Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

5 Factors When Choosing an SEO Company

Jill Whalen , CEO and founder of High Rankings, a search marketing firm outside of Boston, and co-founder of SEMNE, a New England search marketing networking organization, has been performing SEO since 1995. Jill is the host of the High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter, and she wrote this article in her newsletter recently. I find I agree with it almost completely, and am happy to share it with you.

A lot of companies get so confused when attempting to hire an SEO firm that they simply give up altogether and don’t hire anyone. Part of the problem is that they simply don’t know whom to trust for this service.Trust is always a tricky issue, and one that is emotionally charged based on our individual experiences with others as we navigate through the maze we call life. In SEO, trust issues are further magnified by the fact that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, nor one method that all SEOs use to bring targeted traffic to their client’s websites.

Where does this leave the person or company who wants to hire an SEO firm, but doesn’t know whom to trust? SEO A tells them one thing, SEO B another, and SEOs C, D, E, and F completely different things altogether! Who is right? Who is wrong? Whom should they hire? Whom should they beware of?

Here are 5 factors that all businesses should weigh when choosing their SEO firm:

  1. Does the SEO firm set realistic expectations about what they can and can’t do, or do they simply promise the moon? Smart SEOs under-promise and over-deliver, so watch out for those that do the opposite (and there are many).
  2. Does the SEO company have a proven record of success and not just for long-tail keywords? Be sure to check references to learn whether the SEO firm actually improved their clients’ bottom line in some way.
  3. Does the SEO agency provide recommendations for making your site better than it currently is, or are they trying to do things to it that will actually make it worse for your users? This one sounds crazy, but a good portion of SEOs think that it’s all about the search engines and not the users, and make bad decisions accordingly. Never, ever, ever let an SEO company do something that you feel worsens your site’s overall usability or readability.
  4. Does the SEO consultant tell you what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, or do they just want you to blindly trust them? This one should set off a major red flag if you ever encounter it. Sure, you don’t need to know every last detail or to micromanage your SEO campaign, but your SEO should be able to explain their reasoning for why they want to do the things they recommend. If they can’t, or if their answers don’t make sense, then run (don’t walk) to the nearest door!
  5. Does the SEO company use only automated methods to achieve their goals? This isn’t necessarily bad; however, you need to be aware if this is what they’re doing. SEO is very much an art as well as a science, and because of this, creativity should always play a big part. It’s very difficult to be creative when everything you do is based on a numbers game. Just keep that in mind!

Like trusting a friend, a dentist, or anyone else, determining whom to trust as your SEO partner should not be taken lightly or rushed into. Educate yourself on SEO as much as you can before you decide.

Get to know the SEO vendors you’re thinking of hiring, ask them lots and lots of questions, and most of all use your gut and your own common sense to determine if you’ll be a good fit. If you are unsure, then keep on looking. There are plenty of SEO fish in the sea, and there should be a few who use the methods you believe in, who are within your budget, and who will work hard to help you accomplish your website goals!

1 Comment
  1. Powerful list of dos’ and don’ts for sure. SEO is a magic in itself.

Leave a Reply