Google themselves!*

1. Educate yourself on SEO

Before you start quizzing an agency on their credentials and asking them for examples of awesome results they have achieved, you will need to know what they are talking about.

You can quickly brush up on the SEO basics by reading handy online SEO 101 articles.

Scout the web for video tutorials, forum questions and Twitter chatter and before you know it you’ll have a relatively decent understanding.

Whilst a lot of SEO complexities that an agency talks about may still go over your head, this at least gives you a head start when setting out KPI’s later on.

2. Google your Potential SEO Agency

What better way to see how good an SEO agency is at doing the services that they offer than checking out how well they rank in Google?

Try a few keyword phrases and variations to see where they rank.

E.g. If you’re looking for a local SEO Agency in Loughborough, simply search for ‘SEO Agency Loughborough’ and see where they are.

However, don’t hold it against them if they don’t rank for said terms as they may be a new agency and ranking for SEO is probably the most competitive term there is!

3. Check out your Potential SEO Agency’s Website & Social Media Channels

An SEO Agency’s website is their shopfront.

Is the website up to date, well designed, easy to navigate with regular blog posts added?

Although this doesn’t necessarily correlate with how they will work with yourself, it’s not a great impression if the agency you are hiring to provide you with creative content has a barren blog.

It’s the same with their social accounts, can you trust them to run a Facebook campaign if they haven’t posted themselves since 2015?


4. Check if they have a Google Partner Status?

To qualify to be a Google Partner agency you need to have a certain number of employees that have passed their Google online exams.

A Google Partner status means that the agency you’re dealing with has a strong level of knowledge in SEO, PPC & Digital Marketing in general.

An Agency will tend to display this at the bottom of their website as a badge of honour so keep an eye out for these.

There are also similar badges for Bing Ads, RAR Awards and more.

5. Find out if they specialise in your niche and fit your industry?

Whether it’s by location, size, industry or services, SEO agencies often specialise in certain areas.

Make sure that the agency you go with has experience and expertise in dealing with yours and the knowledge of what you do as this instantly puts them months ahead of others.

If you’re a startup, for example, then there is some great SEO Agencies’ for Startups that will be much better qualified to deal with your small business than a bigger agency who only deal with companies that have huge marketing budgets.

Choose what’s right for you.

6. Understand Budgets & Pricing

Like with most online services, there is no fixed fee that you should expect from an SEO Agency but there has been research done into the subject to give you a rough estimate.

In the UK, the average monthly cost is around £300 upwards and anything below is considered “cheap”.

It also depends hugely on what you want from your SEO and what business goals you have.

Top level, content-lead SEO contracts can be much more expensive but tend to deliver better results whereas cheaper and quicker packages won’t deliver the same, naturally.

7. Examine your Goals and KPIs

If you take one thing away from this article then let it be this.

Understanding your own business goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) is crucial to selecting the right SEO agency.

SEO can help improve: keyword rankings, website traffic, online sales, form submissions, brand visibility & more.

Which ones are important to you and your business?

Judge your agencies’ performance by these factors and make it clear to them that you’ll be doing so.

8. Checkout their Case Studies & Client Reviews

The majority of SEO agencies will have a Case Study section of their website where they display their successes and exactly how they did it.

If they don’t, what are they hiding?

Make sure they are helping clients improve what you would like to improve with your business.

If they’ve helped someone boost organic traffic by 50% year-on-year but there’s no mention of sales and that’s your most important KPI, then should you be working with them?

how to choose seo agency for startup

9. Ask for a free Proposal & Audit

This is a great test, not only of their knowledge and expertise, but also their commitment to you.

If the proposal is thin and they refuse to give you even the smallest SEO audit for free, are they really interested in you and your work?

On the other hand, if the proposal looks tailored to your business you can tell straight away that they have done their research.

Check the audit to make sure they have highlighted enough issues and what work they have stated they will carry out.

10. Reports and Communication

Ensure that your potential SEO agency commits to regular reports and ongoing communication.

A good communication schedule looks something like the following:

First 1-3 months (Whilst initial work is carried out and agency learns about your business)

  • Daily emails
  • Weekly phone calls
  • Monthly meetings
  • Monthly reports

After 3+ months (once a rhythm has been set and initial issues corrected)

  • Weekly emails
  • Bi-weekly phone calls
  • Monthly reports
  • Quarterly meetings
  • Of course this is all adjustable and based on personal preference but remember, many agencies will bill you for this time.11. Utilise Established Relationships & Referrals

    A recent study has found that, whilst 43 percent of businesses who hire an SEO agency stated that company attributes factored into their decision, 45 percent of choices were based on established relationships.

    So whilst, thought leadership, knowledge, staff experience, reporting, transparency, customer service and everything else mentioned above was important, most businesses still go with referrals.

    What’s more important to you?

    After you’ve done your due diligence you’ll have a much clearer picture of which agency is for you or at least what type of agency you want to work with.

    For more Digital Marketing help for Startups check out our blog

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