There will always be companies sitting on the “Should I/shouldn’t I SEO?” bench; it’s natural to question something that sounds like smoke and mirrors if you’ve never experienced it for yourself. However, there are definite benefits to hiring an effective SEO company for your business. For example, an SEO partner can help you achieve the following.
- The ability to focus on the bottom line of your business while your new marketing partner takes care of the “getting seen” part
- Giving your visitors a better user experience (optimization is more than just keywords – promise!)
- Better ranking on search engines (which should translate to better traffic and higher conversions)
5 Steps To Hiring A Good SEO Company
But how do you find an SEO company worth the cost of the phone call? In an industry full of “overnight experts”, how do you find the real ones that can make a difference? Here are some basic steps to get you started.
1. Define your SEO goals.
The most important thing for you and your company is to decide what you need. This is the basis of your final hire and any campaign that comes from that hire.
Is it reputation management, new prospects, an SEO audit, increased sales, or increased ranking? It starts with you. Have a definite goal in mind. Then find the SEO company that can make your goals a reality.
Tip: Specificity is key here. “We want traffic,” is fine, but “We want to double our traffic in a year,” is a specific goal. With this information, the SEO companies you interview should be able to tell you whether those goals are realistic or not.
2. Decide your criteria for hire.
Do you have a limited budget? This is something you need to put on the table when talking to your potential new SEO company. There is no set cost for optimization – a subject for a whole other blog by itself -, and you will come a cross a wide range of costs. If you have a set budget, it will save you time to make cost one of the first questions you ask after outlining your needs.
Tip: While budgetary concerns are understandable, don’t go with the cheapest SEO company just because they’re the cheapest. Make sure you at least think you’re going to get the services you need. If not, it may be better to hold off on optimization services until you can afford a higher budget.
3. Gather a list of 5 or 6 SEO companies.
Search for “SEO companies” and you’ll get a list longer than your street (I got 400 million when I searched for the term). In other words, it’s a highly active, highly competitive, highly saturated market. So, do you just choose the top 5?
A few tips:
- Don’t search for “best SEO company”. Most of these lists are bought and paid for. Do your research before adding them to the list.
- Ask your friends and associates. If they don’t run businesses, perhaps they either know someone who does, or know someone who has heard of a good SEO company. Word does get around. In fact, the most successful SEO companies are often those who survive on word of mouth rather than strength of ranking.
- Ask on social media sites. However, be prepared to be bombarded by marketing companies. You’ll have to weed out the marketing to get to the real opinions.
- Check reviews outside of the company’s website, such as Google and Yelp reviews.
4. Create a list of questions to ask.
The questions should be based on your hiring criteria and SEO goals. For example, if you want to double your traffic in a year, you might ask what methods they use to build traffic. You aren’t looking for specifics; you’re looking for whether they provide something other than vague answers.
Tip: There is really no such thing as SEO secrets, just actions that are less known than others. In fact, if you had the time, you could do a lot of optimization yourself, with guides like this SEO checklist. If someone tries to sell you their services and you have no idea what those services might entail other than “SEO”, run the other way.
5. Schedule a Consultation
An SEO company on the up-and-up will be happy to schedule a consultation to walk you through options and strategies that can help you grow. The consultation should give you an idea of the kind of communication you will receive from the company, as well as whether they have the passion and creativity necessary for your project. The consultation is the time to ask the agency your questions.
4 Questions To Ask An SEO Company
Along with the questions you came up with to ask, consider adding these four:
1. How do they plan to get your business on the map?
We strongly believe that an SEO audit is necessary for most sites before more than ideas can be offered. An audit will pinpoint areas of the site that can effect optimization efforts, reduce ranking, or otherwise cause poor results. For this reasons, I’m going to put my foot out and say if they don’t at least mention an audit in passing, you should look elsewhere. Optimization is not guesswork. It should be based on data, as a cause:effect action.
2. How will they keep you informed about their work?
While you shouldn’t expect daily communication in many cases, you should also not go months without communication. Find out what they consider a regular reporting schedule and compare it to your expectations.
3. Are they willing to share information about past clients and successful results?
Due to active non-disclosure agreements, which are prevalent in our industry, the SEO company may not be able to reveal more than a few clients. However, they should be able to offer clarity about what they can possibly achieve. “Company X was able to increase CTR up 20% with our services.”
4. What type of analytical tools and reporting do they use?
A good SEO company should be able to produce a custom report for your business. In other words, at any point in time, you should be able to request an accounting of their actions and your current results for the current campaign.
Note: Sometimes your current results may be “none,” depending on where you are in the campaign. For example, if the company is in the middle of auditing your site, you aren’t going to be seeing positive results from that. However, you want to watch carefully to see what the response is. If you don’t receive any kind of accounting at all, be wary.
There have been times that all we’ve sent back is, “We’re in the middle of the audit. We have your KEI done, but are checking your ranking for the terms, and will be moving on to the benchmark at the end of this week.” They may not have a report yet, but they do know where we are.
If you have an online business and considering hiring an SEO company, it’s highly important that they are reputable. We’ve had to clean up backlinks and websites for clients because their previous SEO company did some unscrupulous things that caused them to rank poorly. We even had one client who we had to tell that the previous company had been lying to them and sending them pictures of someone else’s analytics data.
While we can’t interview every company for you, the steps and tips above can help you narrow down the list to get you closer to the best SEO company for your business. Even though it may seem that you have to rank NOW, you have to get more traffic NOW, you have to increase revenue YESTERDAY, don’t jump on the bandwagon of the first optimization company you come across.
Take your time; follow the steps; ask the questions; do your homework. When the revenue does come in because of beautiful, organic, targeted traffic that wants what you have to sell, you’ll be glad you did.
Looking for a reputable SEO company? We can help – because we are one. Contact us today to discuss the needs of your online business.