Here are some factors to consider:
- Go with your gut. How do you feel about your contact at the firm? Are they friendly, helpful, forthcoming with information? Are they responsive? Can you imagine yourself working with them? No one is perfect and I am not saying the person has to be someone you would choose to spend your life with. However the person selling the services to you is the person they chose to be the first point of contact for their company. They know you are forming your impressions based on this first interaction. Did they make a good choice in that person? Does the person represent the company well and inspire faith in them and their abilities?
- Ask for testimonials, references and proof of results. This is important. They should be proud of their results and you shouldn’t need to twist their arm to get this information.
- Do they claim to have special connections with Google or insider information or proprietary information? Run the other way if this is the case.
- Do they publish content on a regular basis? Are they active on social media? Do they have a strong presence? All of those are indicators of how serious they are about walking the talk.
- Do their terms of service make sense to you and make you feel comfortable?
- Have they said anything that rings alarm bells, like promising first place rankings quickly for any and all keywords? Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
- Find out what you can expect in terms of on-going support and communications. Ask what their policy is for returning phone calls or emails. You want to feel comfortable with the level of support you are going to get going forward.
- Are they open, honest and willing to tell you if/when they disagree with you? This is a good thing! You don’t want a “yes man” working for you. You want someone that will tell you what’s what honestly and someone that will do what is best for you and not just what you want to hear.
- Have they been around for a long time and do they have a solid reputation online?
- Do they have a quality control process and are they willing to share the details of the service and the QC?
There are so many other factors and some of them depend on your level of knowledge about SEO. If you hear things that cause alarm bells to go off, that’s something you need to address.
There is no one regulating body for this industry and there is no one accepted strategy for SEO, there are so many opinions and factors and strategies. It does make it hard for you, the buyer, to make your decisions because of that. The best advice I can truly offer you is to go with your gut and do spend some time doing research and validating things you are told.