Online marketing depends on a combination of things. You need to have a pay per click (PPC) campaign, a user-friendly and attractive website, active social media, effective outreach to connect with others in your field, and a strong SEO strategy. Professional SEO strategists can work as freelancers or as part of a larger firm. It can be difficult to know what you need when it comes to Search Engine Optimization, and even more difficult to know how to hire help. This brief article should serve as a guide to get you on the right track to finding the best SEO company for your purpose.
Know what you need
What are your expectations?
What do you hope to gain from your investment in an SEO company? It’s important that you define your own expectations so that when an SEO professional promises 1st page placement without even analyzing your website, you will not be gullible enough to fall for it. It’s a slippery slope if you’re unfamiliar with the trails!
Even if you can weed out the empty promises, you should still pay attention to how an SEO company corresponds with you. What I mean to say is that if you feel awed by their jargon, look elsewhere. SEO has a scholastic nature, and it’s easy to acquiesce. A good SEO company can’t help but teach you much of what you’ll need to know to eventually feel autonomous, able to undertake your SEO strategy alone if you choose and if time and money permit.
SEO and PPC are related
Measurements from one campaign will be useful to the other. But it’s up to you whether you want to bundle SEO and PPC work with one company or several. Just know that they’re both based on keywords, so you should maintain a clear channel between their data.
Know what is offered
General versus specific services
PPC and SEO are often separated, but sometimes it goes further. SEO involves on-page optimization and off-page link building. As SEO grows, specialized SEO companies that focus solely on link building are popping up. It might be wise to consider divvying up the work.
An SEO professional’s experience
SEO exists in a malleable sphere of influence. What was true in the field a year ago may not be true today, and what was true 3 years ago might now be considered black-hat (that’s bad). A good SEO company remains up-to-date, since ranking factors are constantly shifting.
Also, your SEO strategy will benefit if you hire an SEO company that already has experience in your sector, since so much of SEO depends on writing.
As you learn more about SEO, your strategy may shift. Make sure your company is flexible so that they can accommodate such shifts.
It is paramount that your SEO company offers before and after analytics. Make sure you get a snapshot of where your site is now, and where the company thinks it can be in the future. Likewise, be aware that SEO is no science; to see results it will take time. An SEO company that stays with you through the process and monitors improvements will be more effective.
How to probe for a good SEO company
There are several questions that you need to ask potential SEO hires. If you’ve tried to teach yourself something about SEO already, then you will have some questions in mind. But to put that mind at ease, here are some key inquiries that you should make of any potential SEO company that you’re considering hiring.
- What is your opinion of my on-page, off-page and link structure optimization as it stands? SEO companies should offer a free initial analysis in order to pitch their services to you.
- How do you conduct updates to websites? This will test what they know about CMS, and whether they handle such updates directly.
- Do you do competitor analysis? Don’t let them answer with yes/no. They should respond with their strategy for analyzing competitor success for certain keywords.
- How would you propose to increase my link profile? Pay attention to their use of ‘quality’ and ‘quantity’, since bad links will hurt more than help.
- Why should I choose your SEO company? Clear your mind because this is their 6-second pitch and your instincts play a role.
- May I see examples of your work? Is writing work in-house? SEO is linked to effective writing and seamless integration of keywords. Do you like how they write?
- Can you give me examples of keyword phrases you’d include for my website? This is a simple test question that should evoke quick, simple suggestions.
- How much of a traffic increase should I expect? If they say they can get you 50% increased traffic in a week, run away. Expect around that kind of increase for long tail keywords, but in a time period of 3 months minimum.
- How will you monitor and maintain my site while we’re working together? You should hear the words “Google Analytics” somewhere in their response.
Pay heed to the suggestions in this article and you should be able to gauge the quality of a potential SEO company. If you have additional suggestions, share them in the comments below.