Unless you have a relative in the internet marketing business, it can be very difficult to shop for and manage SEO services.
It’s the most often quoted reason for why businesses don’t do SEO. How do I find the right person? How can I tell if my SEO “expert” knows what they’re doing? How can I determine how well my project is going before it all finally works?
Look for a search engine optimizer who will first seek to understand what makes your business tick.
Find someone with a business background, interested in goal setting and establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) related to your business objectives to help guide strategy and execution, and to make project accountability possible.
Find someone with SEO agency experience.
Has your prospective SEO had benefit of working in a large agency setting? A big agency background can provide experience working on big projects, and in a variety of different SEO markets. Successful agency work demonstrates an ability to perform as a team member whose contribution is valued by other marketing professionals.
Ensure you can talk to the person who will work on your project.
Can you easily reach them on the phone. Are they interested in meeting with you as often as necessary? Can you communicate: do you understand each other?
Be wary of ‘guarantees’.
The only company that decides where you rank is Google. No one else has that under their direct control. instead of guarantees, look for credible assurances of capability, expertise, and dedication to your project.
Be careful of glib promises in general. In any normally competitive business sector SEO is not easy, no matter what anyone tells you.
Shop for a contract length that makes sense.
Too short, and you may be dealing with someone who either doesn’t understand the challenge, or isn’t really committed to the outcome. Too long, and you may be dealing with someone unsure of their ability to retain you as a client.
Forget tips, tricks, and shortcuts.
These certainly did exist in the past, but do not represent a sustainable way forward for legitimate businesses today. Using the old tricks may now, in fact, cost you dearly. Google will catch up with you, and they’re catching up faster all the time.
Do not engage in any SEO plan for your company that fails to take in account realistic time and money requirements.
It is all too easy to start an internet marketing project without sufficient budget to finish it and get to results. Estimating can be quite difficult, but work with someone who will make an effort to figure out what it will really take to succeed while honestly acknowledging the uncertainty. Partial success in SEO can mean no business success at all, getting close doesn’t count. You need to reach the tipping point where the balance tilts in your favour.
Do not even think about buying links or hiring a search engine marketer who you suspect may do it without telling you.
Buying links at volume is a very old trick, and now a path to SEO disaster where Google will kick you out of their system entirely. Instead of ranking on Page 1, you’ll be ranking on Page Nowhere, and paying someone else to clean up the mess.
Beware any search engine marketing company pretending to ‘secret’ knowledge, or use of mysterious ‘special tools’.
SEO may be an obscure process to the general buying public, similar to auto maintenance, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a generally available body of knowledge and community of people specializing in the practice. As the search industry matures, SEO is increasingly about strategy and accountably getting the work done, not using secret shortcuts or magic tools.
Carefully assess one size fits all packages or ‘best practices’ solutions.
For low-competition business environments, packaged solutions might work fine, but beyond the basics your business situation is unique and needs custom attention from a well-rounded professional.
Can your SEO expert tell real life stories in response to questions, while remaining discrete about other clients’ businesses?
Are they able to speak from their own practice? An experienced SEO has likely signed many Non Disclosure Agreements in their working lives and so should be guarded about specific information, while being able to speak generally about problems and solutions. They may properly speak in percentages or say something like “I worked for a legal firm” without naming the firm or mentioning any other identifying characteristics such as individuals names.
Can your SEO expert provide you with a list of names and numbers to call for personal references?