You want your company to grow and succeed. You realize that your company’s online presence isn’t as great as it could be. You’ve heard about SEO and what it has done for other companies. Where do you begin? How does SEO work? Who should you hire? Selecting an SEO company is an important decision that will greatly impact the success of your business. It is also a substantial investment.
Deciding on a company can be a daunting task. There are so many agencies out there making tempting promises. While selecting a reputable SEO firm can produce favorable results and profit, selecting a phony or unethical, black-hat SEO company can not only give you a headache, but can have destructive consequences for your business.
Before selecting which SEO company to hand over your money and your website to, be sure to ask these 10 questions:
1. How will you improve my company’s search engine ranking?
A reputable SEO company will have a multifaceted answer to this question. SEO specialists from such agencies know that on-page and off-page optimization, blogging, social media, video and a host of other factors contribute to rankings. An SEO audit of your website should be one of the first things a trusted agency will ask to do. Beware of SEO companies who see link-building as the only way to boost rankings. While quality backlinks will improve your website’s rankings, they are not the only piece of this puzzle.
While link-building still has a part in rankings, Google has cracked down on the types and number of links your site can have. One high-value ranking link is worth more than 100 weak links that have no authority or value. Be on the look-out for SEO companies who guarantee lots of backlinks. These are likely the low value links that won’t help your rankings. High-value links require a lot of effort, so companies promising to get you links from high-value, reputable sites on a regular basis without any problems are ones you should be leery of.
Going off of this, you should follow-up with a question about what type of links their promising to get you. Black-hat SEO companies will often use an automated link-building tool to generate many backlinks. They can also participate in buying links which is a big NO with Google. These kinds of bulk, automated links will be penalized by Google which will be bad news for your website, and therefore, your business.
2. When should I expect to see results?
Anyone who is an SEO specialist and knows how SEO works knows that noticeable improvements in rankings won’t happen overnight. In fact, they can (and usually do) take months. Companies who promise significant results in a few weeks are ones to run away from.
3. What type of marketing and analytic reports will I receive and how often?
A reputable SEO company will be fully transparent about the work they will do for your website. They will produce regular, in-depth, comprehensive reports. An SEO company that refuses regular checking-in and going over reports is a red-flag. Select an agency that not only gives you regular reports, but also goes over the reports with you. You can ask questions and become more knowledgeable yourself. This will also showcase the agency’s expertise and knowledge of SEO.
4. How will you keep me informed about the changes to my website?
Your website is a vital part of your business. It’s how people find you online. You’ll need to be in on the loop about what the agency is doing to your site, should something go wrong or there was something done that you don't approve of. Bad SEO companies will take your website and make unnecessary changes or make changes that lead to no improvement in search rankings but lots of additional costs.
5. How do we contact you?
Will your project be handled by a team or an individual? Who are those people within the company? Are they readily available to answer questions or take concerns you may have? What is the best way to contact that person/team? A reputable SEO company will have your assigned representative constantly available and they won’t give you the run-around with giving out their contact information.
6. Do you have any long-term clients?
The answer to this question will reveal a lot about the legitimacy and reputation of the SEO company and will determine if it is trustworthy enough for your business. Many fly-by night SEO companies will not have long-term clients. Reputable agencies will have a large number of long-term clients. Their clients stick around because the company is doing something right-producing results, which makes clients happy to stay with them.
7. Can you share information on some of your past clients and their results?
Going back to questions 2,3 and 4, a reputable SEO agency will be completely transparent and more than willing to share and boast about their client success stories. Granted, they can’t share all of them because there may be agreements in place that don’t allow it, but they should have some quantifiable evidence that their efforts lead to success.
8. How long is your minimum contract? What happens if we terminate early?
Suspicious SEO companies will try to lock you into a longer-term contact and make it difficult to get out of it. A legitimate agency, on the other hand, will have different contract lengths. It will be in your best interest to opt for a longer contract (as long as you’ve found the company to be trustworthy) as rankings take time to achieve. Reputable SEO companies will have an organized system in place that will make it easier for you to back out of the contract for whatever reason.
9. How do you determine if you’re successful?
This question will shed light on the SEO company’s motive. Are they interested in giving you the quick results through bulk backlinks so they can then boast of how great they are, or do they take the time to get to know your business’ goals and invest in making those achievable? The more specific the company is about helping you succeed in your industry, the better. Your success shouldn’t be determined by SEO metrics, but by your business metrics (more customers, more sales, more traffic, more views).
10. Why should we hire you over other SEOs?
This question will likely vet the answers with unrealistic promises. SEO companies who promise or make any guarantees are ones to avoid. Companies that explain their methods and customize their strategies to meet your specific needs are the ones that will help the most.
The world of SEO is constantly changing. With the ever-evolving Google algorithms, what worked a few months ago can be grounds for getting penalized next week. Good SEO companies know there are no guaranteed results. Instead, they will return the focus back on your company and specifically mention how they can help your business get the results that actually help you grow.
In a nutshell, you need search engine specialists who know what SEO does and how it can work for your specific business.
Deciding on an SEO company can be tricky. At SEO.com, we are an SEO company made of professional SEO specialists providing clients with a wide array of SEO services. If, after you begin your ranking efforts, need additional information or continued support, contact us. We’d be glad to help you succeed in your business’ online marketing efforts.
Find out how SEO combines with 6 other strategies to help your company grow: