How to Choose the Best SEO Company (Ultimate Guide)
After investing much in advertising, the ROI become lower and lower. Then, many bosses or marketers may want to make use of SEO to increase the organic traffic. And, if you don’t have an in-house SEO team, you may want to find a professional SEO company or agency for help.
The pain point is that there are so many SEO companies saying that they can rank your website highly and quickly. Are they reliable? How to choose the best SEO company which is suitable for you or your company?
If you’re in the same situation, you’re in luck. Below is a guide to finding and choosing a reliable SEO company, including what you should be looking for, what to avoid, questions to ask, and standards to set from the get-go.
How to Choose an SEO Company Right for You?
Step #1. Define Your Goals and Desired Outcomes
No SEO agency is a one-size-fits-all for all strategies, industries, and company sizes. Different agencies specialize in different facets of SEO.
Too determine what SEO agency offers the right services for your business, you must know your business goals and desired outcomes first.
Do you want a new website, updated content or more traffic and warm leads?
Are you looking to increase your social media presence or just rank high on search engine results?
Before getting in touch with an SEO company, identify these goals first.
Some common goals that we often see include:
- Increase leads
- Increase downloads, sign-ups, trials etc.
- Raise brand awareness
There are a few goals that may be worth avoiding. These are generally based on vanity metrics and include:
- Increase traffic (this is okay, but you want a Return on Investment for your SEO spend)
- Rank #1. Ranking for the sake of ranking is pointless. You want this goal aligned with something more positive like an increase of sales.
Step #2. Consider Your Budget
Before investing in an SEO agency, consider your budget. How much can you afford to spend? Set a budget and find an SEO agency within that budget.
Price does matter when it comes to SEO. You get what you pay for, which is why you need to set a realistic budget. Many small companies fall for agencies offering SEO for $100 (or even lower price) per month and don’t know that they’re being scammed.
Step #3. Research the SEO Agency
If you’ve defined your goals and set a budget as previously discussed, it is time to research SEO agencies.
Be careful when you research an SEO company online because there are lots of similar companies with similar business models and similar websites. The worse of all, they all promise a brand new approach and instant results. In most cases, that’s all talk and no action.
There are some ways you can use to research a SEO agency in death.
1. Visit the SEO Agency’s Website
If you’re going to trust someone to optimize your website, you must be impressed by their website and their own content first. If the provider’s website is filled with outdated content and hard to navigate, it’s more than clear that they don’t understand SEO at all.
It might also be worth checking the firm’s own page ranking to see how well it handles its own SEO.
2. Look for Previous Projects Case Studies
Another way of assessing the capability of an SEO company is to ask for their references. Find out about the websites they are currently working on as well as past references.
Before settling with an agency, make sure to search for client testimonials, industry awards, and case studies. If the SEO company you’re considering has worked with one or more big brands, then there are very high chances you will be in the right hands.
3. Ask Past or Current Clients About Their Experience
You can also consider contacting their past or current clients and ask them about their experience with the company you are considering.
Remember, do not trust everything that SEO companies claim, check for their authenticity and references for their claims. This ensures that you get a good SEO service provider for your needs.
Step #4. Ask for A Free Consultation
If you are satisfied with the past clients’ experiences with a particular agency, you can ask the SEO firm for a free consultation.
In my experience, most SEO companies offer free SEO consultations, so take advantage of those opportunities. This will help you learn more about the agency and its people so you can ensure that you are hiring the right SEO company.
Step #5. Meet with the SEO Company & Ask Specific Questions
Once you have had free consultations with some SEO companies and narrowed your choice down to one or two SEO companies, schedule a meeting with their team members. The team should consist of multiple, specialized members, not just an “SEO person” or two. If possible, you’d better visit the SEO company rather than meeting them via video call.
Before meeting with the company, create a list of detailed questions to ask them. During the meeting, ask plenty of specific questions to get a better understanding of the company’s experience in the industry, the company culture, and their reporting process.
If you’re stuck for what questions you should ask, here a few to help guide your conversation:
- What is your process to make changes to my website?
- What results have you had with previous clients?
- Can you show me examples of links you’ve earned for your clients?
- Can you show me examples of content you have created for your clients?
- How will you help me decide which keywords my site should target? (their answer should focus on various important metrics such as competition, budget, search volumes and, most importantly, return on investment (ROI).
- How is your approach different to every other SEO agency?
- Do you have any experience building and/or migrating websites? (if they do, this suggests perhaps a deeper technical knowledge.)
- What is your contribution to the SEO community? Are you active on forums? Are you aware of or have you done any SEO experiments yourself?
This is a list of red flags you should keep an eye on when
- They guarantee to rank your website in the first. Actually, no one can guarantee this.
- They want to offer you link-building packages. This is something you want to avoid as a trustworthy company would not be able to guarantee a certain number of monthly links.
- They show you results for keywords with no search volume – of course they will rank for them if there is no competition and nobody else is interested in ranking for them.
- They offer technical audits or a report using a free website – they are usually auto-generated and are meant to scare you into thinking your site is in danger just to get you to sign a contract with them.
All in all, you should dive into the techniques the firm plans on implementing. Some basic steps they should be taking to optimize your search ranking include, keyword optimization, headline and link evaluation and link-building from other sites.
Step #6. Clarify Reporting and Communications
You will want your SEO expert to routinely monitor, optimize, and improve upon their work and then regularly update you on the results. Therefore, before you hire an SEO company, you must ensure that you get consistent SEO reports of the progress and success of the campaigns.
Also, communication is crucial while choosing an SEO company. You need to make sure that the SEO company has SEO experts who can communicate appropriately and makes you understand the SEO plan in detail.
Step #7. Compare Packages and Fees
The last step is to compare packages and fees.
Actually, it is a good idea to ask about package deals and price ranges early on to see if the service is in your price range. Most SEO companies will have a variety of monthly packages to choose from. When it comes time to choosing a package deal, refer back to your original goal to see which package will get you to your goal.
However, SEO requires a custom approach to every website because every business or website has different issues and requirements. That’s why fixed-cost SEO packages aren’t always the right fit for all businesses. Ensure the company you’re considering hiring understands your business, creates a strategy and charges accordingly.
The SEO firms may ask you to pay by the webpage, by the hour, by the project, or ask for a pre-determined amount of money to cover the cost of their work for the month. Some may even charge a percentage of the revenue you earn as a result of their work. This is one of the most reliable means of payment. If the firm has a stake in your success, you can have some confidence that the SEO firm is going to work as hard as they can for you, versus collecting a flat fee every month and not necessarily putting their most creative foot forward.
Moreover, remember, SEO is an ongoing process, so ask the firm or consultant how much it will cost to maintain the site once the major changes have been made.
5 Common Mistakes When Choosing an SEO Company
1. Trusting “Top SEO” Lists
This is one of the major mistakes that I’ve observed business owners make. They search on Google for “best SEO company + (their geographic location)” and hire an SEO company because the company ranks on top for SEO services in their region. Business owners often think that the company ranks on top because it knows SEO very well. But this is not always true. A company could rank high on Google for a number of reasons, such as spamming.
2. Choosing A “Cheap” SEO Agency
If you’re wanting to spend between $50 and $500 a month on SEO, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. Many services that fall within this range are often either unable to deliver a quality service and can use several Black Hat SEO methods which could get your website penalized. That’s because low-end SEO agencies cannot afford to pay for experienced employees nor the professional technical tools they would need to do the job properly.
However, this is not to say that a company charging $10,000/month is sure to make a great job solely based on the price they ask for. We aren’t saying that bad SEO can’t be done at high prices – we are saying, however, that good SEO cannot be done at low prices.
3. Choosing “Quick Fix” SEO Firms
You hire an SEO company because you want to be visible online. It can be really enticing when someone tells you “We can triple your traffic in one months!” Also, some SEO providers will promise you that you’ll be on the first Google page within a month.
However, SEO doesn’t deliver immediate results. In most cases, it requires three to six months to start providing a return. If someone guarantees that they can take your website from zero to hero in no time, that is a big warning sign.
4. Selecting A Black-Hat SEO Agency
Black Hat SEO refers to SEO practices which violate Google’s guidelines to gain higher rankings. Its common strategies include:
- Buying a ton of links from random websites
- Using a computer program to generate hundreds of pages of poor content
- Using duplicate or scraped content
- Submitting fake press releases in order to spam links
These bad SEO practices will be penalized by Google and in the long run, will seriously impact your rankings.
Remember, never get lured in by SEO companies that assure you easy and fast traffic. There are chances that they might be using a black hat SEO technique to get quick traffic. And, this will eventually lead to your site getting penalized by search engines.
5. Getting Locked into Long Contracts
You should also consider taking a step back if an SEO company wants to lock you into a contract for 12 months or longer. Otherwise, you won’t be able to leave that company if you aren’t getting any return for your money. From my perspective, if a company is genuine, then you’ll definitely see the results from their services and will work with them longer, so why would they need to lock you in with a long contract?
So, when signing a contract, ask yourself following questions:
- What’s in my current contract? – Re-read the contract. What does it include? When does it end?
- What’s the process to cancel? – Sometimes contracts have an end date or a fee for canceling before a certain length of time.
Finding the right SEO company takes time and research. You need to do your research before signing on the dotted line: read reviews, check their website, ask the right questions, know what to avoid.
If you combine the tips above with your company SEO goals, you’ll have a systematic approach that will guide you to the right SEO company for your business.