SEO is a complex issue that for some can be difficult to understand completely. Companies buying the services of an SEO can be forgiven for not knowing the ins and out of the process but the general lack of knowledge in the public domain means that it is fairly common for companies to be on the receiving end of an SEO rip off. How are you to tell the good SEO’s from the bad? With our simple guide, that’s how. This guide will tell you what to look for when choosing an SEO provider and how to then assess if you’re getting value for money.
Looking for an SEO Company
1. Guaranteeing results
Stop right there. If a company is guaranteeing you number one positions in Google then remember that there are no SEO companies affiliated with Google and no one can guarantee results. Being fairly certain that you can get a site to a number one position for a keyword is something else. By conducting research on the competitiveness of a keyword it is possible for a good SEO company to give estimates of whether a top five position in Google will be possible or whether it is an unachievable goal.
Takeaway: There is no such thing as guaranteed SEO but educated estimates can be provided. Ask your prospective SEO company how they decided that it would be possible or not to competitively rank for a keyword and how they arrived at a particular timescale. Your SEO company should be able to explain how they came to their decision.
Arriving at an SEO price should involve some discussion with the client and some research. You may be tempted to buy one of those £99 SEO packages from your hosting company. I wouldn’t bother. Instead of not ranking for anything in one search engine you will be not ranking for anything in 100 search engines.
SEO is not a cookie cutter service. You can’t just apply a formula and be ranking in a couple of months for all of your desired keywords. You need an SEO company that will assess your requirements, research the market and give an estimate of how much work it is going to take to get you where you need to be. Once there is a clear understanding of the work required it will be far easier to estimate the time and resources that need to be allocated and therefore how much it will cost.
Takeaway: Don’t go for a one size fits all SEO campaign and ask for clarification on how your company has arrived at an SEO price.
3. Previous work and customer testimonials
If you are looking to employ an SEO company it is fair to expect information about previous campaign successes and testimonials from satisfied customers. This should be easy for a successful company to provide you with. Don’t settle for ranking improvement stats. Ask for proof of traffic as well as sales and enquiry improvements. Remember that there are lots of ways that you could end up with bad SEO including over ambitious goals, lack of SEO company experience in your market or an unclear strategy.
Once you have a company on board
Once you’ve decided on the right company you will still need to assess whether you are getting the service you need. The complexity of SEO means that it may look like there is work getting done but what is it and how do you guage if the correct kind of work is being carried out?
Have you received a plan of attack from your SEO company?
Have the important on and off page SEO factors been explained to you?
Has it been explained how your link building is going to be carried out?
If you have answered no to any or all of the questions above then you need to have a chat with your SEO company.
There is always plenty to report on during an SEO campaign. The information that you will need to see every month may vary slightly depending on what the objective of your site is.
At the minimum you should expect to see a breakdown of traffic coming to your site which allows you to see your sites progress over time. The traffic sources and keywords are important to keep an eye on. Your sites traffic could be increasing due to direct traffic while search engine traffic is stagnating. Monitor and question your traffic stats. Your sites Google traffic could be increasing every month but through searches for your brand alone. Odds are that you would be getting that traffic without an SEO campaign.
With traffic stats should come conversions. You need to see which traffic source and keywords are responsible for the conversions on your site. After an SEO campaign your conversions shouldn’t all be coming from direct traffic. If you have an Ecommerce site then you can actually quantify the impact your SEO is having on your sales.
2.3 Keyword Positions
Keyword positions should be monitored but bear in mind that you may see different positions than your SEO company. It should be explained to you how to see non personalised results and why keywords positions are not set in stone.
Takeaway: Stats can be deceiving and can look positive when they’re not. Make sure you’re having the most relevant information reported to you. Stop a bad SEO campaign in its tracks if you are seeing no progress at all in keyword positions.
2.4 Link Building
Is link building something that you’re in the dark about even though you’re paying for it to be carried out on your behalf. Link building may seem like a mysterious dark art but it’s not and your SEO company should be able to provide you with monthly reports on any link building activity carried out. One thing to remember is that link success is not just a numbers game. Your SEO company could add your site to a directory which will give you a link from each of its pages. Hey presto, you’ve now got hundreds of new links. Often just one quality link from a relevant site could trump all of those directory links in strength.
Another important thing to consider is the indexation of your links. Or to put it another way. Has Google seen your new links yet? If your SEO company tells you that your site now has 50 extra links pointing to it. How many of them have been picked up by Google and how many never will? If you have a link that is buried on a site ten pages deep it may not get noticed for a long while.
Takeaway: Link building isn’t a dark art and you can insist on a report showing what work is being carried out. Remember that all links are not created equal. Avoid an SEO rip off by ensuring that your link building is effective.
Do you have any SEO horror stories or questions? If so we would love to hear them in the comments below.