Choosing the Right SEO Firm for Your Business
Every business, large or small, needs to have a well-rounded SEO strategy in place to maximize their potential for both online and offline sales and brand exposure. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the ongoing process of maintaining and editing a website with the goal of attracting the most relevant traffic possible while improving the site’s ranking in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
While the particulars of how SEO works and what tips and strategies you should employ are best left to another article, here are a few things you can do to feel more confident about choosing an SEO firm to hire for your business.
You Don’t Need to be an Expert, but They Do
Effective SEO is a blend of art, technical knowledge, adaptability, and effective use of resources. A good SEO firm will have talented writers that produce good written content for website pages, good programmers that know current web standards, and individuals that know how to prioritize work. While you don’t need to know how all those things apply to SEO directly, it is important that you find a firm that does.
Find a firm that can clearly explain to you their SEO process. Make sure they can provide helpful and clear answers to your questions about the following items:
Writing – When asked about the content they create, a good SEO firm will put a strong emphasis on writing for actual website visitors, and not to simply trigger “what search engines look for.” The best writers know how to write for your audience first while still adhering to best practices for search engine friendliness.
Technical SEO – An SEO firm should be up to date with all the changes in web standards that impact a site’s rankings with Google and other major search engines. They should also be capable of making technical changes to your website (programming, design elements, image optimization, etc.) in accordance with current and changing web standards.
Experience – It’s easy for anybody to brand themselves as an SEO expert and sell their products. When researching and comparing SEO firms, put a lot of value in their experience and success stories. Ask them for examples of recent work and how they have helped past clients improve their SEO.
Reporting and Accountability – Every SEO firm should report regularly, at least monthly, on your progress in the SERPs and in relevant traffic growth. These reports should show gains and losses in search rankings, traffic statistics, web page audits for technical and on-page SEO needs, site performance statistics (page load speed, mobile friendliness, etc.), and a clear accounting of work performed over the past month. The report should also lay out a list of planned activities and how it relates to your current SEO strategy.
Many SEO firms will simply point at shifting rankings as evidence of work performed, but some natural fluctuation in search engine rankings will always occur. If rankings are rising or falling, the firm you are working with should have a good explanation for what is happening.
Compare and Research Reputation
As you look for companies to work with, seek out multiple bids, SEO audits, and take the time to sit down and speak with each candidate. Find out how each potential SEO firm aligns with your business plans and brand identity directly from them and then go out and do some research to see what kind of buzz each company has generated for themselves. Reputation is everything to an SEO firm, and the best firms have a deservedly good legacy.
Find a Partnership and Trust Your Gut
The most successful SEO strategies are born out of good partnerships. Look for an SEO firm that wants to work with you and not simply for you. If the SEO company says, “you can just sit back and we’ll take care of everything,” there’s reason to hesitate. What you really want is a company that tells you that they will keep you involved in the process, have open communication, and will make sure you understand their efforts.
As you compare companies and start getting close to making a decision, treat it like any other business opportunity or collaboration and make sure it passes the gut check. You should feel good about allowing a company to have the level of access to your website and business data that an SEO firm needs.
Choosing an SEO firm should also be exciting. A good SEO agency can really help your business grow and push your brand to new levels of exposure. Make sure you and everyone involved in the selection process is feeling that excitement and confidence in your final selection.