Tips For Hiring the Right SEO Firm
You've got a problem. You've been tasked with hiring an search engine optimization (SEO) firm to provide various online marketing services to your company. You went out and did a search on Google for “[Your geographic location] + seo” and got a list of 3oo+ SEO firms.
You start contacting the firms starting with the one at the top, since it seems reasonable that the guy at the top must know what he's doing. But as you contact the firms they all tell you the same things. Can anyone here tell me how every would-be Internet Marketer on the planet can promise every client to get them onto the first page of Google natural search?” The easy answer is that some can deliver while others can't. But if that's the case, how do you figure out which SEO firm to hire?
First, let's clear up some misconceptions about SEO firms.
A nice-looking website does not a good SEO firm make. If you’re looking to hire an SEO firm that can also take care of designing your new website, then yes, you should probably consider how good their own website looks. But if you're only looking for top-notch SEO some of the best firms have websites that are second-rate at best.
The SEO firm that ranks first in your geographic area is not necessarily the one you should work and opt. I'm going to let you in on a secret. My own firm almost always shows up first in Google fo “Asia's No.1 SEO and KPO” and has for most of the past 1o years. but it’s not because we're the best SEO firm in Asia. I’m not saying we're not the best SEO firm in Asia, but if we are that's not why our website ranks high , but because a lot of our competitors are doing a better job of SEO on their own websites than we are doing on ours. Why does our website continue to rank 1 for “Asia's No.1 SEO and KPO”. Sure, we have some decent content on the site, we've got the code right for the most part, and we have some good inbound links, but mostly it’s because we were one of the first Aviation SEO finns in Asia . We are amongst the first who has redefined the term SEO in the World Of Aviation.
Google puts a lot of weight on those two factors, and fortunately for us, it's hard for anyone else to compete without a time machine.
• The best “SEO firm” for you might not be much of a firm. Bigger is not better, Less sometimes, but not always, is more, The right SEO firm for you might have
one or two employees working from a basement. Or it might be the SEO firm with 5oo employees. Don't write either one off automatica1y.
Now, on to the meet-how do you hire the right SEO firm?
1. Decide what you need.
Do you need link removal,reputation management, a one time SEO audit, ongoing SEO, link building , PPC management, retargeting, content marketing, or one ot the other 2o services SEO firms frequently offer?
If you're not sure what you need, start by figuring out the job to be done. Do you want to grow sales by 2016 over the next 12 months, or leads by 500 over the next six months? Is your goal increased rankings, or do you just need the boss to know that someone is working on SEO and then you can check this bothersome item off your to-do list? Have a goal in mind by which you will measure the success of your engagement with your SEO firm, and make that goal the center ot your communication with them. If you can't measure how successful your SEO efforts are, you're less likely to be successful with them.
2. Get multiple consultations, but keep it secret.
Once you know what you want, sit down with an SEO firm, in person or by phone or email, that seems reasonably qualified and ask them to help you figure out what you need to do. Most SEO firms will gladly offer a free consultation because they know by doing so they have a chance to impress you and win your business. This time will also help you to know if you like the firm and the people you’ll be working with.
3. Get case studies and references.
The #1 question you want answered from an SEO firm is CC. Are you going to help me get my job done?” If you run a self storage company, and you talk to an SEO firm that has done work with one or other self storage companies, and they've all had good results, then that's a reasonably good predictor they’ll be successful working with your company. If your company is unique and you need a generalist SEO firm rather than one that focuses exclusively on your industry, get case studies and references from SEO firms that have at least done work for clients with similar business models and similar “jobs to be done” as yours.
See these as an example of Case Studies for the people who have tried to prove themselves on their own :
4. Make the firm tell you their Success stories.
A good SEO firm executes tactically. A great SEO firm does that, but is highly creative as well, and creative people tell good stories. Stories also allow you to get a truer vision of what the SEO firm is all about. Case studies and references are like looking up someone’s Linkedln profile. You should do that before hiring an employee, but you wouldn’t hire someone based exclusively on their Linkedln profile. You’d also want to hear them tell you stories about their background, experience, and successes and failures.Ask the SEO firm how they were founded, what their best client experience was, what their worst client experience was and how they handled it, and how they’ve improved over the years. Even if you have made up your mind after following the first three tips, as you listen to stories you may completely change your opinion.
Setting clear goals, getting multiple bids, examining predictors of the future,
and listening to stories-that’s how you ensure you'll hire the right SEO firm.
Are there exceptions? Sure.
At my own firm we're terrible at producing formal case studies. We're busy doing the work that produces results for our clients, and although we have the case studies and references from clients to the highest pdiority. Listening to stories is a way to better see the reality behind the company.