Selecting an International SEO Agency: a guide

Selecting an International SEO Agency: a guide

With everchanging algorithms and new search engines popping up, many companies are finding it difficult to stay at the top of their game when it comes to international SEO. While large companies may be able to dedicate an entire team to handle SEO in-house, not so many have this capability due to resource shortage. In this case, they tend to outsource to an international SEO agency.

In this article, we will look at who needs international SEO, and the benefits of working with an agency. However, chances are, you already know these. Therefore, the bulk of the article is dedicated to factors you should consider when selecting an agency. Between agency rates and tracking and reporting methods, we will go through some of the main areas of focus when selecting the best agency for you.


Who needs international SEO?

For starters, not everybody who is looking for SEO services will need an international agency. However, if your business operates internally and you plan on running campaigns and projects around the globe, then it is a given that you should optimise beyond local regions to make the most of your efforts.


Why work with an international agency?

Working with an international agency can help your business expand its online presence in the countries and regions it operates. This means understanding and targeting specific cultural and linguistic groups of keywords to help you rank better, doing deep dives into local and regional search engines and their algorithms, and finally, navigating legal and cultural barriers. A good example is MediaGroup Worldwide (MGWW), a Swiss agency with offices around the world.


Factors to consider when selecting an agency

If you are keen to get started on the SEO journey but not sure what you need to consider when selecting an agency, read on:


Agency rates

One of the first things you should consider when choosing an agency is how much they charge for their services. Depending on where the agency is based and your request for services, this number can vary greatly. You may need to shop around to find the best price, and you will need to see what each price point can get you in terms of services. You should also make sure your revenue can cover these rates.

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At this stage, it would certainly be beneficial to have an idea of what you hope to achieve with the agency, in both the short and long terms. This means knowing what metrics you would like to focus on and on what timeline you would want to achieve certain milestones. This can help an agency decide how to scale your project.

However, if you are just starting out and do not know much about SEO, that is fine too. Perhaps the whole reason you are outsourcing to an SEO agency is because you do not know how it’s done. In that case, you can ask agencies to create a simple pitch for you including their capabilities, rates, and what it would take to achieve your goals. You can then compare different offers and figure out which one suits you best.


SEO capabilities

The next most important thing is the agency’s SEO capabilities. Some areas you should consider are how well they know the local language and culture, local search engines, and how long they have been in the game.

Observe what their management team is made of and where their offices are based (if they have more than one). Many international agencies – those who are big enough – are worldwide and have several locations around the world. These teams work on local campaigns with local employees, and they speak the local languages. This is a must-have if you want to run successful campaigns globally.

Aside from SEO industry expertise, you should also see if they have worked with companies and brands in your niche and achieved noteworthy success. An agency may have a great and longstanding track record of working with B2B companies, but if you are a B2C brand looking to target a different demographic, you should make sure they have the niche expertise.


Commitments and retainers

Anybody who has worked with SEO knows that long-term implementation is the only way to get results. Therefore, many agencies require a commitment over a few months and work with retainers in the long term. This means that you should be prepared to pay for several months of agency fees for ongoing work from the get-go.

You should also examine how agencies price their in-house project management fees in retainers. Sometimes, you may be able to save on extra fees if you commit to a long-term plan after your trial period.


Other marketing capabilities

If you are running other marketing campaigns for your brand alongside search engine optimisation, you may want to consider selecting an agency that has other capabilities. These include PPC and display advertising, social media marketing, and tracking.

Why? This is because in the long term, it would be easier for your marketing team to collaborate with one single agency who manages all your campaigns in-house. The agency can look at your entire marketing budget as a whole and figure out where best to spend portions of your budget. They can also track and monitor your overall performance and spot which places need more work.

An agency that can run multiple types of marketing services and campaigns simultaneously can also align reporting. This can simplify things for you, and you can save a whole lot of time explaining new budgets, directions, and more when you kickstart new projects.


Tracking and reporting methods

Another factor you should consider is how an SEO agency tracks their progress and how often they report back. This may depend on your request, but most agencies report monthly progress to keep their clients updated. They may also provide recommendations each month to help you optimise your budget.

If your company is a data-driven one who loves statistics, graphs, and quantitative data, you may find a data-driven SEO agency is the most suitable for you. This can help you streamline your decisions and internal reporting.


Collaboration style

Finally, when you select an SEO agency, you are not simply selecting a provider that can help you tweak your company’s performance hands-off. (However, if that’s your style, you should find an agency who will deliver this.)

Nevertheless, more often than not, when you look for an SEO agency, you are looking for a collaborator. You’re looking for a team who can work alongside yours, to produce the best marketing campaigns for your brand. This means understanding the agency’s working preferences and collaboration style.

At the end of the day, it does come down to culture. Some agencies may be more laidback and casual in their communications, others may be more formal. Make sure you choose one that is a good cultural fit, so that you can simplify your workflow and find joy in day-to-day collaborations.


The bottom line

Working with an international SEO agency is a great way to gain some support in running global campaigns and getting your brand name out there worldwide. As the search landscape becomes more complicated, having a professional helping hand can make a big difference. If you are looking for an international SEO agency, make sure you go through the factors mentioned above to find your perfect match.