SEO is arguably the most important part of your business strategy. Without it you will not survive in a business landscape ruled by people looking for solutions using a search engine.
There are 450 Billion pages and counting. How is your page going to get found in a never ending sea of new businesses? Search engines drive economic activity while also organizing the worlds data all at once. They are both complicated and simple at the same time. They simplify the search process so you can find the most useful and relevant solution to your question or problem.
They are complicated because they are run by an algorithm that is shrouded in secrecy that has hundreds, if not thousands, of different variables into play. Search engine optimization is now a career and there are thousands, if not millions, of people trying to figure out how to get found faster and more efficiently.
What is SEO?
SEO is search engine optimization which is the art and science of getting found. It’s art because you have to be creative to make it become successful at it. It’s science because there are things that you can do a certain way that will always work.
At it’s core a search engine accomplishes 2 things. One is that they organize the worlds data. Two is that it can provide a solution to a problem. Millions of people are searching for a solution and use search engines to connect to this potential solution.
A solution could be for any number of things. It could be that people want to find a way to make more money. You could be searching for a nearby pizza place or a store that sells soccer cleats. You could be looking for a home improvement store or a flower shop for your significant other.
Whatever it is, search engines now drive traffic to these places at a more rapid rate than ever before. Print advertising doesn’t have the same effect that it once did. Were almost desensitized to getting bombarded by coupons through the mail or never ending TV commercials. We can even fast forward using Tivo or completely bypass them with streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and YouTube Red.
Because of this it’s more important than ever before to find the right SEO company. Finding the right SEO company can be a headache as there are still black hat tricks that can penalize your website in search rankings. Lets breakdown what you should look for when searching for an SEO company near you.
You Get What You Pay For
Everyone wants to get found right now, start making money from home and quit their day job. The internet gives you the ability to do this. In the early days a few backdoor/black hat SEO tips gave you ability to outrank everyone else and get to the top of page 1 anywhere in the world. A lot of these tricks went against Googles rules and regulations but the algorithm wasn’t as developed. They also didn’t have the man power to enforce standard procedures.
This was the wild wild west of SEO where automation ruled! You could set up an automated program to do most of the work while you sat back and printed money.
After several different updates, these tricks no longer work. You can hire some SEO companies to do some of these things for you but it may cost you in the long run.
The hook is that these services are sometimes cheap up front but cost you way more when it’s all said and done. There are plenty of services out there that promise to send you thousands of phantom hits from the internet. You can even buy followers on Twitter. These are all fake and don’t anything for SEO except for maybe make you look good for a short period of time. It has no positive effect on a business or a potential customer that sees this.
If your website gets penalized or de-ranked hiring these companies it can take months or more money to set them back up again. In some situations you’ll have to hire a new web team to rebuild a website, purchase a new URL, set up new social accounts and completely start from scratch.
This is on top of missing out on legitimate traffic and revenue in the time it took to figure out that the SEO company wasn’t doing it’s job. If you pick the wrong SEO company it can cost you thousands in missed opportunities and labor hours getting everything back up and running again.
SEO is an investment. SEO takes time to establish. It also takes a team of people to research, understand and implement all the new search algorithm changes. Google and other search engines are constantly changing and updating their algorithm to prevent them from becoming exploitable. Google also needs to make money to stay in business. The algorithm benefits them while also helping honest and progressive business thrive.
You should also choose an honest and progressive SEO company to represent you in search results.
When choosing an SEO company do your research first and foremost. Ask local business owners how much they pay or who they work with. This will give you an idea of what you may have to spend to get up and running. Figure out the cost it may take to implement and manage a consistent SEO plan. Often times it costs $1,300-$3,000 a month for a small business and the bigger the company the more it will cost.
This may seem expensive but in a world where 8 out of 10 new business fail in under 2 years it may be worth the risk. If you fall into that 80% failure rate it could cost you way more money investing in marketing tactics that no longer work.
Remember, SEO is not a static thing. You can’t just flip a switch and shoot up the rankings. It takes strong research skills to find the best ways to rank. It also takes a team to manage and maintain that ranking over a long period of time.
Keep in mind that there are thousands of other businesses trying to outrank you. Every business is gunning for the top spot as that’s where 30% of all the traffic comes from. If you can find yourself in the top 3 places you’re in a great situation and it takes a special team of SEO experts to achieve this.
Practice What You Preach
SEO is such a buzz word these days. It’s hard for business owners to fully grasp what it is and how it works. Most SEO companies will tell you they can get you ranked at the top of page 1 but can they really do it? How do you find out if they can walk the walk?
Why don’t you see where they rank as you search for an SEO company. Go to there website and take the time to research everything that they do. Do you want your website to look like there’s from a design standpoint? When you search “Littleton SEO” or “Denver SEO” where were they ranked in the results? Do they have a list of previous businesses they worked with in the past?
If they are in the top 5 of the organic rankings or Google Map Listings they most likely have a great understanding of SEO and what it takes to get to the top.
If you’re about to hire an SEO company search them in as many different ways as possible. Search their employees on LinkedIn. See if their company is associated with any other more reputable websites or established businesses. If their website lacks depth or is based in another country it may not be in your best interest to hire them.
A big part of SEO is getting found locally and establishing a local presence. How can a company located in a different country understand how to rank you in your city or even your country? Often times SEO companies in different states can help you rank in your city or your suburb. When you’re on a completely different continent it becomes increasingly difficult as the language and the standards of living are night and day.
You need to know how people search to get a company to rank. How is a company in India going to understand how to rank your business in Denver or Littleton? Some of them may be able to but why waste the time and effort working with a mysterious SEO company in Asia when you can find a perfectly good one in your own back yard?
The more information you can find on that SEO company across different websites the better. See if they have established social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and others. If they are offering you a service to help you with social media but only have 50 followers on Twitter it’s a good clue that they may not know what they’re doing. If they have way more followers than they are following but aren’t a celebrity, athlete, musician, politician or other famous person then they may be working with fake accounts.
If there Facebook company profile is missing key elements such as a description or profile picture they may not put the same amount of care or effort into your company. LinkedIn is like an interactive resume website. If the owner or CEO of the business isn’t on there then that’s a red flag.
When you’re looking for an SEO company look for EAT. What is EAT? Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness. Everything we went over up to this point in the article comes together with those 3 letters. Always keep them in the back of your mind in your search. Take your time. If you’re desperately searching for an SEO company it may already be too late. Your SEO company research should be slow, methodical and deliberate.
SEO can take time to establish locally and even longer nationally. There are tried and true methods that work but not all of them do. If you’re SEO company is doing it right they have expertise in the SEO world. They also have authority and trustworthiness. How do you measure EAT? You look at other websites and see if they have a presence there. The more reputable the better.
If your SEO company is affiliated with a national expert on blogging then he has established E-A-T. If that national expert also has a radio show that proves E-A-T that’s even better. If your SEO company you’re about to hire has won awards by a well respected publication in the digital marketing world it is most likely safe to hire them.
While we think of SEO as internet specific the same laws of the universe still apply here. Search engines put a lot of weight in whether or not someone is an expert. You can become an expert in your field by establishing relationships outside of the internet. You become an expert by finding a solution to real life problems. When you provide solutions to real life problems people talk about it on the internet. They may review you in a positive or negative light as well and this all creates new ways for them to find your business.
Reviews from 3rd parties websites are huge in search engine land. See what other people who have had first hand experience with the company have to say. Make sure you weigh the reviews fairly. If there are only 3 reviews and 2 have 4 stars and the other review only has one star use your best judgement. 3 review may not be enough to come to a conclusion without having firsthand experience.
If a company has 50+ reviews and a 4 out of 5 star average it’s safe to say they are a great company to work with.
If you’re looking for an SEO company it makes sense to search them out and see what comes up. It’s only fair to see how a digital marketing agency that specializes in SEO looks in search engines. If they appear favorably in search then they could be safe to hire. It’s all about looking and acting the part. If they can’t do what they promise you for their own company then does it make sense to hire them? Their website should be an example of what they can do for you and how they can drive traffic back to your website.