One in five companies has had a negative experience with an SEO company before finding the right fit. Avoid losing time, money, and headache by having constructive criteria to base your choice on. The following suggestions are based on empirical data and experience from business reviews on SEO companies.
Picking an SEO Company | Key Criteria
What Expectations are they Setting?
A lot of SEO companies set unrealistic expectations with their clients. SEO is an organic marketing strategy, which, unlike paid ads, cannot yield instant results. In general – SEO takes at least 6 months to begin showing significant traffic and sales increases. If a company is selling you on short-term rankings boosts, they are likely using tactics that Google has disavowed. Or they are simply full of BS!
Is the SEO Company Using White Hat Strategies?
Just like in Star Wars, there’s the dark side of SEO (black-hat) and the Jedi (a.k.a. white hat). Black Hat involves tactics that Google regulates against and consequentially may drop rankings or blacklist your website. White hat is by the book. How can you vet for this? Here are a few ways:
- Ask if they outsource. Overseas labor is often a red flag for black-hat strategies, but not always.
- Even if not a sign of black-hat techniques, cheap labor usually produces low quality work. Cheap SEO companies are often unsuccessful – whether they’re being cheap with you or their workforce.
- Ask if they buy backlinks. Selling backlinks is not allowed by Google and is a black-hat strategy.
- Ask for some samples of their backlinks. They should come from reputable directories and editorials, not fake blogs created to boost SEO.
- Look at the quality of the blog posts they’ve published for clients. These should be original – not rehashed or plagiarized versions of other articles.
Company Knowledge and Processes
A lot of SEO companies have skilled experts on their teams and some don’t. Look at their company blog and see what kind of information they publish. SEO is subjective, so ask yourself if you like their perspective. Are they being transparent in meetings or do they sound like they’re BSing? Ask about their customer service policies (phone, e-mail, hours, etc.) and reporting practices.
Case Studies, Reviews, References
Asking for references from business associates and friends can be helpful as many companies don’t know anything about SEO. Also, check the website and review sites (Google, Facebook, Yelp), etc. for reviews and case studies.
If you’re reading this article, then you’re taking steps to avoid 90% of the issues that could arise when hiring an SEO agency. Having a lens from which to vet these companies will make your search much more effective. As a result, you’re going to be working with an agency that can really help you in hitting your company’s marketing and sales goals.