Every business, ranging from small to large scale, needs a strategic digital marketing plan to survive and stay visible in the digital sphere (aka Google).
As a business owner, unless you’re well equipped with the technical know-how and time. You’ll find it’s almost impossible to effectively handle all aspects of your marketing. Especially trying to manage and execute effective SEO and keep up with the content needs of your business, while simultaneously focusing on your business.
When investing in Search Engine Optimization, there are two options that can bring you successful results. Employ an in-house SEO team, or outsource your needs to an SEO company.
The question many business owners who are looking to outsource ask is “How do I know if I’m hiring a top-quality search engine expert or team of experts?”
These days, it’s easy for anybody to set up a website, proclaim themselves a digital marketer, or search engine optimization expert. There are specific qualities that you’ll want to be looking for when choosing the right SEO company for your business.
Below we’ll share some:
- Warning signs of a bad SEO company
- Qualities of a good SEO company
- Tips for finding the right SEO company for your business.
Warning Signs of a Bad SEO Company
Employing a bad SEO company could do your business, even more, harm than not using one at all.
If you do not understand the technical aspect of SEO, you might not catch on to the bad SEO practices early enough. The best way to detect a bad SEO company is by vetting before hiring them.
Here are a few signs you should look out for:
Their promises sound too good to be true
The purpose of hiring an SEO company is to increase your online visibility. It can get tempting when you receive pitches with assurances like “We will double your traffic in a month!” No one can guarantee that your traffic will be doubled in such a short time, so this is a warning sign.
Also, promises about making your website pages rank at the top of search results may be false. Although we have the insight to a few of the factors that could promote a link to the top page, Google algorithms are too complex to give such a firm guarantee.
Can your SEO efforts get to you the top of the search rankings? Absolutely YES – but it’s not a sure thing, and it’s not guaranteed you’d stay there.
They don’t try to understand your conversion needs
If they’re not trying to understand your reason for wanting more traffic and your end conversion goal, they should not be trusted with your website.
Unethical SEO companies will mostly keep promising you traffic, without establishing what the purpose of that traffic would be.
The content on their website is poor
If I’m going to trust my website with a company, I expect that when I go to their own website, whatever I see should be impressive enough to assure me of my good choice. If their website is full of outdated information using outdated graphics or is difficult to navigate, that’s a clear sign that they do not know what they are doing.
Another good trick is to check their blog. Any quality SEO company should understand the importance of constantly updating their blog with useful information. If they don’t have a blog or haven’t updated their content in a while, it’s a clear sign that they don’t put enough effort into growing their own business. How would they do that for you?
They don’t keep you in the loop
If you’re working with an SEO company that takes action on your website without informing you first, you should understand the risk involved as they may very likely use shady methods to ‘finetune’ your website.
SEO methods aren’t a secret so if they are hiding theirs, then you should be worried.
Some SEO companies we see today are run by people who use them as side businesses to supplement their income. They are usually run by one or two people at most. Companies like this won’t have a person or team dedicated to correspondence.
Before you hire a company, send them a series of emails, schedule phone calls and talk to them. Ask them questions about the services they are offering you. You should be able to detect if there is a lack of organization with their correspondence practices.
Their own website is promoted using spammy links
One of the best ways to detect a subpar SEO company is by tracing their own SEO efforts. Try running their website through a backlink tool like Ahrefs. This will show you what types of links are being used to promote their website, and on what platforms.
With this information, you should be able to detect spammy links right away. In many cases, shady SEO companies will have no links at all. This is because they have no authority in the industry and no one can recommend or vouch for them.
Qualities of a Good SEO Company
Now that we understand what signs we should view as red flags, here are some qualities to look out for when searching for a good SEO company:
They can provide case studies, testimonials, and recommendations
Good SEO companies understand the importance of sharing information and should have all these readily available on their website, or in other shareable material. Any information they provide should show their experience. And previous successes should also be easily verifiable.
Clear and effective communication
An ethical SEO company should have someone or a team in charge of communication, like a project manager. The emails you get from them should be prompt and easy to understand.
Scheduling calls and online conferences shouldn’t be a problem either. A good SEO company should be able to represent themselves as honest and open to communication.
They are prudent about using white hat link building techniques only
This could easily be the most important thing to look out for. White hat SEO techniques include the approved methods used to improve a website’s rankings and promote visibility.
Working with a company that doesn’t care to use approved methods might not only cost you time and money but also damage the performance of your website, sometimes permanently. Your website could be removed from search results or even banned from showing up in major search engine results.
They use Google Analytics to evaluate results
They should be able to provide website analysis results from Google Analytics to show the progress of their SEO strategies.
Google Analytics is important in tracking the performance and results of every action you take on your website. If they see no need for these reports, such a company is most likely using shady methods or cannot account for the services you are paying for.
They are concerned about conversion optimization
Growing your traffic is important but if the conversion rate does not improve as well, you might as well be throwing your money away. SEO experts understand the need to promote conversion with each visitor to acquire new customers and reduce customer acquisition costs. If all SEO tactics being discussed and applied are just targeted towards driving traffic, it means that that company does not consider the importance of the end result of gaining that traffic.
It is important that before you decide on the SEO company of your choice, they explain clearly to you what strategies they apply in promoting conversion.
They work with KPIs and realistic targets
The SEO company you hire should be able to set realistic, achievable targets and measure the performance of their methods using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
- KPIs help to identify what is working, what isn’t and what might create a problem for your set SEO strategy.
- KPIs are also a credible way to illustrate the success and performance of optimization tactics applied.
Good SEO companies should be able to apply all the necessary tools available to them for better results.
They should have a strong social media presence
A quality SEO company recognizes the importance of having a social media presence and engaging in social networking activities.
Online marketing strategies heavily include social media use. If they don’t recognize the importance of social media for their business, they won’t see the importance of its inclusion in your business.
A strong social media presence and engagement with followers also solidify the credibility of a company. They don’t have to have a set amount of followers, but engagement must be present on their social media platforms.
If you can’t find an SEO company anywhere else other than their website, that’s a warning sign that they might lack credibility.
They invest heavily in content marketing
Regularly providing your customers and potential customers with content that can educate and entertain them are one of the best ways to drive traffic to your website and gain regular visitors.
Exceptional SEO companies understand this and will always update their website and social media pages to engage visitors. A quick look at their blog and social media pages should give you insight on how much importance they place on content.
High level of professionalism
Every member of the team is expected to display a high level of professionalism within the parameters of their duty. If you suspect that an SEO company’s team members are not professional enough, that could be a big indicator of how much importance the company places on work ethics and conduct. It is generally advisable to avoid businesses like this.
You need to work with a professional team that will keep to your agreement and keeps your business relationship cordial.
No two companies are the same. Even if they offer the same products and services. A good SEO company should be creative and flexible enough to apply tailor-made strategies to each company they work with.
You can get some idea of how flexible they are by going through their case studies and other references of previous work they have provided you. Were the ideas similar? How open were they to suggestions? This should be a good indication of how much effort will be put into the originality of their SEO strategies for your business.
They use top-quality tools and technology
The quality of tools they invest in should indicate how dedicated they are to producing successful results. They should have access to top-quality research, reporting, and technical SEO tools. Link building tools are also important but shouldn’t be used too heavily as their results can backfire. Be sure to ask for details on how they plan to use link building tools for your business website.
How to find a Good SEO Company
Now that you know what to look out for, your next question must be “How do I find an SEO company for my search engine optimization needs?”
There are a few ways you can do this. We suggest trying all, if possible, so you have enough options to choose from.
The first thing to do is to establish clear goals that include what you want an SEO company to do for you. It goes beyond getting your website well ranked and getting new visitors.
- What is your reason for wanting new visitors?
- What are your conversion goals?
- Do you want to make sales, grow your email list or get new people to sign up for your services?
Once you do this, you can go ahead to look for companies to help achieve your goals.
Your best option is to ask for recommendations. There are people you know who have worked/are working with one or several SEO companies. They include:
- Friends within your professional network. They could be friends you’ve met physically or only know through a virtual medium. If you’ve been impressed by SEO results in their business, you can ask for recommendations.
- Industry insiders who have had experiences with several SEO companies.
- Similar businesses who are not rivals. If you have friends who have similar businesses, you can ask for recommendations. The reason is, any good company they have worked with will be able to provide the services you need because they have experience with companies similar to yours.
You could also search the internet using keywords that include the services you need, and your location. However, if you’re going to use this option, it is important that you put them through a thorough vetting process to be certain of their credibility.
Most importantly, regardless of how you go about finding an SEO expert to work with, don’t shortcut your vetting process. You need to have a clear understanding of what and how the SEO team will provide their services, and measure their results.
One final point. An exceptional SEO expert likely won’t tell you everything you want to hear. Generally what you want as a business will be too much, too fast. A reputable SEO expert will have no bones about telling you so. They’ll give it to you straight, and not promise you the moon.
Note: It’s your right to question the company’s skills and expertise. At the end of the day, you’re the one paying for the services. Do your due diligence, take the necessary time and effort to choose the most qualified SEO company, who’ll be able to provide you with services you need—without the headaches.
Our search engine optimization service (SEO) includes all the necessary components for a successful campaign – take the next step today and Contact us to discuss your marketing and measurement needs, challenges, and goals.