- Case Studies
How to Choose a Reliable SEO Company
There’s the whole “It’s not you, it’s me” dance, the guilt, the anger—not to mention the regret about wasting time, money, and energy on something that, well, blew up in your face.
Did I mention I’m talking about breaking up with an SEO company?
I remember a client that came to us last year with an awful SEO breakup story. After two years of a whole lotta nothin, the business owner finally tried to exit out of the relationship. That’s where it turned bad. Their previous SEO company wouldn’t release any historical data, wouldn’t transfer ownership of their Facebook page, and even pulled their website because the client didn’t technically own it (yes, that’s a thing).
The worst part? All of this could have been avoided if she had just chosen a reliable, trustworthy SEO company to begin with. The problem was that she just didn’t know what she was supposed to be looking for.
If you’re in the same boat, you’re in luck. Below is a guide to finding and choosing a reliable SEO company, including what you should be looking for, what to avoid, questions to ask, and standards to set from the get-go.
What Are the Benefits of Hiring an SEO Company?
As my story above illustrates, the benefits of hiring an SEO company can be outweighed by the negatives if you choose the wrong SEO partner. For those of you who are still on the fence about paying for a firm to handle your SEO, here is something to consider. When you hire an SEO company to improve your online presence, you ultimately get:
- More time to focus on running your business
- An improved website and better user experience
- Improved rankings on search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yelp
Keep in mind that some agencies can help you with more than just SEO. It’s always a good idea to choose a company that can also provide you with: content marketing, pay per click campaigns, social media posts, email marketing, and much more! When you hire the right company to do this complex work for you, you can focus on running your business instead of trying to learn SEO algorithms and best practices.
5 Tips for Choosing a Reliable SEO Company
How do you know which company can get you the results you need? Usually, the proof is in the pudding, but you can typically figure out a basic “Yes, I’ll contact these companies” and “Hell no, they aren’t touching my website” by reading SEO company reviews, case studies, and website content.
To help narrow your search, use the five tips below to help you find a partner right for your business.
Tip #1 – Clearly Define Your SEO Goals
In order to find the right team for the job, you first need to figure out which areas of your online presence you want to improve. You might need a whole new website or you may just need SEO. If you’re not sure which areas you need to improve, then get a digital marketing analysis done. A good agency will have the data needed to prove which areas are most beneficial to focus on.
Tip #2 – Find an SEO Company that Tracks Your Data
To find the best solutions for your unique business, you will want to use an SEO firm that can track and measure all of your company data. This includes phone calls, contact forms, site visits, click through rates, and more. To choose the right business strategies for your company, it’s important to make decisions based off of results and not gut instincts.
(Click here to speak with a Blue Corona team member about our extensive tracking methods!)
Tip #3 – Get SEO company Reviews, Case Studies & Testimonials
The best way to get unbiased opinions about a company? Reviews! One of the best ways to find a reputable agency is to read through their testimonials and online reviews. You will often find these reviews by exploring the company’s site or searching for them on sites like Google, Yelp, or even Glassdoor (to see what their employees think about working for them).
For more thorough information, request case studies from the agency by calling them up or submitting a form online. This is one great way to see what the agency is capable of. Another great way to get a feel for an agency is by requesting a reference. A reputable agency should be able to put you in touch with a current client so that you can speak with them about their own experience and level of satisfaction.
Tip #4 – Schedule a Consultation
Whether you are a block away from the SEO firm or thousands of miles across the country, you can always ask for a consultation. Most likely, the agency will be happy to pull up some research on your industry and walk you through some strategies they have used on past clients. A consultation will help you get a feel for the type of people on their team and their level of passion and creativity.
It’s important to build a trusting relationship with your SEO agency, so use this as an opportunity to see how well you connect. Do you understand everything they are explaining? How is their attitude? Are they overselling it? Do they seem passionate about the work they do? This is your time to ask them specific questions!
Tip # 5 – Define Your SEO Budget
Before you get invested in a service you can’t afford, don’t forget to plan out your budget ahead of time. It is a good idea to ask about package deals and price ranges early on to see if the service is in your price range. Most SEO companies will have a variety of monthly packages to choose from, which should make your life easier. When it comes time to choosing a package deal, refer back to your original goal to see which package will get you to your goal (Tip #1).
Top Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Search Engine Optimization Company
Sometimes it’s easier to know what you should avoid, rather than what you should look for. Below are the top five mistakes to avoid when choosing an SEO company:
- Falling for shiny SEO presentations. Your parents should have taught you not to judge a book by its cover, so why business owners keep falling for flashy sales presentations is beyond me. The theory is, if a digital marketing agency creates these beautiful, high-tech marketing pitches for you, you’re going to get the same for your customers. That’s rarely the case. Trust me.
- Falling for “secret sauce” pitches. There is no “secret sauce” of SEO. It’s very well documented how to succeed in SEO, just like it’s very well-documented how to succeed in building a rocket launcher. That being said, some people are better at building rocket launchers than others because they’ve been professionally trained to, and that’s all they do all day long. Same with SEO. What separates the amateurs from the experts is experience and proven successes.
- Choosing a cheap SEO agency. You get what you pay for. ‘Nuff said.
- Choosing a local SEO company just because they’re local. The great thing about SEO is you can do it from anywhere, meaning you aren’t stuck with your local Joe Shmo. That being said, do not sign on with a foreign SEO company unless your target market is in that country.
- Not doing your research. Look at a company’s case studies. Read their online reviews. Browse through their blog. Does their language vibe with you? Do their clients remind you of your company? Do they have documented results similar to the ones you want? Breakups suck. Don’t set yourself up for one.
How Do I Find the Best SEO Company for My Needs?
Good question. Whether you’re looking for the best local SEO companies for small business or need an enterprise solution, picking the right company is crucial. An SEO partnership is long-term, so you need to be sure of who you’re picking. Not all SEO companies or content marketing firms live up to their promises of more traffic, better rankings (note: rankings aren’t the real measure of success), and more leads. Avoid any SEO company that promises anything like the following:
- Overnight rankings
- Doubled traffic
- Instant leads
- Search engine submissions
- X amount of backlinks
- Any sort of ROI projections
If you want promises like that, you can find them—but you’ll regret it later when the results aren’t what you signed up for.
SIGNS OF BLACK HAT SEO
Black hat SEO is what we call questionable SEO practices that try to “hack” the system. Google punishes sites that use black-hat techniques, and the damage can take years to reverse. Bottom line: it’s not worth it.
If SEO expert makes any type of guarantees or promises about results in X amount of time, run. Some signs you’re about to be duped include SEO strategies like:
- Buying a ton of links from random, crappy websites
- Using a computer program to generate hundreds of pages of garbage
- Using duplicate or scraped content
- Submitting fake press releases in order to spam links
If you haven’t used black hat SEO tactics on your site, don’t start. But if you have, we recommend working with a reliable SEO company that can help clean up your website. Don’t risk the chance of getting a Google penalty.
A word of advice—do not do business with anyone that insists on retaining copyrights to any and all metadata they create, edit, or analyze for you. If they retain or have this right assigned to them, they can legally bar you from using it or totally strip your site should you choose to leave them for another company. With Blue Corona, everything we work on throughout our relationship is yours now, and yours forever.
What to Ask Any SEO Company Before Hiring Them
Before you just pick one from a list of SEO companies in the USA, make sure you look at SEO company reviews. All of them. If numerous people have had issues with an SEO company, there’s something going on. Ask up-front for examples of reviews and case studies that prove success in your industry. It’s CRUCIAL they have proven success in your particular industry because each industry has different nuances and different consumer expectations. You should also additionally ask the following questions:
- What’s in my current contract? Re-read the contract. What does it include? When does it end?
- What’s the process to cancel? Sometimes contracts have an end date or a fee for canceling before a certain length of time.
- How will we communicate and how often? Set communication expectations early, otherwise you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
- Do I have full access to my Analytics/Adwords accounts and my website? It’s helpful to know who has FTP access, CMS access, Analytics access, and AdWords access.
- Will I own my website? Many SEO companies have website ownership clauses built into their contracts. For example, some will build “free” websites but if you leave your contract early you lose all rights to it. (We, of course, don’t do this. When you buy a website from us, it’s yours from day one.)
- Do you provide performance guarantees? A reliable SEO company doesn’t. Because of all the moving parts and because each website is different, it’s impossible to guarantee results. If you talk to a company that does, you need to back away as quickly as possible!
- Have you done work like this for companies similar to mine? This is crucial. Different industries have different nuances and SEO requirements, which means you need to find an SEO provider that knows your specific industry backward and forwards.
- What contracts, budgets, and options are available? Your budget should depend on your starting point, goals, competitive landscape, and internal capabilities. No one size fits all—there are no cookie cutter solutions, at least not from the best SEO companies.
- What are all your fees and payment options? Be sure you know every single aspect of how you’re going to pay for what SEO costs. Otherwise, you might have work withheld because you “didn’t pay.”
Have You Heard About Blue Corona? We’re One of the Best SEO Companies Out There
The number one piece of feedback that we get from our clients is that we make it, well—easy for them. We under-promise and over-deliver, bend over backward, and we firmly believe in forming long-term relationships, not acquiring clients.
Our dedicated team of experts is constantly implementing new strategies to get our clients the results they deserve. How do we operate? We track each client’s data, test top SEO strategies, measure the results, and repeat! When you join us, you receive a dedicated team of content specialists, webmasters, graphic designers, pay per click specialists, and your very own account manager.
SEO isn’t the only thing we’re experts at! We can also help your company with:
- Pay per click campaigns
- Social media posts
- Email marketing
- Website design
- Smart selling
- Video marketing
- Content marketing
- Online newsletters
- And much more!
Contact us today to learn how we can get you the results you need to grow your company and surpass competitors.
About The Author: Blue Corona's Editorial Staff is determined to help you increase your leads and sales, optimize your marketing costs, and differentiate your brand by passing on our tribal knowledge. The team vigilantly stays on top of the latest in digital marketing, bringing you the top insights with expert commentary. Want to see something on our blog you haven't seen yet? Shoot us an email and our marketing team will get to work.
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