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Is Changing an SEO Agency Something I Should Be Afraid of?

16.10.2019 r. Irena Zobniow

The dissolution of cooperation with the SEO agency you are currently working with often raises a lot of concerns. What can happen? Will the effects of SEO drop dramatically or perhaps nothing will happen? Will our website suddenly lose its backlinks? Contrary to appearances, these are not at all unjustified fears, because such situations may occur. Today I will share my experience and thoughts on changing an SEO agency with you.

 

Changing an SEO Agency – Potential Risks

There may be different reasons for a decision to change an SEO agency. The most common reasons are:

  • dissatisfaction with the results,
  • lack of expected communication and cooperation between both parties
  • simply politics – a change of the decision-maker on the client’s side, bringing new business decisions.

This is, of course, always a difficult decision, especially if the agency has been serving us for many years. Working alone for years in various SEO agencies, I experienced client departures due to various reasons, which was always associated with a sense of failure. I also happened to be on the other side and have had to terminate a contract with an agency. This decision is never easy nor devoid of emotion, but it always requires us to thoroughly reflect on it.

Let’s consider what kind of threats may be waiting for your websites, once a decision to change the SEO agency has been made.

 

1) Drop in the Phrase Positioning

This is the most common fear of service providers. An agency’s clients often want to keep the top 3 positions for phrases that are important for them. Crucial not only in terms of building traffic but also in terms of image. The loss of positioning will be a big loss for them not only in the SEO area. A decrease in the positioning of phrases may be associated with a change in the SEO strategy, focusing on other phrases or simply a matter of the new agency getting to know the website and the time needed to enter the appropriate mode adapted to the website conditions.

 

2) Drop in the Number of Visits

The loss of traffic will in most cases be a direct result of a decrease in the positioning of phrases. But not only that. If the agency has conducted intensive content marketing activities within the website and the published content was visible in organic search results, the decrease in visits can be noticed quickly.

 

3) Decrease in the Traffic Quality

One of the fears of changing an SEO agency may also be the deterioration of the quality of visits. That is of great importance in the case of e-commerce websites. Lower quality traffic may, therefore, mean lower sales. This could occur when the new agency has not yet managed to learn the exact behavior of customers on the website. And they do not have sufficient knowledge about the history of visits (not every company provides website statistics at the bidding level and shares only the basic data necessary to prepare the strategy).

 

4) Deterioration of the Link Profile

This is definitely one of the most frequent fears of agency change and most often results from negative customer experiences. I have had the opportunity to witness the so-called “cut-off” of backlinks from the customer after the termination of a contract. It is worth knowing that if the agency obtains links from its own websites, there may be a risk that these links will be removed after the termination of the contract. Unless the cooperation contract guarantees their maintenance for a specified time. However, this is one of the worst practices of an SEO agency. Therefore, this alone may already suggest that we need to change the agency.

 

How to Protect Yourself from the Potential Negative Effects of Changing SEO Agencies

The risks listed above are the most common blockers before changing an SEO agency, which is, of course, understandable. However, I will try to suggest how to approach it with a cool head. Moreover, I will describe how to rule out such negative effects. So that starting cooperation with a new partner will at least keep the current results, not to mention their improvement.

A professional SEO agency, which is to take over the activities over the website, will prepare for it in advance. As a result, it will be able to assess the potential risk of changing the partner. And at the same time, it will plan the actions at the beginning in such a way as to exclude possible threats of a decrease in the effects. How can this be done? Here are several areas that an SEO agency can handle.

 

Keyword Positioning Analysis and Google Analytics

A professional SEO specialist will start with a detailed analysis of keywords positioning. It is worth giving them access to the previous positioning of the website, as it will be possible to check how they influenced the actual organic traffic based on historical positioning. It may turn out that phrases, which were ranked high, generated little organic traffic because they were characterized by a relatively low average number of searches or the CTR of a given result was low. Knowing this, the new partner will be able to prepare a plan that will include key phrases more beneficial, in terms of effects, or will first take actions that will increase the click-through rate of a given result.

In the case of phrases, which until now have been kept high and generated traffic, the agency will certainly check what is behind this success. If it turns out that it is thanks to perfect optimization that a given subpage has gained a strong position, the risk of decline is practically non-existent. However, if it turns out that it is thanks to the link building, the agency will take appropriate action. I will tell you about it later in the article.

Enabling the new partner to have a full insight into the history of activities, positioning and traffic statistics will be a positive move. Even before the agency actually takes over the operational activities.

 

Traffic Statistics Analysis

I have already raised this issue at an earlier point when discussing the strategy for key phrases. So if most of the organic traffic was due to the high positioning of key phrases, the agency will ensure that the positioning is maintained. However, it may turn out that organic traffic was generated by keywords, for which the website has high positioning regardless of SEO activities.

Apart from brand phrases, these could be long-tail phrases or other keyword combinations that the agency did not take into account in its strategy or that naturally generate organic traffic (e.g. through appropriate optimization). If the future partner analyzes the organic movement in detail from a historical perspective and comes to such conclusions, there is nothing to be afraid of.

 

User Behavior Analysis

If you are afraid of a decline in the quality of organic traffic, it is worthwhile to signal this to a potential future partner already at the stage of cooperation talks. A professional SEO agency also has analytical skills. So analyzing the quality of traffic: customer purchasing paths, time spent on the website, bounce rate, and other qualitative indicators on a monthly basis and compared to individual periods will be a standard. All you need to do is provide your partner with all the traffic statistics in advance. Then the specialists will do the rest.

 

Link Profile Analysis

And finally, what very often keeps us awake at night while changing an SEO agency – a decrease in the number of backlinks. Of course, there is also a way to do that. This problem bothered many of my clients with whom I started cooperation.

In order to calm the customer down and dispel their doubts, I prepared an in-depth analysis of the backlink profile, most often using the Ahrefs tool. After generating a list of all backlinks I started their manual verification. Firstly, I sorted them according to SEO quality parameters (DR, UR, etc.). Then I marked each link in terms of the potential source of acquisition, providing additional information as to whether the link is placed permanently or there is a threat of manual removal by the agency.

Most often I encountered a situation in which the strongest links from the SEO point of view came from PR activities or were the result of natural sharing or quoting of a given website on other websites. I marked these links as permanent because there was a minimal risk that they would suddenly be removed. A large number of links, usually resulting from SEO activities, came from sponsored publications or guest posts. So I also treated their sudden removal as unlikely.

 

Links from the SEO Agency

And finally, links that may have come from the back-up facilities or services of the SEO agency. In this case, I marked them as “highly likely to be removed” and then checked them in detail. I analyzed their number, their value from the SEO point of view, to ultimately assess how their removal would affect specific positioning and organic traffic. In the case of links from the agency’s websites, there were usually two scenarios:

  • These links were of poor quality. So my experience was that they wouldn’t make the SEO effects worse. Therefore, the customer was immediately reassured.
  • Links were of medium and high quality. So removing them could worsen SEO effects. Then I immediately suggested preventive actions to the client – preparing a contingency plan for linking from places with similar parameters (appropriately spread over time), with the same anchor texts. If we notice that the agency’s links are removed in the current monitoring, we will start implementing the prepared plan. A strategy prepared in such a way created a sense of security for the client. It also allowed us, as an agency, to take over the activities in a smooth manner and without prejudice to the effects to date.

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The Client’s Sense of Security Is of Utmost Importance

SEO activities in themselves are a difficult and complicated process, requiring the involvement of people with many specializations. The larger the service and the more difficult the industry, the more justified the fears of losing SEO effects when changing agencies are. Today I tried to present my point of view and indicate possible ways to eliminate these concerns based on my experience and knowledge. As you can see from each situation, there is a way out provided that the agency will approach the problem with professionalism and the full engagement of not only SEO specialists but also web analysts. I hope that I cleared out all of your fears while changing an SEO agency. Let me know in the comments!

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