Finding the right SEO company for your business is important. Done correctly and professionally, search engine optimization can do wonders for lead generation, sales, brand awareness, and ultimately, your bottom line. Done poorly, it won’t bring in the marketing leads and conversions you were counting on, could hurt your overall marketing strategy, and in some cases can even put your site lower in the rankings than if you had just left it alone. So, if choosing the right SEO company can have such a dramatic impact on your business, how do you decide?
We’d like to share 10 helpful tips on choosing the right SEO company for your business.
1. Learn the Lingo
Every profession has their own specialized vocabulary and this is no different. An experienced pro won’t purposely overwhelm you with terms you may not fully understand (if someone does, keep looking!), but the more you know, the better off you are. Here’s a list of some common terms that might come up during a consultation. For a brief rundown of how optimization helps a business, you can take a look here.
2. Establish Your Goals
That probably sounds like a no-brainer. You want SEO to grow your business, right? But it’s better to be more specific, as if you were writing a business plan. More useful, measurable goals could include:
- Increasing traffic from a specific demographic (just looking for more unspecified traffic isn’t normally a useful goal — you want targeted prospects)
- Increasing leads from the website by 10%.
- Increasing conversions by 3%
- More downloads, free trials or signups
3. How Will Success be Evaluated?
After clear goals have been established, you need to know what metrics will be used to track success. You can normally expect progress reports of some type, and they should be clear and straightforward. A summary in a couple of easy-to-understand pages is more useful to you than a dozen pages of meaningless data. Your SEO company should be able to tell a story through the data, not just overwhelm you with charts and graphs.
4. Don’t Focus Solely on Page Rankings
There’s a lot more involved than just your position on Google. While improving your ranking is important, it will also take time. A company you’re considering should discuss on-page and off-page strategies with you such as:
- Keyword research and mapping
- User experience
- Link building
- Social media
- Optimized and updated content
- User experience
- Paid and unpaid search
- Improved site speed and security
- …Did we mention user experience?
An SEO provider that focuses only on technical improvements but has no sense of user experience or design will only get you halfway there. More than ever, Google is focused less on technical criteria — though there are still many important technical factors — and more on user experience, friendliness, and how useful your content is to your target audience.
5. Don’t Focus on Beating a Competitor for a Certain Keyword
While competitor research is an invaluable tool in SEO, trying to beat out a competitor on one specific keyword usually isn’t a useful goal, and is not designed to increase revenue. A well-thought-out strategy will encompass much more than this “keeping up with the joneses” mentality and do you much more good. Instead of spending all your time and budget on one potentially irrelevant keyword, why not score points on 10 long-tail keywords that answer your customers’ most urgent questions? Suddenly you’ve provided insights that your competitors aren’t, and increased your domain authority in the process.
6. Don’t Prejudge Based on Company Size
There are excellent SEO companies — and not-so-excellent companies — of all sizes, ranging from very small shops to huge marketing firms. Don’t immediately toss a company aside because of their size. Instead, ask for case studies to better judge value.
7. Look at Work Done for Others and Listen to Stories
Checking a company’s references is often a waste of time. Obviously they’re not going to direct you to someone who’s going to badmouth them. Of course, word-of-mouth is a very powerful thing, and stories you hear about one company or another from their clients can be quite useful. It’s important to look at work that an SEO company has done for other clients. A real case study will include a clear problem, goal, process, and solution — not a sales pitch.
8. Who Would be Your Primary Contact?
Often, the person you have the initial contact with isn’t the person you’ll be working with regularly. Find out how their firm works. Will there be one person in charge of your project? How will you contact them and/or get a status update?
9. Pricing Structure
Find out how you’ll be billed so there aren’t any unpleasant surprises. Do you need to sign a one-year contract, or longer? If you’re not happy with their work, you shouldn’t be forced to stay or be penalized. That being said, good SEO takes time. If you’re not willing to invest in at least 6 months to a year of work, you shouldn’t start in the first place.
10. Don’t Fall For Unrealistic Promises
If someone promises to give you a #1 Google page ranking for an important keyword in a month, triple your online conversions, or tells you that your tiny business is going to unseat a $250 million competitor on their top performing keywords, run away. A seasoned and skilled pro will provide realistic expectations. A great company can do a lot to improve your bottom line, but some factors are beyond the control of even the world’s top experts. Most importantly, your SEO company should be committed, inquisitive, and readily admit when strategies aren’t working. It might be uncomfortable to hear, but much of good SEO is about trial and error — see what works and keep doing it. Being stubborn and slogging through an unsuccessful strategy might seem virtuous, but in reality it’s just a foolish way to burn through your budget. If your SEO company can’t admit that sometimes its strategy doesn’t work, consider moving on to a partner who isn’t afraid to show you the whole picture.
It’s well worth spending the time to find a company that will become a valued member of your team. Before talking to potential companies, it’s helpful to get an idea of how your website’s doing right now. Lucky for you, BXP Creative offers free SEO audits. Happy hunting!