When you create your website you want it to get as many views and traffic as it can to it. After all it is your website and livelihood so trusting it to just anyone is not a smart option. Picking the right Search Engine Optimization (SEO) company is an extremely important decision to make. Gone are the days of getting a top page rank on a search engine just because you have the right keywords strategically placed throughout your webpage.
First off, you need to know what you are trying to accomplish by hiring a SEO company. Be clear in your vision before you start the selection process. Like most things in life all SEO companies are not created equally. Are you wanting more visitors, more opt-ins, or better conversion rates? Do you want to grow your sales by 45% over the next 5 months? Are you wanting to just increase your rankings? Have a clear goal in mind so that you can measure the success of your engagement with your SEO company.
You need to get multiple consultations, but don’t reveal this to the firms you are dealing with. You wouldn’t just pick the first house a realtor showed you now would you? Most SEO firms offer a free consultation so that they can try to impress you and hopefully win your business. Meet with them in person, via phone, or through email correspondence. This communication should help you know, for the most part, the type of people you will be dealing with. After the consultation you should be given a proposal with the services you request and the prices for them.
When you apply for a job they ask for references. You should get references from the companies you are considering. See if you can speak to past clients and talk about the results that were achieved for their business. If you have a specialized business you should definitely make sure they have experience with that type of company. If they have a proven track record in that field then it is a safe bet that they will be of great service to you. Asking colleagues and friends for recommendations is a good route to go as well. Word of mouth is always one of the top ways to get good service.
Search your search engine company. See how the company ranks in search engine results. Search blogs and message boards for complaints, blemishes, or even compliments. Knowing who you are dealing with is key. If they have too many negative comments against them then it’s safe to say you need to move on to the next company.
Make sure the company is competitively priced. Hiring a freelance SEO specialist can be the most “cost effective” route but is it the right route for you? You have to decide what works best for your budget and go from there. You need to keep in mind that this will be an ongoing process so make sure you budget for it accordingly. A high bid doesn’t always mean they are the best and a low bid doesn’t mean they are the most cost effective. If they are vague in their approach to pricing and what they will offer, then move on to the next company.
Have them tell you their “story”. Tell them you want to hear about their background, experiences, successes, and failures. How were they founded and what is their mission statement? This gives you a clearer picture of who you will be dealing with. What was their best and worst client experience and how did they deal with it? How have they improved upon their brand over the years? Again, it comes back to knowing who you are dealing with.
Let’s face it, customer service is a dying practice in this day and age. Gone are the days of the customer always being right. Make sure the company you decide to choose offers top notch customer service. No one likes to wait days for a response nor should you have to. Their philosophy on customer service will be a clear indication on how reliable they will be for you in the future.
SEO techniques are usually classified into two categories, white hat and black hat techniques. You will definitely want the company you choose to specialize in only using the white hat technique. This technique is designed to last a long time whereas the black hat technique is a sure a fire way to get your site banned temporarily or permanently once it is discovered. One of the main ways a black hat technique gets banned is by having hidden content. BMW Germany and Ricoh Germany were both removed temporarily from Google search for this practice back in February 2006.
Make sure the SEO company you choose can handle the size of your business. Familiarize yourself with SEO techniques. Sure they are the ones that are going to be handling this for you, that is why you hired them, but know what they are doing. Ignorance is never bliss when it comes to your money. Are they keeping up with algorithm updates, watching and reacting to the ranking trends, and taking the appropriate action to combat web spam.
SEO success is measured by rankings in the search engine, lead/conversion rates, and traffic reporting. Ultimately, you want to know that you got a reasonable return on your investment. You want to know that the company you chose caused you to have increased revenue and a good position in the search engine.