Search Engine Optimisation can seem like a minefield that’s determined to confuse you. You may be looking at optimising your website but not knowing where to start. In fact, SEO is such a complicated thing – and it’s so important to get it right – that many website owners seek the help of an SEO expert.
There are plenty of SEO providers who all promise to get your website onto the first page in Google search results. Whether they actually deliver on that is another matter. To help you select the right SEO company for your business, we’ve put together a list of all the things you need to consider.
Why It’s Important To Choose Wisely
Before we get to the list, though, let’s look at why it’s so important to choose the right SEO provider for your business. SEO is something you can’t afford to skimp on – at least not if you want your online business to succeed. What’s more, if you choose the wrong SEO provider, your traffic, ranking and revenue could all be negatively affected.
Another reason you need to get it right first time is that breaking free of a bad SEO company can be difficult – and traumatic. The last thing you want to happen is to be tied to a contract with an SEO agency that is second-rate and harmful for your business. If you Google ‘SEO breakups’, you’ll see horror stories including SEO companies who’ve refused to transfer Facebook page ownership and actually taken down their client’s website in a debate over ownership.
One thing is certain – you don’t want to find yourself in that position. There are lots of benefits of hiring a good SEO company, including increased ranking, greater conversions and sales and an overall more profitable business. However, hiring the wrong SEO provider can result in the exact opposite. It’s wise to do your research before you sign any kind of contract, so that you don’t become another of those SEO horror stories.
The Ingredients Of A Good SEO Provider
With hundreds of SEO agencies online offering to take your business to the top of the ranking tables, it can be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. How do you know which providers are genuinely good for your business and which are not? Here’s our list of the top 3 most important ingredients you should look for in your potential SEO provider.
1) More Than a One-Trick Pony
The best SEO providers will offer more than just basic SEO services. SEO on its own is important, but it comes into its own when it’s combined with digital marketing techniques such as content marketing, social media marketing and PPC advertising. Look for an SEO company that can offer the full package and give you the best possible ROI.
When you have an SEO company that can take care of more than just SEO, you’re onto a winner. You can focus on your business goals and activities, secure in the knowledge that your SEO and digital marketing are in the safe hands of experts.
2) Realistic in Their Promises
You know that saying, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is? Well, that applies to SEO companies, too. Beware of SEO agencies that guarantee to get you to the top of page 1 in search engine results. With the best will in the world, even the greatest SEO strategy known to man cannot guarantee to get you to that coveted #1 position.
SEO is complicated, and Google are always changing the goalposts, meaning that it’s actually impossible to 100% guarantee any kind of ranking. Google’s algorithms are a forever-changing mystery that no SEO expert can anticipate.
Similarly, SEO companies that promise to get your website on page 1 in search results overnight aren’t realistic. SEO to increase ranking takes time and a carefully put-together strategy. It cannot happen overnight – however much we might wish it could.
3) Experienced Experts
When you’re looking for an SEO company for your business, the wisest thing you can do is research the providers on your shortlist. One important ingredient in great SEO agencies is experience. There’s nothing better than experience to create SEO experts who have a full and complete understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
Look for SEO experts who specialise, or have experience in, your specific industry. Whilst SEO in itself is relatively universal across different industries, the interconnecting elements of digital marketing can benefit from specialist knowledge.
What Else Should You Keep In Mind?
As well as looking at what a great SEO provider is made of, there are other aspects that you should bear in mind when making a decision about your SEO agency. Combining these considerations with the ingredients of excellent SEO providers should be enough to make the right decision for your business SEO needs.
1) Know Your Budget
How much you have to spend on your SEO strategy is going to be a huge factor in choosing your SEO provider. However, if you only have a small or limited budget, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out, or even compromise. One thing you need to remember is that just because an SEO agency charges a high rate for their services, it doesn’t mean that they’re the best in the business. Our reviews of SEO providers have shown that lower priced SEO agencies can get just as good – if not better – results from their SEO strategy.
2) Know Your Goals
What do you want to achieve with the help of an SEO agency? Before you decide on a provider, you need to know what your goals are. Contracting someone to handle your SEO without clarifying the results you want to see is a recipe for disaster. SEO is much more complex than many people realise and has many facets.
Do you want your SEO to increase your ranking for a specific keyword in a niche area? Are you looking to increase conversions? Spend some time questioning yourself about the ideal end results you’re aiming for. This will help you to select the right SEO agency for your business needs. Different SEO companies have different specialisms in many cases. You want to be sure you’re picking the right level of expertise in relation to your goals.
3) Reviews, Case Studies and Testimonials
The best way to uncover whether an SEO company is as good as they claim to be is to research the reviews and testimonials they’ve received, and any case studies they’ve published on their website. You can learn a lot from what their customers have to say about them. Agencies that make bold claims but have poor reviews should really be avoided.
Case studies can give you a glimpse into what an agency is capable of, as well as giving you a better idea of whether they’re right for your business. It may well be that when you view the case studies you find that although the agency has got good reviews, the way that they work isn’t a good fit for your business. It’s better to discover this before you sign a contract.
4) Avoid Black Hat SEO Like the Plague
All SEO providers are not created equal. It’s a sad fact that there are plenty of so-called SEO experts who are luring people in with promises of instant ranking on page 1 but using black hat SEO practices that can have long-term (and costly) consequences for businesses. Warning signs that an SEO provider is using black hat SEO include article spinning (a means of producing large amounts of content that sounds like complete nonsense most of the time); spammy backlinks, and duplicated content.
5) Read the Fine Print
We’re all guilty of ticking the box that says “I’ve read and agree with the Terms and Conditions” without having read past the first few lines. Terms and Conditions documents or pages are long and full of legalese that makes little sense to non-legal people. No one wants to read through several pages of contractual information (at least, I don’t. I hope it’s not just me!). It’s quicker and easier to tick the box and agree.
After all, if you’ve got to the point of signing a contract with an SEO provider, then you must have come to the conclusion that they’re trustworthy. Ticking that box isn’t a problem because you trust these people not to try anything underhand in the Terms and Conditions, right?
You wouldn’t be the first to think that way, and you certainly won’t be the last. However – and I can’t stress this enough – it’s important to read the dreaded Terms and Conditions thoroughly. That’s the only way to ensure you’re not going to be hit by a nasty surprise further down the line.
Choosing an SEO provider isn’t a quick, snap decision – or at least it shouldn’t be. There are a lot of things you need to weigh up before you sign a contract to have an agency handle your SEO and digital marketing. Don’t rush into it without doing your research and taking into consideration the hints and tips in this article.
Have you experienced an SEO horror story? Or, have you had a really exceptional experience with an SEO agency? If you have, we’d love to hear from you.