Much like the advertising boom of the mid-to-late twentieth century, when advertising and marketing agencies were popping up everywhere like mushrooms – and often not lasting much longer – there seems to be a proliferation of companies providing search engine optimization services. Also much like marketing and advertising, sure, companies can probably do their own SEO, but the chances are good that they won’t get it quite right, or that it will come across as forced, or amateurish.
If you’re savvy about it, hiring a competent SEO service provider will make a significant difference in your search engine rankings – but it pays to know how to compare SEO companies, to avoid ending up with the worst SEO company on Earth. And even the best SEO companies also vary in their offerings and approaches, so what works for your competition may not work for you. Here’s our quick guide on how to compare SEO companies to figure out which one is right for you.
Step 1: Company size
It used to be true that the bigger, the better, especially when it came to anything to do with marketing. Massive agencies had the clout and the money to hire the best talent and could dedicate a team to your needs alone. Things have changed – some of the best search engine optimization services are provided by small companies with just a few full-time employees. The reason? Thanks to the interconnectedness offered by online business, many SEO companies can outsource the majority of their work to freelancers, and thanks to the fierce competition, they really can find the best person for the job just about anywhere in the world.
Step 2: Reviews and portfolios
Read search engine optimization company reviews. Read every single one you can find. There is no shortage of platforms where people can leave honest, unedited reviews about just about anything, so look for reviews on the companies you’re comparing. At the same time, ask them for their portfolio, as well as contactable references. Get hold of those references and ask them how their rankings improved, whether their goals were achieved and what the ongoing service is like – remember, good SEO is not just a once-off thing, it’s a continuously changing landscape and your SEO agency needs to keep up with it. There is a small caveat here, though: there are many smaller, newer companies out there that may not yet have a portfolio or references. In this case, to do a proper comparison, step 3 is your friend.
Step 3: Detailed plans
Pitches are great. Pitches are lovely and give you a chance to get a feel for the company. Pitches are also primarily there to get you on board, so look beyond the pitch and get detailed plans. No, you don’t need to get each SEO marketing company to provide you with a full, six-month strategy, but you should get a clear picture of how they go about doing their work. Make sure they understand your specific goals and objectives, and judge their service based on how they plan to achieve them. Ask them whether they include social media in their plans (they really should), whether their approach to algorithms is offensive or defensive (offensive shows initiative and willingness to stay on top of things), and whether they go for long-term optimization or speedy, instant results (instant results can often be the result of black-hat tactics, which can do more harm than good).
Figuring out how to compare SEO companies for your business doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Take your time and investigate each one and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Companies that employ questionable tactics will try to obfuscate and hurry your decision along. A legitimate, honest SEO company, on the other hand, will be open, transparent and happy to share as much info as you need to make your decision.
What have your experiences been with SEO companies? Leave a comment, I read every one.