How to choose an SEO company?
Now that you know the groundwork of how search engine optimization works, you’re probably wondering how you can choose an SEO company that is right for your business. How can you be sure you’re hiring a company that employs only white hat techniques, and who can really deliver on their promises?
The first place you are probably thinking of turning to is Google, right? We’ve explained that Google wants to show you the most relevant information that matches your search, so it would make sense that the best and most trustworthy SEO firms would rank really well. But, that isn’t always the case. The best SEO companies may not need to focus on their own rankings because they are so busy doing that for a full load of clients. And their clients stick around, so they have very high retention rates - which means they are so busy working for their clients, they don’t need to spend the time making sure they are ranked high.
Likewise, if you find lists that say “Best SEO Companies” or “Top SEO Experts” you may want to be wary. These are often pay to play aggregator sites, which means they aren’t really the best, they just simply had the money to spend to get on the list.
Avoid companies who tell you they have an “in” at Google, or that they have a special and secret “formula” to get you to the number one spot. Google does offer a number of certification programs, but it doesn’t offer any secret information to those who receive it.
There is a Google AdWords certification - to earn it, one must pass an exam and have followed certain criteria. Becoming a Google Analytics Partner, on the other hand, is a bit more of an involved process and demonstrates that one has successfully managed Google Analytics programs for clients.
These programs may show a company’s or individual’s mastery in the field that the certification is related to, but it does not mean Google offers them secret information or special help.
Likewise, if someone tells you they have a proprietary and secret method they’ve created to ensure you top rankings, it’s a good sign you may want to look elsewhere. While there are many tricks to the trade, the only guaranteed way to get you better rankings is through consistence research, compliance with the rules of the game, hard work and patience.
Building a successful SEO program takes time, energy, and dedication to details. If someone tells you they can quickly gain you an increase in ranking, you may need to be concerned about what type of practices they are using. Quick gains may seem great at first, but if they are using black hat techniques, your site may be penalized and even banned. Be sure the company you hire follows Google’s webmaster best practices.
Create a list of goals you hope to achieve through an SEO program. Perhaps you want to increase traffic to your site, or increase sales, or increase signups for your newsletter. Whatever your goals may be, clearly define them.
Next, create a list of SEO agencies that may be able to help you meet those goals. How do you find those agencies? Think about what is important to you. Is it important that you have a company close to you so that you can meet in person regularly? Do you have a price range you have to stick to? Figuring out what is important to you before you begin the process will then help weed out firms that can’t meet those needs.
To find SEO companies, you can turn to friends and colleagues, non-competitor’s in similar fields, etc. If your direct competition is have great success, chances are good they won’t want to share their company. But, you can look to businesses that are similar to yours and ask for referrals.
When interviewing SEO companies, you want to be sure you are working with a company who is interested in you, and what your business is trying to achieve. While you are asking questions, does the company take the time to ask questions about you and your business?
Always ask for references. Go right to the source and speak to past or current clients to learn about their experiences. Was the SEO plan effective, and did the team help you understand what was happening as it was happening?
Listen to what the SEO company is telling you they think needs to improve to help your SEO. An audit will tell them (and you) what issues there may be. This audit should include any technical issues that could be damaging your rankings - things like broken links, poor internal linking structure, etc. Then the company can make suggestions on how to improve , including what your investment will be and how it can improve your business.
Maile Ohye, a developer program tech lead at Google, says “ A good SEO will try to prioritize what ideas can bring your business the most improvement for the least investment, and what improvements may take more time, but help growth in the long term.”
It is also important to discuss what happens if you decide to part ways with the SEO company. You should maintain ownership of all optimization and work you paid for, so be sure the contract clearly states that your business owns all content.