Ignore companies that guarantee ranking results
There are almost no guarantees in the world of search engine performance. Even the best SEO tactics and link building techniques cannot completely guarantee that you will rank in a certain position for a specific keyword phrase.
Companies that guarantee to get you number one for the phrase you want are unlikely to succeed. The fact that they guarantee something that cannot be guaranteed should automatically disqualify them from your selection process.
The only way to guarantee that your website will appear on the first page of Google’s search results is to pay Google for advertising through its PPC program. So if you’re talking with an SEO company that gives you a #1 ranking guarantee, run!
Hire an SEO company BEFORE designing your website
One of the last parts of the design process is turning your design into a real working website. If possible, you should contact an SEO company BEFORE have your website coded.
Setting up your website for success is an important part of SEO. Some page elements must be customized for each page and some website platforms do not allow this. The result is that the website is at an SEO disadvantage for its lifetime until it is taken offline or rebuilt. Other structural elements and capabilities are equally important.
A good example of something that is important upfront is the ability to control title tags and H1 tags for each page. Some websites automatically generate these page elements, often using your website name as the title tag for each page. The title tag should be different for each page and use the keywords you want that page to rank for. If your template does not allow customization of these elements, your website will be at a huge disadvantage compared to your competitors.
Use the search results to find a local SEO company
It might seem like a simple and convenient step to take in finding a good service provider for any task, but when it comes to SEO, it’s a bit more important. The answer is obvious when pointed out to most business owners.
If you want to find a company that can make your website rank well for certain competitive phrases, you should ideally select a company whose own website is already performing well for certain competitive phrases.
The SEO industry is very competitive in the search engines and if someone ranks #1 for “my town” SEO, chances are they know what they are doing. Why choose an SEO company that can’t get their own website to rank well?
Don’t just pick any website from the search results. Check out the screenshot below and the discussion that follows to see which company I would call first.
This screenshot shows the SERPs for the query “San Francisco SEO”.
First, we see the paid results at the top of the page. There is nothing wrong with paying to be seen on this part of the page. It just can’t be used as an indicator of which company is doing the best SEO job.
Below the paid results, we see sanfranciscoseoagency.com. This is an exact match domain that contains the base keywords that this business wants to rank well for. Their domain name is one of the main reasons they are able to rank where they currently rank. That doesn’t make them a bad company, it’s just important to note that they’re not ranked here based on the true merit of their website.
Then you can see the companies I would call first circled in green. Next to the first circled result you can see a photo of someone who I’m guessing is probably the owner of the business. This photo appears because the website uses Google copyright markup that associates content on the website with that person’s Google Plus account.
Displaying this information for your website helps get better click-through rates from search engines and is also symbolic of a company that really knows what it’s doing. Not everyone in the SEO industry uses rich text snippets, and there are some SEOs who don’t even know this type of code exists.
Ask what kind of SEO actions they will take for you
This question may solicit a wide range of general answers. The question you really want to answer here is whether or not this is a poor quality spammy link provider (there are a lot).
There are many outdated link building methods used by many SEO service providers (which never worked very well to begin with). If a company answers this question by stating that it will use
- an automated directory listing program
- blog comment links
- link exchanges
- forum signature links
this company should be ignored. These links are a type of spam and people who offer these services should not be allowed near a genuine online business.
Ask about SEO reports
It’s important to keep track of what your contractors are doing. This is especially true when working with an SEO company, as there can be a fair amount of time between when the work is done and when the results are actually noticed by the website.
A good SEO agency should at least provide monthly reports regarding your web traffic and keyword rankings. Depending on the types of other activities they perform, they should provide a monthly work report that keeps you updated on the amount of work going on.
The most reliable SEO companies will show you the complete list of links, articles, press releases, YouTube videos, infographics, etc. so that everything is 100% transparent.
Avoid Freelance SEO Consultants
If you’re just looking for a consultation, you’ll find a wide range of experienced professionals who can help get you on the right track. Freelancers may be some of the most easily accessible and well-prepared people to help you with this.
However, if you are looking for someone to perform optimization tasks for a long time, ensure sustained SEO success, and perhaps lead an SEO team, you should either hire an established company that has the resources to do the job. do, or you should hire an in-house team for SEO.
For most small and medium businesses, the most logical solution is to hire an SEO company. Fortune 500 companies and others that are big enough to go public often create their own internal team of SEOs.
There are a million “social media experts” and “SEO gurus” who will happily freelance. Sometimes you never know who you’re hiring until they’ve left you hanging high and dry.