It’s hardly a secret; the SEO industry has no shortage of snake oil salesmen. No matter where you go online, there are plenty of shady characters and broken promises.
So how can you make sure that you choose a good SEO company to handle your digital marketing? It can be confusing for sure, but our simple guide will help walk you through the process step by step. By the end of it, you’ll know exactly what to look out for and be on the right path to hiring a reputable and honest SEO company.
Say goodbye to the snake oil salesmen and hello to a happy working relationship! Without further delay, let’s get started.
Always Ask to See Past Work
Good SEO companies are built on the back of happy clients and a solid reputation. This means they should be able to provide you with plenty of case studies showing the work they’ve carried out. If your budget is low then you might be looking more towards SEO freelancers who haven’t had many clients in the past.
We don’t recommend freelancer sites like Upwork etc for finding SEO work. Instead, use local recommendations and Google searches for full-time freelancers, but don’t let that stop you asking for examples of work. Even these freelancers should be able to show you any SEO work they’ve done in the past. Of course, some agencies may provide you with case studies that look too good to be true, which brings us on to our next point…
Always Manually Check Past Work
This is something that we’ve come across in the past whilst negotiating with other SEO agencies. They’ll promise the world with fantastic client testimonials and case studies, but a quick manual verification of these shows that they’re totally fake. Always manually check the websites provided and the keyword that the agency says they’re ranking for. You don’t need good SEO knowledge to manually check past work, just do the following:
- Check the website for any obvious visual/user experience errors and ensure it loads quickly.
- Run a website speed test on GTMetrix – a well designed and maintained websites should load within 2 seconds.
- Run the website through a quick online auditor such as WooRank or ZadroWeb. These tools are by no means perfect, but any score below 50 would suggest something isn’t quite right.
- Manually search Google for the keywords that the agency has told you the site is ranking for. Make sure you do this in Chrome incognito mode, otherwise your personal search history will influence the results.
Speak to Current Clients
Speaking to current clients of an SEO company is one of the best ways to find out if they’re good. Any good SEO company/agency should be happy to provide you with contact details for clients that they’ve worked with in the past.
Check in with these clients and see what they have to say. Remember to ask any questions about particular concerns you have, the chances are the client also had those same concerns at one time. If an SEO company refuses to provide you with client references, then run! Usually, they’ll make up some excuse like “data protection” when in reality they’re just covering up for the fact that their clients aren’t happy. Run as far away as you can and don’t look back because that SEO company really isn’t worth your time or hard earned money.
Ask Lots of Questions
This is something you might not hear from many SEO companies. However, we strongly suggest that you ask lots of questions before diving into anything. We love it when clients have lots of questions for us.
This gives us a chance to explain the ins and outs of any SEO campaign and how it will work. We also make sure that any concerns that the client might have are resolved before we even begin. This works both ways too, we’ll likely ask you lots of questions about your business to ensure that we’re a good fit. Don’t be shy!
A Good SEO Company Isn’t Cheap
Good quality, white hat SEO doesn’t come cheap and is extremely manually intensive. If the SEO company you are talking to mentions anything about automation then stay well clear. Be prepared to pay a decent amount for quality SEO that will bring in a positive return on investment.
For reference, our lowest end SEO clients are on ~£400/month. Our Local SEO services start around £290 a month and can easily go up into the thousands. This kind of budget allows us to carry out the required hours of work to ensure a campaign is effective. If an SEO company is offering a “package” to you for just a couple of hundred, then watch out. Every business is unique and no one size fits all package will ever work. At worst it’ll be damaging Black Hat techniques that could get your site de-indexed from Google.
Don’t Expect Number 1 Rankings!
We think that this is the number one problem with the SEO industry at the moment. Many SEO companies advertise rock bottom prices, guaranteed rankings and soaring profits. However, the reality is that no one in the SEO industry can guarantee anything (except maybe Google).
SEO is a mixture of science and art, nothing is guaranteed. If it sounds too good to be true then it is. Think about it for a minute: if you could pay £200/month and guarantee that you’ll bring in £5000 of profit from it, wouldn’t literally every single business be taking advantage of that?
They’d be silly not to right? Unfortunately it’s always too good to be true and customers are often left feeling ripped off. Here at Piccana, we want to put a stop to that.