How to Qualify SEO Vendors?
Lets talk some advice on ensuring your chosen SEO company is exactly what you want. Even individuals with no interest in SEO, or who don’t even own a website, will receive spam emails from SEO vendors.
It’s hard to confirm who is legit and who isn’t.
We’ll break this down to a few guiding points to consider. These will help you avoid being ripped off or getting stuck with a sub par SEO service.
How are you going to improve my ranking?
This one boils down to the need for a sound SEO strategy by your chosen company.
Random work on keywords or link building will certainly show some inconsistent or short-term benefit, but will likely dwindle after time. You’re also less likely to see any increase in actual traffic.
The test of good SEO vendors and agencies is for them to instantly be able to quote a general strategy. They should also be able to tell you how it will be tailored towards your specific needs. The consultative aspect of SEO is of great importance – if a company isn’t interested in tailoring a strategy to you that’s a red flag.
A good sign is that they would begin with an audit of your website to find the low hanging fruit, followed by a plan for the best keywords to work with.
How will I know what you’ve done to my site?
SEO is a game of incremental changes and actions. You should be worried if a company doesn’t offer to send you regular summaries or reports of their actions.
It’s a clear point that SEO vendors will need access to your site. This, of course, needs an initial amount of trust. If you want to try out a new SEO company, make it sure you do it for the right reasons. You might be interested in a the quality of their work or you´re just looking for more budget-efficiency. A safe work around is to use your own developer to make the changes. This will slow down the process, however, and rely on good daily communication between the developer and the SEO company.
Finally, be careful if the company doesn’t ask for any site changes to be made. There are always critical optimizations to be done in any site. If vendors are not interested in this, the likelihood of them knowing their stuff is low.
Can I see examples of your past work?
This is a great starting point. SEO companies live off their portfolio.
Similar to shopping for any item on Amazon, you’ll take a look at customer reviews.
However, getting clear examples from companies can be sometimes delicate. Because outbound marketing is such an important part of selling SEO services, if a company doesn’t have any kind of information on past work then you should be worried.
It’s usually the case that an SEO company will have worked with a few key clients that won’t hesitate to bring up as much information as possible. Beyond that, however, you need to be sure that they have actually shown what the improvements to those client sites were. Don’t get caught out by a company that claims to have worked with a big name, but had their contract cut short due to them not actually providing any results!
A good follow up from this is the question of who their most long-standing client is. This one is a very telling factor. If they have a great long-term relationship with a well-ranked client, you are usually in good hands.
What tools do you use?
This slightly more technical question is a good way to find out who knows the business.
A good company will need a range of tools to cover all their bases in the SEO process. Reporting tools are important to monitor processes. It’s fine if these are automated but they should be able to confirm how they measure analytics and keyword rankings at least.
Link building is the next one. Tools here allow the mass creation of links and the use of proxies. An SEO company without good tools in this area will likely be very inefficient.
Technical tools will let a company health check a website in a short space of time, and identify key faults to work on. If they come out with a rapid audit process that goes into high detail, then it’s likely they have some good tools at hand to help.
Research tools are the last on hand. While this is good for identifying clients it also helps once work is secured as it can make tasks like keyword research easier.
It should be second nature for a company to confirm what they use in these areas. They’re all critical so beware if an unclear answer is given.
Can you guarantee page one rankings?
This is the most popular title given to all those spam emails that flood your inbox on a regular basis and for good reason – it’s the exciting ultimate goal.
The problem is that it’s a lie. No SEO company can guarantee page one, and any that makes such an offer is full of it.
It’s not to say that a good company won’t get you there. It’s more that any guaranteeing it, particularly within a specific space of time, might be pulling the wool over your eyes in an attempt to get a new client.
The main problem is that nobody knows Google’s algorithm. Similar to the Coca Cola recipe, this is kept under wraps. Any SEO consultant who magically did know the exact formula would sure be making a lot more money than anyone else.
Secondly we don’t know how changes will affect SEO. Google pushes out a change once per day more or less. This means that real SEO vendors know that they can wake up, make a coffee and find all their clients have been banned or dropped from page one for no fair reason. It’s a hard truth and part of the fluid nature of the work.
Finally, penalties can be given with no warning. A good SEO will work around these without missing a beat. However, if you get correspondence from a new company that promises to give you 100% “uptime” on page one, you should be skeptical. You will need to either move on or drill them about what they exactly mean with that promise.