How To Select an SEO Company
No SEO Company is One Size Fits All
When I launched my agency in 2002 our initial focus was SEO. In those days I was proud to say that I ran an SEO company especially since we’ve always used a white hat approach to SEO. Fast forward ten years and today we are much more than an SEO company.
Not a Sales Pitch
I won’t waste your time with a sale pitch. That’s not my blogging style. Rather, I will share the best advice I know to help you select an SEO company to help you get found and achieve your marketing goals.
People Search Twice As Much As Yesteryear
In Google’s Zero Moment of Truth e-book, one of many compelling facts Google shares is the fact people searched for twice as many data points in 2011 as they did in 2010 before they contacted a business about a product or service.
No matter your industry, if your product or service is in demand people turn first and foremost to the Internet to find it. And, as many options as we have at our digital fingertips, one thing still rings true today and that is that people still turn most frequently to a search engine when looking for products and services. And, Google is still the #1 search engine of choice.
Organic SEO Trumps PPC
Over the years there have been many reports indicating that people click on organic search engine listings more than they click on paid listings (PPC). For years the research suggested a 75/25 mix of user preference for organic over paid listings. The August 2012 report published by GroupM and Nielsen blew the doors off this stat with a 94% user preference for clicking on organic listings over paid search results! Yet, businesses around the globe continue to grow their PPC spend for one simple reason. Generally speaking most businesses struggle creating an organic SEO plan that produces results. Why?
Create Long Tail SEO Content
Most businesses that don’t seek SEO expert advice mistakenly try to get found in organic search for a broad and very competitive short keyword phrase. In SEO-context this is like trying to find a needle in a hay stack. Businesses should try to be found for long-tail keywords for two reasons. First, long-tail keywords are less competitive and therefore there is a greater chance of being found for them. The second reason is that people who begin a search with a short-tail keyword and don’t find relevant results revise their search with other keyword phrases. The revisions narrow the search phrase to a long-tail that is laser focused on the exact thing the user seeks. So, when you’re found for a long-tail keyword phrase, usually it’s exactly what the user wants (or very close). For example, someone searching for a specialty provider of clinical data management may start out searching “clinical data management” and after not finding relevant listings revise the search to “clinical data management services” or “clinical research data management services” or one of many other long-tail versions that will produce relevant results.
Hire a Reputable SEO Company
A reputable SEO company will conduct thorough keyword and persona research in order to develop a content marketing strategy. At the heart of a successful SEO plan is a content marketing plan, and that starts with keyword and persona research. Before you engage an SEO company here are some basic questions to ask them.
- How long have you been in business?
- Explain your SEO processes
- What is the make up of your SEO team?
- How do you stay current with SEO best practices?
- Show me results of other clients.
- Who will be our primary point of contact?
- How long will our SEO plan take to get off the ground?
- How will you measure SEO results?
- What do you need from us?
A reputable SEO company will be able to respond to these questions satisfactorily. I don’t hesitate to acknowledge there are many reputable SEO companies around the world. Unfortunately, there are also some not so good ones that focus on winning clients on low prices and shady sales tactics. These bad apples will cut corners, and sometimes use black hat techniques that can be very risky to your business. Conduct a Google search such as “complaints about company name,” or “problems with company name” with company name being the name of the SEO company you are considering. If you don’t find any negative results, chances are it is a reputable SEO company.
SEO Skills Don’t Guarantee a Fit With Your Business
A reputable SEO company may be competent but it doesn’t mean that one size fits all. Just because an SEO company has the skills, a brand should also asses some of their intangibles. Other than reference checking, one of the best ways to assess if an SEO company is a good fit for you is your overall experience during the sales conversation. Is the follow through timely? Is the communication effective? Is there attention to detail during the sales conversations? Do you get along with the people you’ll be working with? Most SEO companies behave the same after the sale as they did before the sale. It is advisable to invest time up front evaluating an SEO company thoroughly to gain insight into how the experience will unfold once you become a client.
Documented SEO Processes Rule
When we first opened our doors as an SEO company in Tampa Bay in 2002 we decided to operate with the processes of a large company, but with the high touch feel of a small company. Although we service clients around the U.S. and Canada, usually by online meetings, we understand the importance of communicating the details. As such, our sales conversation is two sided. A wise SEO company looks for a good fit and doesn’t accept every client. A good fit is a two way street. The relationship between a client and an SEO company is one that should last at least one year. If it’s not a good fit for both parties, no one wins.
No SEO company in the world can handle every client that needs their services. This blog post doesn’t intend to convince the reader that Find and Convert should be their chosen SEO company. As I mention above, this post is intended to offer tips to help a marketing director select an SEO company. I hope that these tips can help a marketer approach the selection process with a logical method that will maximize a positive outcome in the selection of an SEO company.