Last edited on 08/21/2021
SEO, compared to other marketing methods, is one of the most affordable and effective ways to build trust, authority, and organic traffic long-term. Thus, professional SEO is a fast-growing industry. There are many different types of SEO’s. Not only that, there are many different types of SEO’s within each of those groups. Don’t get lost in the details. At its core, there are only two types of SEO’s: Those who work for clients and those who work for themselves. Finding one that you can rely on to deliver what they promise can be a very daunting task.
There is a wide range of methods SEO firms employ to increase search engine rankings. Not all techniques are considered ethical. Many firms will use outdated and unethical practices that go against the major search engines webmaster guidelines. Going with a firm that utilizes such methods can do more harm than good, jeopardizing your business, putting your site at risk of being penalized and even banned, tarnishing your reputation, and diminishing your authority. Not to mention the additional costs to fix issues caused by poor SEO practices.
Here are some simple tips to help you in your evaluation and selection of a trustworthy and professional search engine optimization service:
Before you hire any SEO (Search Engine Optimization) service, make sure you know and understand the basics, so you can properly evaluate the service and determine if it’s right for you or not. There are several websites that are dedicated to search engine marketing and SEO, and taking the time to learn and understand the basics will go a long way.
A good first step for anyone who wants to get a handle on the basics of SEO is to read the major search engines' webmaster guidelines. You can read the Google webmaster resources (now called Google Search Central) here. You can read the Bing webmaster resources here. The Yandex webmaster resources can be found here.
There is no standardized fee structure for SEO. Companies typically offer a range of packages instead. A package may in itself contain a variety of services like keyword research, on-page optimization of a certain number of pages, directory submissions, etc. When selecting a company it is important to understand their pricing model as well as the risks behind each.
Identifying your website’s unique needs, tailor a website to meet these requirements, and then compare firms’ prices to determine a realistic starting point for your budget. If you have a clear idea of your website’s unique needs and you are willing to do the work, you should be able to get a good feel for what various firms charge. When you are ready to hire a firm, you should base your decision not only on price but also on their ability to produce results for you, whether they have a proven track record, and their willingness to work within your budget.
One of the most important things you can do for your website is making sure it is well designed. A well-designed site will make your life easier when it comes to updating it, keeping it fresh, and marketing it.
There are several important questions you should be asking about any SEO company before you sign a contract with them. One of the most important is, do they have at least one professional with a proven track record in all aspects of search engine optimization? Another is, how many customers have they worked with and what was the outcome? A third important question is, how much experience do their staff members have? And finally, how do they plan to handle the SEO for your website? Will they do it right or will they leave it up to "chance"?
The location of the SEO firm is largely dependent upon your personal comfort level. If you don't trust the firm not to abuse your trust, you might prefer a local company with lower overhead. Or you might prefer to outsource completely to another country to benefit from their lower costs. Also, there are now many firms using a “blended” offshore delivery model with marketing and client service offices in one country and the actual design and development work being done in another. With the combination of lower costs plus client servicing available within reach, this blended model may be a good option to consider.
References are a great way to get started and should be readily available. If they haven’t been provided, ask for them. Then you can decide if the client is being honest about this or not.
Ask for these questions to be answered before you decide if you are going to do business with the company: “How long have you been in business? Are your products or services organic? How many complaints have you received from your customers? What was the result of those complaints? Were all complaints resolved to the customer’s satisfaction?
Testimonials and References from previous clients are some of the most important elements to consider when choosing an SEO firm. You need someone who is willing to provide references from past clients - preferably with favorable comments. It's important to realize that some are not necessarily honest people, so it's wise to check out client references, even if the firm claims to have no references.
It is not legitimate for an SEO firm to guarantee to get you to a specific position or rank. For example, an SEO firm that says it will guarantee you a top ten position in all major search engines is lying to you and should be disregarded. However, it is justifiable for a company to guarantee to increase your traffic or rankings from its current positions.
You need to make sure you work with an ethical search engine optimization company. There are several unethical practices an SEO company can use. Make sure you ask as many questions as possible and specifically about the methodology they use to achieve the results you desire. If the firm doesn’t offer you ready explanations of the process they undertake to achieve the results you desire, you should look for another firm.
If you want to improve the success of your website campaign, you must clearly define "success." You must also decide if you want to use numbers (e.g., number of visitors) or qualitative measures (e.g., number of leads generated) as your benchmark for judging the success of your campaign. A clearly defined goal and realistic expectations are critical to the long-term health of any successful campaign.
When you are hiring a Search Engine Optimization consultant, it is important to make sure you are both on the same wavelength. Otherwise, you could end up spending a lot of money on an inefficient campaign, or, even worse, you could end up with substandard results which will most likely cause you to terminate the relationship before it has a chance to get off the ground. Make sure you ask the following questions and be satisfied with the answers. If the consultant provides answers that satisfy you, then you might want to consider going ahead with the arrangement.
You should always ask for an estimate (or quote), the name and contact information (including phone number) of at least three different clients, and ask for references. And don’t forget to ask about a maintenance plan, and make sure it includes contact from time to time to check on progress.
A careful evaluation of the SEO services firm you are considering partnering with will enable you to determine if they are truly worth partnering with. Only then should you proceed with the necessary steps outlined above to help you achieve your goals.