Choosing an SEO provider is not an easy task. When my company needed one, I spoke to over 30 SEO companies. Some were big (over 40 employees) and some were small (2-3 employees).
I found it a bit frustrating when each one tries to tell you that they are legitimate and use only “white hat” techniques but then show you how they purchase links on sites that link to everything in the world.
Ok … below is a list of things I think will help you in your quest to find the right SEO provider.
1. Write down your approximate budget
Before you start looking for SEO make sure you have some sort of an idea of how much you can spend for the SEO campaign.
2. Visit their offices (if you can)
It’s always great to meet with people who work for you. If you can, visit the SEO company. See their environment and how they work.
3. Ask to see how their current clients rank on the web
An SEO provider can promise you the world and can be a great salesperson, but you do need proof. Ask them to show you examples of how their customers rank. Ask for a keyword you can go and type now and see how their clients rank.
4. Ask them about the strategies they use
If an SEO provider does not want to tell you how they get your site ranked well, do not deal with them. SEO is not a secret science. A company should be able to tell you what methods they use. For example … I look for a company to focus on building content, creating popular articles and syndicating them. Distribution, site architecture, accurate keyword analysis, a bit of link purchasing maybe.
I stay away from companies that put links on the news sites where they bought space. Also stay away from those that focus on getting you 2,000 links a month.
5. How big is their team and will you have a person you can speak to?
I found that it’s much better to deal with a smaller SEO company (3-10 people) than with the big ones. Smaller SEOs will usually provide better results in less time. You won’t be one of their 60 accounts and thus you can expect to get more attention and better service.
6. Is there a guarantee on the services they provide?
If an SEO even mentions “we guarantee” … run! No SEO can guarantee anything. I recently spoke to an SEO company and they guaranteed that 30% out of our 40 keywords will rank in top 10. Firs of all … this is a bad guarantee. Second … HOW CAN YOU PROMISE THAT? If those 30% are a 6 word keywords, then yes, you might deliver on that, but who needs that?
7. Google them Stupid
You heard me right. Just Google their company name. You’ll be amazed at how many things you can find about a company this way. See if anyone has been complaining about the company.
9. Common sense
Look. Let’s use common sense here. When you speak with an SEO company ask questions, ask for proof, do not get ripped off. I know that SEO is a service worth the cost but sometimes companies go overboard. (Example: $6,000 / mo for life, for a not so competitive keyword company) It’s easy to get ripped off and thus you should look for signs that will tell you when someone is trying to take advantage of you.
Final crucial info:
Do not believe SEO guys who tell you that they are friends with Google engineers. Don’t believe when someone tells you that they know the algorithm that search engines use. Do not believe when they say that Google allows PAID SUBMITION for natural search (I heard this before).
Believe what you see. Ask for a track record. Ask for a preliminary SEO plan. I think an SEO company that wants to charge $4,000+ for a project SHOULD spend 1-2 hours doing a little of research on the prospects’ industry before quoting or making suggestions. Let them do their homework.
IMPOIRTANT: If an SEO company is giving you quotes within just a few minutes of the conversation WITHOUT doing some research on your industry and competitiveness of it, just hang up the phone!