If your business generates a large amount of its leads from the Internet, having a firmly established search engine presence is one of the best ways to reduce your lead generation costs and increase the amount of business that you’re doing.
Because of this, a wide variety of businesses – from small, family owned businesses to large corporations – invest heavily in SEO. One of the most cost-efficient ways to increase your search exposure is to outsource your SEO efforts to an SEO company.
Like many other business-to-business industries, the SEO industry has both good and bad options. From slash-and-burn operations that use black hat techniques to damage your website to intelligent, forward-thinking SEO firms, there’s plenty of variety when it comes to SEO firms.
These four simple signs will help you identify a great SEO firm, and help you avoid investing in an unethical, potentially black hat SEO operation:
Years of Proven Results
Anyone can claim to have experience in SEO. After all, spending three years failing to rank is still enough to claim that you have ‘three years of experience.’ Ask all of your SEO candidates to give you proven results, not just a summary of their experience.
One of the best ways to weed out black hat SEO firms is to ask for a sample of long-term results – websites that they’ve been involved in, that are still ranking several years down the line. Black hat firms specialize in short-term results that rarely last, making it difficult for them to show long-term client progress.
Positive Reviews Online
Spot a nasty Yelp or RipoffReport page about an SEO company you were interested in working with? Instead of simply avoiding them, bring up the review and ask for a clarification. Not all negative reviews should stop you investing in an SEO firm.
It can take a long time to see positive results from an SEO campaign, and a negative review can often stem from clients lacking the patience for SEO. Ask your firm for a clarification of negative reviews, and actively seek out firms with positive client experiences.
Nothing is worse than initial SEO success followed by years of penalties due to low quality content and unethical link building. Ethical SEO firms should have no issue sharing their ‘secrets’ with you, particularly if you’re a potential client.
If an SEO firm is unwilling to go into detail – or at least talk about their campaigns in a broad, overall sense – it’s possible that they’re engaged in unethical black hat SEO, a form of marketing that has far more long-term disadvantages than benefits.
Great Customer Service
How do you feel when you interact with a potential SEO firm? Are the staff friendly, attentive, and caring? Are they straightforward and easy to work with? Or are they constantly rushed, uninterested in your account, yet quick to deliver an invoice?
Great SEO companies should be truly interested in generating results for you, not simply interested in taking your money. Before you sign a long-term SEO contract, think carefully about the treatment that you’re in line to receive as a client.