All small business owners want a reliable and yet inexpensive search engine optimization (SEO) company. Here are the most important factors you should consider when choosing one:
An SEO company who doesn’t rank well on Google for important keywords is not able to help you.
A sick doctor is not a good one. A fat minister is not a good one. A skinny cook? You guessed it: not a good one.
SEO companies all compete for extremely difficult keywords such as “SEO Company”. Only a couple of them can actually rank for that term on the first page of Google. Therefore, instead of trying to find the SEO company you’re going to work for, ask them what keywords they rank for on Google themselves.
With such a competitive market, and with thousands of SEO companies targeting the same list of keywords, each agency may try to separate itself by choosing a specific niche for themselves. At least in that niche, the company should rank well at the top.
For us, the keywords are “SEO pay per lead”. And we’re on the first page for both of them, making us an authority in those niches. You should look for an SEO company that follows the same or similar tactics.
Speed is a significant factor in the SEO world. In late 2018, Google launched its new version of PageSpeed Insights showing site owners not only how fast their site loads, but what issues might be preventing it from loading more quickly.
We encourage you to use Google’s platform to test your site AND the sites of all the SEO companies you might want to work with. Make sure you click on both mobile and desktop versions to get the most accurate reports.
Here is an example of a site that has horrible page speed (over 14 seconds load time on mobile devices).
If the company ranks optimally for all platforms, that’s a good indication that the SEO company is a safe investment.
Black-Hat is evil, but even the evil ones are proud of their deeds. That means that black-hatters are likely to spill the beans if you simply ask them if they’re white-hat, gray-hat or black-hat.
There are many black-hat techniques you should be aware of. Keyword stuffings, aggressive link-building, and content manipulation are a few of these techniques.
White-hat SEO follows Google’s SEO guidelines.
I’ve done black-hat, gray-hat and white-hat. After the year 2012, I decided to stick with white-hat only. Here is my story and why I decided on that important course of action.
To put it simply, white-hat is ethical, which is an excellent quality to look for when choosing an SEO company.
It’s typical for an SEO campaign to take 2-3 months to show some results. The best results typically arrive within 6-12 months. Sometimes even longer.
An SEO agency who promises you the moon in a very short period of time is often lying or using black-hat techniques. Yes they work in the short-term, but will get you penalized in the long-run.
Our most successful clients have seen results within 6-18 months. See the graph below which shows a client’s organic site traffic since they first started with us.
But we have clients who rank on the first page of Google and start getting leads within a couple of weeks as well. Here is an example of a personal injury lawyer in Orange, CA who signed up with us a couple of months ago. Within two weeks, his site was on the first page for a very competitive keywords phrase: “injury lawyer Orange”.
Before they sign you up, every SEO company takes your calls every single time. They reply to your emails within minutes or hours. But as soon as you send them the first check, the tide changes. You can hardly get a hold of anyone. Their tone changes and soon, they don’t reply to your emails for days.
A good SEO company treats you the same before or after you sign up with them. Because they’re in it for the long-run. They respect your time and they appreciate your trust in them. The bottom line is that they value you as a client and you should never accept anything less.
In the beginning of the project, it is rare to see significant SEO improvements right off the bat. However, the SEO agency who cares about retaining your business will send you at least monthly reports to let you know where your site lies in the process.
Even better agencies have a CRM (Client Relations Management) software where you can login and monitor your site’s progress on your own time.
Ask your SEO prospect how often you get reports from them and only look for agencies that update you on a regular basis.
Most SEO agencies do not care about how many leads your practice gets. But that’s really why you’re paying them, right? To increase the number of leads you get.
Monitoring your leads becomes even more crucial if you’re running a multi-channel marketing campaign. You may run Google Adwords, Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads, email marketing, etc. It’s important to know how many leads you’re getting from organic search versus all other marketing work you’re doing.
The tool we use for this important metric is CallRail. They’ve mastered lead-monitoring and we couldn’t be happier with them.
If the agency you’re considering doesn’t monitor your leads, you’re only getting part of the picture. Instead, monitor all your leads and you’ll be able to determine where your SEO efforts are mostly paying off.
Not only do they monitor your leads, but they’re focused on improving the number of organic leads you receive – through your site or Google My Business (GMB) page.
SEO results in getting more leads from the Internet – by 1) getting found on Google – and other search engines and 2) by having a powerful website that turns visitors into leads.
In addition to paying attention to lead attraction, the agency should care about lead activity. We are referring to the science of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). An SEO agency who doesn’t care about your site and how it turns visitors into actual leads is not worthy of your time or money. At the end of the day, those agencies seem to care more about how much they charge you rather than how much business you’re getting.
Mobile conversion rate optimization is also important. Your site may do well when your visitors use their desktop computers, but it is likely that your site’s mobile version is not converting visitors into leads. A good SEO company is able to monitor and will improve your mobile site’s conversion rate.
You deserve better, so only work with an SEO company that focuses on lead attraction and CRO for a more well-rounded campaign.
If an SEO agency is able to stand behind their work, they don’t need a long-term agreement with you. As long as you’re seeing improvements in your rankings on Google, you’re not going to leave them, right?
So, why would you sign a 12-month agreement with a company you’ve never worked with?
We understand that many clients may think that after they get ranked on Google, they can then fire the SEO company and happily reap the benefits of their SEO work for a long time to come. But this is FALSE.
With technology, including search engines, the game changes every few months. Although, some principles of SEO have remained the same for the past thirteen years, some things have changed dramatically. If you quit your SEO agency after you see improvements to your rankings, soon, you will soon regret it.
And if you decide to return, you will have to be patient for another series of months to see the same results.
We recommend finding a good SEO company and sticking with them for the long-term to ensure steady and constant results.
This is a bit too much to ask most SEO companies. But nevertheless, if you truly believe in the agency’s capabilities, the company should only charge you AFTER they have shown you results. There are many platforms that charge you only AFTER the results are in. Here are a few exemplary models:
a.Pay-per rank. With this method of payment, the agency selects a handful of keywords that are important to you and you are not already ranking for on Google. They then get your site ranked on Google for those terms and only charge you once your site ranks for one or some of those terms.
b.Pay per traffic. You pay for increased traffic to your site from organic sources.
c.Pay per lead. Where you agree to pay a fixed cost per actual lead you get.
Each of these methods have their own pros and cons. We have opted for pay-per-lead SEO, and for good reason. We only want you to pay for qualified leads that contact you, as those are the types of leads that will help your business grow.
The above tips will help you select the best SEO company to take care of your site and its rankings on Google. Here are some bonus tips:
And last, but not least, check your SEO company’s Google Reviews. The more reviews they have, and the more 5-stars they get, you can bet they’re doing something right. Remember, Google monitors these reviews and it’s not easy for anyone to fake them. Plus if a client leaves a negative review, it’s almost impossible to have Google remove that review.
Amazon has built the most advanced servers for hosting websites of all types. Sites hosted on Amazon servers respond with lightning speed and are 100% reliable – with no downtime ever.
SEO feeds off of content. The SEO company who builds great content for your site can help you rank faster and for more keywords. Of course, you can build your own content as well.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a one-year-old technology sponsored by Google for an improved mobile experience. In short, Google caches the AMP version of your site and it loads instantly from Google’s cache when someone clicks on your link.
Ask your SEO company to build an AMP version of your site. You’ll get a better conversion rate as well as better rankings on Google.