Learning how to choose the best SEO company has the potential to be a challenging experience.
With so many ranking factors, including keyword selection & usage, page structure, internal & external links, page speed, and user experience signals to name a few. Not to mention the countless different methods to achieve results. How do you decide on the best provider for you?
Below are 8 tips to help you as a business owner choose the right SEO service provider.
1. Thought leadership and industry insights
No one can know everything about the Google algorithm or what is to come. However, being able to see trends and committing to continuous learning is integral for an SEO company to deliver a quality service. Understanding how recent trends could impact rankings or, at the very least, recognise what is coming, tells you a lot about them.
Before you engage with a company, check if they’re up to date with current trends and don’t be afraid to ask when you meet them. If they can’t explain recent trends or position themselves as thought leaders, it may be worth extending your search for the right company.
2. Avoid a “cheap” SEO company: Focus on value
Do you want value for money, or do you want to spend less?
Trust me, these are two very different choices.
The best approach is to allocate a budget to your marketing/SEO services and look for a solution that falls within your budget. The key here is to set a realistic budget. If you’re wanting to spend between $100 and $500 a month on SEO, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. Many services that fall within this range are often either unable to deliver a quality service and can use several Black Hat SEO methods which could get your website penalised.
It’s important to manage your expectations when it comes to spending on an SEO company. You can expect to spend around $1,000 per month for a quality freelancer, this can go anywhere up to $4,000 for an agency to run your SEO.
Price differences can be equated to the size of the company, how competitive your industry is, how much foundational work needs to be done, and what your current rankings are.
3. Recognise and run from Black Hat SEO
As a business owner, your focus is on achieving results. Some like to get them faster than others.
SEO is not a service that generally delivers immediate results. Don’t get me wrong, you can have quick wins, but it’s a process that takes time to feed the Google machine.
Initial results can tend to take anywhere from 3 to 6 months assuming the foundational work has been done correctly. However, this can sometimes lead to frustration and can cause many SEO companies to fall into Black Hat SEO methods, which I mentioned in the previous point.
“Black Hat SEO” refers to SEO practices which violate Google’s guidelines to gain higher rankings. This includes methods such as keywords stuffing, cloaking, and negative SEO (pointing negative links to competitors’ sites). These tactics are unethical and can result in penalties from Google.
Often, low-cost SEO services and black hat strategies go hand-in-hand. Ensure the methods used by your SEO marketing company are above board and won’t harm your website in the long-term.
Get started on your SEO journey today.
4. Do they collaborate with other SEO service companies?
There are two camps here.
There are companies who like to keep their methods hidden from the outside world, and some who freely communicate with others in their space.
Personally, I think a collaborative approach to how we achieve results for clients is the best. If ever you are unsure or have a curveball thrown your way, you have friends and mentors in the industry to refer to and can help with the process. As a whole, this makes both professionals stronger, and able to deliver a better-quality service to clients.
At Optimise Online, we have made friends with various SEO professionals and agencies who we collaborate with and share knowledge.
5. Referrals, customer testimonials & case studies
Word of Mouth is still one of the most powerful forms of advertising in the world. Recent research suggests:
Speak to other business owners who they have used for their SEO marketing efforts. Asking who they trust as their SEO company and the results they achieved could save you a lot of time and money.
When looking into a new SEO marketing company, read reviews on Google and Facebook to see what kind of experience others have had. Also, when checking out case studies, see if the company showcases the customers they have worked with and what results they achieved. If a company isn’t willing to convey the success they’ve had with clients, how can you be sure that they will be right for you?
6. Aligned values and ethics
Being the “best SEO company” or “Number 1 SEO consultant” isn’t what you should be looking for. If you’re going to be spending time, money, and effort to work with a company, make sure their company culture and values align with your own business.
This is one area that is often neglected when business owners are looking for SEO companies to run their marketing. Being able to form a positive connection and work collaboratively (we work with the 80/20 rule) tends to yield better long-term results.
If you get an uneasy feeling about the culture or values, maybe you need to ask yourself why that is. It could potentially harm your business if you choose a provider that isn’t suited to you. The right fit is just as important as a quality service.
7. Meet the SEO company and ask questions
Aligning values leads me to the next tip; meet the company and the team who will be working with your business.
Before you sign any contracts, go meet them and get a feel for their culture and who they are. Take this opportunity to ask lots of questions about the process, methods, results, and general information about the company.
If you’re stuck for what questions you should ask, here a few to help guide your conversation:
- How will you improve my rankings?
- What is your process to make changes to my website?
- What results have you had with previous clients?
- Do you guarantee to get our business to the number 1 spot on Google for high traffic keywords?
Here’s a bonus tip, if they say yes to question 4, this is a red flag.
No one can ever know how Google’s algorithm will change, no one knows exactly how the algorithm behaves, and penalties can come out of nowhere. While an SEO expert should be able to get you consistent results, if their primary focus is a guarantee of keyword rankings at the top of page 1 for highly competitive keywords (especially in a short amount of time), leave promptly and swiftly.
Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting that the #1 spot isn’t attainable, what I’m suggesting is that the strategy and business relationship are much more important to establish than outlandish promises.
8. Last but not least, openly discuss your goals
Talk to your prospective SEO company and be clear about what you want to achieve. Discuss a solution that will help you work together to achieve those goals.
Some common goals that we often see include:
- Increase leads
- Increase downloads, sign-ups, trials etc.
- Raise brand awareness
There are a few goals that may be worth avoiding. These are generally based on vanity metrics and include:
- Increase traffic (this is okay, but you want a Return on Investment for your SEO spend)
- Rank #1. Ranking for the sake of ranking is pointless. You want this goal aligned with something more positive like an increase in conversion rate.
Unofficial tip 9 on how to choose the best SEO company
If you need some guidance on who to approach for your SEO services, I have compiled a list below of likeminded, driven, and talented SEO companies & professionals who we trust to deliver a quality service.
We believe in an open, transparent, and collaborative experience to achieve results for our clients. As a fast-growing team, we have assembled a talented group of people who are passionate about ongoing education and forming strong relationships with their clients.
James Mitchell runs the growing team at MyOnlineGuy in Mandurah. He has a wealth of knowledge and provides an honest & quality service, and approaches every new client with a bespoke strategy tailored to their needs.
The boys over at Digital Hitmen in Attadale, Brad Russell, and Levi Saunders, are guns at their craft. Optimise Online have collaborated with Digital Hitmen and shared services to achieve the best possible outcomes for clients.
Andrew Jester is a freelancer who runs Jester Digital and has worked for a host of digital marketing agencies in Perth over the years until he decided to work for himself. Often open to sharing ideas and strategy, he is a trusted SEO professional who delivers results for clients.