Having outside help with SEO has the potential to make or break your company.
Because of this, it’s crucial you make the right choice when it comes to hiring an SEO company.
The guide below will take you through the steps you need to take to choose the perfect fit for your business.
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When You Should Hire an SEO Company
As you might expect, the answer to this question isn’t always yes. There are a number of criteria to consider when deciding to hire an SEO company. Some of them are listed below.
The company is a good fit for your business
Generally, you’ll want a company that can be a good fit for your business culture and the way you operate.
However, keep in mind that the companies you reach out to will also have their own idea of what makes a good client.
Companies will generally not be keen on working with businesses where plans and operating procedures can change suddenly.
Conversely, any company that obscures its methods and doesn’t communicate regularly will probably be a bad fit for your business.
You want to better know your audience
One thing an SEO company can offer is thorough research into who your customers are and what attracts them to your site.
A good company will want to get to know your business and your product.
But more importantly, they’ll want to get to know your customers, the ways search for your business, and what is it about your site that triggers action.
All of this can be used to attract more customers and convert visitors into buyers.
You’re interested in long-term results
Unless there’s a small and quick-to-fix issue on your site that negatively impacts your search engine ranking, most of the SEO will focus on long-term results.
Yes, you can hire someone to create a large number of links that won’t cost a lot, but this risky tactic can end up being more trouble than it’s worth.
When You Shouldn’t Hire an SEO Company
Obviously, not all businesses will have a use for an SEO company, and not all SEO companies are created equal.
Below you will find some red flags that might indicate you should rethink about reaching out to an SEO company.
You’re concerned about the budget
A year-long SEO project for a mid to large business can cost up to $100,000.
If this doesn’t work with your budget, you might want to instead consider hiring a consultant. An individual specialist might give your ranking an immediate boost.
More importantly, they can indicate what changes you need to make to achieve long-term success.
You can use this to plan for a budget and hire an SEO company somewhere down the line.
You haven’t done the prep work on your site
A good SEO company will ask to see all the relevant data related to your site in order to plan a comprehensive SEO strategy.
If you’re not ready or willing to provide the data they need, they might end up not taking you on as a client.
It looks like the agency wants to lock you in a long-term contract
Both the Seo company you hire and you’re business deserve to be treated fairly. If the company wants you to sign a year-long contract before they even come on board, that can be a big red flag.
Always make sure both sides have a 30- to 60-day outs written into the contract and have the SEO company ensure a smooth transition if you decide to hire someone else.
How to Choose and the Right Steps to Take
If, in the end, you decide you want to hire an SEO company, choosing the right one can prove to be a challenge.
The process detailed below should help you pick the one most suitable for your business.
Common mistakes when choosing an SEO company
When choosing the right SEO company to hire, there are some common pitfalls you want to avoid.
Most of these stem from the lack of information businesses have on what exactly constitutes SEO and how it works.
You might be tempted to simply search ‘best SEO company’ on Google and try to hire the first name that pops up.
On the surface, it makes sense: a good SEO company should have its own SEO sorted well enough that they show up at the top of relevant Google searches.
In reality, most of the top SEO companies make enough money and have enough steady clients that they don’t have to worry about being easily found by a Google search.
Their business is driven by referrals and word of mouth.
Another resource you might be tempted to tap are the ubiquitous ‘best SEO’ lists.
The truth about these is that it’s quite simple to be ranked on them – you just have to pay the right amount.
In reality, a business looking to hire a trustworthy SEO company should give lists like these a wide berth.
Another thing to look out for is an SEO consultant or company that treats their methods as some kind of a trade secret.
That might have been true in the early days of SEO, but now it’s turned into an open field, and the best practices are known and understood by many. Any company that tries to obscure the way they work should immediately send a red flag.
Choosing the right SEO company
There are, fortunately, steps you can take to be sure you make the right choice:
Step 01: Consider your goals
These will be vital in ensuring the company you hire develops an SEO strategy that will suit your business.
Have a sit down with your leading team and figure out exactly what you want the SEO company to accomplish.
While you’re doing this, make sure you focus on choosing the right goals.
Vague goals like boosting your traffic or ranking higher than a certain competitor will only serve to take your SEO strategy in the wrong direction.
Instead, consider clear and useful goals, like boosting revenue or increasing the number of sign-ups for free trials.
Step 02: Compile a list of candidates
With the right goals in place, you can start rounding up potential companies that can help you reach them.
A good rule of thumb here is that referrals from contacts you know and trust will be much more valuable than anything you find on the Internet.
Consider turning to friends in your professional network, non-competitive companies in your area of work or business insiders.
They will tend to wither know of a good SEO company or already have a relationship developed with one.
Step 03: The right questions to ask
Once you have a list of three to five companies you think might be a good match, finding the one to hire is simply a matter of reaching out and asking the right questions. Here are some examples:
Ask for a list of past clients. Even though you shouldn’t expect and SEO company to give you a full address book, most will be happy to give you examples of a couple of their biggest clients. If they can’t or won’t, this could be a red flag indicating they don’t have the experience needed to help you reach your goals.
Ask for reports on any changes they make to your web site. Usually, a good SEO company will send you regular monthly reposts, and some may even send weekly updates. Also, having these reports on hand will be invaluable if for whatever reason something should go wrong and your web site should go down. Your developer could use the data to quickly find the source of the issue and fix it.
Ask if they’re up to date with search engine guidelines. Google (and to some extent Yahoo and Bing) best practices have become the de-facto industry standard. Web sites that don’t follow them will quickly find themselves penalized and their traffic will plummet. It’s crucial that the SEO company you hire follow these best practices and keep up to date with algorithm changes. Failing to do this can cost your business a tremendous amount of money in lost sales.
Step 04: Choosing the right match
By now you will have narrowed it down to a couple of candidates using the steps above. But there are a few more things to consider when choosing the right one.
Referrals from your professional network are a good indicator that the SEO company has built enough trust through consistently good work.
Also, take note of their communication style. Even though in most cases you’ll only have to get in touch with them a few times a month, you still want the communication to run smoothly.
Finally, take a good look at their price and contact structure and make sure you’re comfortable with both before going forward.
The most important thing to remember is that hiring an SEO company is a long-term investment.
Even though it might take months for results to become apparent, taking the steps above will ensure you don’t regret your choice.