The truth is that hiring a great SEO company is becoming more and more difficult as Google continues to evolve, which unfortunately also means that hiring the right vendor is now more important than ever. Now that SEO is more intricate and specific, keeping up with the changes requires someone full-time, and for many that means hiring an SEO company.
The right company will help follow your rankings, optimize your website, and keep in constant communication with you through data reports and meetings. The wrong company, on the other hand, will make promises that sound legitimate and get you hooked. Your job is to make sure you can spot poor agencies and then find quality vendors. Luckily, this isn't so bad if you know what to look for in your search.
As a Managing Partner of an SEO company, I have a unique insight into the many factors that a client should consider before hiring a vendor. Based on this experience I wanted to provide the ultimate checklist of the questions and considerations you should take into account.
Questions To Ask a Potential SEO Vendor:
- How long have you been in business?
- Do you follow Google Best Practices?
- Describe your content strategy as it relates to SEO.
- Describe the link building strategies you would be using for my website.
- Do you have any content & link building examples that you can provide?
- Does your strategy include local listing management? (For local businesses only)
- Do you manage and optimize Google MyBusiness Pages?
- What kind of results do you expect to see for my site, and in what time-frame? How do you measure your success?
- Describe how the account management process works.
- How often can I communicate with your team and by what methods (phone, email, etc.)?
- Will I have the right to approve any changes made to my website (content, structural, etc.)?
- Can you provide examples of your reporting?
- Are you active in the SEO community?
- Have you been recognized for any achievements?
- Do you rank for any keywords that you are targeting for your own website?
- Do you offer any guarantees? (Trick question--see major red flags below)
- Can you show me case studies of successful results you have achieved for clients in Google?
- Based on my budget, can you provide a detailed proposal outlining all services you recommend to achieve my desired results?
Signs to look for in a Reputable SEO company:
- Transparency & Honesty: You want to know that the company who is working for you is up front and is willing to provide evidence of all work that is being performed and the reasoning behind it.
- Top Notch Customer Service: You want to work with a company that is attentive to your needs and has made the effort to learn about your business throughout the process.
- Setting Realistic Expectations: Everyone wants to be ranking #1 yesterday but it isn't as easy as snapping your fingers. If an SEO company is promising overnight results, they probably aren't the company that is right for you. You should look for a company that will provide you a reasonable timeline of progress to expect.
- Search Rankings: The proof is in the pudding. Make sure that the company you are vetting actually has rankings themselves. If they can't do it for their own website what makes you think they can do it for yours?
- Industry Experts: Your want to do business with a firm that in touch with the ever changing SEO environment. Finding a company that is established in the SEO community will help give you some peace of mind that your strategy will be proactive and not reactive.
While there are many great SEO companies, there are many more that are unethical. These firms have left many clients with a sour taste towards SEO. The unethical tend to manipulate the search rankings by utilizing techniques that go against search engine guidelines. The result of working with these types of companies may be short term gains that put the health of your website in jeopardy, thus resulting in a potential penalty or even removal from Google's index.
What to Avoid "Major Red Flags":
- Be cautious of SEOs that send out anonymous solicitation emails.
- #1 rankings can't be guaranteed.
- Be wary of any company that isn't transparent with their processes or reporting.
- You should never have to link to the SEO vendors website.