February 1, 2012
Everyone, from a corner coffee shop to an enterprise cloud provider, benefits from good SEO. But how do you get “good” SEO? Few people even understand the concept of search engine optimization, let alone what makes “good” SEO. You can attempt to go at it alone, but it will ultimately cost you more money in man-hours than it would have cost you to outsource.
Although many business owners consider themselves Internet savvy, the learning curve for optimizing a business for search engines and social media is always expanding. The better choice is to hire an outside firm to handle SEO, but how do you know if you are getting reliable service? To make it simple, we’ve broken down the top 10 things to look for before hiring an SEO company.
1. Transparency – A good SEO professional or firm will have no problem explaining to you exactly how his or her services work. You should know exactly how much time will be spent working on your SEO needs. The person you hire, should also reveal to you the techniques used to boost your website or business’s exposure online, rather than hide it from you. The goal is to help you become more informed so you can perform basic maintenance SEO without the help of a professional. They should fulfill all of the recommendations made by Google for companies looking for SEO.
2. Strategy – The company should have a strong grasp of overall SEO strategies and how to adapt them to your business and your needs. Don’t hire a company that is stuck on a single marketing strategy. Performing on-page optimization is a necessary part of SEO, but that’s only part of the entire process. Find a company that can provide you with a complete range of SEO services.
3. Reporting – Your chosen SEO professional should report back to you on a regular basis concerning the tactics being used to market your business. If there is something you don’t understand, you should be able to ask questions without being told to let the professionals handle it.
4. Experience – Experience is a key factor in determining which SEO company to hire. The Internet is constantly changing, so the longer someone has been providing SEO services, the better the chances are that he or she is staying ahead of the latest advances in search engine algorithms and social media trends.
5. Structure – An SEO professional should be structured and professional. No one wants to hire someone to do SEO work who does it “on the side.” Instead, the person or company you hire, should be structured and abide by deadlines.
Furthermore, you should have no problem contacting him or her when you need to, and phone calls should not take several days to return.
6. Budget – Be upfront about how much you are willing to spend, and demand a clear budget, broken down into itemized expenses. While you should expect to pay for good SEO, the company or person you hire, should have no problem revealing exactly how much of your money is being on marketing your business, and how much is paying for professional services.
7. Promises – Run away if you are promised top results in a search engine. While the goal is to give you the very best ranking you can get in your market, no one can realistically promise you a #1 ranking or fast results. It could happen, but it’s more likely that it will take at least six months to start seeing the long-lasting results of an SEO campaign.
8. Ranking – If the company’s good at what they do, you should see their pages high in results for SEO-related searches. Ask for examples of previous work they’ve done to prove their ability to achieve high rankings for you.
9. Testimonials – An SEO firm should be able to provide you with a list of satisfied customers, as well as testimonials from those customers. Ask for some references that you can contact personally to ask questions about previous customer service experiences.
10. Interest – Any company you work with should treat you with the same respect and priority that it treats bigger companies and more expensive clients. You should never be shoved aside for someone else with bigger pockets, so make sure that the company you choose shows genuine interest in helping you before you sign on the dotted line.
Joseph Baker is a freelance writer living in the Midwest. He enjoys working on his novel and drinking large amounts of Earl Grey tea. He writes this article behalf of American InterContinental University.