11 Useful Factors to help you choose your SEO Company Supplier

Deciding which SEO company to commission for your next project is not straightforward.  In this straightforward article we share some useful tips on how you can make the right decision:

  1. Ask for a list of clients’ case studies showing the performance before the SEO contract and their current performance after the SEO activity.
  2. Ask for specific examples where the SEO firm has managed to get high quality one way links from highly ranked and authoritative sites.
  3. Look at their list of clients. Are they all large multinational companies or do they have a good mixture of all businesses great and small? Will you be a big fish in a small pond and consequently receive great service or are you going to be unfortunately one of a number of small fish that is just going to get a run of the mill service.
  4. Ask for a couple of clients that you can email or telephone. A 5 minute conversation may save you a lot of wasted time and effort in considering them or it may convince you that they are the company to choose.
  5. Ask for sample reports and study them. Do they look like boiler plate templates churned out automatically or does it look like a human being has been somewhere near them? Much ‘SEO analysis’ can be automated; but real insight requires a trained pair of eyes and brain!
  6. Do they have any free tools online that you can use before committing to the service so you can get comfortable with the quality of their work? Look at the quality of their reports, their tools and their website. Attention to detail is really important in the SEO field, if they cannot get this right for their own site then chances are they are not going to get it right for you.
  7. Get several competitive quotes and compare them rigorously. Let the SEO companies know that you are going out to tender for the business so that they give you a keen price and are keen to negotiate. Compare each stage of the SEO process and their SEO proposal; sometimes you find that one SEO company will include an important element that another SEO company may omit or want to charge you for later. This way you can ensure that you are comparing like with like; and if you decide to go with one SEO Agency then you can make sure it offers all the services you need and you can try and negotiate additional services upfront as part of the deal. E.g. “SEO Firm A is offering to copywrite 3 pages for free and provide me with an SEO friendly template as part of the package, is this something you can also offer?”
  8. Beat them up on price and length of contract – after all there is a credit crunch out there. But please do bear in mind that most reputable SEO companies will want a minimum of 3-4 months contract to give them a chance to work with you to take the necessary steps, in both on-site optimisation and off-site optimisation, to start seeing favourable evidence of results.
  9. For heavens sake make sure they are not engaged in any grey or black hat techniques. If they even mention the word ‘cloaking’ then run!
  10. In your negotiations be clear that you are looking to agree some specific and measurable goals and some clear deliverables for your search engine optimisation campaign. If they get all glossy eyed and start the ramble at this stage then it’s time to leave the room. A good SEO will not make rash guarantees to you; but they should be able to show you compelling evidence of results and a logical and proven methodology. They should also be prepared to agree to some specific deliverables. These can anything from; a series of initial reports, SEO training for your internal team, follow-up consultancy once you have implemented their on-site recommendations, time spent seeking external links or an agreed number of links per period. 
  11. Be wary of the last deliverable (number of links); anyone can outsource your contract overseas to a land of cheap labour who can then set about easily getting you a huge number of low quality probably poorly written and conceived links – this is a bad metric to choose and one that it’s best to avoid. My preference is to calculate what an increase in rankings and therefore traffic and conversions will make to you bottom line. You will probably have to assume that your CTR% and conversion% will drop a few degrees as you get more traffic. Then you can justify your SEO budget and can negotiate an appropriate set of targets for your campaign. This might be a fixed amount for an x% increase in visits (or conversions) from organic SERPs in Google, Yahoo and MSN for a specific basket of priority keywords.
  12. If your SEO is smart they will have already checked the strength of your competition and will have a good view as to whether they can improve the performance of your most important keywords or not and over what time period. If you negotiate hard and have specific goals and they still want to work with you; then they sound like good SEOs to me. If they bite your hand-off then chances are they’re pretty confident of success.

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Beware – “Search Engine Rankings, Traffic and Conversions” can go up as well as down”.