How many emails or phone calls do you receive from SEO companies claiming to get your website on top?
Many SEO companies claim to get your website at the top of search engine rankings, but every SEO company has a different pricing model. Some charge hourly while others charge per project. Many even have monthly retainers, and there are a few who also claim to charge on a “pay per performance” model. Choosing the right SEO company is a tough call. So how do you compare different SEO agencies with different pricing models?
To make your task easier, we came up with 10 crucial questions to ask your SEO vendors. The answers to these questions will help you select the SEO company that is the right fit for your business.
What you’ll learn in next 15 minutes:
- How to search and short list good SEO companies
- 10 crucial points to consider before you hire an SEO company
Search keywords like SEO service, SEO companies, and SEO services along with your city name to find SEO companies. Do not restrict yourself to just organic rankings, but look at paid listings also.
Criteria for short listing SEO vendors:
- Quality Content – Check the vendor’s website content
- Quality Blogs – Review the SEO company’s blog to ensure they stay up to date on the latest changes in SEO
- About Us – Verify that their about page explains who they are and lists their domain experience
- Trust and Credibility – Look for certifications from Google Adwords and Microsoft Bing and verify whether or not they are members of industry organizations like SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization)
- Pricing – Although hourly rates and monthly retainers are common, 70% of all SEO agencies offer fixed-project pricing. We highly recommended fixed-pricing models, because they help you avoid surprise fees.
Myth – The Highest Ranking SEO Companies Must Be The Best Ones
This is not at all the case. Actually, most of the great SEO companies I know are referral only and their websites are very basic. They put their efforts into ranking their clients, not their own stuff.
– Rand Fishkin, From Seomoz.com
1) Ask Them What SEO Strategy They Will Implement On Your Website
Many companies focus only on link building. This approach is lazy and avoids making necessary changes to website code and copy (apart from changing meta tags).
Here is a basic check list:
- Keyword and keyword phrase selection
- Creation of quality content
- Link building campaign including social bookmarking
- Uniqueness of meta tags
- Use of sitemaps
Avoid companies that advocate reciprocal linking, because it’s a clear indication that the SEO company is using outdated SEO tactics.
2) Ask About Their Social Strategy For SEO?
Statistically, every 10th person in this world has an account on Facebook, and over 34% of marketers generate leads using Twitter. But Google’s introduction of Search Plus Your World in early 2012 has been a game changer for SEO. Your SEO vendor should have a Strategy for Google Search Plus Your World as part of their SEO campaign. Ask if they include:
- Installing Google +1 button on your website
- Creating a Google Plus Brand Page for your business
- Outreach to prominent Google Plus one users in your industry and vote requests for your website
Remember, Social Signals are clearly replacing link signals and will only gain more importance.
3) Is Google Places Listing A Part Of Their SEO Strategy?
If your business is local, Google Places is very important for the survival of your business. Does your SEO vendor include Google places optimization as part of its SEO deliverables?
You should look out for these deliverables:
- Submitting your business to Google Places
- Enhancing your Places profile by adding images, videos
Not having Google Places in your SEO plan would mean losing visibility and business from your Local County/ City. Google Places should be part of default SEO plan and not be an added feature.
4) What is their Article Marketing Strategy?
Writing articles and submitting them to various article submission sites is a good way to get traffic and backlinks. However, many SEO companies (and freelancers) submit the same article to multiple article websites. This results in content duplication, attracting a penalty from Google. One of the biggest Google updates, Panda, penalized lots of sites for either having duplicate content or having content with no meaning.
Some vendors also use software to create multiple variations of the same article and then submit it to different sites. While this might produce results for a short time, you will end up with nonsensical content. And there is always the possibility that Google will ban your website.
Most of the emails you get in your inbox claiming to submit your article to hundreds of article directories use such techniques, and they could get your website banned.
So how can you be sure your SEO vendor’s article marketing strategy won’t get you in trouble? Check their deliverables and see how many times they submitted the same article to different sites. If they create 10 articles and submit each article to more than 3 sites, it’s likely your ranking will suffer.
5) Do They Provide Guaranteed Rankings?
Many SEO companies use “Guaranteed Rankings And Traffic” catch phrase to lure in gullible buyers.
Avoid all SEO vendors who give you “guarantee” that your website will rank on first page of Google or Bing for specific keywords. Reputed SEO companies do not provide ranking guarantees as Google in particular is very much against the practice.
No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
“Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “Priority Submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google.”
– Google SEO Guidelines
“From 1996 through to today, SEO scams have used “guaranteed rankings and traffic” as a slimy catchphrase to lure in gullible buyers with too-good-to-be-true promises. That association has stained the entire industry and repulsed even businesses that might consider using the “guarantee” label.”
– Rand Fishkin, From SEOmoz.com
6) What Kind Of Online Reporting & SEO Intelligence Tools Will You Get?
Does the company provide you with a tracking system to keep track of the work they do and your website rankings?
Professional SEO companies provide an online dashboard for their clients. The dashboard should have data from independent, third party SEO intelligence tools like SEOMoz and MajesticSEO.
A dashboard that includes work reports, SEO intelligence data, and Google, Facebook and Twitter integration shows the professionalism and commitment of your vendor in providing professional SEO services.
7) Ask for a List of Past Success Stories / Case Studies / Testimonials & References
Your shortlisted SEO vendors should back up all their claims with a list of case studies as well as client testimonials or references.
Talking to these references will help you gain a better understanding of the SEO vendor’s reputation.
8) Who Will Make Changes To Your Website. You or The SEO Vendor?
Some SEO vendors offer an all-inclusive SEO package, which means they will also make actual changes on your website. Many others secretly charge extra for making changes to your website. Now, if your website is using some proprietary code or uncommon programming language, then it’s natural that doing those changes would cost you extra. But simple HTML changes to your website, WordPress and Joomla site updates, adding sitemaps, and installing Google Analytics code should not cost you extra.
Ask vendors to specify what changes are included in the SEO package. In either case, you should note the extra cost (if any).
9) How Long Has The SEO Vendor Been In Business?
This is a golden rule that applies to every business. There are no guarantees in this world, but any SEO company that has been in business for a minimum of 4 to 5 years has managed to cope with 2 or 3 major search engine algorithm changes. They are survivors, and that merits a certain amount of respect. Short list any vendors who have been in business for 4 years or more.
10) Clarify What Kind Of Support You Will Get
The kind of customer support you get is important. Ask the short listed vendors what types of client support they provide. Email, chat and phone support are the three major forms of customer service.
After you compare answers to these 10 questions from different SEO vendors, you will get a gut feeling about the SEO vendor that is the right fit for your business. If you are still unable to make a decision or have any follow-up questions, or want to know more about our SEO plans, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Contact us or call us at 281-816-6932 to get a free website analysis worth $200. Limited offer!