How to choose a reliable SEO company for your business
A reliable SEO company can help your business grow by establishing your digital brand and ensuring that you have the best possible Internet presence. A lot of companies fail to take advantage of the power of the Internet because their SEO consultants do not have the necessary experience or knowledge to identify new markets and explore new opportunities.
The importance of reliability in SEO
I am insisting on the matter of reliability because after talking with a couple of our latest clients, I realized that they have experienced a sudden drop in traffic after they hired an ‘SEO company’ that did all sorts of tricks on their account. So, choosing a reliable SEO firm is not only important for progress but it is also necessary in order to avoid losing your traffic potential due to bad practices.
Step 1 – Decide why you need to hire an SEO Company
Before actually choosing which SEO firm you will trust, it is important to decide and have clear in your mind the reasons you need to hire an SEO firm in the first place. In my opinion you should consider hiring an SEO or digital marketing firm when:
1) You don’t have a have website and you need to build a proper Internet presence from the beginning (It may be a surprising figure but according to Google, 58% of US businesses do not have a website)
2) You have a website but you are not getting any traffic
3)You have a website, you are getting traffic but not customers (i.e. conversions)
4)You have a website but it is not optimized for search engines, social media or users
5)You want to improve your internet presence
6)You want to find new customers in other digital markets i.e. mobile
Step 2- Where can you find an SEO firm?
SEO firms live online; they are not the kind of companies that need to be in your neighborhood. In the majority of the cases all communication is carried out via email, skype or Google+ hangouts and there is absolutely no reason for a site visit. This method is actually faster and it also costs less.
So, where can you find good SEO Companies?
1) Word of mouth – Ask you friends (either your real friends or your friends on FB, Twitter, LinkedIn) if they have a recommendation to make. Knowing that a company did good work on someone else’s web property is a very positive factor.
2) Click on the ads – When you search for terms like ‘reliable seo company’ or ‘seo services’ you will see a number of ads on top of the search results. These are PPC ads and companies that their ads are displayed, invested a good amount of money to secure one of the top positions. In order to get a good ROI they have to provide for a good service otherwise they will not be able to survive in the long term.
3) Organic rankings – The same rules apply for organic rankings. Companies that appear in the first positions of the SERPs have already invested a good amount of time and money, which is another signal that they take their business seriously. In addition, if they can find customers online for their own needs, they can do it for you as well.
Step 3- How to assess the reliability of a SEO company?
Regardless of how you will find the company to hire, it is always advisable to do a bit of assessment before making your final decision. I have talked about this before , but in general a quick way to assess the reliability of a company is by looking at the services they offer and making sure that:
They are not making unreal promises – Don’t trust anyone that is promising first page rankings (either in Google or other search engines). If you see anything like ‘We can get you to the top of Google Search’, in simple words it means that they don’t know what they are doing. Too good to be true promises are equivalent to fake promises and you need to stay away.
They can explain what actions they will do – Although your goal is to hire a professional firm to handle your Internet presence without having to worry about SEO or digital marketing, this does not mean that you shouldn’t know what methods they will use to increase your website rankings or get more traffic. If they can’t explain exactly what they will do and all they tell you is about ‘building links’ then forget about them, they can do more harm to your website than good.
They have a clear pricing scheme – The most appropriate pricing scheme for SEO services is either per day or per hour. It is best to ask for this in advance so that you know how much you will have to pay.
Ask them to do a SEO Audit first – Another way to evaluate the work of an SEO is to ask them to do an audit of your website. A SEO Audit does not cost much (we charge $50 and it is once off), but it’s a quick way to evaluate the effectiveness off the company. If you are happy about their work you can continue with buying more services.
Talk to them – Don’t forget about the traditional methods i.e. make a meeting. In this case it can be a virtual meeting using Skype or Google+ but you can still ask questions and interview your prospective partners.
Step 4- What you should know about SEO?
If you have knowledge about a subject (even basic), it makes it easier to do negotiations or even challenge a method proposed by your SEO. It is very difficult to cover everything you need to know in a single post but for starters you can have a look at this article: What is search engine optimization and why it is important. Besides understanding the terminology it is advisable to:
Go for a long term plan – It may take more than a couple of months to get results from your SEO efforts. The competition is huge and search engines need time to process the data they capture from the websites.
It is therefore more appropriate to hire an SEO for a number of months rather than a couple of months without any return. The duration of their work is something that you need to discuss with them and agree before signing any contract.
SEO is not about building links (and it never was) – True SEO has nothing to do with link building. In the near past many ‘companies’ associated SEO with cheap link building techniques and many people still believe that the work of an SEO is to build links but this is far from true. The job of an SEO is to ensure that a website is secure, fast, user friendly and with good ranking positions in all major search engines.
It’s not about SEO anymore- A successful SEO campaign incorporates actions from digital marketing like social media marketing, mobile marketing, email marketing etc. The main focus is still on the website and how to optimize it for search engines but for optimum results you need to look for areas outside the boundaries of the website as well.
Step 5- It’s all in the results
One of the most interesting things about the internet is that everything is measurable. There are metrics and reports that can help you measure and monitor the activity of your website in terms of incoming visits, time users spend on site, pages they visit and many more .
What you can do is start looking at these metrics and if after 6-7 months the SEO Company you hired did not manage to bring in more traffic then possibly you need to consider changing your contract. The best way is to discuss with them first and hear what they have to say having always in mind that changes to a website may take time to generate positive or negative results. As a rule of thumb 6-7 months is a good period to judge the effectiveness of any SEO techniques.
Even if you are a small business owner, a blogger or an online shop owner, you need to ensure that you have the best possible Internet presence and that you are taking advantage of all digital channels. If this is something you cannot do yourself either because you don’t have the time or knowledge then it is more preferable to hire a professional and reliable SEO firm to do it for you.
Before hiring an SEO make sure that: you know what they will do, how much you will have to pay and what to expect as a result. Don’t believe in too good to be true promises and if they don’t produce decent results after 6-7 months then consider terminating your contract.