SEO is the fastest growing marketing channel because of the incredible return on investment that can be obtained in a relatively short amount of time.
With the right strategy and implementation, website optimization can dramatically improve sales, branding and market share. In the last decade, the Internet has become a main resource for shoppers and searchers and it’s only growing. Obtaining great rankings for products or services should be a priority for your marketing team to take advantage of potential sales.
Because of the complicated nature of search engine optimization, there are many companies out there that offer a subpar product that only puts money into their pockets. I have heard too many SEO horror stories about companies paying up to $700 per month on an SEO campaign, only to find that it never pans out. An SEO campaign should pay for itself.
All SEO companies are different. They have their own processes, methods and strategies to make sure they achieve the results you’re looking for. There are SEO companies out there that take on clients knowing they cannot fulfill what they’ve promised. Why? Because they’re greedy and there are hoards of companies looking for great deals for their online marketing.
The same is true with other services. Whether you’re hiring a landscaper, painter or mechanic, if you hire somebody at a discounted rate, you’re going to get discounted service. Timelines will stretch, communication will be lazy and results WILL suffer.
Make Sure You’re Comparing Apples to Apples When Hiring an SEO Firm
Often, I have given a quote to a potential client only to hear that “Joe Blow SEO” down the street will do it for half the cost. Is it because my rates are too high? No. It’s because the level of service and results are truly worth the money!
When you hire a legitimate SEO company, you’re not just paying for results, you’re paying for:
- Intelligent, experienced employees
- Weekly or Bi-weekly communication
- Proof of performance
- Analytics, lead, keyword position and other reports
- Education on SEO or online marketing
- Transparency in work performed
When you hire an SEO company that touts results without proof, goal setting or ongoing communication, you will likely end up cancelling and demanding a refund.
Before you hire an SEO company, make sure you ask the following questions:
1. How long has your company been providing SEO services? (hopefully at least a year)
2. What case studies do you have for me to view? (if none, hang up the phone)
3. How many companies does your firm work with? (less than 40 or more than 1000 could be a red flag, unless it’s a private individual)
4. How many accounts does my SEO manager currently handle? (more than 40 could be a red flag because of time constraints)
5. What are some of your link building methods? (if they only mention a couple, ask for more)
6. Will your company buy links on other websites? (if so, hang up the phone)
7. How often will we receive status updates? (at least every two weeks)
8. What reporting do you provide to show value? (analytics and rankings are a must, custom reports should also be gathered based on the situation)
9. During the campaign, can I pick up the phone at any time and speak with my SEO manager? (if not, this could be a red flag)
10. Can you give me an example of some keywords I can expect with my budget? (make sure these keywords will drive relevant traffic; also ask for traffic numbers)
11. What types of goals or benchmarks should we set up for the campaign? (if there are no KPIs, or ‘key performance indicators’, this is a red flag)
12. Can I speak with the SEO manager that will be handling my account before I begin services? (one may not have been assigned yet, but you should still be able to speak with one if you want to, if they won’t allow it, this could be a red flag)
Let me clear up some common SEO misconceptions:
1. SEO companies do not have contacts at Google, Bing or Yahoo that can actually influence your rankings. There are Google contacts for some Adwords accounts, but they can’t influence organic ranking position.
2. The number of links is important, but do not focus entirely on quantity. Keep in mind that it is very rare for an SEO firm to guarantee a certain amount of links per month. This number will always vary.
3. An exact date or month for when results will appear cannot be determined. However, a general timeframe for when results are to be expected should be given.
When searching around for an SEO company, there are only going to be a handful of legitimate firms that are going to give you a great SEO experience. Unfortunately, there are also bucket loads of scam companies. Generally, the companies I’ve seen charging less than $800 for a full-blown SEO campaign don’t end up provide real value. There is a good reason larger SEO companies and proven individuals cost more: the service, expertise and return is always better. It’s just more proof that “you get what you pay for.”