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How to Compare SEO Companies

79510 Fps Compareseocompanies Pt2 V01

If you’re looking to hire an SEO agency, which criteria should you use to compare and contrast their offerings? In my time as an SEO consultant, I’ve been asked this question hundreds of times and have had a lot of time to evolve my thinking on the subject.

The chart below offers six criteria that will help you compare SEO companies and figure out which one best fits your needs. In it, I describe why each criterion is important and what an acceptable range looks like for an agency’s offering. Afterward, I list out the most well-known SEO companies in the U.S., comparing them by expertise, typical clients, and price range.

SEO Company Comparison Guide




Scope of Work79417 Compareseoicons V01 Scope Of Work

Effective SEO requires:(a) solving technical issues related to page speed, security, and mobile usability
(b) thorough keyword research with each valuable keyword “assigned” to a current or future page
(c) publishing ongoing content targeting commercially valuable keywords with each piece.

SEO agencies do not always offer all three aspects, and it’s crucial to understand how each will get done.
An agency with an ongoing monthly retainer must handle all three aspects of SEO, and ideally, have QA processes in place to find errors in their implementation, as so much rides on the strength of their execution.

If you’re simply seeking an assessment of your current SEO or to fix technical SEO issues prior to embarking on a thought leadership marketing campaign, a one-time project covering only those areas makes sense.

Team Composition79417 Compareseoicons V01 Team Composition

The perfect SEO team includes:

  • A high-level strategist to manage the overall campaign philosophy (e.g. hub and spoke SEO), set KPIs, and evaluate progress 
  • A subject-matter expert content writer
  • An editor / storyteller
  • A graphic artist to provide tables, graphs, illustrations, and other graphics for each piece of content
  • A technical SEO specialist
  • A marketing analytics pro to set up proper data tracking and marketing attribution
  • A campaign manager to keep communication simple
An SEO agency that purports to be increasing your marketing qualified leads (MQLs) must have at least three of these team members on staff (the strategist, SME writer, and technical specialist), though each of these people would need to be multi-talented for such a campaign to work. Generally, the closer to this team makeup you can find in an agency, the better. 


If lead generation is the goal of your campaign, your agency’s reporting should include:

  • An initial analysis of your website’s SEO health + competitor analysis 
  • Quarterly SEO reports showing progress in (a) leading indicators like keyword rankings, organic traffic, and visitor engagement; and (b) KPIs like MQLs, SQLs, and closed deals resulting from SEO
The least an SEO company should report on is keyword rankings (month-over-month) and organic traffic (year-over-year monthly), assuming you are measuring organic leads in-house. 

Case Studies

Case studies demonstrate the ability to produce real-world results for clients. When evaluating an agency, look for case studies that describe a company both in your industry and with a similar product or business model to yours. At a minimum, an SEO agency should be able to provide you with two case studies on clients with analogous business models that require a similar level of technical expertise.


For SEO to drive significant ROI, the price point needs to be high enough to include thought leadership content written by an SME and professional analytics. Anything less will not achieve first page rankings or convert web visitors into qualified leads. This price point seems to be in the $8K – $12K / month range, depending on how technical the subject matter is.  An SEO firm that does everything in the “Ideal” scope of work box above cannot charge less than $5K / month, and even that would be an act of remarkable operational efficiency.

If your team is handling everything technical in-house and the SEO company is only doing keyword research and standard content marketing, $6K – $7.5K is a realistic range. 

Glassdoor Reviews

An SEO company is only as good as its employees, so you want them to be motivated and happy. High Glassdoor reviews—excluding outliers—are a good way to suss out the culture of a potential partner. A rating of 3.7-4.5 is ideal, as lower ratings indicate a potentially poorly-run company and higher ratings indicate artificial reviews. A Glassdoor rating lower than 3.5 is a risk, in that it can indicate internal dysfunction that leads to subpar campaign results.

Comparing the Top SEO Companies in the U.S.

Below is a list of the top SEO companies in the U.S. according to research we conducted between 2018 and 2021. For each SEO company, we note their core expertise, typical client, and fee range ($-$$$$).

Company Expertise Typical Client Fee Range
First Page Sage Thought leadership-based SEO and content marketing with a focus on systematic lead generation B2B companies in the $10–200M revenue range, with emphasis on complex and technical subject matters $$$
Boostability Customizable SEO packages for startups and small businesses Smaller B2C and B2B companies with annual revenue in the $1–5M range $
Duffy Agency Multilingual and international SEO Global brands trying to break into new markets $$$$
ReachLocal SEO and Google My Business optimization for local businesses Brick-and-mortar retailers and suppliers, and in-person services providers $$
eStore Amazon keyword optimization and product ranking services for Amazon-focused ecommerce Online-only B2C retail companies that use Amazon as their primary platform $$
Epsilon Combining both traditional and digital marketing for enterprise clients Enterprises with $500M+ annual revenue $$$
Marketing Eye Technical SEO, web design, and international marketing Midsized international companies, particularly those looking to break into Asian markets $$
Clay Agency Digital strategy and UI/UX design, with a focus on conversion rate optimization Companies primarily seeking to improve conversion rates in their SEO campaigns $$$
Aumcore Voice search optimization for Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant Local businesses with physical locations $$
NP Source SEO and web design for nonprofits Small and midsized nonprofits trying to attract new donor $

Choose the Right SEO Company 

I hope this information was helpful as you compare SEO companies to find one that meets your needs. To learn more about the services offered by our firm, contact us.

Evan Bailyn

Evan Bailyn is a best-selling author and award-winning speaker on the subjects of SEO and thought leadership. Contact Evan here.