Tips for Selecting the Right SEO Company – National Federation of Independent

Lots of companies hang up shingles proclaiming to be a leader in the science of search engine optimization (SEO). But how do you know if you’re partnering with the right one? Here’s some advice for selecting the right SEO company for your small business:

  • Know what you’re trying to accomplish. No matter which SEO company you choose, your project is more likely to fail if you don’t have a tangible goal. Do you want more visitors, better conversion rates, more opt-ins, etc.?
  • Think beyond the acronym. Sure, an SEO company should thrive at search engine optimization — increasing the visitors to your website by ensuring it ranks high in search results. But a good company should also offer other services, such as social media consultation, link building, web design and copywriting. In addition, the right partner will view optimization as an ongoing process, not a one-time service.
  • Get recommendations from business associates. Choosing an SEO company is not much different than finding a plumber or financial advisor: Word-of-mouth works. If your friends can’t provide recommendations, try these sources: The member directory for the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, the SEO Consultants Directory or MarketingProf.com’s Vendor Selectors. You also can ask for opinions in dozens of SEO forums, including SearchEngineWatch and Digital Point.
  • Ask for examples — and explanations — of sites the company has optimized. Take a look at those sites and discuss the results achieved by the SEO company. What did the company do to obtain those results? How would it apply the same tactics to your company? Make sure you speak to a few client referrals, too.
    • Avoid companies that make dubious promises, such as the following:
      • “We’ll get you high rankings without altering your website.” (That sounds too good to be true.)
      • “We’ll submit your pages to hundreds of search engines and directories.” (Look for quality, not quantity: You’d rather be in core search engines and directories.)
      • “We guarantee a No. 1 ranking.” (No one can make that claim. If someone does, it probably involves an expensive pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, not SEO.)
    • Focus on the localized results that company has produced if your business is limited to a specific geographic area.
      • When reviewing the work the SEO company has done for others, see how well the clients rank for key terms for a specific geographic area, such as “dry cleaners austin tx” or “body shops tallahassee.”
      • Confirm that these clients have Google Local Business Center accounts (they should appear on a Google Map with additional details and have customer reviews)
  • Search for the SEO company online. Check for corporate blemishes and negative comments on blogs and social media sites. If you find too many, move on to another company. Also, see how well the company ranks in the search engine results.
  • Don’t be fooled by prices. A high bid doesn’t guarantee high quality, just as a low one may not be the most cost-effective. There are lots of options for mid-range SEO companies at affordable rates. Rather than focusing solely on numbers when you examine quotes, consider the content: Does the company clearly outline what techniques and strategies it will use to achieve results? If the company offers a vague plan for optimizing your website, then choose another partner.
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