Every day, the average American consumer spends 10 hours and 39 minutes staring at a screen1. As consumers spend more and more time online, companies are playing catch up trying to get their brand’s message in front of them. Many businesses already have an online presence such as a blog or website. But that’s often not enough. The real challenge is in getting found online. Social media is good at attracting an audience, but it’s often difficult for small businesses to generate a significant following and see a measurable return on investment. Advertising is expensive and often produces questionable results. And once you stop spending money, you stop receiving new customers.
This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in. With SEO, businesses can reach consumers in the moment they’re searching. SEO ensures that websites rank high in search engines results pages. It is an essential promotional tool that requires specialized skills and technical expertise. Trying to get traffic on your website by yourself may be an uphill task, hence the need to hire an SEO company.
Before you engage any SEO company to work for you, here are some factors you ought to consider.
The success of your SEO campaign will depend greatly on the agency’s experience. How long has the company offered SEO services? Do they have experience working with your industry? Do they follow market trends and industry best practices? Also, determine how experienced and qualified their staff is in dealing with concerns related to your business. A well-experienced firm will help you achieve your goals efficiently. Finally, always take a look at the company’s past SEO campaigns to get an idea of their skills and expertise.
Here’s the SEO experience-related question you will want to ask the SEO companies you’re evaluating: “How many years have you been in business and how many clients have you served?”.
How the SEO company goes about increasing your ranking is critical to understand. You will want to avoid companies that engage in black hat SEO strategies. In the SEO business, there are black hat and white strategies. White hat strategies are those that are accepted by Google. Black hat strategies are those that are not and they may include charging for backlinks, keyword stuffing, cloaking, using non-relevant keywords, not providing any form of measurement or reporting for their work, or not being able tell you how they do what they do. These are red flags.
Here’s the SEO process-related question you will want to ask the SEO companies you’re evaluating: “What is your process for optimizing my site and how to go about obtaining backlinks?”.
An SEO company must have an excellent reputation. This is because they are responsible for taking care of the reputations of other businesses. Before engaging an SEO agency, make sure you take time to know about their reputation in the market. You can get this by interviewing their past clients and visiting the customer feedback section of their website. Taking this caution will go a long way in shielding your company’s reputation. The experience of the past clients can give you a clear picture of what you should expect should you hire a particular company.
What you’ll want to look for in each SEO company you’re evaluating: “Do they themselves rank on the first page for ‘SEO company [insert city]’? Do they have good reviews on Yelp and Google? Do their previous customers have good things to say about the company?
It is a red flag for an SEO firm which gives you a guarantee of getting your website number one spot on the search engine. Also, a company that promises to get your website top search ranking for a specified period should be avoided. This is a sign of a company using dubious strategies to achieve these promises. It will work for a very short period after only until Google catches on to what your website has done. There may be long-term adverse effects to your website such as being blacklisted and never appearing on Google ever again. Steer clear from such companies at all cost. This is because, in the real sense, there is no defined way of getting a top search result rank for any top search engine, especially Google. An SEO company can only guarantee that they will conduct keyword analysis, edit your site properly, and then submit those changes to Google. They cannot promise first page ranking—that’s entirely up to Google.
Here’s the guarantee-related question you will want to ask the SEO companies you’re evaluating: “Do you have any guarantees for reaching the first page?”.
Once you ask the SEO companies you’re evaluating these questions, compare the results and make your decision on who to go with.