SEO is such a nebulous acronym for an equally nebulous profession, but if your business has a website, you need it, like it or not. The disturbing ambiguity that makes up search engine optimization gives business owners an uneasiness about SEO experts, prompting many business owners to just forego the expense and accept that his company’s website is and always will be firmly entrenched on page three of Google searches. It’s true that there are as many approaches to SEO as there are practitioners, none of them being exactly right. That being said, there is a ‘more correct’ method of SEO, as well as a ‘less correct’ method. So how do you go about finding and picking the right company or individual to handle the SEO aspect of your business’ website? How should you choose your SEO firm?
“… there are as many approaches to SEO as there are practitioners…”
There are many factors that you should consider when picking your SEO firm. Each company will place different emphasis and importance on the different factors, so before you begin, we’ll list out some of the important factors that go into the process of picking the perfect SEO firm to work with.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Every businessperson has heard the key to great marketing – it’s location, location, location. In today’s online world, that probably doesn’t hold water like any longer, but some businesses do prefer to work with someone who is local to them. If location is important to your business, then the next logical question would be “are there any qualified SEO experts local to me?” Often the answer to that question is a resounding NO, in which case, you’ll have to consider looking outside of your immediate area, maybe expanding your search range to include firms in larger cities nearby.
Because SEO is inherently an online endeavor, we consider the location of the SEO company to be less of an important factor than some others, however there is one caveat – overseas SEO practitioners. Unless your business requires extensive information about your local environment, like a tour guide company or hot-spot review guide, then your SEO firm really doesn’t need to be local to you. In fact, you may find that the SEO experts local to you don’t cut the mustard. So proximity isn’t a must, but knowledge of your dialect, customs, traditions is. For on-site SEO work, you don’t want your site to read like it was written in the Queen’s English. Content on your site, whether product description or blog articles should sound like you.
ALL ABOUT PRICE?
Is price the primary concern for you when you choose your SEO partner? Do you find it hard to justify spending your hard-earned dollars on a service that seems to be only about Google position bragging rights? Before you brush off the importance of Google search position, you should understand that Google is by far the largest referral network in the world. Every time someone does a Google search for local products or services, the searcher is referred to someone. Nearly all of the clicks will go to businesses in the top 3 to 5 spots. Keep in mind that Google services over 3.5 BILLION searches daily. That’s a lot of referrals. And guess what – they’re free. You don’t pay Google for clicks to your website in organic search results.
If you have concerns about cost, then ask your potential SEO company to do a cost analysis for you. If they hesitate or refuse, then they aren’t the company for you. A reputable firm will give you an analysis of what they hope to gain for your business You can then weight the benefits vs the costs.
Here’s something else to consider. You get what you pay for! If you decide on an SEO company that advertises ‘TOP GOOGLE RANKING’ but only charges $199/month, then don’t expect much (if anything). In fact, depending on the tactics used by the SEO firm, you might even find that your rankings drop.
Another mistake penny-pinchers make is hiring a nephew who is a computer nerd or a friend of a friend who does SEO ‘on the side’. SEO is labor intensive. It is ever changing, requires a very deep understanding of web analytics and metrics, and can’t be done ‘on the side’. It is a full time job to manage just a handful of clients. You wouldn’t trust just anyone to wire your home’s electric wiring. Likewise, you shouldn’t trust your company’s online reputation to anyone but a proven, experienced SEO expert.
FOCUS ON RESULTS
The best indicator of future success is past performance. If you want to raise your rankings to the first page of Google searches, then look for a company with proven results. There is a right way and a wrong way to go about this.
If you ask an SEO company about their successes, and they point you to some Google search that has their name in the search, then watch out. For instance, if you Google ‘Stewart SEO in Lubbock’, references to our website fill the entire first page. Is that something to be proud of? No, that’s Google giving you exactly what you asked for. If they ask you to Google ‘My SEO company in Anytown’, and they come up first, you should still be wary. By adding words to the search – in this case the word ‘my’ – they narrow the field of possible competitors for that keyword.
Remember that I said ‘you get what you pay for’? An SEO company may be at the top of the Google search because they’ve poured money into an SEO campaign for their own company. That doesn’t mean they’ll do the same for you. If they do, you’ll certainly pay for it.
Current customers will be the most accurate barometer of how well the SEO company will do for your site. Most businesses won’t want to be named for fear of negative SEO campaigns, but any reputable SEO company will have at least a couple of current or past customers that can vouch for them, and you can check for yourself how well their websites rank for their important keywords.
READY TO CHOOSE YOUR SEO COMPANY?
By taking a comprehensive approach to choosing your SEO company, you stand a better chance of a great fit and lasting success. Take your time, weigh the options, and make an informed decision. You will be glad you did.