If you’re entrusting your marketing needs to a professional, then you want to make sure that you’re getting your money’s worth. Of all the marketing disciplines, search engine optimization (or SEO for short) has become one of the most widely focused on and important. After all, website owners are starting to recognize just how much of their traffic comes from search engines like Google and how SEO can be the most effective way of capturing more of it.
However, there are a lot of firms out there that can help you with your SEO. How do you make sure that you’re choosing the right one? Here, we’re going to look at some of the categories you can use to judge them and make sure that you’re finding the firm that will work best for your needs.
Do they seem aligned with your goals?
The goal of SEO might seem relatively simple, across the board: SEO helps your website get noticed more on Google by the people that it’s relevant to and, as a result, increases clicks on your website. However, if you’re looking to truly increase the impact of your marketing campaign, you should make sure that you have specific goals that your marketing efforts are helping you towards and work with a team that understands those goals. Does the SEO team you’re looking at talk about how their services can help you reach your goals, whether they are to drive traffic, to improve site quality overall, to convert more customers, or otherwise?
Do they offer services specific to your business?
There are a lot of SEO companies out there and, as the field has grown, many have gotten more specific and focused down on a niche. For instance, there are businesses that specialize in things such as local SEO. When it comes to local SEO, sometimes working with a local company is best. However, there are also companies that will work in specific industries, first and foremost, such as dentistry SEO, marketing SEO, eCommerce SEO, and so on. You don’t always have to go with the most specific fit but you want to make sure that your choice can at least cater to your needs.
Do they meet your pricing needs?
When it comes to the costs of SEO services, the costs can vary pretty widely. Look up any guide on SEO prices and you will quickly see that there is no standardized price. SEO companies will often charge what they believe they can, but it’s important to know that you’re getting services that are cost-effective as a result. For instance, you can pay more depending on what is on your SEO plan, or you could be paying more for an SEO agency that is more experienced or has more marketing expertise in a specific niche. What’s more, the location of the company can drive pricing as well, so make sure that if you’re comparing SEO companies, you’re comparing not just how much they cost, but what you get for the price.
What’s included in their plan of action?
As mentioned, companies can vary widely in what, exactly, their services entail. Many companies have multiple levels for their plans, so you want to find the firm that offers the services that you want, scaled to the size and level of your business. Examples of the services that they offer can include things like speed optimization, image and asset optimization, keyword research, content creation and optimization, meta-data creation, technical SEO, on-site link-building, off-suite link-building, and more. Do your search on the different types of SEO and make sure that your chosen company is providing the kind that you want.
Create a shortlist using good sources
When you’re looking for SEO firms, you might be tempted to look at how they perform on Google and to choose the firm that is in the top position. That’s not always the best option, however. You want to create a shortlist of around five or six companies to look more closely into. You should ask friends and people in your professional network if there are any SEO companies that have helped them, first of all, before looking at what some industry insiders, such as the editors of marketing publications say. Don’t look at those lists that promise the best SEO companies. Most often, these are part of a marketing campaign in and of themselves.
Make sure they’re not promising what they can’t deliver
Unfortunately, one of the more common marketing strategies in the world of SEO has been to guarantee specific results. A good SEO firm will, of course, have reliable ideas on how to get you good results, but there is no way for anyone to accurately predict SERP strategies. Promises of immediate results should be treated with even more skepticism. Unethical promises are often made by companies with unethical methods, what we call black-hat SEO. These techniques, such as buying a lot of links from random websites, computer generating poorly written but keyword dense content, or re-using duplicate content across multiple clients, is going to harm your search engine placement in the long run.
Take a look through their portfolio
You want to see what the agency has done in the past and whether or not their past work will be applicable to you. When you’re looking through their site, make sure that they have a portfolio of past work that they’re able to share. They might be able to share screenshots of the websites they have optimized, or perhaps they will have reports on how they have specifically helped past clients meet their goals. You should then check to see if those companies named are easy to find on Google. If they haven’t been able to help the clients that they’re advertising get the online presence that they want, then it’s doubtful as to whether they could help you, either.
See what their clients say about them
There are plenty of websites where you can read reviews on SEO companies from the clients that they have worked with. Don’t stop with the reviews that are on that company’s website, make sure that you take a deeper look. If the company lists any of the clients that they have worked with in the past, don’t be afraid to send a line of inquiry to that client to see if they vouch for their services. If the agency is truly as good as they are promoting, then you should be able to find plenty of reliable, third-party sources saying the same thing. Otherwise, you don’t know if they have simply been puffing up their reputation, themselves.
See if they know what they’re talking about
A good SEO company should know the importance of a content marketing strategy. As such, they should have either a blog or social media where they will post insights, guides, and helpful information, usually relevant to the business of SEO. Reading through these should give you a good idea of what kind of content they tend to put out, which might be relevant to the services that you plan to make use of. What’s more, you should be able to see their expertise put out front and center. This can help you get a good idea of the knowledge and techniques they will apply to your needs, as well as their priorities as a company.
Which SEO firm is best suited to your business is going to depend on you. However, the criteria laid out above should make it a little easier to get looking.