Search engine optimization (SEO), everybody seems to be doing it. Everybody and their grandmother seems to be an expert at it, offering their services to take your website to “the next level”. “Within a month you’ll be on page 1 for sure” they say, but is this merely a false promise, or can they truly deliver on this?
You’re in the market for an SEO solution in order to get your brand known, push your product or service on the world, and ultimately surge above your opposition. Picking an individual or company to do this is tricky. The industry is rife with people looking to make some quick cash from companies who don’t know what SEO work entails.
So what should you be looking for in a professional SEO company? What are the deciding factors that should influence your decision? You should have at least a basic understanding of how SEO works, so that you can recognise the chancers from the professionals. Let’s take a look at a couple of key points.
What are they offering?
There is a basic guideline for what tasks an SEO company will perform for you. It would consist of the following:
- An on-site SEO audit – They evaluate your website, identify changes that could be made for optimisation, and work out which keywords will work for your specific product or services.
- On-site optimisation – This consists of various changes in the content in terms of meta tags, title tags, keyword density and more.
- Link building – White hat link building involves creating links back to your website from niche-related guest posts, profiles and directories. Other white hat link building methods include video submissions and press releases.
- Reports – Which changes were made, and what effects they are having in terms of search results, search traffic and your conversion goals (signing up for a newsletter, completing a sale etc.).
These are the basics, if you’re not being offered what is listed above, you’re better off speaking to another company. And if you’re already signed up with somebody but thinking of making a change, look at the reports to see if their SEO strategy is working, then make a decision.
You want to be on Page 1 of Google, everybody does. But realistically, that might not happen, and if it does, it definitely won’t take a few months to achieve it. 75% of internet users never scroll past the first page of search results, so every SEO company out there is competing to push their client and chosen keywords towards Page 1 stardom. If any company offers you instantaneous results, they are most probably doing something illegal in terms of the Google guidelines, or they are simply selling you a lie.
Google penalties are severe, and with the search engine giant averaging over 1 algorithm change per day, SEO companies need to be knowledgeable when to comes to these changes. Or at the very least they should know what the major algorithm changes are – like Panda and Penguin. It’s a difficult business, and nobody knows the exact details of these algorithms.
And what if your site has been penalised in the past by Google, and your potential SEO partner needs to fix that first?
Set clear, achievable goals at the start. And note that slower is better, there are no quick solutions in SEO.
In this day and age everybody is looking for the best possible deal, demanding better returns for less money. But with SEO there is something like too good a deal. Never trust a company (or freelancer) that is promising you 10,000 backlinks for a minimal amount of money. Those links are almost certain to be low quality and could result in Google penalising your website.
But this doesn’t mean you should trust somebody who offers you an extensive solution at an exorbitant fee, which is where the next point matters….
Who are their most important clients? Can they offer any testimonials? You’re not asking them to share their entire client listing, but establishing that they have a proven track record is invaluable to you making a final decision.
And make sure you are shown information on long-term clients, at the very least 12 to 18 months. It can take up to six months to show a noticeable change after implementing a strategy.
Ultimately, SEO is a long-term investment, and again I stress that there are no shortcuts in the industry. It will take months to see a return on your investment, please have patience but also learn to recognise if any company is taking you for an expensive ride. Your business can grow exponentially if you invite the right company to be part of your digital marketing strategy.