In a world where over 90% of online experiences start with a search engine, showing up on the front page of Google can be the deciding factor between a business that’s going to thrive and one that may get bankrupt.

In the changing landscape of marketing and promotion, SEO has become a core element of any serious business whether big, small or medium. According to 

Report by Hays in Singapore

Digital marketing is the number one sought-after skill in Singapore both by B2B and B2C companies.  So many businesses from around the world are coming to Singapore and competition is continuously rising.

As most companies outsource their SEO work to a SEO agency in Singapore, it’s seen that a large percentage of them are left dissatisfied by their Singapore SEO agency.

Hiring right SEO agency in Singapore and effectively managing it is an art not many businesses know, which is why they end up getting trapped in marketing gimmicks and shell out marketing budget only to see dismal results and heaps of dissatisfaction.

Whether you are looking to first time hire an SEO agency in Singapore or you have  had certain  disappointing experiences, this is  the guide which if you follow you’ll be able to hire a perfect SEO agency in Singapore that will be aligned with your business goals, produce tangible results, provide extensive reports and help your business to grow multi-folds.

The guide is your ultimate resource for best practice tips on how to select the right SEO agency in Singapore, maintain a strong working relationship, and deal with any hiccups along the way – including hairy issues that no one likes to openly talk about.

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Step 1 – Determine your goals and expectations:

Before you go for hunting that perfect SEO connoisseur, it’s imperative that you have clearly thought, identified and determined the goals and expectations of the SEO campaign that you’re willing to hire an agency for.

Consider answering the following questions to yourself/your team:

  • Who do you want to market your product and services? (be as specific as possible)
  • What would be the characteristics of your most ideal customer?
  • What is the biggest pain point of your customers that your product/service solves?
  • What do you expect a campaign to accomplish (leads, traffic, sales, branding, blog readership or something else)?
  • If possible, an estimate of number of leads/traffic/sales every month you expect (realistically keeping your budget and bandwidth in mind)

Brainstorm and carefully determine the answer to above questions because what you determine at this step is going to write the future of your business, branding, and marketing. As target customer identification that lacks details lacks effectiveness, ensure that none of your answers that you find at this step are too broad.  Instead, be as specific as possible.  For instance, if you are a professional window cleaning company, saying that your target is every home and office in Singapore is too broad of an answer. You should be able to tell the ideal age, ideal salary, time and health situation, interests and other such details of the people you wish to target.

 

Step 2 – Determine your budget

When it comes to marketing, even if you get millions of a budget its never going to be enough. Many businesses, however, have this miss conception that the budget should be decided only after talking to SEO agencies in Singapore based on what their packages and service offerings are. In reality, in SEO, you get what you pay for. This means that if you are expecting too much and Have a disproportionately low budget, all that’s going to happen is endless searching and disappointment. However, it’s also true that certain SEO firms charge really outrageous pricing that is not usually affordable no matter what portfolio, track record and promises they show.

In this situation, you might end up hiring a low-quality cheap priced service provider who would make promises that are too good to be true.

I often advise my clients to tell their budget range and I then help them understand what all is realistically possible in that range. This while at one hand gives peace of mind to both clients as well as a service provider; I’ve noticed that the conversation, in this case, happens more about client’s actual business than merely the price.

First, determine if there are things you can do in-house and what items you absolutely need to outsource. For example, if you have a content developer that inexpensively provides high quality, search engine optimized content, you can let him continue and it’ll bring the budget down as you won’t need to pay expensive copywriters in that case.

In order to decide your budget, also analyze the possible outcome as well as risk I.E. cost per lead. In my experience of working with hundreds of mine and my client’s businesses, SEO is still the best, recurring and relatively lower cost solution comparing to paid campaigns such as search engine marketing, facebook/linked in ads and so on once ranked.

According to

imFORZA

 SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate.

 This means that SEO is not only better than social media but also traditional marketing methods such as newspaper ads/radio advertisement, which is substantial of a cost.

 So if you haven’t yet, determine the budget range you’re comfortable spending and be open to sharing the same with SEO agencies in Singapore that you converse.

Step 3 – Write a detailed requirement specification document:

SEO firms that really care about their work and deliver outstanding results are usually picky who they want to work with. Unless you’re after a hungry, desperate SEO agency in Singapore that’ll get ready to take your money no matter what, you can’t really get a right firm if you do not have right requirement specifications written.

As a matter of fact, the quality of your requirement specification document tells agencies how serious and interested you are for your business. For instance, people who put together un-detailed and difficult to understand specification send a direct indication that they are not serious about their business and this is how they are taken by SEO agencies.  In fact, the kind of requirement specification you have has a direct correlation with the kind of SEO agencies you’ll eventually land into. The lower quality of specification document you write the lower quality of SEO agencies you would attract.

Make sure to include following essential elements in your requirement specification document:

  • A short description of your business including its core products and services
  • Website of your business
  • Geographical area (s) where your business operates
  • Who is your most ideal target customer?
  • Who are your top 5 competitors that are providing almost similar services/product to yours and are ranking on google?
  • What do you expect from the campaign (leads, traffic, sales, branding, blog readership or something else)? This can be more than one if applicable.
  • Is there any number you can tell that you expected I.E. 1000 visitors a month, 50 leads a month ETC?
  • What is your budget range?
  • Describe if any SEO work on your website has been done before and what is the outcome of the same

Who is going to write content (your existing content developer or SEO agency)?

 

Step 4 – Right people, right questions:

There is literally no shortage of SEO agencies in Singapore, but its all about the right SEO agency you need to get your business ranked faster and better.

Now when you got your goals, expectations, and budget ready, this is the time you start identifying the right SEO agency that can fulfill them. This, however, is the most challenging task. As you start searching right SEO agency in Singapore, you would come across to so many agencies claiming themselves the best and you might very likely get inundated

You need to be really clear, specific, picky and watchful about choosing one.

The process of hiring right SEO agency should happen in 2rounds.

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Round 1- filtering and shortlisting:

  • Tell all the basic yet important details about your goals and expectations and observe how do they respond. Do they ask more to-the-point questions or they say “Yes” immediately? Often the ones that immediately say yes without asking and understanding more are only looking to somehow take away your money and are very likely not primarily  interested in your business success
  • Carefully observe their response rate. Do they reply in several hours every time? Do they take long before answering your questions or they are prompt in responding?
  • Look for the thought leaders in the industry – agencies that provide easy to understand advice, tips and high-quality free content are the ones serious about their business and quite possibly care about their clients’ success. This, however, does not mean any agency that has a blog and some articles posted is ideal. You should be able to judge the quality and usefulness of their content and you’d get to know. Thought leaders who’re advice is sound and matches to what you’re looking for are the best to contact
  • What better way there’s than to see previous work examples of the agency and determine the kind of results they have achieved. Take time to see the websites of their past clients and observe how have they been marketed. If those were marketed in the way you’d like to get marketed as well, that’s a great sign

 

Round 2- talk to real people:

Real work can only be done by real people. Once you filtered and shortlisted SEO agencies in Singapore that matches your first-round expectations, this is the time to engage in conversation with real people and understand their approach, seriousness, and professionalism.

  • Understand their prices and packages along with all the promises that they’re making. Stay away if the promises being made sound too good to be true
  • Determine whether the offer you’re being given aligns with your goals, expectations and budget estimation
  • Connect with individuals that are responsible for communication and observe the knowledge they have about what you’re looking for
  • As content is the most important element of any SEO campaign, specifically understand how serious they are about the content and if they have a qualified content developer team that can produce high quality and search engine  optimized content
  • Ask their specific approach to achieving your goal and see if that sounds reasonable or not
  • Don’t only talk to a salesperson.  Connect with the people who are going to technically handle the campaign if hired and understand their technical skills
  • Ensure that the agency is going to provide frequent reports and is going to be in transparent communication about work being done. Determine what frequency they provide reports and do they prefer bi-weekly/monthly call
  • View their sample reports, templates and structures that they’re going to use so that you know the kind of details you’re going to receive once begun.

 

Step 5 – Negotiation and finalization:

If you did the due diligence as described above, you would reach the stage where you need to finalize the contract terms in order to get started.

  • If the price is not finalized yet, politely ask if there is any discount available. Do not, however, make discount the only priority when finalizing the best SEO agency in Singapore
  • Understand the minimum locking period for the SEO campaign and make sure that it’s not too long. 3-4 months of a locking period is most ideal as SEO can take 12-14 weeks before you started feeling any difference in results
  • When starting out with a new agency, make sure to keep a 30-day out clause, even if it is after the first 90 days, to let you cancel with minimal risk. While SEO results typically take about 12 weeks before any results can really be felt, but in the rare event that things go south it can be useful.

 

Step 6 – Managing the relationship and achieving expected results:

Once the contract is finalized and work is started, remember that it’s not an end of your job. Hiring SEO agency in Singapore is similar to hiring an employee, with who you need to actively engage, share information and keep a fruitful relationship if you need expected results.

  • Sign NDA before you start sharing sensitive and confidential information about your products and services. This would help you comfortably sharing the details that are helpful for the campaign’s success
  • Share all the important details with your SEO agency including your exact KPIs, past performance on those numbers, efforts made in past,  different channels you currently use for acquisition, past hurdles and successes, and what senior management is expecting. If possible,  share profit data as well.  it can be very helpful too. Giving the agency clear goals and a clear understanding of how your business works will only help them to help you more.
  • Share weekly report about SEO performance including how many leads you received and on which products/services. Keeping them in loop about performance helps them understanding what’s working and what’s not working and also motivates to do more/executing creative ideas
  • Treat your SEO agency as a partner in business and be in regular communication with them. Many people have this mistaken belief that if they’re paying to their SEO agency, they are superior and the agency/its representatives are subordinates. However, most businesses who could run successful campaigns respected their agency and worked with them as a partner rather than superior and subordinate relationship
  • Have bi-weekly calls with your agency representatives. When working with multiple clients, it’s only natural for agency members to feel more involved with the client they are in regular communication with. It doesn’t need to be long, but 30 minutes every other week is critical to keep things smoothly on track, in addition to regular monthly calls.

Hiring right SEO agency in Singapore and being able to effectively managing the same is critical to your business success. It does require work, efforts, and involvement if you need desired results. However, if you follow this guide, you would definitely find the perfect SEO agency and achieve highly profitable results in no time.

Do you have any prior experience of finding/hiring SEO agencies? What problems/challenges you’ve come across and how have you solved them? Share in comments and let’s help other business owners and their businesses.