4 Things to Look For In SEO Companies
For an online business to thrive, its website must know how to talk to search engines. It can be brilliantly designed and easy to use, but if Google can’t list it, it might as well not exist.
SEO companies exist to help people find products and services on the Internet. The good ones do, anyway. They can be difficult to find because not everyone is willing to keep up with search engine technology. The field changes so quickly. It can be hard to tell whether the jargon you’re hearing is obsolete, unethical, or just plain wrong. This is why hiring an SEO company takes time and effort. You’ve got to know what you need. What’s more, you’ve got to know something about marketing and new media. At the end of the day, SEO is about pointing traffic in the right direction. It will never get too complicated if you remember the fundamentals.
1. Compatible Values
Look for an SEO company whose culture matches that of your business. If your organization is more formal and professional, stay away from firms that do everything casually. Remember, the one you hire will be making decisions in your name, with your online presence.
You’ll want a company that’s transparent in everything it does. Ask about its link-building strategies and how safe those strategies are. Ask about how it intends to work with current Google policies. Insist the firm share details on everything it does. This gives you the most control over the SEO process. Specialists may know things that the average person doesn’t, but it’s also their duty to explain what they know, in words you can understand. Always be clear on shared goals.
2. Fair Pricing
Consider costs when hiring an SEO company. Pricing schemes differ—some firms will charge by the day, others by the hour. This makes comparison difficult. However, most companies will explain how they work. If you know what you want, you can arrive at the best rate by figuring out what each company charges for a certain result.
Beware of firms with overly complicated fee structures. Best-case scenario, it means they don’t really know the value of their work, and that can only mean to a lack of experience. Beware also of SEO companies that don’t explain where your money goes. They may look like a good deal, but you want to be sure you’re hiring the right firm. You’re looking for one that suits your company’s goals and style of doing business—you’re looking for a partner for years of successful web marketing.
3. Clean Practices
Ask the company what colour hat they wear. White Hat SEO, or ethical SEO, is search engine optimization that plays by the rules. It works within the system and makes squeaky-clean websites. Black Hat SEO, its opposite, is all about cheating as hard as it can, for as long as it can. It games the system, manipulates both people and search engines, and aims to make a quick, dishonest dollar. Gray Hat SEO is somewhere in between.
Most problems come from SEO companies using black hat techniques. Initial rankings can be encouraging, but you risk being punished for going against guidelines. If you don’t want your website to disappear from the search results, you need to set higher standards. Using white hat practices shows that you’re in business for the long term, so ask for details on what the company plans to do.
4. A Solid Track Record
SEO isn’t a try-it-and-buy-it sort of thing. Content creation, promotion, and analytics are a serious investment in time and resources. Hiring an SEO company should not be done carelessly. It isn’t a commitment you can simply walk away from. Do a background check. How long has the firm been in the industry? How does it operate? What sort of clients has it had? And what does all this say about its values?
Don’t aim to be impressed by its portfolio. Aim to be reassured by its work history. Look for evidence of trustworthiness and reliability. Double-check the firm’s credentials by going over the websites it’s worked for and seeing how they rank for their chosen keywords. Request feedback from the company’s clients, and not just ones the company uses as references. Long-term clients are a good sign. So are clients who keep coming back. Ask how the firm’s promises match up with their achievements. Remember, anyone can claim to be in SEO, but past success is still the best indicator of future success.