Trusting your business to an outside company can be a challenge. Your business isn't just your source of income, it's also your passion. So, when you consider outsourcing your SEO, you want an SEO company that has your goals in mind and the experience to help you achieve them!
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is a marketing strategy used to improve your company's website rankings on search engines. Well-executed SEO can improve your online visibility, the volume and quality of traffic to your website, your on-site conversion rates, and the number of valuable leads that come through your website.
But SEO best practices change on a regular basis. Search engines like Google determine the algorithm for ranking websites. They rank websites based on factors like keyword usage, user-friendliness, and loading speeds and many, many more. In fact, Google has stated that it looks at more than 200 Ranking Factors when considering where they will rank a website. All the more reason to consider hiring professionals, who work daily in the world of SEO, to help you rank higher and grow your online business.
Higher rankings usually mean more people will see your listing and greater numbers of traffic to your site. But, gaining organic traffic can be a challenge when you're just starting out. It can also be difficult to compete with other companies on the internet that have already made a name for themselves.
The right SEO company will take your business on with a partnership mentality,(as we point out below) and work alongside you to accomplish these things. However, hiring the wrong SEO company can mean wasted time and money, not to mention plenty of frustration.
Read on for a few things to consider when looking for the right SEO company for your business.
9 Things to Look for in an SEO Company
1. SEO Best Practices
SEO is a vast field. And, some marketing companies may employ less than desirable tactics. These tactics are known as black hat SEO.
Black hat tactics can cause your rankings to be lowered and your website can even be penalized if your SEO company tries to trick search engines.
Penalties from search engines like Google can range from a big drop in your rankings to deeper consequences that will make it nearly impossible for your website to rank well. To avoid these problems, you'll want to work with an SEO company that only uses current, above-board practices, also known as white hat SEO. The right SEO company will be glad to discuss these differences with you in your initial conversation.
2. Realistic Guarantees — No pie-In-The-Sky Promises
Don't fall for a big marketing pitch that promises you overnight success. SEO simply doesn't work this way. It usually takes time and patience to see real results. Any agency promising you quick results isn’t being completely honest with you. Also, if you hear things like, “We can make you #1 on Google. No problem”, keep looking.
Take it from me, this is just not something you can promise a client with any measure of honesty.
3. Availability and Accessibility
When you outsource your SEO, it’s important to know what kind of work is being done for you on a regular basis. You wouldn’t keep a pool guy around who tells you he cleans the pool every day but couldn’t offer any proof.
In the same way, you need to know what’s going on with your SEO company. I wish I had a dollar for every phone call I received from prospects who were looking for a new SEO company because they were paying their current company good money but had no idea what was being done.
You also need to know that the SEO company you work with will available to adjust or update your SEO strategy according to your specific business and goals. A trustworthy company will gladly make themselves accessible when you have questions.
This type of availability and transparency can be rare in the world of SEO companies, but it shows that they are willing to invest in meeting your needs as a customer and in serving you with excellence.
4. The Experience Needed to Serve Your Company Well
Another thing to consider when looking for the right SEO company is their level of experience. How many years has this company been around? What kind of projects and clients have they worked with in the past?
Current and past experiences and a dedication to continued learning are important elements of an SEO company. Search Engine Optimization is an ever-changing world and it’s been our experience that you need to constantly read and check your processes against the best-practices of SEO experts that you trust. This is because search engine algorithms change regularly, so every SEO agency needs to keep in step with current trends.
5. A Partnership Mindset
Look for a company that has the mindset of partnering with their clients. With many SEO companies, you are just a number. You need a partner in the online marketing arena that will be willing to work side-by-side with you to meet your goals.
First and foremost, the right company (or consultant) will seek to understand your needs and goals from the start — and to tailor their plan of action accordingly.
There are some elements of SEO that can be put under the category of “one-size-fits-all”, but not all clients’ needs and goals are the same, and this requires a level of flexibility.
Keep in mind, the SEO company you consider should clearly understand that your business is unique. A partnership mindset is essential to attaining the results you want.
6. SEO Specialties
Some SEO companies specialize in working with certain industries more than others. Most do not. This is because many SEO principles that work for a plumber will also work for an attorney. Obviously, the terminology used for these clients will be quite different, but top SEO elements are consistent from one client to the next.
It’s fine to ask the company that you are considering what businesses they tend to work with and what their specialties are, but don’t automatically exclude them just because they have not worked with your specific type of business in the past.
Many of our clients were the first in their industry that we worked with and yet, we have achieved excellent results together.
7. Positive Online Reviews
Online reviews can offer consumers a wealth of information. As business owners, you know how important online reviews are. Seek out an SEO company's online reviews through a Google Search using the name of their agency, social media and other common review sources.
You can learn a lot about how an SEO company work with their clients from reviews — before you decide to contact them.
8. Past Results
Any good company should have a track record of success. They should be able to demonstrate this success by providing you with previous SEO campaign results or even case studies. They may have some of this information on their website, but if they don't, then ask them directly about their previous SEO campaigns.
You can also ask them to provide you with references and contact information from previous clients. This is something our company has been happy to provide from the early days of our business and it has proven to be an invaluable resource for prospects who are trying to decide which SEO company is right for them.
9. Analytics / Data Tracking
An SEO campaign without data tracking puts you at a great disadvantage, because they won't be able to truly demonstrate the effectiveness of their efforts. And, since you probably aren't and SEO expert, the company you work with should be willing to track and share data with you and to help you understand that data.
They should be transparent about results and willing to provide you with the info you need to understand the procedures they are following for your company.
Ask questions about their monthly reporting practices; How often will they send you a report? What will be included in the report? How will you know if they are making progress or not? How will you know what they are working on and what their plan of action for your company will be?
The bottom line here is that you’re looking for a company that believes in transparency.
If the company you are talking to doesn’t have a solid answer to these questions how can you trust them with your business success?
Hopefully this post will help you to know what to look for in an SEO company and to feel confident in your final decision.
Once you have a company in mind, and you have researched their online reviews, you can contact them directly and see what kind of “vibe” you get from them. Only proceed if they take the time to help you feel like they know what they are doing and that they care about your success.
Also, pay attention to the way they communicate with you as a prospect and how quickly they respond to your emails. We all get busy and sometimes an email takes a while to get to, but if they are really slow in responding before the sale – what will it be like once the project has been sold? If the response is slow up front, they may not be the right SEO company for you and your business.
Ready to talk with someone about your SEO needs? Drop us a line!
Want to know more about the benefits of SEO for small businesses? Check out our blog post to learn more.