Choosing an SEO Company: How to Find Your Perfect Match
Running a small business can be exhilarating. You’re your own boss; you’re taking control; and you’re out there making things happen. But it can also feel like you’re in the cockpit of a spaceship with a million buttons and levers and no clue what half of them do. SEO (search engine optimisation) can be one of those mysterious buttons – which is probably why you’re leaving it to the professionals.
But how do you navigate the SEO circus and find a company that won’t rip you off? How do you sift through the online quagmire to discover “how to choose SEO company tips” that are actually worth paying attention to? In this article, I’ll guide you through several tips on how to choose an SEO company that won’t leave you high, dry, and ranking on the 10th page of Google.
Straight up: Choosing the right SEO company is as crucial as hiring a new member of your team. You need someone reliable, transparent, and competent. And just as you wouldn’t hire the first candidate who walks through the door, you shouldn’t settle for the first SEO company that pops up in your search.
7 Tips on How to Choose an SEO Company
1. Clearly Define Your SEO Goals
You need to ask yourself, “What do I want SEO to achieve for my business?” This could range from enhancing your online presence, increasing website traffic, improving lead conversion, or even something specific like raising the visibility of a new product or service.
These goals must align with your business objectives. For instance, if your goal is to drive more foot traffic to your physical store in – let’s say – Perth, then your SEO strategy should include local SEO, which helps your business appear in location-specific searches and map listings. Or if you’re an online business targeting consumers nationwide, your SEO must focus on broader keywords and competitive search terms.
2. Look For a Proven Track Record
When you’re hiring an employee, you’re not going to choose the one who boasts about how great they are without backing it up with real-world experience, right? SEO companies are the same.
You want proof, hard evidence of their success in the past. The kind of proof that makes you sit back and say, “Alright, these folks know what they’re doing.”
Track record goes beyond simply asking, “Have you done this before?” It delves into “Show me where you’ve succeeded, show me where you’ve stumbled, and most importantly, show me how you’ve helped businesses like mine.”
3. Ask for Transparency on Their SEO Strategies
SEO isn’t like a magician’s trick where the wow factor comes from not knowing how it’s done. When it comes to your business, you should know exactly what’s going on. An SEO company worth its salt won’t just tell you what they’re going to do; they’ll explain why they’re doing it and how it benefits your specific business.
“We’ll improve your ranking on Google” is a promise, not a strategy. You want to hear something like, “We’ll optimise your on-page SEO by tweaking meta-descriptions and improving site speed because our analysis shows that’s what’s hurting your page ranking.”
Meet Amanda. She runs a niche travel agency in the Southern Highlands, focusing on customised itineraries. When she went hunting for an SEO company, she demanded transparency.
One company proposed to “increase website traffic” without explaining how. However, another company detailed their strategy — auditing her website, identifying gaps, optimising her site for relevant keywords, improving site navigation to reduce bounce rate, and building quality backlinks.
The second company was the obvious choice for Amanda. Their transparency not only gave her confidence in their services but also made her feel involved in the SEO process. A year into the partnership, her website traffic doubled, leading to a significant uptick in inquiries and conversions.
4. Determine the Quality of Their Content
Quality content is like a high-quality steak: tender, juicy, cooked to perfection. You savour every bite. That said, SEO-friendly content keeps your audience coming back for more.
In choosing an SEO company, don’t just ask them if they can produce quality content, ask them to show you. Look at their past work, blog posts, case studies, and client portfolios. The content should not only be well-written, but it should also be relevant, informative, and aligned with the client’s brand and voice.
5. Request for an SEO Audit From the SEO Company
A thorough SEO audit is the first step for any well-thought-out SEO strategy. An audit covers several areas such as website design, content quality, keyword usage, backlinks, and social media integration.
When choosing an SEO company, request a preliminary audit of your website. The level of detail and analysis they provide can tell you a lot about their expertise and commitment to customising their strategy to your specific needs.
A competent SEO company would also perform a comprehensive audit, going beyond surface-level analysis and diving deep into your website’s structure, content, keyword ranking, and competitor analysis.
6. Consider the Frequency of Reports and Updates
In the SEO world, communication is key. Frequent updates and detailed reports shouldn’t be a bonus; they should be a given. These reports allow you to track the progress of the SEO strategies implemented, understand what’s working and what’s not, and ensure your goals are being met.
Your partner SEO company must provide regular updates and comprehensive reports. These should include key metrics such as organic traffic, bounce rate, page views, session duration, backlinks acquired, and changes in rankings for targeted keywords.
7. Check for Ethical Practices
SEO, like any industry, has its share of unethical practices. These “black hat” tactics may promise quick results, but they can seriously harm your website’s reputation and ranking in the long run. Ethical, or “white hat” SEO, on the other hand, involves strategies that are in line with search engine guidelines and focus on human audiences.
When choosing an SEO company, you want one that wears the “white hat”’. They should be open about their strategies, avoiding any tactics that could jeopardise your standing with search engines. We’re talking about spammy links, keyword stuffing, and cloaking.
Let’s take a page out of the book of a small tech business owner in Melbourne. He had a run-in with a “black hat” SEO company that almost cost him his online reputation.
This so-called SEO company promised fast results. At first, everything seemed to be going well, the owner’s website shot up in rankings and traffic increased. However, after a few months, his website was hit with a Google penalty and his ranking plummeted. He realised the SEO company created artificial backlinks and stuffed his website content with irrelevant keywords.
Should You Handle SEO All By Yourself?
Understanding SEO: Yes, you can learn SEO basics. Yes, there are countless online resources, guides, and tutorials to help you along the way. But it’s like learning a new language – it takes time, effort, and a fair bit of resilience to the often confusing world of algorithms, backlinks, and keyword research. SEO isn’t “just a hobby.”
Weighing the costs: One of the biggest challenges of running a small business is budget management. Hiring an SEO specialist or agency might seem like a huge expense, especially when there are a dozen other things vying for your hard-earned cash. And sure, you could save some money by doing SEO yourself, but remember – time is money, too.
The power of expertise: You wouldn’t represent yourself in a court case unless you’re a trained lawyer, right? Or perform surgery on yourself unless you’re a certified surgeon? In the same vein, SEO is a professional field for a reason. SEO experts have spent years mastering their craft.
The verdict: Not every small business owner should handle SEO all by themselves. If you can’t dedicate the necessary time and effort or if you can’t afford to make mistakes (and trust me, in SEO, you WILL make mistakes), it’s a better idea to invest in professional help. Every dollar you spend on effective SEO is an investment in your business’s visibility and growth.
Don’t Settle for Average
At the end of the day, selecting an SEO company is about choosing a partner for your business. It’s about finding a team that sees your vision, respects your business, and is hell-bent on helping you succeed online. Average? No, thank you. You want extraordinary.
With Manifest Website Design, you get an agency that’s dedicated to your brand’s growth, a team of digital marketing professionals that believes in doing things the right way. Located right here in Australia, we believe in going the extra mile – or kilometre if you will – to ensure your website is not just another blip on the digital radar. Partner with us today.
About the Author
Jillian has over 30 years of experience in technology, programming, and digital marketing. Her work with the stock exchange in Australia, as well as other large corporations, has given her invaluable business expertise.
At Manifest Website Design, she helps goal-driven entrepreneurs build their business, regardless of size and industry, using the power of the internet. She’ll walk alongside you every step of the way, making sure that your website is running smoothly, and most importantly, generating leads. Connect with her on LinkedIn.