Before you even consider prospective service providers, you need to know what your goals are and whether or not a particular company will be able to help you accomplish them. Whether you’re looking to increase your conversion rate or decrease your conversion cost, you need to have a goal before you blindly invest in SEO services. Here are a few goals you may want to accomplish:
- Implement ROI tracking
- Increase conversions rates
- Reduce bounce rates
- Increase CTR
- Reduce conversion costs
- Increase organic rank
Whatever your goals, be sure to make them clear to your prospective marketing team so that they can prepare a plan that works for your business. Many SEO companies that offer marketing solutions will simply take advantage of your hard-earned marketing budget by building spammy backlinks to your website, which could cost you thousands of dollars in penalty-recovery services.
Below is a video from Matt Cutts explaining how to choose an SEO company.
Do Ethical SEO Companies Exist?
There are many ethical Internet marketing companies that work hard to drive measurable results for their clients. These types of companies are staffed with passionate industry professionals who have the ability to increase the ROI for a professional marketing campaign.
That said, I hear from business owners who have been scammed everyday. Their web companies have left them high and dry, they’ve gone out of business, they have no access to their old website, etc.
From my experience (10 years in the business), nine out of 10 SEO companies that solicit clients via email and guarantee first-page rankings are scams and will do nothing to help you. If you are interviewing or being solicited by an SEO company that claims the following points, you need to do further investigation about the reputation of the company or individual in question:
- Guaranteed rankings
- One-size-fits-all SEO packages
- Proprietary link-building techniques
- Directory submissions in bulk
- High page rank blog network submissions
- Bookmarking services
- Forum comment link building
- Unwillingness to reveal link building techniques
- Unwillingness to share case studies or admit to a lack of case studies
- Unwillingness to give active client references
It's unfortunate that so many SEO companies exist. By the time many business owners get to a legitimate company that can prove success, they've already been burned. These are some of the qualities of many ethical SEO companies:
- Certified Google partner company
- Certified Google Analytics project managers
- Certified Google Adwords project managers
- Demonstrates high rankings for their own website
- Shares case studies from clients’ success stories
- Willingness to provide active client references
- Custom marketing plans based on marketing goals
- Custom KPI reporting for executives
- Proven ability to rank highly competitive websites
There are so many companies providing some type of Internet service, such as website development and design, creative graphic design or social media and digital marketing, yet few companies have persevered through the growth of and changes to the Internet, or avoided the negative effects of algorithm updates to their clients if using black hat tactics or unethical practices to get results. It seems that nowadays, anyone that knows how to build a website claims to be an SEO guru. It's important to understand that SEO is a process that requires mastering in order to accomplish goals like outperforming major players online. A good programmer is not necessarily an SEO master.
It is its own skill set and it requires many years of experience to perfect.
Knowing how to choose the right marketing company can mean the difference between flushing thousands of dollars down the proverbial SEO toilet or growing your business. About 250 billion emails are sent every day, and 81 percent of all those emails are considered to be spam.
If you are a business owner, you probably get flooded with email solicitations from SEO companies. These emails are usually riddled with bad grammar and misspelled words. Many of these companies use outdated SEO techniques that can get you in trouble. There are approximately 4,200 new domain names registered every hour, which adds up to around 37 million per year, with about 2.4 billion Internet users, and 50% of those Internet users are on Facebook, and growing every hour. Internet marketing is continues to grow significantly.
These facts are just some of the reasons major companies and small businesses alike see value in advertising their goods and services to this huge captured audience, either using their websites directly or offline advertising to drive traffic to the website, their online showroom, 24/7 365 days a year.
Qualities of a Professional SEO Company
Sadly, there are a lot of scammers out there. That said, there are some good companies that deliver measurable results; but before choosing any advertising company or ad agency, there are a few basic things to consider:
- Marketing knowledge: The company that you choose should demonstrate a great comprehension of online marketing processes and methods that actually work. It should demonstrate an awareness of email campaigns, copywriting, affiliate programs, newsletters and content distribution, plus it should study other advertising alternatives. Are its employees recognized as professionals in the industry by SEO news sites? If so, that’s a great sign.
- Advertising expertise: How long has your chosen web advertising business been in operation? Make sure to ask for references and “live” examples of their work. Anyone can show historical data and claim it is a result of their own efforts. A company should be familiar with all types of Internet marketing, brand promotion, SEM, SEO, social media, email marketing as well as content syndication and reputation management.
- Online advertising ethics: It is vital to discover what sort of advertising approaches and methods your selected Internet marketing company utilizes to enhance customers’ site visibility and campaign performance. Make sure that the business you choose uses legitimate techniques instead of unethical “black hat” tricks that will have no longevity. Ethical techniques will ensure a long-term outcome without having to worry about getting barred from search engines, and you won't find your IP addresses banned or flagged. Unethical methods, however, provide very quick results that will also be very temporary. These place your company at danger of getting banned and/or penalized.
- Internet marketing company reporting: Finally, and most importantly, the company you pick must be able to provide complete reviews of your progress and transparent reports showing the baseline established prior to starting, and the optimization of changes targeting both short term milestones as well as long term goals. The reports should also include raw analytics and metrics that show how well your advertising campaign is working.
- What makes a professional SEO company different from so many Internet marketing companies? The answer should include a unique voice, the foundation of a dynamic team of experts who are passionate about their clients' successes and love what they do.
Advanced SEO Companies For Large Campaigns
When it comes to large corporations or online stores, you want to make sure that your marketing team has experience with large-scale campaigns and marketing initiatives. The last thing a company that spends millions of dollars a year on marketing wants to do is end up with an SEO company that is going to learn on their dime. Making mistakes when managing a multi-million dollar campaign can be very costly, plus it can cost people their jobs or livelihood. When looking for a PPC management company for a large website or an SEO company for a large business, you will want to consider:
- ROI calculations: The ability to define your profit margins, cost of leads in your industry and that can form a strategy based on a budget designed to perform and acquire new customers.
- Benchmark: Establish your overall web presence by identifying areas on the Internet you are active in and highlight new areas that can help grow your business.
- Regular meetings and automated client collaboration using project management software keeping clients informed of their progress every step of the way, with full cloud access to all campaign reporting and analytics and milestones/goals for the next month.
- Performance-based campaigns: NO contracts, NO telemarketing team, NO aggressive salespeople.
Companies that excel at advanced SEO don't need a sales team to solicit business owners all day because they have the knowledge and ability to generate leads through the power of search; they practice what they preach.