So, the time has to come to choose an SEO company to help your website rank high on Google. Just what do you look for? How do you find the right SEO expert or company? Today we’ll be covering this and much more, as well as some common pitfalls to avoid along the way.
Table of Contents
An Overview of How to Hire an SEO
If you yourself are an SEO, there are also a few golden nuggets in here for ideas promote yourself to new clients!
But this segment is all about the business owner who needs to hire an SEO company, so let’s jump in.
As the person making a hire, it’s a good idea to have a basic understanding of what goes into managing a website’s SEO. Hopefully this is something that will become more understandable and apparent as we go on.
It goes without saying, but all SEO companies are not created equal. Choosing the wrong company can have a negative impact on where your website ranks online.
Likewise, choosing the right one can have huge advantages and really deliver the results you’re looking for.
In effort to avoid working with an SEO company that doesn’t deliver, here are 3 common mistakes to avoid.
3 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring an SEO
1 – Don’t rely too much on Google Search Results
Without thinking too much about it, just Googling “best SEO companies” seems like the way to go. I mean it makes sense, right?
A good SEO company should be good at SEO, therefore they should show up when someone searches for that. You would think that when you Google “best SEO company” that the top result shown is the best choice.
Again, it all makes sense.
However, a little secret of the pros is that the SEO companies that do great work and are in high demand are sometimes not even in the top spots on Google. The reason is that high demand SEO companies are already pretty busy as it is and don’t need to put much effort into ranking for SEO to get more business.
The companies that do need clients and are seeking out new business must put a lot more effort toward SEO and improving the rank of their own websites. In this scenario, what ends up happening is a battle among SEO companies to see who can best optimize their own websites so that they show up when potential clients search for keywords such as “best SEO” (followed by the name of the city that they are located in).
So, while the companies that do show up at the top have done a great job themselves, it doesn’t always necessarily translate to them being the actual best for their clients.
Just something to think about on your next “Googling” session.
2 – Don’t fall for “Top SEO Agency” lists
As a business owner, you want the best SEO company. And rightfully so. Part of your business making money is getting traffic to your website. It’s a vital component to acquiring new customers.
The problem is that when you Google “best SEO company” or “best SEO companies,” many times you’ll come across a “top SEO” list of sorts. These websites are essentially aggregators, where SEO companies pay in order to be featured or be shown on these website’s top lists.
So, what you are actually looking at is a list of firms who have paid these websites in order for their own websites to show at the top of the lists.
But why would an SEO company pay these websites to be on these lists? Well, it turns out that these aggregators actually rank quite well for terms such as “best SEO companies” or “best advertising agencies” plus a city name. It’s part of their business model.
So, since they usually rank in the top few spots on Google in every city, they receive tremendous amounts of traffic to their lists. As a result, they offer paid placement to advertisers to show up on their lists in any city of their choosing.
Then advertisers are like, “hey, I’ll pay you to rank on your list since your website ranks for a term that I want to show up for.” In return, the SEO companies that pay, will then show up on the “top SEO” list.
So, what you’re actually looking at when viewing these lists are not necessarily the best SEO companies. Rather, they are the ones who were willing to pay to show up.
3 – Don’t just take their word for it
The last pitfall to avoid is simply not questioning someone who is trying to sell you on SEO. He or she should be able to tell you what they are going to do to help improve your SEO.
If they cannot or they say, “it’s proprietary,” then that is an immediate flag.
Yes, it’s true that there are many factors that go into SEO. No one knows the exact number for sure.
But we do know it is around 200 ranking signals and the top 3 ranking factors are very well known among the SEO community.
Those 3 factors include:
- Quality Links
- Quality Content
There you go, the secret is out.
But seriously, an SEO company should be able to tell you what they are going to do to help your website rank higher. It’s a fair question to ask.
If they can explain to you in everyday language how they are going to at least address the top 3 ranking factors just mentioned for your website, then you’re off to a good start. If they cannot, turn around and walk away.
Steps to Hire an SEO
Time needed: 7 days
How to Hire an SEO
- Establish Clear SEO Goals
The very first thing you should do is establish some SEO goals. But, not just any goals. Your goals should be clear and defined.
While wanting to rank higher on Google is a goal, it’s a pretty broad goal. A more defined goal would be to rank on page 1 of search results for a certain keyword or search term within a designated time frame. Ask yourself questions such as, “why do I want SEO?” “Why is it important that my website rank for keywords?”
After you’ve answered these questions, next, determine what successful SEO looks like to you. Likewise, identify what bad SEO also looks like to you. This way you have a benchmark of what you are trying to achieve with your goals.
A few example goals may include:
– We know that many of our customers search online for the type of products that we sell in our store, so we want to rank for those keywords.
– Several of our competitors show up when you Google the service we offer, so we want to show up instead.
– Currently, we show up on page 3 of Google for “lawyers in San Antonio” and we’d like to show on page 1.
– This year we’re trying to increase traffic to our website by 50% because we’re trying to increase customer leads.
By first defining why you want SEO to begin with, you can begin to establish goals that determine the type of results you’d expect from an SEO company. Improving organic rankings and increased website traffic is great, but without the why, they are empty goals.
- Narrow Down a List of Potential SEO Companies
After you’ve determined the SEO goals for your business or company, the next step is to create a list of 3-5 agencies or consultants to interview.
When doing your research online, bookmark a short list of companies that seem to offer solutions in line with your goals. You probably want to keep this list relatively short, because you will need to evaluate each one. And as the old saying goes, “time is money.”
In addition to coming up with your list, also set some criteria for your business. For instance, is it important that they are local? Or are you okay working with an agency located in another city or state?
These sort of things should be considered because if they are local, they can probably meet with you in person from time to time to discuss the progress. This is the personal touch a local agency or company may provide. If they are located somewhere else, most of your communication will probably be over the phone or something like Skype.
Whatever the case, defining some criteria and requirements for yourself with help you further narrow down your search.
Once you’re at a good place with your list and criteria, start asking around about the companies you’re evaluating. Just the way you would make a hire for a new employee, you can treat this process in a similar fashion. So don’t hesitate to call them and ask for some references.
- Gather Additional Insight
Diving a little further will help you feel more at ease about the SEO expert or company that you’re considering working with. At this point, your list of five may be down to two or three. Which is good. This is what you want.
Now it’s time to ask the company names on your list some questions.
Here are some other things try to get a little more background information on the SEO’s you’re considering:
1 – Ask colleagues or your professional network if they have heard anything about the company.
2 – If they have clients listed on their website, reach out to them and ask what their experience has been like working with the company you’re evaluating.
3 – Check out their social media. How do they interact with their following? Does it seem pleasant?
4– Google them. Have there been any publications on them? What do they say?
- Ask the SEO Questions
When considering an SEO to hire, it’s a good idea to interview them and ask questions. Here are some of things to ask the SEO you are interested in talking to:
– What is your process for SEO and how would you reach my goals if I hired you?
– How do you communicate with your clients and keep them informed?
– What sort of reporting do you do and what metrics show the progress being made?
– Can you give me at least two examples of the SEO work you have done for a previous client that you are proud of? What was done?
– What is the full scope of your services?
– What is your process if things are not working? Can you give me some examples?
These questions may catch them off guard, but the answers to this can give you a lot of insight into the type of company they are and how vested they are in their clients.
Bonus question: Can you explain to me in everyday language how Google ranks search results?
If they can provide a decent answer to this that makes sense to you, then that’s a good sign. If they give you any indication that it’s too difficult to understand, that’s probably not an SEO company or agency you want to work with.
- Make the Hire
At this point, you should feel comfortable with one or two SEO companies that meet your requirements. When making your decision on who to hire, here are four key components to consider and reflect on:
1 – You trust them. This is crucial because you are counting on them to improve your incoming business. After interviewing them, doing your own research and speaking with colleges, you should feel good about this.
2 – They are referred. It goes without saying, but people will have had good things to say about working with them. Previous or current clients in particular. If they have had good experiences and success, chances are you will too.
3 – They communicate with you. Working with an SEO company is a partnership. An extension of your marketing team. The right partner is going to keep you in the loop and let you know of opportunities they discover along the way. Communication is everything.
4 – Pricing structure. This is another important one. At the end of the day, the pricing must be in line with your budget. With SEO companies, it’s common to pay a monthly service fee. This is because SEO isn’t a one time set up. To improve rank and continuously rank well, attention needs to be given to your website regularly. Above all, land on a number that both you and your hired company agree with.
So, as you can see, choosing an SEO company doesn’t have to be complicated, but it pays to do a little digging to find the right one for you.
SEO is competitive. Intensely competitive. So much in fact that 95% of all traffic on Google comes from the first page.
This means that most people don’t look at websites on page 2 and on.
What’s more is that the top 3 results on page 1 get around 70% of the clicks. With that being said, a position in the top 3 spots on page 1 should be the ultimate goal to have.
While your website may not be on page 1 overnight, you want to know that this is what the SEO you hire is aiming for, while having the best interest of your business in mind.
Interested in getting started with SEO? Give our SEO plan a try.