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Stop SEO Agency Rip-Offs: 7 SEO Actions to Take Before Hiring an Agency

Stop SEO Agency Rip-Offs: 7 SEO Actions to Take Before Hiring an Agency

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SEO agencies are getting away with blue murder. With most agencies working on a billable hours model it’s in your best interest to make sure every minute of those hours is going into quality work and not basic stuff anyone could do. Read on for 7 things you can do to make sure the expert you hire is spending their time using that expertise and not pulling the wool over your eyes.

1. Google Search Console: It’s free, It’s simple, It’s yours!

Setting up Search Console is not hard and it’s free. If you do get stuck there are endless videos and ‘how-to’ guides that you can access. Search console is Google’s tool for tracking your organic web traffic and is a great resource for understanding what people are googling to find your site and how much traffic you get.

More importantly, it’s a tool you can take ownership of and understand, without ambiguity how well your website is performing.

Pro tip: I would extend this to Tag Manager and Google Analytics too for all the same reasons!

2. Keyword Research: Start small and work your way up to complex

Keyword research is a phrase only ever used by people in PPC (Pay Per Click) and SEO, usually when they have cornered you at some networking event and really must shift some of their business cards before they get lost in a nearby bin. It sounds complicated and academic and don’t get me wrong, it can be incredibly detailed and take vast amounts of time to do right, in fact I would argue good keyword mapping is the cornerstone to any successful SEO plan but that’s for another blog…

However, the very first step of keyword research comes from you – the real expert! Ask yourself: “If I were looking for what I sell, what would I google?” If you can make your website answer that search, you’re going to drive more traffic (traffic you can now track in Search Console!)

3. Content Creation: E-E-A-T the easy way

You know that content is king/key/important, but you don’t know what to write?

Well Google (and people) are looking for content that shows Expertise, Experience, Authority and Trust (E-E-A-T) and in your conversations with clients you show all four of those every day. Before you pay an agency to write low-hanging fruit content write an answer to the questions you know your customers have and I promise you your website will start to perform.

Pro tip: Every blog should have a “written by” section with a short blurb about you that explains why you know what you’re talking about.

4. Write Once and Promote a lot!

Writing content is hard and time-consuming so if you’re going to invest your precious time into it, you’d be wise to make sure you’re promoting it and I mean far more than once! Repost it on socials every 6 months and go back and update it if the information changes. Google and People will reward you!

Pro tip: This is easier if you write evergreen content. This is content that is unlikely to change and is always relevant. That will save you time overall.

5. User Experience: Simple and fast.

Does your website actively annoy you? Does it load slowly and is difficult to navigate? Then your customers will feel the same. If a website is frustrating to use it doesn’t matter how good your content is if people cannot find it. Before you pay the high costs for an SEO specialist make your website as technically well-functioning as possible. Tools like Search Console, Lighthouse and page speed insights are all free and can help you get started.

6. **Backlinks: Quality Over Quantity (Always)**

While some agencies might claim they can get you thousands of backlinks, remember this: it’s not a numbers game. One high-quality backlink from a reputable source is worth more than a hundred spammy ones. Focus on creating amazing content that people naturally want to link to, and you’ll be on to a winner.

Pro tip: Start with your clients, customers, and suppliers. Sometimes the best most relevant websites that can link to you are owned by the people you already work with!

7. Local SEO: Get on the map

If you’re a local business, don’t let an agency overcomplicate local SEO. Claim your Google Business Profile (formally Google My Business) listing, ask your happy customers for reviews (nicely, of course), and make sure your business info is consistent across any listing you’re on.


You don’t need to break the bank engaging SEO agencies that charge you for stuff you can easily do yourself: Setting up Google Search Console, basic keyword research, creating engaging content, updating old content, providing a good user experience, building quality backlinks, and handling local SEO. Any one of these actions will move the needle forward and when you’re ready to really commit to growing your brand and want an expert’s guidance, you can contact the team here at 21 Degrees Digital.

Stop SEO Agency Rip-Offs: 7 SEO Actions to Take Before Hiring an Agency

Written by Dominic Ellis

With seven years of experience in digital marketing, Dominic specialises in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Known for crafting tailored SEO strategies that go beyond one-size-fits-all approaches, he combines on-page SEO expertise with a focus on content that emulates his client's expertise.

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