Things to Consider Before Choosing an SEO Company for Your Business
Choosing an SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) company can seem like a long and tedious process, but taking time to research different companies and choose the best for your business is essential to get the most out of your online marketing campaign.
SEO is a specialised field that has been around for some time, yet to most executives and business owners, what SEO is, what work actually takes place and choosing an SEO company that you can trust can be a costly and daunting process. We’ve put together a list of things to consider in choosing your SEO provider to make you more informed and hopefully save you time and money. Unfortunately there are cowboys in this industry and “SEO” companies that can pull the wool over unsuspecting business owners eyes, so this check list will help set the good guys apart from the cowboys.
When choosing an online marketing company for your business it is important to check that the potential prospects have some basic qualifications:
Practise what they preach
An SEO company needs a website. Moreover, an online marketing company needs a website that ranks well in search engines. How high in organic search engine results an SEO company ranks for related keywords is a great indication of the company’s abilities when it comes to optimising their clients’ sites. For example, if your business is located in Perth, Western Australia, try searching for “Online marketing Perth” on Google.com.au. Does the name of the online marketing company you are considering appear in at least the top 30 results on the page, or is it buried among the rest of the pages, or worse still – is it missing from the index entirely?
Experience and Examples
How much experience does your potential search engine optimisation company have? This pertains more to how many clients it has provided its services to since its inception rather than the company’s age. An SEO company does not have to be 10 years old to provide a quality service, but it should have some satisfied customers under its belt and be able to provide you with client testimonials. The company should be able to show examples of client sites it has successfully optimised. Choosing an SEO company with no proven professional experience in search engine optimisation is a hit or miss decision (too often a miss). Web design companies usually do not excel or specialise in SEO.
Focused on your results and not “guarantees” to get your sale
Be wary of SEO companies which make unrealistic promises they may not be able to keep. An SEO company cannot guarantee top placement on Google or any other search engine and if the marketer insists that they can, it is more than likely to simply get your sale. A common exploitation of “Guarantees” some unethical SEO companies provide is “We will get you to #1 on Google, or your money back” etc etc. In most cases they will get someone #1 on Google, yet for a keyword no one searches for ie. “pots and pans techniques perth”
If an online marketer promises one or more of the following, be cautious:
- “We will make your site rank in first place on Google”
- “Your search engine rankings will improve within a week”
- “You will beat all of your local competitors”
- “Your site’s search engine rankings will never go down again”
- “You will see instant SEO results”
Overall, when choosing your SEO partner, you want to have a company that is fixed on obtaining you sustainable results, not lofty sales guarantees simply designed to get dollars from your bank account to theirs.
Google itself shares this view, as can be seen on their search engine optimisation support page.
Transparency and Accountability
It is important that you have access to regular progress reports of how your SEO activities are performing. A reputable search engine optimisation company will have access to various software to track your website’s search engine rankings and how the website is performing. Be wary of companies that hide behind excuses when asked to provide a detailed overview of how your website is doing.
In the world of SEO there are various philosophies which shape what techniques online marketing companies use to optimise your website. A search engine optimisation company’s methodology usually falls into one of two categories: white hat and black hat techniques.
White hat SEO techniques follow the terms and conditions outlined by major search engines. White hat SEO companies hold user experience in the highest regard and do not make changes which may hinder any part of the user experience. These ethical tactics tend to yield solid, long term results in search engine rankings.
Black hat SEO techniques trick search engines into increasing a website’s rankings. Websites utilising these techniques are often difficult to read and navigate. Unethical SEO techniques include showing search engines and human visitors different pages at one URL, hiding text from visitors, posting irrelevant spam comments at other sites, and more. When search engines detect these deceptive tactics, rankings drop quickly and your site can even be excluded from search results altogether.
It is always best to stay away from SEO companies utilising unethical methodology as these tactics will very likely harm your business’s search engine rankings and conversion rates in the long run and can result in having your website removed from Google’s index all together.
In House SEO
Some SEO companies actually do not optimise your site themselves, but outsource the work to overseas companies, where they can pay cheap prices for mediocre work. Before hiring an SEO company make sure that SEO is done in house and that the work is not outsourced to someone else.
Choose an SEO provider that specialises in online marketing/SEO. Many companies such as standard web design and web development companies are touting that they provide SEO services. Search Engine Optimisation and Web development are two very different products and services, often companies that provide SEO as an “add on” service are not going to have the specialised skills and experience to bring a high standard of SEO to your website.