You run a company and understand the importance of SEO. You’ve decided to invest in a professional SEO company to manage your web presence, expand your visibility, and improve your search engine rank. You wisely decide to do some research to determine how to find the best SEO provider for your business, and search for some tips to guide you. If this sounds like you, then you’ve likely discovered that there is a wide range of opinions on the matter that are often contradictory, and only served to leave you more confused than before you started.
The reason for these differences is primarily because organic SEO strategy is different for each individual business. Depending on the goals of a company, an SEO strategy must be developed that is specifically designed to your industry and your needs. It is important to define your goals in advance and the right SEO company will have the ability to assist you in determining those goals. The right SEO company should also have the ability to create a plan that focuses on the goals you have created.
Finding Red Flags
It is important that as you seek an SEO company, you be aware of some warning signs that may indicate you should continue looking, or at least do some research on that company before using their services. The first red flag is if you are given the promise of a quick fix. Many times these companies do not fully understand the current standards and the process involved in a comprehensive SEO package. Understand that moving up to number one on Google takes time and a focused effort. The old saying really is true; if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Also related to that, the promise of any particular rank with any specific timeframe can be a glaring problem.
Beware of any “blackhat” SEO practices the company engages in. The major search engines have very technical and specific algorithms that determine the SEO practices that move sites upward. They also include seeking out methods when an SEO company attempts to cheat the algorithm, and when found those websites are penalized. The credibility of your site becomes tarnished and their efforts will hurt you more than help you. Examples of this include hidden content, Meta keyword stuffing, and link farming. A great way to determine if an SEO company enlists blackhat tactics, or to determine if they have an outdated SEO perspective is to rate the level of information they are willing to provide. If the company refuses to answer questions or are secretive about their process, it may be a sign that they are not the right company to use.
Also, a reason to be cautious is if you receive unsolicited offers to improve your ranking. This is especially true if these offers reference specific keywords or pages on your site. In many cases, these offers are from spammers and not legitimate SEO companies.
Whenever an SEO company promises they have an inside contact with a search engine, or have privileged information that will help boost your site, be doubtful. Some may even target your website and threaten to sabotage it unless you hire them for SEO. This is illegal and should be reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center immediately. While this is not an exhaustive list, it hopefully will at least draw your attention to some ways in which unscrupulous SEO companies operate.
Signs of Quality
Fortunately, there are also signs to look for that demonstrate an SEO company is professional and experienced, and are likely to provide you with quality SEO services. Going with your gut feeling can be helpful, but also dangerous. Below are some common signs that an SEO company is legitimate.
- Able to show past successes and positive references
- An experienced SEO company should have some form of a professional portfolio that demonstrates their ability to successfully manage and improve a customer’s SEO and ranking. This may include reports that show the particular performance of a website before and during their involvement. It is also important to obtain any references from past clients. Also, seek out references on the web that are not provided by the company directly. A company isn’t going to show you any negative references so this requires a little research on your part as well.
- Demonstrate exceptional customer service and communication
- If an SEO company seems to struggle with customer service or communication in the early stages of your relationship with them, it is a clear sign of what you can expect in the future. Examples may include taking days or weeks to respond to an email or voicemail, being surly or impolite, or being overly defensive when questions are asked. Remember, SEO is a process and you will be working closely with the company for some time, make sure you feel they treat you with respect and care.
- Include detailed reporting as part of their service
- Without a documented record of their performance, there is no solid way to be sure they are positively influencing your SEO efforts and moving towards attaining your goals. If the company only verbally reports the status of your web presence and does offer to provide a legitimate record, they can’t truly demonstrate that they are doing anything to earn your business. You should have the ability to request and receive progress reports at any time.
- Have the ability and willingness to explain their process in understandable terms
- SEO can be highly technical and unless you are an expert yourself, it can be difficult to understand exactly what an SEO company will do to reach your goals. It is important that you do a little research to learn what SEO is and gain an understanding of what has proven to be successful based on current trends and practices. Ask the company to explain their process and make sure that it aligns with what you have learned. In other words, make sure they know what they are talking about. Understand as well that just because it is on the internet, doesn’t mean it is accurate. If the company’s methods differ from your understanding of the process, they should be able to explain why their method differs from your research.
- Have a clear and specific pricing strategy and demonstrate value
- It’s important that you are fully aware of how they charge for their services and what you can expect. SEO is an investment, and just like any investment it’s important to understand your ROI. Ask questions if anything in their pricing is unclear and examine their ability to back up what they offer. Make sure there are no hidden fees or surprises and know exactly what the terms of any agreement are.
Finding a reputable SEO company that truly has your best interest in mind, and will go the extra mile to gain your trust can be challenging. Like any other industry, unscrupulous practices and under-qualified or non-current SEO companies flood the market with false promises and negatively impact the industry as a whole. A little education goes a long way and the investment of your time to research a company will be well worth the effort. Despite the influx of spammers and thieves, there are SEO companies that truly are the real thing and truly care about the success of your business in our digital world.
At Cohlab, we pride ourselves on our mission to build relationships with our clients, and we ensure that our passion to serve them through exceptional customer care and professional SEO services that meet their needs and reach their goals. Contact us for a free consultation and we would be glad to answer any questions, and provide Cohlaborative digital marketing solutions to meet your company’s needs.