We have all hired a provider – whether it be a cleaner, sales person or accountant – who just doesn’t deliver what you thought they would. They seemed so professional in the beginning, but now the contract is signed you begin to think the sales pitch is the most expert part of their organisation.
In the SEO industry, particularly in a young market like Australia, providers can often be inexperienced. As the market matures, like in the UK or the US, the number of experts increases and the less ‘quality’ services are gradually driven out of the market. But in the meantime, how can you choose an SEO provider? Well, despite our obvious bias, we have put together some checks and questions below, to try and narrow down your choice…
- Time frames – what does the provider have to say about how long it might take to get your rankings to the top? SEO is not a quick process. It takes time to make changes to your site and build up the necessary content and links. Then it takes more time for this to be taken into account by Google. Any company which says this is a quick process is stretching the truth. No quality SEO project will go for less than 6 months, unless it is a training course.
- Guarantees– No company can guarantee you a top ranking in Google because Google and Google alone controls the rankings (or whichever search engine you are talking about). SEO companies should be able to make estimates, or show you how they have achieved results for similar clients, but they cannot make guarantees (unless it is something like a money-back guarantee).
- Low Cost – Like anything in life, you get what you pay for. If you pay a low cost for SEO services, then you need to ask what you would ask any other provider – why are you cheaper? Is it the labour quality? The number of hours? There are good reasons why some SEO providers are cheaper than others, you just need to find out what exactly your money is paying for.
- Keywords – check that the key terms they are promising to work on aren’t low-volume, low value, terms which are easy to optimise for. Also keep this in mind if they are trying to prove their track record – achieving number 1 for “Cheap buckets Mt Isa” isn’t showing the kinds of skills you will require for more commercial terms.
- Links – ask about their linking strategies. You don’t want your company’s brand to be damaged through inappropriate association and you don’t want search engines to penalise you for spammy links. You need to ask them how they will get high quality, relevant links to your site
- Training – make sure they are transparent and ask how they will impart SEO knowledge to your organisation, so that you can take it on as part of your general online business practice.
- Project Plan – SEO isn’t a one-off effort. It needs to be ongoing so that your site remains competitive. A long term project plan is a must, and something that a flash-in-the-pan provider is unlikely to provide.
- Reporting – A reputable SEO company should give you all the information you need to see where your money is going. This could be rankings, traffic and conversions, but should also outline all the work they are doing on your site every week or month.