There is a vast sea of SEO companies out there from which you can choose; in fact, key “search engine optimization companies” into the Google search bar, and you’ll come up with more than 32 million results! So, how can you distinguish those which are legitimate and will produce outstanding results from those that use “shady” tactics and are more interested in taking a big chunk of your hard-earned money?
Here are a few tips to help you weed out those SEO firms that offer little, other than to make your pocketbook lighter:
Check their ranking. It should be obvious, but a company proclaiming to be experts in search engine optimization who can’t even achieve a high ranking for their own website certainly shouldn’t be trusted to rank yours.
Avoid companies that make impossible guarantees. While you hope to get a first-page ranking (or even a #1 ranking) for your chosen key terms and phrases, no company can guarantee that. Why? There are many variables involved, and no one can predict what Google’s next algorithm change will be.
Are they a member of the BBB? If an SEO firm is a member of the BBB, it will likely be stated on their website. Check to see if there have been any complaints filed against the company, but don’t use a complaint to completely rule out the company. Your objective is to determine if numerous complaints have been filed, and how they were resolved.
Contact previous clients. Most reputable firms will have testimonials on their websites. If there is a link to the client’s website, go to it and find their contact information, then contact them to get their opinion on the service and results. No testimonials can be a bad sign, but contact the SEO company and ask for referrals. They should be glad to provide you with references. If they hesitate or won’t do so, walk away.
Check their reputation and standing as an authority. Has the company published many articles or books of their own regarding SEO? Do they participate in forums, social media, even live presentations or seminars? It’s often easy to distinguish those who are respected and trusted by the level of participation on various platforms and published works.
Review the company’s portfolio. No portfolio? That may not be a good sign. If the company’s website does offer a link to their portfolio, look it over to determine if you like what you see.
Steer clear of companies that focus on quantity vs. quality when it comes to inbound links. Inbound links are essential in SEO, but they must be relevant, trusted links. A few strong, authority links are much more effective than hundreds of “weak” or junk links.
These are just a few of the ways you can distinguish between SEO firms who are reputable and capable of producing results, and those who are more or less in it for the money. Have patience, and practice due diligence.