Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, can have a massively positive impact on how your business’ website performs if it is done properly. Although there are countless free “how-to” tutorial videos and articles online that claim to be able to teach anybody how to become the best SEO content writer, true expertise in the SEO world can only be achieved through trial and error and experience. If you are hoping to boost your business’ online performance and maximize your results by employing Search Engine Optimization, it is likely best to seek the services of a professional SEO firm.
With the help from a professional SEO firm or agency, your business’ online presence and website’s effectiveness can improve dramatically. The trick, however, is choosing the correct SEO firm for your business while avoiding some potentially catastrophic errors.
Selecting the SEO firm that you would like to work with sounds like a fairly simple business transaction and, for the most part, it is. However, hiring the wrong SEO firm can have major consequences for both your business and your bank account. This article will highlight a few things to consider when hiring an SEO specialist.
- Avoid SEO firms who claim to have “revolutionized” SEO
Have you ever seen those advertisements where a spokesperson is claiming to have unlocked the secret formula to getting six-pack abs in a short period of time? Or perhaps you’ve seen a salesperson that claims to hold the untold secrets behind overnight richness. Well, unfortunately, these salespeople often don’t have any form of special insight that they claim to be selling because that secret likely doesn’t even exist. The marketers are simply praying on their audience’s lust for quick results with minimal output.
The same can be said for marketers of Search Engine Optimization services. If there is an SEO firm that claims to have cracked Google’s algorithms or to employ a revolutionary technique that guarantees success that nobody else in the industry is using, they are being dishonest. The truth to mastering SEO, as I eluded to earlier, is experience. Professional SEO specialists can perform their job at the highest level because, among other things, they possess a deep understanding of how search engines function, they are adaptive, and they have a high attention to detail.
- Avoid SEO Scams
A few years ago, search engines were somewhat primitive and their ranking systems were frequently manipulated by SEO specialists. One of the most popular methods that marketers used for ranking a certain website at the top of Google’s search results was to mass-produce content. Unfortunately, this strategy didn’t have an emphasis on the quality of the content that was being produced, forcing ranking systems to become increasingly elaborate.
Today, Google’s ranking systems are extremely sophisticated and are made up of a whole series of algorithms that are updated frequently to help users find their desired information. Google’s search algorithms consider many factors when ranking a page including the words of your query, relevance, and usability of pages, expertise of sources, and your location and settings. However, some SEO firms still believe that they can expose the flaws in Google’s ranking system.
People (or firms) who claim to be able to cheat the system in your business’ favour may be engaging in tactics such as buying links, replicating content, keyword stuffing, cloaking, or other common SEO shortcuts. To an unsuspecting business person, these methods may sound very attractive when explained by an SEO salesman. Unfortunately, these tactics are known as Black Hat SEO and they violate search engines’ rules. Once Google’s bots discover that you’re using Black Hat SEO (which they will), your website will be demoted in search result ranking, thus decreasing organic traffic.
As explained tremendously well in an article by Entrepreneur, SEO specialists who claim to have special industry knowledge that gives them an advantage over their competitors in the SEO game may be using Black Hat SEO practices. Paying an SEO firm that employs these kinds of tactics can have catastrophic consequences that affect both your bank account and your website.
- Do your research
If you’re interested in finding an SEO agency that you can hire, you may have already searched for something along the lines of “best SEO companies near me” in your browser. Understandably, the top few results would likely have been the most relevant agencies that you might consider first. However, the SEO agencies that appear on the first page of results are there either because they have paid for their search result placement through ads, or they have invested time and energy into optimizing their company’s website. In either case, these companies are searching for new clients. The best Search Engine Optimization companies are too busy working on their clients’ websites to be spending time optimizing their own. The best firms, in fact, often have a high number of long-term customers who refer other business professionals to the same service.
Let’s use the example of purchasing a vehicle for situational comparison again. When I was trying to decide which car I wanted to buy next, I turned to customer review forums that I found online and asked a number of my close friends for their experiences with their vehicles. These testimonials helped me to make my final purchasing decision with confidence and I have been overjoyed with my investment ever since. Had I instead bought one of the first ten listings when I searched the web for “car for sale,” I would have made a far less educated decision and would most likely have experienced buyer’s remorse shortly thereafter.
Instead of relying on a quick Google search for finding the right SEO firm, word-of-mouth advertising (referrals) and customer reviews (testimonials) will provide you with a far better idea of which SEO companies are the best in your area.
Once you have narrowed down your list of prospective SEO companies that you are considering hiring, the next step is to reach out to them individually. As with any business transaction, effective communication makes the whole process easier.
- Communicate your desired results
When you go to purchase a vehicle from a dealership, the salesperson usually asks you what it is that you are looking for in a vehicle. Someone who commutes to work daily may be more interested in a smaller vehicle with high fuel efficiency while a retired individual may be in the market for a new sports car, for example. Because there are so many different categories of vehicles, simply saying “I want to purchase a car” probably won’t help you find the vehicle that fits your needs or individual lifestyle. Similarly, SEO companies can help with far more than just improving your website’s search engine ranking. When hiring an SEO firm, you should be clear about your business’ expected ROI so that the SEO company can help you achieve those goals.
SEO companies can tailor their services in many ways. Services may include, but are not limited to:
- SEO Audits
Taking an in-depth look at your business’ current SEO strategy. Even if your business does not have a current SEO strategy, an SEO company can evaluate your website and determine where it excels and where improvements are required.
- Keyword and Analytical Research
Finding out what it is that potential customers in your industry search for.
- Copywriting and Content Creation
Creating written and visual content on your website that is designed to attract more people to your site and ultimately convert your business goals.
- Server Analyses
Determining how well your website performs in its current state. Identifying whether search engines can correctly read and understand the content that is found on your site.
- Web Design and User Experience Analyses (On-Page Optimization)
Conducting tests to determine how to improve website user behaviour and boost your website’s conversion rate. Examining page load time, conversion rate, links usage, organic sessions, and more.
- Off-Page Optimization
Optimizing factors that are found outside your website that affect your website’s search result ranking.
- Competitor Analyses
Analyzing what your competitors are doing online. Unveiling what is working well for their presence and what your business can learn from them.
- Project Management and Communication
Preparing useful reports. Meeting and educating your team.
When you communicate your desired results, you may find that one SEO firm’s strengths may prove to be a good or a bad fit for your business. Remember that SEO is a process and you may find yourself working with a firm for many years. You must be comfortable with how the SEO firm communicates with you from the beginning. Establishing an open and honest stream of communication that is built on a foundation of trust is a strong starting point for hiring an SEO firm.
After communicating your goals, if you believe that the selected firm is able to provide you with the results that you are expecting, you should also feel comfortable in communicating your company’s strengths and weaknesses. It is important that the SEO specialist fully understands who it is that they are working with for them to properly market your business. Like any hiring or partnership, an open and honest stream of communication that is built on a foundation of trust is a strong starting point for hiring an SEO firm.
How To Hire The Right SEO Firm:
- Avoid companies who talk about SEO abstractly
SEO is not magic. The best SEO specialists learn from experience and do not employ revolutionary secret techniques.
- Avoid Black Hat SEO Strategies
There are a handful of strategies that an SEO specialist might use that violate ranking system guidelines. Even if the SEO scammer has the best intentions, but they could harm your business with Black Hat SEO strategies.
- Do your research
Trust the experience of people in your professional circle. Hire SEO agencies that have a history of satisfied customers.
- Tell them what you want
Communication is key! Determine whether or not the SEO agency can meet your expectations before hiring them with effective communication.