Should You Hire an SEO Firm & How to Choose the Right One?
Have you been ripped off by an SEO company and at this very second are online to do your own research on how to make your website rank well for free? Or you may be so tormented by online marketing companies making your phone ring off the hook that you’re wondering what is all this hype about anyways. Whether you paid $99 or $5000 for various domains in marketing, if it hasn’t brought you the positive return on investment, you will regret it. A lot of us have been there, done that and feel cheated. While I can sit here and tell you– post on your Facebook business page often, mention keywords on your webpage, optimize your titles and meta tags– I cannot dictate how you do it and hence cannot guarantee that it will work. Of course these suggestions and a lot of others that you read online are ways that are regarded with great favor and approval; however the methodology of this discipline is not as easy as just that.
The very first thing you have to remember is that Search Engine Optimization is not a one man’s job. You may have hired your latest tech whiz kid on the block who promises to deliver results for SEO, manage your PPC campaign as well as design business cards and graphics in almost like a your-wish-is-my-command manner. You might want to rethink if all this can be done by one person. There is a very fine line between doing things the fast way and doing things the right way especially when following complete white-hat techniques. If you are a business with a local target audience, you are probably paying $99 for SEO to get local listings. These numbers are designed to exploit the feel-good factor that you are actively marketing on the digital platform; all the while your revenues could be taking the leap forward regardless of whether you took on the local listings or not. Local directory listing is one small aspect of search engine optimization.
SEO requires a holistic approach which caters to the specific needs of search users and has a higher probability of resulting to conversions. A semantic approach is required to increase rankings by integrating content marketing strategies and creating a positive sentiment around your business on the online world. If your business line is not as competitive, you could take on the project yourself but I must warn you, it is a formidable challenge. Digital trends tend to change quickly and keeping up with the latest Google updates and more importantly implementing those changes can be a repeatedly daunting task.
Hiring an SEO company can be a lot of work but here are SEVEN ways to determine you have chosen the right one:
- Say no to so-called first page guarantees. Remember no one can guarantee first-page or top three placements on the retrieved results for any search query regardless of being a low competition keyword. They may provide a guarantee in terms of traffic but keyword placement cannot be guaranteed. You need to stay away from the ones who are making unreal promises.
- Ask for an SEO Audit report. It may cost anywhere from $0 to $100. Some companies offer it for free as a gesture of good will while others will get you more or less the same analysis at a price. If a company does not provide you the adequate information and response with a comprehensive analysis report, you might not want to consider it further.
- Ask for case studies and references. Checking with the references and perusing case studies should give you valuable information around the working strategies and what to expect.
- Instant results just do not happen with SEO. It may take more than a month or two to get you results from a company’s SEO efforts. The competition is huge and search engines need time to process and update the data.
- Declaration of Pricing. They should have a clear layout of the pricing scheme. While companies may customize according to needs, they should have standard packages mentioned on their site so it is a public knowledge. Be sure to ask the number of hours you get or how much it costs per hour. It should be no more than $20/hr and offshore companies may give you a better price.
- ROI-driven strategies. Ensure that the company understands SEO in terms of ROI to your business. They should have some benchmark to measure the progress made whether it is in terms of a set percentage increase in relevant traffic or per lead generation. Communicate with the sales representative about what is it that you want.
- Long-term relations. Because SEO is somewhat abstract, the bottom line is you should evaluate the provider in long term scope and check the accountability. Ask for how often the reporting is and if you are free to contact them at any point in time. You may not be getting results as soon as you had hoped which is why it’s important to know the project accountability program or in other words the suggested campaign timeline. Go with the company that emphasizes on long-term relationships.
Even if you are a very small business owner or you provide local services of some kind, it is just as important for you to have great online presence as it is for a moderate to large businesses. It is a common misconception that only online e-commerce stores need it and not me. Every business needs to be taking advantage of all digital marketing channels to ensure a positive vibe is surrounding his/her business to increase pertinent traffic, rankings and most importantly brand equity. This maybe something you cannot do yourself because you don’t have the knowledge or simply don’t have the time. It is recommended you hire a professional company to take care of your marketing needs. Be sure to ask all the necessary information prior to signing up and give it time for 6 months. Any online marketer worth their salt will know results cannot be delivered in a month. Stay away from the unreal, far too optimistic promises of first page instant results. Speak to the references to see what you will get. And remember, do not waste your $99 or expectyour web guy to meet your marketing requirements.
Have you hired a SEO marketing firm yet? What made you decide to go with them?